Save Money While Visiting Brazil
You can save money AND have more fun in Brazil.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time in Rio de Janeiro. As of July 13th, 2015, the Brazilian Real is trading at 3.13 for 1 USD. And the economic forecast predicts it’s not done weakening.
Great time to visit Rio de Janeiro, right?
But you shouldn’t splurge just because the dollar is strong at the moment. Extend your trip if possible. Visit multiple Brazilian cities in one trip.
Usually the big 3 eats your money up during a trip: accommodation, food and transportation. So, I thought of a few ideas I’ve personally used to save you some money along the way.
Visiting Brazil is affordable for many travelers this year because of the strong dollar AND knowing where to save cash.
Check out my top 9 ways to save money while visiting Brazil.
Tip 1: Stay In A Hostel The First Day You Arrive
I understand many travelers want to head straight to their apartment in Copacabana and hit the beach, but let me explain how staying at a hostel on your arrival day might be a better move.
First, I recommend staying in a hostel outside of the tourist areas on your first day. For one, they are usually cheaper than hostels closer to the beach. Also, I think it’s always a great idea to get a general vibe of the city before spending a whole day at the beach.
I really like Flamengo, Botafogo and Santa Teresa. These neighborhoods are close to metro stations and aren’t too far from Zona Sul; the following day you would have no problem getting to Ipanema or Copacabana.
Also, if you are in Rio alone, a hostel is a great place to meet other solo travelers and socialize a bit. Getting off the plane and going straight to your hotel or apartment can be a recipe for isolation on your first trip.
You aren’t really sure where to go or what to do besides walk on the beach. At least if you stay in a hostel, you will have more opportunities to interact with people. You have an excuse to be nosy and ask people what they are doing that night.
What if you are interested in staying at a hostel your first night, but not outside of Zona Sul?
I recommend Ipanema Beach House.
One night is only $22. And you can find hostels even cheaper than that.
Tip 2: Apartments Over Hotels
Stay in apartments. Avoid hotels.
Stay in apartments. Avoid hotels.
Stay in apartments. Avoid hotels.
Are you brainwashed yet? Seriously, there is no reason to stay in overpriced hotels in 2015. As far as I see it, hotels are only being booked by old people and businessmen now.
A single, healthy man should not feel it is necessary to play it “safe” and book through a hotel when you have tons of cheaper or equal valued apartments with fewer restrictions.
Airbnb is the most popular apartment service out there. . Let’s say your budget is $60 per night (on the low side). You will find plenty of Zona Sul apartments for $60 and under. That’s 5 nights for $300. And these apartments are nice, close to the beach with everything you need (kitchen, bed, WiFi, television, AC, doorman, etc).
Compare that to your average 4-star hotel in Copacabana where you will be paying at least $100 per night.
Tip 3: Take Buses Over Taxis
Like I mentioned in the post Catch A Taxi From The Rio Airport Without Paying A Fortune, buses should be used over taxis if you have light luggage.
The taxi drivers in Brazil are notorious for trying to swindle extra money out of tourists who speak little Portuguese. There’s a great bus service from the international airport in Rio; it stops at various locations throughout the city of Rio, so you would have no problems getting to your destination.
And it’s much cheaper than the cab fare you would pay.
When you are visiting Brazil, you should always use buses and the metro system over taxis when you can.
It can be intimidating learning how to get around via public transportation, but if you want to spend less money on taxis, so you can spend more on other things in Rio; you’ll figure it out.
Buses are a great way to talk to Brazilian women too.
Tip 4: Eat Outside Of Tourist Areas
We all know prices in tourist areas tend to be higher than other neighborhoods. You can call it the tourist tax. The same bottle of water in Copacabana that costs $2 would cost 75 cents in a residential corner store.
I don’t think I’m cheap, but I’d hold out and buy the bottle of water when I got outsideof Copa.
Why pay the tourist tax?
Restaurants in Ipanema and Copacabana have inflated prices because of the food and ambiance. I never sat down at any of the places there, so I don’t know how the food is. But I’m sure it’s top-notch if they are still in business.
Yet, I would still eat somewhere else for 50-75% cheaper and STILL eat well.
Tip 5: Go To Street Parties
One word: Lapa
While I write this tip, I’m thinking if I have ever went to a club in Copacabana or Ipanema. I think I’ve only been to bars.
When it comes to partying and having a good time, you can’t go wrong with Lapa.
There’s no reason to pay to party. There are plenty of people hanging out in the streets, drinking and conversing.
Live music can be heard throughout the streets. It’s a great experience.
Not only in Lapa, street parties can be found everywhere around Rio. This is where knowing Cariocas come in. It’s a smart move to meet local people as soon as possible.
Tip 6: Buy Groceries For The Week
Eating out everyday can add up no matter where you are. Brazil is no different.
A great thing about staying in an apartment is having a kitchen. You can cook meals occasionally and save some cash during the week or two you are in Rio.
No one really wants to spend their vacation cooking over the stove.
It might be unlikely depending on your situation, but you could meet a friendly Brazilian woman who would be more than happy to show you her culinary skills.
I know a few brothers who have made this happen.
Tip 7: Travel Outside Peak Season
November to March is high season in Brazil. It’s their summer while in the Northern Hemisphere, we are freezing our asses off.
Carnival is also in February, so people always book a trip to Rio for that.
But, what if I told you going to Brazil during the low season can be just as much fun, if not more?
Let’s see, when you visit during low season you will notice:
- Less tourists, so you’ll be more unique
- More opportunities to interact with Brazilians and not other tourists
- Hotel/Apartment prices lower
- Less Brazilian vendors trying to sell you something
- Rio is normal. You’ll see more of the real Brazil and not the Carnival version. Note: the real Rio is more interesting than mainstream Rio.
So, you might want to visit Rio outside of peak season not only because it is cheaper, but also for the experience.
Tip 8: Go To Cheaper Clubs In Favelas
In Are You Afraid Of Visiting A Favela? , I wrote about my time living in Rocinha and visiting other favelas in Rio like the City of God and Vidigal.
A few favelas in Rio de Janeiro are pacified. You can visit and probably even bump into other gringos there on any given day.
Many of these tourists go to favelas for the Baile Funk parties.
A popular music genre in Rio de Janeiro, funk music was created in the favelas. You’ve probably heard of it. If you are familiar with Miami bass made popular by the American hip hop group, 2 Live Crew, then you can compare Rio funk music to that.
And just like with Miami bass, the dances you will see at Baile Funk parties will leave you intrigued.
To cap it off, the price to get in these parties are very inexpensive. If you like what you see in the video above, then get to a Baile Funk party.
Tip 9: Create A Budget Before You Go (And Stick To It)
The whole point of this post was to give you ideas of how you can save money while still experiencing everything Brazil has to offer.
Some people have the habit of overspending or only feeling productive when they are paying higher prices. I want you to think of how you can have a great trip in Rio without having to do that.
And the best way to save money visiting Brazil is to create a travel budget beforehand.
This might be tough if you don’t have a regular budget for your daily life. But it could also be great practice; you can use the experience and apply it to your life back at home.