Brazil Travel Help
August 27, 2006 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend that will be traveling in Brazil from Sept. 28 until Oct. 24. I have been helping her gather information for her trip and realized that AskMefi would be a great resource (particularly from people living or recently traveling in Brazil). She is a jazz pianist/composer/vocalist from the US who will visiting San Paulo, Rio De Janeiro and Aracaju/Salvador. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

•Sept 28-Oct 5, she will be in Sao Paulo. She has a friend
to stay with there who has offered to take her sightseeing, so she's not too concerned about figuring out where to go - but if anyone has any suggestions, she'd love to hear them!

•Oct 5-Oct 17: She will be in Rio and needs to find a place to stay; she also needs to figure out getting from Sao Paulo to Rio (bus?) She wants to visit samba school rehearsals, hear music, go to the beach etc.

•She will be flying to New York on Oct. 24 from Sao Paulo (Guarulhos) Airport and needs to find out if it's cheaper to fly from Rio to Aracaju, and then from Aracaju to SP; or if she should go back to SP from Rio, and then do a round-trip ticket from SP to Aracaju.
posted by garypratt to Travel & Transportation around Brazil (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some previous threads with good suggestions:
  • 2 days in São Paulo (not San)
  • 4 days in Rio
    I posted in that thread, but I've been really happy with the hotel we stay it in Copacabana, the Hotel Angrense. Safe area, close enough to the beach to go back and forth but far enough to knock the price down a lot (2 blocks, maybe 3?), good nearby food, easy access to the metro and major bus lines. If you check craigslist or lonely planet books or anything, you'll also find lots of short-term apartment rentals. I haven't gone that route yet...

    RJ-SP: shuttle flights are frequent and cheap, the difference in cost may be worth the reduced hassle. The bus ride is also 6-10 hours, depending on traffic, number of stops, etc., shooting a whole day of travel. Additionally, the bus stations aren't necessarily the best places to be alone, especially as a lone foreign woman.

    SP-Salvador-RJ/SP? - My experience in booking flights internal to Brazil is that the cost does not change too much whether it is round trip or random legs from place to place. The major airlines to check these prices on would be GOL, TAM, and Varig*. Some of them have programs where you pay $X/leg or $X for up to Y flights.

    *I'm not sure what's up with them since their financial "rearrangements" recently. Maybe a real Brazilian will answer that one.

  • posted by whatzit at 8:38 PM on August 27, 2006

    I'd recommend flying from Rio to SP, too. The cheapest flight I found from Rio to SP at for Oct 5 is roughly $37 one way. When looking for flights, keep in mind that the Santos Dumont airport is a lot closer to the city center, but fewer flights are available.

    In Rio, since she'll have time, she might want to stay a few different places. In January I stayed at Rio Hostel in Santa Teresa, and it was a really nice (and big) contrast to Ipanema and Copacabana. Very close to Lapa for nightlife and a good atmosphere in the hostel itself. The only downside is that the area doesn't feel as safe.
    posted by dmo at 9:45 PM on August 27, 2006

    Im not Brazilian, but....

    For the love of God, don't fly Varig. I think they're still taking tickets, but they're completely bankrupt and barely flying. I got stuck for 3 days in Sao Paulo about a week ago because no one else would take a ticket back to the US. (I had to go to the airport three days in a row and wait in a standby line for Air Canada flight...the only airline that would take Varig tickets and they flew once a day.

    There were Germans that had been stuck there almsot a week while they waited for seats on the one remaining Varig flight a day that went to Europe....
    posted by jare2003 at 7:34 AM on August 28, 2006

    I'm Brazilian, and, just to reiterate what jare2003 said: DON'T FLY VARIG. They're currently VERY unreliable, cancelling lots of flights, etc.

    I currently live in Sao Paulo. You can mail me at the address in my profile if you need any further info regarding the city. I won't be here by that time, though.

    Is she going to be here for work or just tourism?

    Definitely fly from SP to Rio, unless you're REALLY in a budget. The bus should be around 25-30 dollars (against dmo $37 for air), so it's not like you'll be saving more than the meal in the middle of the bus trip. Airlines for domestic flights are Ocean Air, Gol and TAM.

    But beware: Cheapest flights are from Guarulhos (SP) to Galeão (Rio). Both airports are very far from downtown (she'll be able to see that, her flight from the US will probably land in Guarulhos). The last time I was in Rio, the cab fare from Galeão to Copacabana was 80 reais (~40 dollars), so try to get tickets from SP-Congonhas to RJ-Santos Dumont, which are nearer to the cities. These flights are usually labeled as Ponte Aérea (Air Shuttle, literally air bridge) in the airline sites, and they are very frequent.

    Brazilian domestic air fares are less non-deterministic than US fares. Most of the times one-way tickets are close to half the round-trip fare, so, flying SP-RJ-Aracaju-SP should be fine. BTW, you mentioned Aracaju/Salvador, is she undecided or is she going to visit both? I think flights to Salvador might be more frequent and cheaper than to Aracaju.

    For Sao Paulo:

    I'm not familiar with the "tourist traps" (actually I've never been to most of them). What I can suggest is that if she's interested in some of the local nightlife, she might enjoy the bars in Vila Madalena and Itaim and the nightclubs in Vila Olimpia. For day trips, the non-obvious places I can think of are actually immigrant neighbourhoods, like the Italian cantinas in Bexiga (actually, a large part of the Sao Paulo population is descended from Italians, so these cantinas are considered an important part of local culture), or the Japanese/Chinese places in Liberdade. I think her friend will probably cover the more obvious tourist places (Theatro Municipal, Pateo do Collegio, Catedral da Sé, Avenida Paulista, Terraço Itália).
    posted by qvantamon at 10:18 AM on August 28, 2006

    It's been a couple weeks, but I just noticed this thread. I live in Salvador, so if she has any questions about this area or getting to it, feel free to email me.
    posted by wallaby at 8:02 PM on September 7, 2006

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