Three of us are going to Rio for our annual Holiday vacation in December. We've never been. What should we bring? Is there anything that we 'must' do or see while we're there?
Every time my baby smiles at me.
Where to start? These might not all be "must-sees", since it depends on the people involved & their interests, but they're def. highlights of the city.
Corcovado (statue of Christ) - in center of park. Have a driver take you there. Stunning 360 view of the city.
Sugar loaf - a bit touristy, but great views of the city.
Museums: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, in downtown. MAM (museum arte moderno), south of downtown.
Floresta Tijuca (giant national park in center of city - rent a driver for the day/afternoon to get you around)
Take in a few nightclubs in Lapa at night. Rio at night can be a little risky, so take a tax from your hotel to the club. Lapa during the day is also fun, and safe to walk around on foot.
Generally...Rio is getting much safer, but the pickpockets are around and they're VERY good. General rule of thumb: when going out, carry the cash you need for the day, one card if you need it, and a copy of your passport. Don't wear anything that puts a sign on you saying "please rob me".
Drink fruit juice! Fruit juice stands everywhere. 15-20 fruits from SA you won't find anywhere else in the world. My personal favorites: graviola, cupuacu, cacao (juice from the cocoa fruit), caldo de cana (sugar cane juice - sooooo good, not too sweet either)
Mil Frutas - ice cream chain in Ipanema and Leblon. They sell sorbets made from Brazilian fruits.
If you have time to be an active homosexual, well, you're certainly in the right place. Tons of funky, interesting gay bars in Lapa on the weekends. (take a taxi there & back) Bars in Ipanema more standard Chelsea vibe.
Gay beach in Ipanema (see link). More hairless muscle boys than you can imagine.
Learn a little Portuguese - not too many English speakers around.
Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico) - gorgeous, enormous and cheap.
The bondinho (cute little 1920's streetcar) in Lapa is adorable, but don't get on it - pickpocket central.
Keep in mind that Rio is getting safer, but is also getting EXPENSIVE. Used to be that you had to go to Ipanema & Leblon (Rio's Beverly Hills) to find New York prices. Now the city in general is almost as expensive as NY.
Buses during the day are perfectly safe - try to avoid really crowded buses because of pickpockets. Same for the metro.
If you're single, if you meet cute guy who wants to come over to your hotel - DON'T. Very quick & easy way to get robbed. That's what all the sleazy hotels are for - prostitution, but also for quick liaisons in general.
Take a couple of days from your stay in Rio and go to Iguasu Falls, the waterfalls on the border between Brazil and Argentinia. Stay at Hotel Das Cateratas (elegant, relaxing and understated), right across from the falls. You can even cross into Argentina, which is a whole different perspective, but stay on the Brazilian side. The entire experience is magnificent.
It's about an hour flight to Iguasu Falls from Rio, and the scenery is spectaular. Do not miss this stop. You will not regret going there. It's one of the wonders of the world.
Things to bring:
If there's three of you, rotate the role of one to stay sober each night out. It's just easier.
Everything R 2,3,4 said, bring a speedo and some light clothing, it will be hot and humid that time of the year. You will love it.
Gringos exploiting third world country
For some odd reason I have never had the slightest interest in Rio. It's just one of those places that I don't care if I see or not.
Isn't it dangerous too?
It's amusing how people always jump all over themselves to show how travelled and 'cultured' they are in these threads.
Besides usual places (Copaabana, Ipanema, Christ The Redeemer), take some time to explore the less touristy neighborhoods like Santa Teresa with some lovely colonial architecture and great restaurants. A visit to the Niemeyer-designed museum of modern art in Niteroy, across the bay, is also worth the effort. If you want to go party with locals, there are quite a few really good places in Lapa (Rio Escenarium is my favorite.)
In terms of personal safety, my partner and I have never had any issues but it's probably a good idea to exercise some caution. Bring some expired credit cards or charge cards that can't be used in Brazil, along with some US cash that you could put in the extra wallet together with those fake cards. When taking cabs don't put bags with valuables on the sat next to you but on the floor. The layout of the city is such that taking cabs is the best option anyway, and, in the evening, unless you're in Ipanema or Leblon, that's what you should do.
Miss Dionne lives in Rio. Watch your step hussy.
It's important that you try to blend in with the locals. Wear a fruit hat