Rio de Janeiro Warnings and Dangers

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Most Recent Warnings and Dangers in Rio de Janeiro

  • Safety in Brazil greatly overemphasized!

    by Andyslam Updated Mar 17, 2014

    My wife and I spent almost three weeks visiting this beautiful country, and we were in Rio for the first five days for Carnival. Then we flew to Salvador for three days and apparently both cities are notorious for crime inflicted upon the unsuspecting tourists. Our last day was spent in São Paulo and this city of 30 million people has a unwholesome reputation.
    Like everyone else I read extensively about safety in Brazil before I left Canada and both my wife and I were EXTREMELY apprehensive before we arrived. In fact I was almost a bit paranoid, like I believe I was going to be robbed or mugged the second I left my hotel door!
    I am happy to report safety problems in Rio and the other parts of Brazil we visited are COMPLETELY over exaggerated. My wife and I took the buses everywhere, walked around late at night in Ipanema where we stayed, traveled on our own for the whole time in Brazil, and not once did I experience even a hint of discomfort with my surroundings or with any strangers near me. My initial paranoia certainly detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of this wonderful country with its wonderful people. From my perspective my sense of safety with travelling here is similar to my sense of safety when I am in New York City or London, England or Rome, Italy. Just use your common sense and be aware but not nervous or fearful. The average Brazilian would be happy to assist you if you need it! The only problem we had during our trip was that the airport bus driver at Rio ripped us off by charging us double the fare because we didn't speak Portuguese.
    I realize safety was over exaggerated when I noticed a number of young Brazilians in Rio and Salvador walking around with their smartphones in their back pockets. Even I am not this careless back in the wealthy country where I live! The old town of Salvador has a very bad reputation for crime against tourists, and I was so surprised to see how benign this area was. We even had supper smack in the heart of old town and watched a dance performance in the evening there, no issues whatsoever.
    Maybe my wife and I were lucky, but from my perspective if you wish to visit Brazil, forget the dire earnings: just go, be sensible and enjoy yourselves. The media is giving this beautiful country a bad name.

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  • Rio seemed safe to me

    by mike123us Written Mar 1, 2014

    My wife and I just returned from a trip to Rio. We were there for a few days. Not even once during our time there were we even approached by anyone asking for money. Any crime was not apparent anywhere where we went (all the tourist sights, beaches, restaurants, bars, etc). Im sure you would see more crime if you lived there but as a tourist you should be perfectly fine. A few bums sleeping on the streets right next to expensive hotels, but thats the same as in New York and any other major city. All tourist attractions are well guarded and have heavy entrance fees (for the poor at least) so they wouldn't be able to sneak in there anyway. Taking the official yellow & blue taxis seemed safe enough, especially if you have the hotel or restaurant you're leaving catch one for you. If you ask me, the dangers of Rio (at least for tourists) is greatly exaggerated.

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  • Come if you want, but be prepared.

    by luannea Written Jan 30, 2014

    I live in Rio and I've "only" been robbed five times so far. Once with a gun in my head, when a man took my car at 8pm in Flamengo. The thing is statistics doesn't work on this, you will get lucky or you won't. You should read all the recommendations, don't walk alone late at night and take a cab when you can (better call by phone or in an app). I myself hate the feeling to have to walk around looking everywhere to make sure I'm safe. It's getting worse in 2014, maybe for the worldcup, maybe because Rio is getting more and more expensive. I listen about a robbery case from someone I know at least two times a week. That's pretty high, I think. If you really wanna come, come. But be prepared, like if you'd go to a battle. Hide your belongings, put money on different pockets. Be ready to give everything away, don't react. Robbers here can kill you for a camera. It's hard to expect respect and value of life from people that are never respected by the Government. Health and education here are way below the ideal, meanwhile, the city is expanding for tourists. You can sense the injustice in the air, it may fall on your lap. If I were you, I'd wait one more year to come. Maybe things will be a bit better.

