Rio de Janeiro is a very exciting city with marvellous beaches, breathtaking landscapes and home to some of the most friendly and warm people on the planet. But paradise has its ugly underbelly complete with all sorts of vagrants. Despite Brazil's improving economic situation, many people of the country are hard-working residents who stay in favelas. These areas are also hubs of small-time criminals, drug lords and even pickpocketers who have turned to crime as their main source of income. And gullible tourists can become their prime target if they aren't careful. Some helpful tips while visiting this tropical getaway.
- Use a Map: Research your hotel, key points of interest and way to get around on an online map or physical map of the city. But don't dumbly stand in the middle of the road, deliberating over the map. If needed, enter a coffee shop or restaurant and confirm your coordinates. Also, avoid desolated streets and preferably order taxicabs by telephone.
- Learn the Language: Learning the local Portuguese language will help you in an argument with a thief or a debriefing with the police. Of course, no one expects fluency, but at least attempt to learn the language by way of online classes, language-learning software or courses at a community college. Conversing in Portuguese is also a great way to break the walls down.
- Dress like a Local: Don't become an obvious tourist trap by throwing on cutoffs or a Hawaiian shirt. Keep the swimwear for the beach but otherwise, go for the jeans-&-sneakers combo. Blend with the locals so that the bad guys don't come picking after you.
- Leave expensive smartphones at home: Now you don't want your expensive smartphone getting snatched by some smarty pant, do you? The same goes for all fancy gadgets, credit cards, chunks of cash and even passports. If you don't need it, leave it. While out of town, a colour copy of the passport and the necessary amount of cash should suffice.
Avoid visiting ATM centres inside shopping malls or gas stations after the sun goes down. Also, carry a cheap mobile phone and a wallet bait with a cancelled credit card, just in case the occasion arises.
- Don't get Sloshed: Getting sloshed in a foreign country is never a good idea. So make sure to go easy when hitting the boisterous spots of Lapa or Ipanema. Ladies should especially pay attention to their drinks since malicious people may try to spike them with sedatives or other nefarious agents.