Whenever you go into a new country with drastically different cultures, laws and customs, culture shock isn’t the only thing which will hit you. You’ll be faced with a swarm of confusion on how to act, how to get from A to B, how not to get ripped off, how to stay safe, how to communicate and so much more!
I’ve definitely noticed on this trip that every time I’ve changed continent or country, I face similar struggles and fall into culture shock…but it’s all part of the fun!
It usually takes me about a week to figure things out and adapt.
Now, I was thinking about writing about how culture shock and patience go hand in hand but a conversation with a fellow traveler on Facebook today got me thinking and inspired me to write about traveling to Brazil. We didn’t know each other but she must have contacted me through some traveler Facebook page to ask me about Brazil. She had MANY questions and concerns about traveling to Brazil, especially because of the negative stuff which has been publicised recently and in the past.
I arrived in Brazil on Christmas and definitely went into massive culture shock. Everything was so different here – the culture, the people, the cost, laws, transport, food…shall I go on? It’s definitely been a challenge for me to adapt, and I am still figuring things out. But little by little, day by day, I am getting more comfortable and confident with traveling around Brazil by myself.
I won’t go further into my backstory. I’m going to go straight into my personal advice to keep things simple (my stories will come don’t worry).
Yes ~ this advice is based on my own personal experiences (and also what my new Facebook friend asked me), not what I’ve read. In fact, I didn’t really do any research on Brazil before coming here – that’s probably why I went into so much shock to be honest. I still have a lot of time to explore this beautiful country and so much learning to do. My advice is only based on the 2 weeks I’ve been here
Panda Tips for Brazil (in no particular order)
- Use Uber – yes it’s safe and works the same as any other country. You can pay by cash or card.
- Catch Uber from the airport to avoid being scammed – in Rio De Janeiro, you need to go up to the second floor to catch an Uber. If you wait on the first/ground floor, you will not get your Uber
- Most Brazilians can’t speak English – just be prepared for it and don’t get angry about it. They’re not expected to know a foreign language (even though English is a universal language).
- Download the Google Translate App before you get to Brazil, especially if you can’t speak Portuguese – this has been a god-send for me here (and in any country where there’s a language barrier). It’s useful to have it before catching your Uber in case you need to communicate with them…and on that note
- Also download offline maps via Google Maps or Maps Me before going to Brazil so you can be sure you’re heading in the right direction
- Rio De Janeiro airport has wifi – thank god! Otherwise it would have been very expensive via international roaming to order that Uber
- Make sure you get cash at the airport or before you come into Rio – I had massive problems getting the public transport card with my credit card. I actually couldn’t get the card without cash where I was staying – the machine rejected both of my credit cards and I had to search for a while to find an ATM in the area I was staying. If you’re in the city center or a touristic area, you shouldn’t have any problems
- Rio De Janeiro’s metro/public transport card can be used for all modes of transport in the city
- Rio De Janeiro is not wifi friendly – there aren’t many hot spots in the city and not all restaurants/shops have wifi
- If you want a sim card bring your passport – you will not get it otherwise
- Try the public transport in Brazil – it’s part of experiencing the culture
- Rio De Janeiro’s metro system is safe and quite reliable – often it is better to catch the metro than a taxi because the traffic gets really bad in Rio De Janeiro
- Download Moovit – it’s a fantastic mapping/transport system which is created and sponsored by the government so the information and timetables are accurate – in fact, it gives you live updates of when your train/bus is arriving and tells you when you need to get off. I wish Google Maps was this advanced.
- Between cities – try Bla Bla Car – you can use the bus system as well, but this is a much more economical (and interesting) way of traveling and it is safe. I got from Rio De Janeiro to Rio Das Ostras in almost half the time for half the price and in a private car (even though he was three hours late).
- Be careful with your belongings – pick-pocketing is VERY common in Brazil so be careful with your things. Don’t flash around your phone. Put it away once you’ve finished using it. Don’t leave your phone on the table. Wear your bag at the front in crowded places. For big events, carry only what you need (no valuables). It’s best to hide your phone in your pants, not your pockets ~ your pockets are the first place they will look.
- If you want to take pictures and selfies, it’s OK in touristic areas like Christ the Redeemer – everybody is doing it
- It’s not safe to walk alone and is risky to use public transport at night – catch Uber instead – this is based on what my local friends have told me so I’ve followed their advice and haven’t had any problems so far.
That’s pretty much all I have so far – if you have anything to add, feedback (if inaccurate) or any questions for me, I’m happy to read or answer. Otherwise, if you’re traveling to Brazil ~ enjoyyyyyyy! The place has a wonderfully rich culture, deep multiculturalism, fantastic music and nightlife, great food and best of all…amazing nature and beaches!
Thanks for reading! Until next time…(another India blog coming soon ~ it’s finally almost done…YAY!!)