Rio de Janeiro, a city of contrasts, has about 6 million inhabitants. Although the city is making great efforts to improve safety in the area, you should not worry about visiting Rio because most of the criminal acts take place in the West side, which is not basically the aim of the visitors. The rest, is ok alright to visit. It is advisable to pay attention to some basic rules when traveling to Rio, some useful tips are listed below. The currency in Brazil is the Real (R$, 100 centavos). Notes come in denominations of R$1, R$5, R$10, R$50 and R$100 and the coins in use are 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, and 50c and R$1. If you want to change money, go to ‘Casa de Cambio’, where you will find the best rate. Moreover, the head offices of the major banks provide an exchange facility.
Visa, AmEx, MasterCard and Diner’s are the most frequently used credit cards in Rio de Janeiro. Use them especially if you have to pay your hotel bill, at the restaurant or at shopping. MasterCard holders with a PIN number may obtain cash from any 24-hour machine which lists CIRRUS among its participating banks. Cash withdrawals on American Express card: Call 0800-785050. Look for ATM’s with Cirrus system because they use the same exchange rates your credit company will use back home. So, do no change more money than you need – you will always lose some when changing. Travel agencies with currency exchange desks offer attractive rates. Don’t ever exchange cash with strangers in the street. The best currency to have in Rio are Euros and Dollars. Dollars are preferable, because of the higher rate. Until you get to your hotel in order to put your money in a safety box, use a money belt inside your pants. As tips for taxi drivers, they usually do not expect one, but hotel staff expect at least one BRC. A tip is between 10 and 15 percent in restaurants. But avoid giving tip to public servants, because this may be considered bribing.
The most famous event in Brazil is the Carnival, which lasts five days and starts at midnight on the Friday before ‘Ash’ Wednesday. There, visitors can see extravagant costumes, beautifully coloured, extraordinary parades, exciting sounds, where entertainment is at its best rates.
When it comes to eating, Rio is the best place for dining, where international cuisine is available but it is worth trying local dishes, like ‘feijoada’ which is based on black beans and pork served with rice, kale and manioc, ‘churrasco’, huge chunks of barbecued beef, or pork served with manioc and onions. Seafood is always prefered – fresh lobster, shrimp and shellfish appear on a large number of restaurant menus.