Brazil Travel Basics

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Brazil: Bem-vindos ao Brasil!

If you're looking for a place where you can follow up a jungle adventure with a visit to an exciting city, or conclude a day of wandering historic neighborhoods with a walk along a sandy beach, you can find that and more in Brazil. This land of samba music and Carnivale intrigues scores of visitors each year, and you can be next, with help from the Web. We’ve rounded up some excellent online resources revealing Brazil’s most sought-after cities and features, tools to help you find and book your accommodation and transportation to and within the country, plus sites connecting you with other travelers.

Brazil Travel Basics

With the diverse mix of activities and experiences available in a country this large, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Explore Brazil’s diversity online to get a feel for the unmatched natural features and bustling city life as you begin planning your stay.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • If you see a Web address that contains a ".br," the site will likely be written in Portuguese. Look for a British or U.S. flag or an "Ingles" link somewhere near the top of the homepage to access an English version of the content.
  • Brazil is known as "Brasil" to locals. If you're not finding what you want on the Web using "Brazil" as your search term, try "Brasil" instead. Similarly, you might see Carnivale spelled as “Carnaval” or “Carnival.”
  • When searching for information about specific cities in Brazil, remember that some cities and states in the country have the same name; Rio de Janeiro is one example. You might need to double check that a Web site isn’t focused on a city when you want to learn about the state, or vice versa.

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Travel Requirements for Brazil

You’ll want to know when the Brazilian skies will be blue and welcoming, and you’ve got to track down essential health and safety information before you take off. The sites in this section can enhance your trip and may just get you out of a heap of trouble by pinpointing the Web’s best pre-trip resources.

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  • Some people mistakenly think that Brazilians speak Spanish. In fact, the official language of Brazil is Portuguese, making it the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America. A few native tribes also speak their own language.
  • If you are planning a lengthy stay in Brazil (or any foreign country for that matter), it is important that you register with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to make sure proper officials know your whereabouts in the event of an emergency. The U.S. Department of State allows you to register online.
  • In addition to an Embassy in Washington, DC, Brazil has eight Consular Offices around the United States. If you have questions as you plan your trip to Brazil, a Consular Office might give you a quicker answer than the Embassy will. Make sure you check to see which office has jurisdiction over your state.

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Getting to Brazil

Maybe you’ve got your heart set on arriving in Brazil via the mighty Amazon, or perhaps you need a flight that won’t break the bank. Below you’ll find general tools to help you find and book transportation anywhere in the world, as well as Brazil-specific sites catering to travelers who will settle for nothing less than an authentic journey.

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  • Flights to Brazil typically land at airports in São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, both of which are served by most international airlines. From the United States, some of the airlines offering flights to Brazil are United Airlines, Continental, and Delta. It may be worth visiting individual airlines’ Web sites to find slightly lower fares; airfare search sites sometimes tack on extra fees for their services.
  • If you want help contacting a Brazilian airport directly, visit the Brazil Tourism Portal for an interactive map that provides airport contact information.
  • A number of great discount airfare sites like Kayak and Sidestep provide the same basic service: they search through flights to any destination by collecting and comparing values from various consolidators (like Travelocity and Orbitz) and individual airlines. For more on the differences between these sites and how best to use them, see the findingDulcinea Travel Web Guide.
  • For travelers planning a more inclusive South American sojourn, consider a Mercosur Air Pass, which is valid for flights between Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile for up to 45 days. The cost of a pass varies depending on how many miles you intend to fly. For additional details, visit Aerolineas Argentinas, the site of the Argentinean airline. To learn more about different countries on the continent, see our findingDulcinea South America Travel Web Guide.
  • Train travel between South American countries is not a popular or generally safe option. In fact, there is a backpacker train often referred to as the “Train of Death” that travels between Bolivia and Brazil.
  • You can take a bus to Brazil from Paraguay, Argentina, or Uruguay on relatively good roads. However, you’ll probably have to purchase tickets when you arrive, as most bus Web sites for South America are neither helpful nor in English. The National Land Transport Authority of Brazil provides listings for international bus lines, but only in Portuguese.
  • It is possible to reach Brazil from Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela via an old-fashioned Amazon River Boat, but the trip is a 12-day upriver marathon, making it more of an expedition than a mode of transportation.

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Brazil Hotels

Brazil oozes excitement and color, and you can find accommodations capturing the country’s most enticing qualities, and Brazil hotel deals to suit any budget. Below are sites showing a variety of hotels, eco lodges, and budget-friendly hostels.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • If you use a service to book a hotel, the agency will often charge you. Use the sites below to narrow your hotel choices, and then contact each one directly to compare their price to the agency’s price.
  • Brazil is a hotbed for ecotourism, and you’ll find countless resorts and lodges capitalizing on the trend, some of which don’t live up to all their claims. Before you book, be aware that true ecotourism is sustainable and benefits locals. Learn more by consulting the International Ecotourism Society.

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Getting around in Brazil

Navigating a foreign country, particularly with the challenges that language barriers can pose, is rarely an easy task. To ease the transition, use the Web to become familiar with the transportation options in Brazil before you arrive.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • If you’re planning on flying around Brazil, you have two options: purchase a 21-day Brazil Air Pass or book flights individually, which may save more money, according to Brazil Travel News.
  • Travel by passenger train in Brazil isn't that common or reliable. Thus most of the sites we’ve included in this section focus on road and air travel.
  • Consider hopping on a boat going up the Amazon River to experience Brazil’s ecological attractions. The Amazon begins just east of Manaus, Brazil, and is made up of two main rivers: the Rio Negro and the Solimoes. You can catch a boat in Manaus and take it all the way to Tabatinga, which is bordered by Leticia, Columbia, and Santa Rosa, Peru. For further details of the trip, visit Pacific Island Travel, and for insider tips regarding prices and schedule of riverboats consult Virtual Tourist.
  • It is best to book basic boat trips once you’ve arrived at a port; for more luxurious boat tours, online tour providers are your best bet.
  • Buses can take you all over Brazil, but you’ll probably have to purchase tickets once you’ve reached a rodoviária (bus station) in the country. Online, you’ll find schedules and routes but most information is in Portuguese.

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Brazil Travel Blogs and Forums

Personal accounts in blogs and forums often capture high and low points of a country that many sites and guidebooks leave out.  Below: the real Brazil.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • When you're reading travel blogs, remember that many travelers will often have different goals than yours. Some are seeking adventure whereas others want culture or a taste of a country's nightlife. It's a good idea to read a variety of blogs to get a more complete idea of travelers' experiences.
  • Some travel guides offer message boards for travelers to discuss their opinions and ask questions. Frommer's is just one example so if you have a favorite travel guide publisher, check its Web site for these useful forums.

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