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Safety in Brazil and important things to know before visiting

Brazil such as most countries in South America have serious issues with all sorts of crime. They are generally safe to visit, if you follow the some basic safety rules, which are mostly common sense. But you should definitely put Brazil high up on your bucketlist, because it is freaking amazing. Check out our article on top 10 things to do in Brazil. We have put together some tips regarding safety in Brazil – here are some specialties of this country you should definitely consider:

Where to stay and how to book hotels

Booking.com is a reliable source for hotel bookings. It is just especially important to check the reviews. If there are none or only a few available, we would advise not to stay there. Just to be double safe.

Don’t make the same mistake as we did, and do not book any motels in Brazil. In contrast to lots of other countries, motel means sex hotel in Brazil and you will find yourself in a room with plastic blankets and a menu where you can order adult toys as room service. It is usually also a place where you find lots of drug use, criminals and people you don’t want to get involved with.

Always check which areas of a city are safe to stay at and avoid non-touristy areas. Be especially aware when booking hotels close to GRU airport in Sao Paolo; this area is not safe as this place is the home of some local gangs. We tried twice to avoid the very expensive hotels directly at the airport, and as a result found ourselves in hotels which weren’t exactly any different than a motel.

How to travel around Brazil safely

Depending where you want to go, the safest way to travel around the country is by plane. Busses in general are prone for all sorts of crime;, reaching from simply thefts to armed robberies or even worse. Fortunately, the government has instated a law as a consequence of this issues, and companies are now responsible for the safety of their passengers and can be sued for it. The big intercity busses are now travelling with armed convoys at night. Hence this has become one of the safest ways to travel in Brazil. Although, these security efforts only apply for touristic bus companies and not the local ones.

Traveling by car in Brazil is relatively safe during daylight apart from driving in the big cities. We have heard that there is a high risk of robbery and car hijacking if you do get tuck in a traffic jam. It is even legal to drive over red lights at night if any danger occurs. We did rent a car, because we like to keep matters in our own hands. It is a bit pricey though – considering you should definitely get a third party insurance.

If you decide to rent a car you should also know that only the main intercity connections have very good road conditions. However, we were surpised how much and how often you pay for tolls. (Note: they only accept cash) The huge majority of the roads in Brazil are either unpaved or in very bad conditions. Especially on the North East Coast (around Lencois Maranhenses), we struggled with massive potholes on the streets.

How to communicate with Brazilian people

Apart from Rio de Janeiro, not a lot people speak English or Spanish. The only officially spoken language is Portuguese. And in combination with their strong dialects, it makes your Spanish skills pretty useless. Therefore make sure you get the offline version of Google Translate or buy a prepaid sim card to have internet access.

Strangest question of our Brazil trip: Gunshots or fireworks?

If you travel in Brazil, we can almost guarantee you, that at one point you will hear something that sounds alarmingly close to gunshots. But we can assure you, it is most certainly fireworks. It is a huge thing in Brazil to shoot fireworks at all sorts of occasions such as sport games, birthdays and all kinds of parties. So you can calm down – everything is okay. Expect if you decide to stay close to GRU airport in Sao Paolo, where gun shots and violence occasionally happen between gangs.

Best way for you to stay safe is not go out at night, except at tourist spots. If you are travelling alone, especially as a woman, make some friends at your hostel and always stay in groups. Being a girl alone in such countries, attracts more attention and makes you an easy target.

In general: listen to your intuition and go with your gut feeling. If you adhere to some basic safety guidelines, there is not much to worry about. We wish you the trip of a lifetime.

PS: If you have any questions regarding safety in Brazil, we are happy to help. Leave us a comment below or send us a DM on one of our social media channels. 🙂

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Safety in Brazil and important things to know before visiting