It's always a good idea to findout, in advance, how much you should expect to pay for your taxi ride from an airport to your hotel. The hotel would be the best place to ask this question if you are not able to get the information through the virtualtourist site.
It's also a good idea to ask the driver about the cost of the ride before getting into the taxi. Otherwise, you might end up paying for the ride, driver's lunch, and his daughter's new clothes. :)
On the day of my arrival in Rio, a taxi driver approached to me at the airport and tried to rip me off by offering a price 6 times more than what it normally costs to get to my hotel. He told me R$300 to get to the hotel in Leblon when it should only cost around R$50. That was ridiculous.
Fotunately, I had done my homework prior to arriving in Rio and knew exactly how much it costs to get to my hotel. I found myself another taxi driver who offered a reasonable fee.
So it's true. Homework does pay off at the end. Haha.
Nearly every taxi that I got into tried to negotiate a flat rate to my destination. At home in the US I couldn't come up with a reasonable estimate of cab fare, so how could anyone do so on vacation? At first I would try to negotiate a lower price, but after insisting on the use of the meter, I found that even what I thought were bargains, were ripoffs. Use the meter. If the driver claims it's "quebrado" or broken, take another taxi.
I liked to sit at Copacabana beach and drink a very cold beer, but I think there are so many more beautiful beaches around Rio. Go and spend time at the other beaches....
Unique Suggestions: I suggest to walk around Copacabana and watch when people play football on the beach and many take a nice walk in the sunshine.
Most taxi's are very cheap, we used the yellow cabs which were no more expensive from outside the hotel. BUT DO NOT get the yellow cabs that you are directed to outside the tourist spots, Sugarloaf, Corcovado etc we were charged almost three times the rate by doing this, thinking that yellow cabs were OK. Hail one from up the road instead.
Its a folkloric show, but honestly, you're better off searching google for any carnaval footage and just watching it on line. The show at Plataforma will have fancy costumes, capoeira and lots of lights, but it's as close to bootleg Disney as you can get. Save your precious Rio nights for something more authentic.
Unique Suggestions: Drink lots of caiprinhas and join in the dancing at your table!
Fun Alternatives: I've been told the Star Brazil show is an acceptable 'folkloric' show.
When you get off tthe plane in Rio you will be barraged by "taxi drivers." Make sure that you ignore them and make your way to the desk in the terminal that dispatches the 'legitimate' taxis. We ended up with one of the private cars and it cost us twice as much to get to Ipanema ($60 versus $30).
Everything is in reais, so it is still not so expensive for you, but it is, the Christ is a very touristic place, and the prices are for tourists, but if you do not want to be treated like a fool when you spend your money.
I am sorry all the stores in the Christ and also in the Sugar Loaf mountain, but the prices are not honest!
May 14th, 2005
Unique Suggestions: Remember that every souvenir can be cheaper in Santa tereza, in the Hippie Fair in Ipanema and in the little fair in front of Help Disco in Copacabana! Even cheaper are the art crafts sold in the Feira do Nordeste.
Fun Alternatives: You can buy post cards, little pins or very small stuffs, but do not buy overpriced touristic souvenirs.
In Petropolis you can buy statues of Christ, and they are cheaper than in the Christ Mountain itself!;)
Unless that you have very few time in the city and you cannot miss it, just go to the Sugar Loaf when the weather is cloudy. We were lucky that at litst we had a good visibility, but sometimes a huge and thick cloud will ruin everything and will give you pouring rain as a gift! :)
Even though it is beautiful to see the clouds clossing the landscape!
Here you can see the real entrance of the Bay, one saide the impressive Sugar oaf, at Rio's side, and the other side the Fortress Santa Cruz in Niteroi, built in 1565.
Unique Suggestions: Once you are under the cloud, go to the bars on the top of the Sugar Loaf or to the artcrafts store and make up you time, the clouds can simply go away in questions of minutes or in long hours!
Fun Alternatives: In cloudy days, if you are not a shopping freak, a visit to the Botanic Garden could be really nice!
