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  • Writer's pictureBecca Jackson

Tips for safe travel in Brazil

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

All travel comes with a certain amount of risk, but do you want to spend your life contained to your bedroom?! There are things you can do to minimise the risk to make your travels safer and therefore, more enjoyable.

Having travel insurance is also very important should something go wrong, see our recommendations on the best travel insurance companies on our travel tips page.

Christ redeemer - Rio de Janeiro
Christ redeemer - Rio de Janeiro


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9 Tips for safe travel in Brazil

1) Don't wear any flashy jewellery

Leave any expensive looking jewellery at home. The key words here are expensive looking, not just expensive. A mugger won't stop to double check whether your Rolex is a fake or not, they'll be attracted like magpies and you may end up having a nasty experience because of it. I have left my engagement ring and bracelets at home, wearing costume jewellery instead and Dave has swapped his silver Fossil watch for a cheap plastic Casio.

2) Be careful with your valuables

Again, similar to the jewellery, don't flash about expensive items such as mobile phones, laptops, cameras etc. Of course you will want to use your phone or camera to take pictures of your experiences and you absolutely should, just be aware of your surroundings when doing so and once you have taken the photo put the camera safely back in your pocket or backpack.

Once your items are away safely, still be aware of pickpockets. Pockets with zips are best but not fool-proof for the trained pick pocket, so keep your hands close to your pockets in crowded spaces. Wearing your backpack on your front can also be a good idea in particularly crowded places like metros, where when stood still for a while you may not notice someone meddling with your bag zips.

3) Keep hold of your bags

It is very unlikely you are going to get held up for your backpack, but an opportunist will grab it and run in the hope it will contain valuables. Therefore, don't just keep your bags in sight, ideally keep them attached to you or clipped to the chair you are sitting on. Avoid over shoulder bags and instead wear straps across your body to making the grab and run option harder. Of course the same applies to your valuables, just because you can see it on the table in front of you, doesn't mean a passing opportunist couldn't grab it and run before you have chance to pick it up.

Keep your bags close - Us at Cuiaba airport
Keep your bags close

4) Don't put up a fight

Probably the most important tip so far. Belongings can be replaced, you can't. Most robbers only want your valuables, they don't want to hurt you, so if you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation, don't give chase or put up a fight as it could lead to something even worse.

5) Use Uber

Ubers in Brazil are cheap and tracked, so use them. Whilst there are some public transport options (see below) there are most definitely areas of the cities you should not walk, day or night. So if you are unsure as to whether public transport is the right option for your journey, use Uber instead. For short journeys and, or, if there are a few of you it can even work out cheaper. Check the registration number of the car before climbing in to make sure it is in fact your driver.

Note on public transport in Brazil

Buses - we avoided buses in Rio as we were unfamiliar with the routes and as the favelas are located in the city here we didn't want to risk straying into them on a bus by accident. However, in Sao Paulo the favelas are out in the suburbs and so the city buses are perfectly safe and easy to use. There is a set fare of 4.40R$ per ride, regardless of how far you travel and you can pay using cash or card on the bus itself.

Metro - the metro in both Rio and Sao Paulo is extensive and brilliant. It is perfectly safe to use and also has a set fare like the buses. It is 6.50R$ in Rio and 4.40R$ in Sao Paulo. Again you can pay using cash or card at the ticket desks or even tap on using a bank card depending on which bank you use. As it is a set fee, there is no tap off. We used the metro in both cities.

Whilst safe, always be aware of pick pockets when using public transport.

6) Take advice from your hostel

When you check in to a new area, chat to the hostel staff to understand where is safe for you to visit and walk alone.

7) Don't carry too much cash

Probably obvious but you don't want to be carrying too much cash in your wallet or purse. Firstly when paying for things, if someone takes a look a sees a wodge of notes this may make you a target and secondly, if you are asked for your wallet you won't lose as much. Sometimes this is unavoidable, if you are returning from the cash machine for example, but try spreading the cash about your person rather than putting it all in your wallet. I always put some in my bra - sorry guys not an option for you but you get the idea! You can keep cash withdrawals and therefore the amount of cash you carry to a minimum if you have a good travel credit card - click here to read about the best options for travel cards here.

Money image

8) Don't let your card out of your sight

When paying with a bank card, keep hold of it and don't allow the waiter to walk off with it. This happened to us in Argentina, the waiter took it behind the bar with him rather than just bringing us the card machine, a couple of days later we had fraud on our account and I am convinced he took the details as this was the only time the card was not in my possession.

9) Safety in numbers

I appreciate this is not always possible when travelling alone and don't let this put you off solo travel but if you do meet others in your hostel, see what their plans are and do activities together. Booking onto a free walking tour is a great way to explore the area in a group and meet fellow travellers. We did exactly this in Rio and ended up meeting a great group of other travellers and all booking on a samba bar crawl with the same company.


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