What to Know Before You Go to Brazil

Brazil is a beautiful country with a fun, exciting culture and friendly people. It's also big and expensive and therefore can feel a bit overwhelming to the first-time visitor. The following tips for what to know before you go will help you get ready for your trip to Brazil.

01 of 06

Plan for Healthy Travel

A child receiving an oral polio vaccination.
Ramesh Lalwani / Getty Images

Check with your health care provider to find out what vaccines you might want to get. Many parts of Brazil have the risk of yellow fever; typhoid also exists in some places, and both of these can be easily prevented by vaccines.

Find out how to avoid Dengue fever. This disease is spread through a certain type of mosquito which is common in some parts of Brazil, especially Goias, São Paulo, and Acre. There is no vaccine, but you can avoid contracting Dengue by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves. Find out more about avoiding Dengue in Brazil.

Get travel insurance to cover you in case of medical emergencies.

02 of 06

Be Prepared for Noise

Sao Paulo
Jenna Francisco

Brazil can be a pretty noisy country. In the cities, nights are filled with the sounds of bars, buses, motorcycles, and even helicopters, while in the countryside, it’s normal to hear roosters at 3:30 a.m. or dogs barking during the night. If you're staying in a hotel or apartment that has well-insulated windows, you may not notice the noise, but if you're sensitive to noise while sleeping, you might want to bring a white noise app or ear plugs.

03 of 06

Find Out About Visa Requirements in Advance

A well-stamped passport held in the air.
Omid Scheybani / EyeEm / Getty Images

You may need a visa to travel to Brazil. American tourists, for example, need to apply in advance and pay $160 for a tourist visa, which is usually valid for 5 years. These visas take time to process and therefore need to be requested well in advance of your trip. However, there are many countries whose citizens do not need a business and tourist visa to visit Brazil. 

04 of 06

Know That Using ATMs May Be Tricky

A row of ATMs in Rio
Jon Hicks / Getty Images

We have had a very hard time getting cash from ATMs because most ATMs in Brazil don’t accept the type of debit and credit cards we carry. Here are some tips to getting money from an ATM:

Before you leave, be sure to let your bank know that you'll be traveling to Brazil.

Once there, avoid the first few days of the month, if possible, because there can be long lines just after people get paid at the beginning of each month.

Note that some ATMs may be closed at night for security reasons.

Important: Before inserting your card into an ATM, check the back of your card to see if the networks the machine accepts (such as Cirrus) are the same as the ones on your card. If there is no match, don't insert your card. 

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

The Language

Talking with a food vendor on the beach
Jenna Francisco

If you don't speak any Portuguese, what should you do? I’ve heard some people say that they hope to get by with their Spanish while in Brazil. While this may help, this is not the best strategy because Spanish is not spoken in Brazil, and Portuguese has very different pronunciation from Spanish. Although some words are the same and some people will understand a bit of your Spanish, most people would prefer you try to speak basic Portuguese, and plenty of Brazilians, especially the younger generations, speak good English.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of trying to speak Portuguese is the pronunciation. There are some pronunciation patterns that make reading the words tricky. Find out how to pronounce important words before trying to converse with people and use these Portuguese pronunciation tips.

06 of 06

Staying Safe in Brazil

Driving in Brazil
Jenna Francisco

Overall, Brazil is a safe country for travel, but it's a good idea to be aware of some basic safety tips before your trip.

Regarding the safety of water and food, this varies from one area to another, so it's a good idea to do some research about the regions you plan to visit. In São Paulo, for example, the water is usually completely safe to drink, and there is no need to be careful with eating raw vegetables or fruits. However, in other areas of the country, there may be risk of illness from contaminated water, meaning that you'll need to avoid ice and uncooked vegetables, peel fresh fruits, and drink bottled water.

Driving in Brazil can be intimidating. A safer option is to take short flights from city to city (Brazil is, after all, a very large country) or the bus system. If you plan to drive there, learn some tips for driving Brazil's busy roads.

Be cautious with your personal items and use common sense for safety. Avoid walking in sketchy areas at night, don't walk around alone if you can avoid it, don't wear flashy jewelry or carry expensive camera equipment, and never fight back if you are robbed.

Was this page helpful?