Rio de Janeiro or River of January in English is Brazils 2nd largest and South Americas 3rd largest city. It is situated behind Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. From the year 1763 up to the year 1822, it stood as Brazils capital city while under the Portuguese colony. It became an independent nation from the year 1822 up to the year 1960. Hence, from 1808 up to 1821 it was considered as the Portuguese Empires capital. It is also known as A Cidade Maravilhosa or The Marvelous City as its nickname.
Rio de Janeiro, or just Rio, is popular because of the vast natural settings, Samba and various other music as well as Carnival celebrations. There is also a wide array of tourist beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana paved with cream and black swirl-like pattern mosaic decorations or Pedra Portuguesa as it is most known for.
One of the most popular local attractions in Rio de Janeiro, apart from its unspoiled beaches, is the Christ the Redeemer or Cristo Redentor. It is Jesus Christs giant statue that lies on top of the Corcovado Mountain. Just recently, it was considered as part of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Other attractions include Sugarloaf Mountains cable cars or the Pao de Acucar, the Sambodromo, a permanent giant parade stand used during Carnivals and the Maracana Stadium deemed as the largest football stadium in the world.
Aside from all of these the Tijuca Forest or Floresta da Tijuca and the White Stone State Park or the Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca both the worlds largest as well as the 2nd largest urban forest also lies here in Rio de Janeiro. Going to other Brazilian cities is also no problem with the Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport because it connects various international flights to Rio de Janeiro.
Here are some useful travel tips to Rio de Janeiro:
When bringing and exchanging money in Rio, you can bring cash, travelers checks or credit cards. When bringing some cash, it is wise to put it inside a money belt and keep it there until you reach the hotel. Of course, it is also safer to book in a hotel that provides a safety deposit box inside your room.
Travelers checks are good but the exchange rate is always a problem. However, it is good to bring some for emergency purposes. Carrying debit or credit cards is also very convenient in Rio. The most widely accepted are Visa, AmEx, Diners and MasterCard. This is best when going on shopping sprees, dining outside and paying your hotel bills. If your credit card falls under the Cirrus system, you can also use it to withdraw some cash.
For visa card holders, you can withdraw from Banco Itau, Banco do Brasil and Brandesco. Thus, if ever you plan to withdraw at any of the ATM machines in Rio, it is in Portuguese so make sure you ask for help from bank personnel only. This means that if you will be exchanging your money, you will lose money because of the exchange rate. This makes the ATMs Cirrus system as your best option since they use the same rate as the one you use back home.
In Rio, currencies apart from Euros or US dollars are not that good. It is best to just bring either of the two, particularly the US$ which consecutively gets the best rate.
The Portuguese Language
When going to Brazil, it is best to brush up on some Portuguese language. A quick course would do about basic conversation. It is also advisable to buy translations book. It might be handy in your trip.
The currency in Brazil is called Real. They have the R$ 50, R$ 100, R$ 20, R$ 5, R$ 10, R$ 1 and R$ 2 bills. The exchange rate at current is R$ 3=US$ 1. There are also 2 varieties for every coin except for the coin R$ 1. The real can be divided in 100 centavos. These coins are handy for coffee, bus rides and gums.
Having a Visa
For Europeans, only a valid passport and return ticket is needed in order to enter Brazil. Upon entry, you also need to fill up an entry card, allowing you to stay for about 90 days. This will be attached to your passport. The other half is kept by immigration officials. Losing this will entail a delay in your departure.
For Canadians, Australians, US and New Zealand citizens, a visa is required. You can get this from your home countrys Brazilian embassy. Thus, make sure you also contact them prior to going to Brazil so that you are aware of the full entry requirements.
When you already have a tourist visa, you have the option of extending it for another 90 days. You only need to apply this at least 15 days prior to the expiration of the 1st one. However, you can only do this once. Afterwards, you need to leave the country and just reenter at another time.
Thus, for those who are from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay as well as other neighboring countries, you only need a photo ID to enter Rio. For countries that require a visa, the requirements for a visa include a copy of your round trip ticket, your passport that should be valid for another 6 months, 1 colored or black and white passport size photo, show money, vaccination certificates and the visa application form from the Brazilian embassy or consulate.