Heading to Brazil? Whether you’re catching flights to Rio for a football match or two or just heading to this ginormous South American country for a dose of culture, there are a few things you should know before you go. These are the 10 most important things to know before visiting Brazil.
1. Kissing strangers is totally normal
Brazilians don’t pay much heed to personal space and it’s customary for a guy to kiss a girl they’ve just met once on each cheek. And then again when leaving. Brazilian men also have no problem hugging each other or putting their arms around each other if they’re good mates.
2. English isn’t very widely spoken
So brush up on your Portuguese. Not many Brazilians speak English outside of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo so it would be a good idea to pick up a Portuguese phrase book to study while on the plane ride over. At least get your numbers and some key phrases sorted.
3. The juice bars are something amazing
One thing Brazil does really well is juice. The country produces so many exotic fruits that we’ve never even seen or heard of before (camu-camu anyone?) and know how to mix the most delicious concoctions, called sucos. Just about every other street has a juice bar so pull up a stool and ask for the house special.
4. Beware of Brazilian plumbing
Plumbing in Brazil is far different than plumbing in England, despite how similar the porcelain thrones look. Unless told otherwise, don’t throw loo roll down the toilet, rather throw it out in the bin next to it. No one wants to be that guy or that girl who clogged the loo.
5. Brazilian life happens on the streets
If you want to experience the life of a local, don’t spend too much time holed up in your international youth hostel. Brazilian life happens on the streets in the sidewalk cafes of Rio, the beach-side barbecues and deep in the jungles. Get outside and explore! Rio is grande but Iguazu Falls and the Amazon Rainforest will knock your pants off.
6. Piranhas won’t eat you alive
These little fish are carnivores, that much is true but they won’t eat you alive if you fall into the Amazon River. They’re abundant in just about ever river basin in South America and are known to have a nasty bite if you go swimming but you won’t be eaten alive.
7. Brazilians love to party
If you’ve seen any pictures from Carnival you’ll know that Brazilians know how to throw a good party and know how to dance all night long. Two of the world’s biggest parties happen here: Carnival and New Year’s Reveillon. The country’s rich cultural heritage and religion ensure that there’s always a special occasion to celebrate.
8. Feel the rhythm
In keeping with Tip #7, Brazil is a great place to learn to dance. The locals have an incredible skill of improvising to just about any type of music. Bossa nova and samba are just the beginning! Each region has its own dances and own styles of music so don’t be sky, grab a Brazilian partner and let them be lead.
9. Nothing happens on time
Not even football games. Well maybe… but don’t count on it. Brazilians have a very relaxed sense of time and punctuality isn’t really taken too seriously. The bus schedule may say departure is at 1pm but it might not even show up till half two. Instead of getting frustrated with it, embrace it. It won’t kill you to be late once or twice in your life.
10. Don’t drink the tap water
Just general advice, stick to bottled water while travelling around Brazil. If not, you may be spending more time than you’d care to in the loo. In which case, please refer to Tip #4.