Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro (GaleA~?o) (GIG) is 20km (13 miles) north of the city. Public buses operate 05:30-23:30 to the city (travel time - 40 minutes) and there is an airport shuttle bus which stops at all major resorts and hotels, running every hour. Taxis are available as well. Airport facilities include everything you might expect as well as a small 24-hour hospital.
SA~?o Paulo (Guarulhos) (GRU) is 25km (16 miles) northeast of the city. An airport bus runs every 30 minutes (travel time - 30 minutes). Taxis are also available. The airport provides all the normal facilities of a modern major international airport.
Passport and visa requirements vary considerably between nations. You are advised to contact a Brazilian Embassy or overseas consulate for your specific needs. Nationals from certain countries require consultation with, and approval from, the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations prior to being issued with visas. Passports issued by Bhutan, Central African Republic, Chinese Taipei and Comoros Islands are not recognised by the Brazilian Government. Holders of such passports should hold a Laissez-Passer issued by the Brazilian authorities. Passports valid for at least six months from date of entry are required by all except nationals of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay arriving in Brazil directly from their own countries and holding a national identity card. The length of stay permitted is normally up to 90 days but can be extended to a maximum of 180 days in any 12-month period at the discretion of the Brazilian Immigration Authorities. First entry into Brazil must be within 90 days of receiving the visa. All travellers must be in possession of onward or return tickets and sufficient funds to cover their stay.
The climate varies from the arid scrubland in the interior to the impassable tropical rainforests of the northerly Amazon jungle and the tropical eastern coastal beaches. The weather changes according to the altitude and the latitude of your destination. The south is more temperate. Rainy seasons occur from January to April in the north, April to July in the northeast and November to March in the Rio/SA~?o Paulo area.
The seasons, in Brazil, are the opposite from Europe and United States, except from the Northern area of the country. The median annual temperature is approximately around 28 C in the north and 20 C in the south.
The Brazilian currency is the Real ("hay-ahl"), and Reais ("hay-ice") for the plural form. The symbol for the Real is R0 (R) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of R, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of R, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos.
All banks and cambios exchange recognised travellers cheques and foreign currency. There is an extensive network of ATMs around the country. The US Dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency. Most major international cards are accepted. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available. Travellers' cheques may be exchanged at hotels, banks and tourist agencies. Tourists cannot exchange US travellers' cheques for US banknotes but they may, however, benefit from a 15 per cent discount when paying hotel or restaurant bills in foreign currency or travellers cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars.
The import and export of local currency is unlimited although it may be subject to prior approval by Brazil Central Bank. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided amounts over US are declared on arrival; the export of foreign currency is limited to US per person (amounts in excess of this need special approval from the Brazilian Central Bank).
Brazil spans several time zones:
Eastern Standard Time: GMT - 3 (GMT - 2 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March). Western Standard Time: GMT - 4 (GMT - 3 from third Sunday in October to third Saturday in March). North East States and East ParA~ : GMT - 3. Amapa and West ParA~ ; GMT - 4. Acra State: GMT - 5. Fernando de Noronha Archipelago: GMT - 2.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-16:00.
Office hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00.
Post office hours: Mon-Sat 09:00-13:00.
Shopping hours: Mon-Sat 09:00-19:00. Supermarkets are open Mon-Sat 08:00-22:00. Major shopping centres also open on Sundays 15:00-22:00. All the above times are subject to local variations and many shops open until late in the evenings, especially in December.
Telephone: Full IDD services are available for the whole country and abroad. Country code: 55. Outgoing international code: 00. Rio's airport provides 24-hour telecommunication services. Public telephones take telephone cards, most of which cost R. Some older telephones may require metal discs (fichas), which can be obtained from cash desks or newspaper kiosks. International calls from Brazil are expensive: savings of 25 percent can be made daily from 20:00-05:00.
Mobile telephone: US-style analogue and digital networks exist. There are many different network providers, including Claro (website: www.claro.com.br) and Vivo (website: www.vivo.com.br). GSM 1800 networks have recently been established. Main operators include Oi (website: www.oi.com.br) and TIM Brasil (website: www.timbrasil.com.br).
Fax: Facilities are available in the main post offices of major cities and some 5-star hotels.
Internet: ISPs include Terra (website: www.terra.com.br). Hotels generally provide Internet access to guests. Internet cafes can be found in main towns and cities, and there are often Internet booths at airports. In smaller towns, public access is sometimes available at post offices.
Telegram: International telegram facilities exist in many cities but are heavily taxed.
Post: Services are reasonably reliable. Sending mail registered or franked will eliminate the risk of having the stamps steamed off. Airmail service to Europe takes four to six days. Surface mail takes at least four weeks. Post office hours: Mon-Sat 09:00-13:00.