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  • Avoid Rio if you can

    by AndyR63 Updated Jan 1, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have lived in Brazil before during my childhood and teenage years, and returned to this country in January 2013 after having lived in Europe most part of my life. I decided to move back to Brazil after having heard that this country is doing very well now. This is not exactly true, and I regret for having moved back to Brazil. I live in Rio now, but plan to move back to Europe in a couple of years.
    Rio might be an interesting city, but it has a very dark side. Gun crime is very common here, especially in and nearby the shanty towns called "favelas". There are several favelas in Rio, so one will never be too far from one. The local government has installed some temporary police stations in many favelas, in a bid to try to reduce the high number of crimes and criminals originating from them. Many criminals have moved from the favelas to other locations, so the problem has not really been solved. In a country where about 45, 000 people (that is right, the US is nothing compared to this) are being killed each year by guns, I feel never safe out in the streets. The typical dangerous criminal in Brazil is an underaged (below 18 years of age) male that abuse drugs. The completely outdated laws in Brazil are filled with flaws that totally protect the underage criminals, no matter what crime they have committed - and they know that. There have been several cases where the underaged criminal has committed barbaric murders, killing several people, but they are still free walking in the streets. This is something that would never be accepted in Europe or in other parts of the world, but it happens here. The crime rate is on the way up in Brazil, and the government, which includes *too many* corrupted politicians, just do not care about the safety of the people. If the government really cared about it, they would have introduced laws like they have in Singapore, which work extremelly well in that country.
    Another problem with Brazil, and especially in Rio, are the very inefficient services and an incredible bureaucratic system. Everything is slow in Rio. If you are in a supermarket doing some grocery shopping, prepare to stay for a very long time in line/queue to pay for it, even if there are only 3 customers in front of you. If you plan to move to Brazil for work, be prepared for a lot of headache and paperwork. If there is a country that might have invented bureaucracy, then it must be Brazil.
    Before moving to Rio, I thought of it as a great city known for 3 things: The beaches, the women and the food. Honestly, the beaches are too crowded, and a lot of robbery occurs there. Some of the women might be very beautiful too look at, but they are just in minority and not everywhere, contrary to what the media want men around the world to believe in. But the food is something really worth trying in Brazil. Here, you will find many great restaurants to try, and a variety of local dishes. If you like a good steak, go to a typical "churrascaria" restaurant, and you will not be disappointed.
    In short, if you plan to visit Rio, try to avoid the favelas. Do not wear anything expensive (watch, jewelry, camera, etc), have some cash in the pocket when going out on a trip, but try to keep all your credit cards and documents in a safe at the hotel. Just carry your passport with you and eventually a driver's license, but make sure that you have photocopied/scanned them first, and that the copy is in a safe place. If you plan to move to Rio, my advice is: Avoid it. This is not a safe city and it is not a safe country.

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  • Gotham city in the tropics

    by hakobama Written Dec 1, 2013

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    Rio is now worse than ever! I lived in Rio (Barra da Tijuca) for more than 20 years, in the 80´s and 90´s. I just returned (Oct 2013) from a month visit to see my son who lives there. Crime is everywhere, it doesn´t matter if you are in Ipanema, downtown, or even Barra, you are still very likely to get mugged (at the very least) if you take a public bus. If you are going to the airport, you must pass through some of the worst ghetto areas, where there are frequently shoot outs and innocent people get shot, even in their cars on the freeway.
    I heard so many awful stories from local cariocas (natives of Rio) about how bad the crime had become again that I did not want to leave my son´s apt. Everyone who can afford it now drives in a BULLET PROOF CAR....and people say Rio is not dangerous??? Those people who wrote on this post that they did not have any problems were incredibly lucky. Rio is chaos at its worst! You are not safe there, anywhere in Rio. The world cup is now an excuse for everything, and trust me, the criminals will be out in force during the world cup. Avoid going to Rio, there are so many other, more beautiful, safer, and cheaper, places in the world. (I live in Spain, thank God).

