Where to stay in and around Salvador, Bahía, Brazil
December 14, 2014 8:17 PM   Subscribe

My lovely wife, our 7 year old and myself will be in Salvador, Brazil, for 10 days February / March 2015. Where should we stay? What should we do?

We've never been to Brazil before. Should we stay in Salvador the whole time, maybe spend a few days in a smaller nearby town? We like lounging on the beach, snorkelling, exploring the town.
We'd appreciate recommendations of neighborhoods or specific hotels.
General thoughts on safety, health, bugs, are welcome.
We speak Spanish and English and live in Chile.
posted by signal to Travel & Transportation around Salvador, Brazil (6 answers total)
Make sure your ATM access will work. Expect less English than in Europe, say Netherlands or France and likely very little Spanish. Traffic is an adventure and rental cars will be stick shift.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:22 PM on December 14, 2014

I stayed at the coastal village of Imbassai a few years ago- about an hour north of Salvador. The beach is beautiful and it has the sort of tranquillity you will not find in the city. Further inland I also liked the village of Lençóis.
posted by rongorongo at 2:41 AM on December 15, 2014

Best answer: 2 overnight trips out of Salvador I highly recommend:
Morro de Sao Paolo
This is a beautiful no-car island about 2 hr boat ride from Salvador where the beaches are so nice. There are sand roads to walk on or horseback ride on.
It's just great. There are also amazing food vendors on the beaches who blend you up fresh fruit smoothies (with alcohol if you want), or grill cheese or meat skewers for you right there.

This is a small inland Colonial town that you can get to by bus that has a great traditional feel to it. There is a rickety old wooden bridge that is pretty to walk across, and on the other side there is a cigar factory that offers really cool tours. They also do neat woodworking in the town, and it is a good place to see religious rituals. When I went, we paid for a tour to go to a ritual and dinner and it was non-exploitative and people seemed happy to have us.
Good for 1 night/2 days.
posted by rmless at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2014

General travel tips:
In Salvador, English or Spanish will be just ok for getting by. When you leave for smaller towns or stay at non-resort type places, it gets harder and it really pays to learn some Brazilian Portuguese like numbers, directions, food you do or don't like, etc. I was very very happy to have a BP speaker with me when I went out of the city.

If you look touristy, rich, or white, people will follow you around the beaches trying to sell you trinkets and you can amass quite a horde. People there had way more aggressive sales tactics in Salvador than I remember from any other travels in South or Central America or the Middle East and the following scared me a little though nothing bad happened. If you know that going in and stick firmly to your "not interested" line, you should be fine.
Also, if you go to hotels with private beaches this probably won't happen as much if at all. I was at public beaches.

It's a good idea to have pw protected scanned versions of all your documents (plane tix, passport, bank info) emailed to yourself in case you get pickpocketed.
posted by rmless at 10:15 AM on December 15, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. Questions: are there any specific neighborhoods in the city to stay in or avoid? Are there any gotcha hotel taxes, etc.? Is it easy to get around in taxis?
posted by signal at 5:20 PM on December 15, 2014

Response by poster: We finally stayed in Bahía Otton in Salvador, nice, big, on the beach, a few minutes from Farol da Barra, cool place to eat or drink. The beach kind of sucks, though. A good price for the value, though.
We spent a week in Morro de Sao Paulo, highly recommended island paradise.
posted by signal at 8:19 AM on September 29, 2015

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