Brazil is known for being one of the most expensive places in South America for visitors. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are especially notorious for their high prices, and are amongst the most expensive places in the Western Hemisphere. Of course, the already high prices also soar at certain times of the year, for example Christmas, New Year, and Carnival time. Avoiding these times can save a fair bit of money, although there are still ways to not completely blow your budget at these times too.
Visiting off peak can also yield significant savings over peak times of the year. If you can time your visit for the shoulder periods, which are just a little bit outside of the main season, you will still find a decent crowd of visitors and all attractions open, but you can make savings on things such as accommodation and transport.
Here are some tips for visiting Brazil on a budget and maximising your money without scrimping (too much) on sights, attractions, and experiences:
Most tourist areas have a decent selection of accommodation options that cater to most budgets. Have a look online for the best deals and prices, and compare a fair number of places before confirming a final reservation and paying a deposit. If you are arriving in a new place with no accommodation booked, make sure that you are not tempted to just go with the first place that seems reasonable. Make sure that you walk into a few places and compare rates and what the price includes before making a decision and handing over any money.
Don’t overlook hostels – although facilities and amenities can be very basic, they can be very comfortable for a couple of nights, especially given how little time you will probably actually spend in the room apart from when you are sleeping. Some also have communal kitchens, or basic cooking facilities, which can save you a heap of money on meals. Even a refrigerator and a toaster can go a long way to saving those vital holiday dollars. Also, it is well worth thinking about the actual location, as it is often a lot more expensive to stay in the main tourist areas than it is just a short way away. A short walk may make big savings!
Be Savvy at Mealtimes
If you do have basic facilities in your accommodation, try to eat at least a few meals there. You can stock up on items such as fruit, yoghurts, bread, butter, cereal, and milk, to fill you up in the mornings and thus save money on buying breakfast whilst out and about. These can also be eaten in the evening for a snack in place of dinner if you eat a hearty, filling, and late lunch. Street vendors operate in many places, providing inexpensive fare. Quilo restaurants are a good option – they are buffet style dining where you pay by the weight of the food you actually choose.
So, not only can you sample a variety of tasty local cuisine, but you only pay for what you actually have. And, the prices are quite low too when compared to typical restaurants. When eating in a restaurant, consider splitting the large potions to save a bit more money. It is possible for a group to share fewer dishes than there are people. Sandwiches can be found in abundance in Brazil, and are commonly very reasonable in price. Avoid imported drinks, and stick to local brands. Chopp draft beer is a popular and cheap choice.
Compare Transport Options
Try and book travel tickets direct rather than through an agency. This applies equally to buses as to planes, for example. Compare options before making a final purchase. Also bear in mind a stopover or longer journey can be well worth it, if you have the time to spare. Avoid taxis wherever possible, as they are always the most expensive modes of transport. Of course, don’t compromise your personal safety though. Many areas can be explored by foot, although be careful not to venture out in the dark or stray into favelas or other less salubrious parts of town.
Enjoy the Street Nightlife
In many party areas the revelry literally spills out into the streets. Rather than paying to go into a pricey club or bar, make like the locals and have fun in the free streets. You will likely see bands and musicians, and various other street entertainers to add to your evenings of fun and merriment.
Learn Some of the Lingo
A few essential phrases in Portuguese can go a very long way in Brazil. If you must rely on English speakers, the chances are that you will only be able to utilise the most expensive services. Upmarket restaurants, travel agencies, and major hotels will often have staff who can speak good English. They are also the most expensive options. Don’t be forced into the pricier places because of communication problems. Even a phrasebook, where you point to relevant words and phrases, can greatly assist.
Mix Attractions with Beach Days
Brazil is home to some of the world’s best beaches. Lie on the sands and swim in the ocean of one of top 10 brazilian beaches, whilst watching the world go by, for completely free.