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  • Rio is great but very dangerous

    by TomRaven Written Apr 3, 2013

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    I just read the news report of the American woman pulled off a bus in Rio last week when with her boyfriend. He was clubbed senseless and she was raped for six hours by three hoodlums. Rio is a great city but if they don't make major changes before the Olympics, I would avoid the place. No way would I subject myself to that sort of exposure. Especially if you are over sixty. Then you have a bullseye on your back. TomRaven

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  • Rio done (un)justice!

    by cherrymagic Updated Jan 24, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I just come back from spending 9 days family holiday in Rio, the suitcases still unpacked. Specifically wanted to give comment under warnings and dangers as I feel strongly Rio is still given this very bad crime sticker, which is very much unfair, specially lately!
    In preparation for the holiday we of course consulted as much as poss the internet and other resources, and found many warnings on Rio and violence and crime. Well, I just wanted to stress that in nine days (and nights!) none of it happened to us! Under the impressions of the comments on this page too, we prepared ourselves for robberies in the streets, armed attacks and all sorts. By the time we finished reading the comments we wandered why the hell we planned to go to Rio?!
    Of all that, we just felt that the city centre is a bit dreary after 18.00 and on weekends and there was this character shouting to us, wanting to "tell us something", but could not catch up with us, that is all! We did purposely avoid favellas, of which a number has been pacified in the last few years. We just did not want to add to the pockets of those who rule in favelas, and why should someones hard life be interesting to pay for to see it?!
    The truth is, you do not go to Rio to have a perfect holiday, you go there to have a different holiday and possibly the holiday of a lifetime! Do not expect to be spoiled rotten by anyone, make your own holiday work for you and be prepared that the apartment you actually rented does not have all amenities promised on the web, that the roof pool will not be available for the repairs and that kind of thing. But, are you going there for the latest owen built in, and to swim in the roof pool, or to enjoy a town which is just overwhelming?!
    Today, we wish we left more time for Rio on our South America trip (since we also visited Buenos Aires and Montevideo). That is why we know we need to be back there, there is so much more to see and enjoy! The truth is RIO IS JUST GREAT! The safety is probably much improved in the light of the World Cup next year and actually much of the life happens around Ipanema and Copacabana, day and night, contrary to what we read in comments! Both beaches are just indescribably gorgeous, can't tell when more - by the day, for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying your cairpinha, or at night when they are both lit up with tens of reflectors and thousands of people enjoying the walk, biking, playing handball in the sand, whatever, singing, dancing, spontaneous parties, something for everyone. Can not paint the picture realistic enough, you just have to go there and experience it!
    General rules of precautions apply, of course, but that is the case with any large city in the world! I read just the other day that Sienna Miller got her handbag snatched while sitting in the car, broad light, in Paris!
    If you want to really measure the percentage of truthfulness on these comments on Rio, just go check what the same warnings and dangers say about your own town, specially if you come from a big one! I just did and am sorry have not done it before our trip to amazing Rio de Janeiro!
    Rio, we love you and will be coming back for sure!

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  • Rio done unjustice!

    by cherrymagic Written Jan 24, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I just come back from spending 9 days family holiday in Rio, the suitcases still unpacked. Specifically wanted to give comment under warnings and dangers as I feel strongly Rio is still given this very bad crime sticker, which is very much unfair, specially lately!
    In preparation for the holiday we of course consulted as much as poss the internet and other resources, and found many warnings on Rio and violence and crime. Well, I just wanted to stress that in nine days (and nights!) none of it happened to us! Under the impressions of the comments on this page too, we prepared ourselves for robberies in the streets, armed attacks and all sorts. By the time we finished reading the comments we wandered why the hell we planned to go to Rio?!
    Of all that, we just felt that the city centre is a bit dreary after 18.00 and on weekends and there was this character shouting to us, wanting to "tell us something", but could not catch up with us, that is all! We did purposely avoid favellas, of which a number has been pacified in the last few years. We just did not want to add to the pockets of those who rule in favelas, and why should someones hard life be interesting to pay for to see it?!
    The truth is, you do not go to Rio to have a perfect holiday, you go there to have a different holiday and possibly the holiday of a lifetime! Do not expect to be spoiled rotten by anyone, make your own holiday work for you and be prepared that the apartment you actually rented does not have all amenities promised on the web, that the roof pool will not be available for the repairs and that kind of thing. But, are you going there for the latest owen built in, and to swim in the roof pool, or to enjoy a town which is just overwhelming?!
    Today, we wish we left more time for Rio on our South America trip (since we also visited Buenos Aires and Montevideo). That is why we know we need to be back there, there is so much more to see and enjoy! The truth is RIO IS JUST GREAT! The safety is probably much improved in the light of the World Cup next year and actually much of the life happens around Ipanema and Copacabana, day and night, contrary to what we read in comments! Both beaches are just indescribably gorgeous, can't tell when - by the more day, for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying your cairpinha, or at night when they are both lit up with tens of reflectors and thousands of people enjoying the walk, biking, playing handball in the sand, whatever, singing, dancing, spontaneous parties, something for everyone. Can not paint the picture realistic enough, you just have to go there and experience it!
    General rules of precautions apply, of course, but that is the case with any large city in the world! I read just the other day that Sienna Miller got her handbag snatched while sitting in the car, broad light, in Paris!
    If you want to really measure the percentage of truthfulness on these comments on Rio, just go to check what the same warnings and dangers say about your own town, specially if you come from a big one! I just did and am sorry have not done it before our trip to amazing Rio de Janeiro!
    Rio, we love you and will be comming back for sure!