Press: In Rio de Janeiro, there is an English-language publication, the Rio Visitor, which gives tourist information. The Brazil Post is a global news service providing information on the latest stories and current affairs in Brazil (website: www.noticiasdomundo.com). International magazines and newspapers are also available throughout the country.
Brasilia and Recife 220 volts AC; Rio de Janeiro and SA~?o Paulo 127 volts AC or 220 volts in larger hotels. Plugs are of the two-pin type. Most hotels provide 110-volt and 220-volt outlets, transformers and adaptors.
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. Except for a handful of languages spoken by Indian tribes living in remote reservations, Portuguese is the only language of daily life. There are no regional dialects. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America. Spanish, English, Italian, French and German are also spoken in tourist areas.
Lightweight cottons and linens with waterproofing for the rainy season are suitable for most of the country. Warm clothing is needed in the south during winter (June to July). Specialist clothing is needed for the Amazon region. The sunlight is extremely bright and sunglasses are recommended.
The first thing to consider when packing for your trip is climate. Remember that the seasons are opposite in Northern and Southern hemispheres. Brazilians tend to dress casually outside workplace. Most restaurants do not require a tie or sport jacket, however, a few fancy clubs and restaurants do. If you plan to travel to SA~?o Paulo, you will encounter a cosmopolitan city, where fashion matters.
AIR: There is a shuttle service between SA~?o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, a regular service from SA~?o Paulo to Brasilia, and a shuttle service from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte. There are air services between all Brazilian cities; Brazil has one of the largest internal air networks in the world. On weekends it is advisable to book seats in advance. The monthly magazine Panrotas (website: www.panrotas.com.br) gives all timetables and fares for internal air travel. Air taxis are available between all major centres.
SEA/RIVER: Ferries serve all coastal ports. River transport is the most efficient method of travel in the Amazon Delta. The government-owned Empresa de NavegaA~?A~?o de AmazA~?nia (ENASA) has now virtually suspended its passenger-boat services, but private companies have stepped in and provide constantly improving services on rivers throughout the country. Boat trips from the mainland to the popular and beautiful islands of Ilha Grande, Ilhabela and Ilha de Santa Catarina are also possible.
RAIL: Limited rail connections exist to most major cities and towns, but there has been a substantial decline in the provision of long-distance services from the 18 major regional networks. Most (95 percent) of Brazil's 22,000km (13,640 miles) of rail lines are located within 480km (300 miles) of its Atlantic coastline. Because of the great distances and the climate, some of these journeys can be uncomfortable. Daytime and overnight trains with restaurant and sleeping-cars link SA~?o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's most scenic rail routes are from Curitiba to Paranagua (originating in SA~?o Paulo) and from SA~?o Paulo to Santos. Other major rail routes include Belo Horizonte- Itabira-Vitoria (with buffet car), Campo Grande-Ponte Pora (with restaurant car), Porto Santana-Serra do Navio (second-class only), Santos Ana Costa-Juquia (second-class only), SA~?o Luis A Guarda-Parauapebas (with buffet car), Curitiba-Foz do Iguacu, SA~?o Paulo-Panorama (second-class only), SA~?o Paulo-Presidente Prudente (first-class, air conditioned, buffet and sleeping cars available), Araguari- Campinas (restaurant or buffet car) and Santa Maria-Porto Alegre (with restaurant car). Children under three travel free. Children from three to nine pay half fare.
ROAD: Traffic drives on the right. Inter-urban bus transport is very much road-based (accounting for 97 per cent of travel), compared with air (2.2 per cent) and rail (less than 1 per cent). High-quality coaches have been increasingly introduced on the main routes, which are well served. Services connect all inhabited parts of the country. Standards and timetables vary, and the visitor must be prepared for overnight stops and long waits between connecting stages. Car hire is available in all major centres but rates are expensive and the whole procedure very bureaucratic. Parking in cities is very difficult and it is best to avoid driving through the often congested urban areas if at all possible. Documentation: International Driving Permit required.
URBAN: There are extensive bus services in all the main centres, often with air-conditioned express executive coaches running at premium fares. Rio and SA~?o Paulo both have two-line metros and local rail lines, and there are trolleybuses in SA~?o Paulo and a number of other cities. Trolleybuses are increasingly being introduced as an energy-saving measure. Fares are generally regulated with interchange possible between some bus and metro/rail lines; for instance, on the feeder bus linking the Rio metro with Copacabana. Taxi: In most cities these are identified by red number plates and are fitted with meters. Fares are inexpensive, costing a little more with the "special" taxis with air conditioning and better comfort. Willingness to accept a taxi driver's advice on where to go or where to stay should be tempered by the knowledge that places to which he takes a visitor are more than likely to give him a commission - and the highest commissions will usually come from the most expensive places. Taxis are metered and passengers should insist that the meter is turned on.
There is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK or USA. Full insurance is strongly recommended as medical costs are high. English-speaking medical staff is found mainly in SA~?o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The main hospital in SA~?o Paulo is the Hospital das Clinicas.