April 29th, 2005
Locals will try to over charge you in any thing they think they can! You most try to find out the price of most things before you go out to buy!!! Other wise the holiday might become expensive!!
Unique Suggestions: Bargain and much as you think you can!!! Especially in the beach!!! For example: I wanted to buy a beach dress, I asked 2 sellers before I got the correct price the first said 60 reais, the second 50 reais and the third 30 reais, and I speak fluent Portuguese!!!
I don´t like to get regular taxis in rio airports neither in main bus station ( they were used to over rate, to make longer paths, charge for luggage, etc);
Unique Suggestions: I´d rather pay a fixed price( for destination) for special cabs at the airport (COOTRAMO or TRANSCOOPASS) and main bus station; this way you can pay more but you know exactly before how much you are going to pay and the service is better ( air conditioned, friendly drivers).
Now at the main bus station ( rodoviária novo rio) you pay by destination for the regular cabs and before taking the cab; it was the way they've found to prevent drivers to overrate.
Fun Alternatives: You can take the shuttle ( REAL company )from international airport to subway station Carioca, domestic airport ( Santos Dumont ) and to Copacabana, I take it when I have little luggage.
Sometime I take a taxi which has taken someone to the airport or bus station, I go to the wrong place, arrivals instead of departure taxis.
Don't change money with the touts at the airport arrivals hall.
Fun Alternatives: If you arrive at the old terminal take the elevator to the top floor shopping area. There are cash machines and a Banco Brasil with an exchange service on this floor. All the touts at the arrival area change the dollars that you give them at the bank at a much better rate than they give you.
Well during Carnival, half of Rio is a tourist trap!
In general stay away from Copa, the street markets there...sure it might look cheap to a tourist, but the prices there are hiked up atleast 3 times...So if you are like me, have lots of family members to get gifts for, then it would make a difference.
Instead go to street shops and fairs in Centro...or other market places
Unique Suggestions: You can always try and bargain....but seeing how poor or misaraable some of the vendors look, it only makes it worse!...You actually end up buying just to help them...as charity so to speak and end up with things you dont actually need, (at least thats what happend to me)
The Corcovado Train is a very popular tourist attraction ( I've taken it twice - see my Corcovado Railway travelogue ), and well it should be, because it is a spectacular trip.
Be very careful of the various vendors that surround the sidewalks and parking areas near the station at the base of the hill as they can be very aggressive in their selling of various things. They are not selling things inside the official station grounds for a reason!
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go past these people, try to get past them as quickly as possible. It is tempting to want to stay and watch their antics, but be very careful in doing so, as this opens you up for being surrounded on all sides by various street vendors yelling at you. Avoid these street vendors and the Chinese made crap they are selling as Rio de Janeiro memorabilia.
Be really careful that this distraction does not open you up to robbery or other attack.
Fun Alternatives: Go around behind the station, and visit the (free!) museum of the Corcovado Train, and a few other areas while you wait for the train to depart.
If you want to visit street vendors, there are many throughout Rio that have better items and more authentic items - and are less agressive than here.
The various vendors that are inside the station area, as well as those at the summit at the statue, are more polite, and have true Rio de Janeiro memorabilia for sale.
The beach can get very crowded, especially during Carnival season. But hey, this is Brazil, there is always room!!! :)
Unique Suggestions: Don't forget to bring your sandals, the sand is too hot to walk barefoot on (and don't wear shoes, unless you want to be stared at).
Umbrellas and chairs can be rented for a cheap price (under $10 US).
Don't expect to see topless women everywhere.
Snatching of jewelry while walking
Money changers offer good rates
Unique Suggestions: Don't wear expensive jewelery
Don't check into a bus alone
Stay in southern parts of the city
Make a copy of your passport and leave the passport in the hotel safe
Take only as much money as you really need
Fun Alternatives: Keep all in your hotel safe
Wear a money bag around your neck below your shirt or keep it in front pockets.