What can be said about Rio de Janeiro that has not been said
already. It is the most popular destination in South America,
and third behind New York and London in the world. The beaches
have been made famous through songs, movies and countless postcards.
The mountains behind it give views which are probably the best
in the world, and the easy nature of the locals make Rio a relaxing
destination, which is incredibly rare for a city with 10 million
people in it.
The best place to stay for the budget traveller is in Copacabana,
which is a bit cheaper then the more upmarket Ipanema area. The
quality of accommodation is pretty poor, while the beachfront
hotels are astronomically high. The best option, if in a group
of three or more is to rent out your own apartment, which is
close to the beach (very important) and has facilities such as
a bathroom and kitchen which would cut down of eating costs.
The cheapest option is the COPACABANA
PRAIA YOUTH HOSTEL at Rua Tenente Morones de Gusmao 85. Although
it is quite far away from the beach, it is very popular with
travellers and good for meeting people. Prices start at $6.50
US for a bed in a four bed dorm. $15 US for a double, all with
shared bathroom and kitchen facilities provided.
The cheapest hotel in the middle
of everything is the HOTEL ANGRESE. It is pretty rundown, but
the location just of Santa Clara and Av NS de Copacabana is perfect.
Rooms start at $14 a single and $25 a double.
Some guide books suggest the COPACABANA CHALË, at Rua Pompeu
Yet I do not recommend it. When I was there (for two days) the
staff were very rude, the rooms were dirty and the people who
stayed there were local druggies. Beds cost $6.50 in a four bed
dorm or $7 US for a double. Only come here as a last resort.
Easily the best option and (if
in a group) the cheapest option is renting
your own apartment. The EMPREENDIMENTOS IMOBILIA RIO LTDA rent
out temporary apartments. The manager, Margareth Belsito is very
helpful and can be found at Rua SANTA CLARA 98, room 212 T(236-1076)
FAX (255-3792). She, or her staff, will show pictures of their
apartments and you can choose from there. If in a group of four
and two of you don't mind sleeping on the floor or couch, it
will cost $5 US a person. This would include a great location,
freedom to entertain guests, and kitchen facilities. You must
stay for a minimum of five nights, but there is no maximum.
Hygiene is not the best in Rio De Janiero. Be sure not to eat
anything that has been washed in tap water, like lettuce for
example. Although not as bad as Bali belly, Rio Belly can put
you out of action for two to three days.
The cheapest options are the corner
shops which sell hamburgers, hotdogs, beans, rice, fruit shakes,
pizzas, etc. There must be over 100 in the Copocabana area alone,
but the place that I frequented the most was on the corner of
RUE BARATA RIBEIRO and CONSTANTE RAMOS (it had no name). It was
one of the few places that worked on spotless stainless steel.
For around $2 US, you could eat a special combo advertised on
the boards. It would include chicken fillet, rice, beans, an
egg, salad (remember don't eat lettuce) and a fruitshake.
There are many buffet restaurants
on RUE BARATA RIBEIRO, which charge by the weight of your plate.
The choice of food is great and the food itself is pretty good.
Waiters only get paid by what drinks you order so be sure to
have a drink or two.
Most travellers come to Rio De
Janeiro for the beaches so why not eat on the beaches? Every
fifty metres are little shacks, which, although popular for beer
and coconuts, also sell very cheap food. Pastries cost $1US while
a huge portion of chips will set you back $1.50 US. Not only
do you get reasonable food, but the best views of the beach as
Although it is a sin for budget travellers to go to Mcdonalds
or similiar fast food restaurants, I must mention that 'Bobs'
(a dutch fast food chain now in Brazil) has great hotdogs and
milkshakes for $1.50 US.
The nightlife in Rio is not as crazy as the media would have
us believe. When we see millions of people dancing on the beach
for New Years Eve, we must not be tricked into thinking that
this is a regular occurrence. However Rio still does have some
fine places to party he night away.
Behind Copacabana and Ipanema is
a butterfly shaped lake called LAGOA RODRIGOI DE FREITAS. Along
the waterfront are many resturants/nightspots which have great
live music and fantastic outdoor seating. They are open until
late which make it a perfect place to eat, listen to music and
dance all in the one venue.
Copacabana beach is always pretty
active and you can drink at the shacks (mentioned before), and
then play a bit of night football. Because of the threat of crime,
the council has erected many floodlights which light up the whole
beach, enabling many beach parties.
On the water front is the nightclub
'Help Disco', which probably got its name because tourists cried
help, after entering it. This has to be the seediest, dodgiest
most drug orientated night spot I have or ever will see.
In a crowd of 1000, 300 would be prostitutes (blocking the bar),
250 would be Americans trying to pick up the prostitutes, 200
would be drug dealers and the rest would be wide eyed tourists
wondering what they hell was going on.
Saying that, if you are in a big group, this place can be a lot
of fun, as you just sit back and watch.
Things to do:-
The first thing you must experience is the beaches. Copacabana
beach is where the locals come to swim, and the water is warm
and pretty clean. The Brazilians are incredibly fit and like
to flirt and show off their bodies to any pale tourists, which
adds to the occasion. Just like in the song 'The girl from Ipanema',
this beach is swarming with beautiful women. The water however
is much dirtier and the portable oil rig 200 metres from shore
is an eyesore. However, beach volleyball and football games make
the beach entertaining without swimming.
Up there with the 'Statue of Liberty'
and the 'Eiffel Tower', the 710 meter Cristo Redentor (Christ
the Redeemer) is one of the most famous man made landmarks in
the world. Although it is much smaller than what the postcards
suggest, it is still an amazing experience. Getting there is
an adventure in itself as a slow train ($10US) makes it's way
up the Corcovada mountain.
Alternatively you can hire a private guide who will stop on the
way, even showing you the gates to Ronald Biggs' house, the famous
British train robber, for $13US. Catch the 583 bus from RUE BARAT
RIBEIRO, Copacabana. It is open from 8.30am to 6.30 pm.
Just before Copacabana is the two-peaked
Sugar Loaf mountain (really a hill), resting beside the water.
There is a two stage cable car that takes you to both peaks,
for $8 US. Sometimes there is a party on the second, the highest
peak, which is popular with tourists, but incredibly dangerous
when drunk. It is open 8.00am to 10.00pm and lifts leave every
The Jardim Botanico (Botanical
Gardens) are worth a look and are located just behind Ipanema.
It has a range of wildlife from greedy squirrels which let you
feed them to a very noisy bird-life.
Opposite the gardens is the ?Jóquei
Clube (Jockey Club), a racing track that
has meetings every weekend. Although not the best option for
a budget traveller is a lot of fun seeing the sport mad Brazilians
cry and yell at their chosen horses. I recommend everyon to see
Where is it?
Rio de Janeiro is on the middle east coast of Brazil. Airlines
often have discounts to this destination as it is the most popular
in South America. If leaving from London, ask British Airways
if they have any deals for around $650 US. Iberia and Air France
often have cheap deals leaving from Madrid and Paris. Miami also
have very cheap deals for around $450 US.
Airfares are very expensive to destinations around South America
so it is better to bus it to a nearby country then fly from there.
Because Rio is such a big city, tourist offices, police, pharmacies
Tourist buses leave Rio airport going to both beaches for $3.50
Transport within Rio is very simple as all buses go in the one
line, North or
South. Fares cost .40 cents US.
There are many banks and Cambios but only one American Express
which is North of Copacabana on Avienda Atlántica.
Perfect almost everyday!