Staying out of trouble in Rio de Janeiro
is very easy
indeed. Yet, most tourists
I know of had a bad experience
caused by some basic mistake
they would never
make in their home countries
Follow the guidelines below, use your judgement and you should be mostly safe.
- Avoid carrying unconcealed expensive items, like cameras, camcorders and so on, specially at night.
- When driving, keep your windows closed. Do not open your windows to talk to or accept anything from the traffic light kids.
- Avoid the getting yellow taxis on the streets. You never know what you'll get. You can always make a phone call, wait ten minutes and get a decent driver for the same price.
- Do not go into the Favelas, specially if you're blond, have light colored eyes or something that announces you as a non-native person. If you are really into visiting the Favelas, ask a Tourist Guide. Some of them will guide you through the Favelas in a safe way.
- Avoid drawing too much attention. Try to dress as a local. Avoid those stupid colored shirts or t-shirts with "Copacabana" written all over.
- That girl on the night-club in Copacabana is not looking at you because you're hot. She's only after your money.
- Tips in restaurants are 10% and normally come included in the bill. Taxi drivers are not normally tipped.
- Some places won't take a credit card. Always carry some local currency.
- Don't go exploring places you don't know at night. Do it during the day. If you can find a native to show you the hot spots, the better.
- Don't think you're smart and everybody else is stupid. Intelligence and stupidity seem to be spread evenly across the planet.
- Avoid the public transportation system unless you know exactly what you're doing.
- Be wary when/if you find yourself in a dark and deserted place. Try to get out of there as soon as possible. Panic is absolutely unnecessary, tough.
- People tend to stop briefly at a red traffic light at night. Pretty much like the Stop signs in the US. It's illegal to cross a red light, but at night the police doesn't seem to care much. Stopping for a long time at a red light may get you mugged.
And last but not least, always remember: Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish. Most people do not speak English, or can only speak/write very basic English. Spanish knowledge may help you, since most people will be able to understand a substantial amount of what you're saying.