Canadian, Australian and New Zealand nationals need a visa to visit Brazil. British nationals and EU passport holders do not need a visa. To enter Brazil, a valid passport that has 6 months or more before expiration is required along with a return ticket.
You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Brazil and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid and hepatitis A are recommended. A Yellow Fever vaccination is strongly recommended and you may be requested to present a Yellow Fever certificate when entering the country.
There is the risk of malaria in certain areas of Brazil so it is very important to check with your doctor before you go to see whether malarial medication is required for the areas you are visiting. Extra care should also be taken to avoid mosquito bites as cases of the Zika virus have been reported. Sleeping under a mosquito net at night is advised as is using a strong repellent containing at least 50% DEET.
The tap water in Brazil is not safe to drink, so we recommend that you only drink bottled water and it's wise to also avoid ice cubes in drinks and salads which may have been washed in unhygienic water.
The cuisine in Brazil is diverse, especially in the cities where food from around the world can be found. Although traditional meals in Brazil tend to consist of meat and black beans and the favourite national dish is 'feijoada', a tasty meat stew cooked with black beans and manioc flour. Brazil is famous for its Churrascarria (BBQ) restaurants where every meat under the sun is served on giant swords by waiters who repeatedly top up your plate with generous slices. Fish and seafood is also plentiful in Brazil and two local specialities are 'moqueca', a fish or seafood stew made with palm oil and coconut milk and 'vatapa', a dish with shrimps, chicken, coconut milk, manioc paste and rice. Cachaca is the local firewater in Brazil and the national drink is 'Caipirinha' (a mix of cachaca, sugar, crushed ice and muddled limes).
Given that wages are generally quite low in Brazil, many workers in the service industry rely on tips to make up their salary. 10% is often added to the bill in restaurants but if the service has been particularly good, there is no harm in leaving a little extra on the table. Other people who might expect to be tipped are hotel staff (bell boys, concierge staff etc.), taxi drivers and tour guides. For taxi drivers, it is fine to simply round up the fare and hotel staff need only be tipped the equivalent of a dollar or two per day. If the tour guide has been really good then USD $10 per day is an appropriate tip.
Brazil is a great place to shop for diamonds and emeralds, gold and silver jewellery and leather goods including coats, bags and shoes. If you're looking for the latest fashion, glamorous Rio is the place to shop for cutting edge clothing and swimwear. Popular souvenirs to take home include ceramics, soapstone carvings and wooden ornaments. Another popular purchase made by travellers is flip flops. While these can be bought anywhere in the world, Havaianas are originally Brazilian and can be bought here for a fraction of what they cost in other countries. Similarly, the country’s national tipple Cachaca can also be bought at cut price in Brazil, and it is normally of a superior quality to what you find abroad.
There are a number of occasions where haggling is not an option. Supermarkets, salons, taxis with meters, petrol stations etc. will all have fixed prices, with almost no exceptions. What can be bargained, however, are hotel rooms, if you are going off season or checking in late at night, taxis without meters and street/market sellers. If you ask for a discount and receive a firm no then don’t aggravate the situation by continuing to push for one as this will be seen as rude and disrespectful.
The Rio Carnival is the biggest party in the world, held in February each year, at the peak of the Brazilian summer. Carnival is celebrated everywhere in Brazil, but in Rio de Janeiro, it becomes a fantastic spectacle of the colour, music, and spirit of the Brazilian people. There are Carnival Balls each evening and free street parades in different areas. Parades in the Sambadrome run from Thursday to Tuesday night, but the two most spectacular are on the Sunday and Monday evenings. During this period hotel and flight prices are at a premium, availability is scare and local transport is booked up months in advance. It's always best to get in early when it comes to booking a visit to Rio during this time to ensure better prices and availability. If you'd like to join in the party we offer several different packages including Rio and Salvador Carnival Tour.