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  • Safety in Rio

    by sgsmozart Written Nov 29, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have been to Rio nine times and II have never had one single problem. The answer? Come as an educated prepared tourist. Read "the Rough Guide to Rio" or "Lonely Planet Guide" and learn how to navigate the city. I ride city busses, take the subway (completely safe all time of the day or night) walk in non-tourist neighborhoods, and take the local yellow taxis. Learn a few words of Portuguese. Brazilians are incredibly friendly and helpful people, some of the nicest in the world. Don't believe all the horror stories you read on the internet. These are dumb Americans who have done no preparation before they travel.

    Rio has one of the most spectacular geographic settings in the world. Use common sense and you will have one of the most marvelous vacations ever. BTW, many improvements in homelessness and security have occurred over the last two years in preparation for the Olympic Games.

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  • AlfredBaudisch's Profile Photo

    I even hold an iPad at night without any troubles.

    by AlfredBaudisch Updated Sep 25, 2012

    I was warned a million times about Rio de Janeiro. I also hear all kinds of terror about it daily (I'm a Brazilian). The first time I went there I was really scared, I wouldn't have gone if it weren't a work travel. On the first two days I barely would answer the cellphone on a public place, I was even scared of local business! But then I saw normal people walking, talking at night everywhere and I took the risk of walking at night. Nothing happened.

    I also used the public transportation a lot and didn't see anything unusual. Then I went there again next year with my wife and we were so confident about the city that we could sit on the beach at night with our iPad.

    We also walked a lot at nights and only using public transportation (taxi is too damn expensive).
    The travel went smooth. Maybe we were lucky and maybe because we are brazilians we know what is dangerous or not around this country. (and we don't look like tourists).

    Another thing I always do when travelling is to take a look at Google Street Vew in the Hotel before leaving so I never stop like a lost tourist in the middle of the street :]

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    Rio de Janeiro 2012 A.D.

    by borritvandis Updated Aug 26, 2012

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    I noticed a lot of these advices are kind of old and outdated. My wife and I, we recently visited Ipanema, Copacobana and Corcovado and the centre of Rio. Without being naive, goingout with lots of money, or late at night, or visiting favelas, or any other risky stuff, we had a great time. Rio changed, and is safer now than before. After our trip to Corcovado mountain, we passed through favelas that cleaned up pretty good. The only warning I would add: go to Cristo Redentor on a weekday, not the weekend, because the over abundance of tourists make it quite hard to get a good picture. Too many people there on a sunday. Over than that, enjoy Rio, stay smart and you will have a good time.

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  • Thanks for the Rio Travel Tips

    by littlejoefromkokomo Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Now that I've read all the travel warnings and dangers, plus other blogs/articles, I have reconsidered my trip to Rio in August. If I have to go somewhere, and have to continually grow eyes in the back of my head, I certainly don't need to be there. There are too many other wonderful places in the world you can go without this stress.

    When you can't even carry/pack a can of pepper spray/mace or a pocket knife without taking a chance of being thrown into a Draconian prison, why go? Yes, people say that there are other dangerous cities. Well, I've been to them and didn't have all the negativity.

    To summarize, "any time you put the have's and the have not's together, you're going to have problems." I believe that Rio has many more have not's who will kill you for a nickel.

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    ALWAYS CARRY SUFFICIENT TRAVEL INSURANCE

    by DennyP Written Jan 8, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    RIO DE JANEIRO.
    .When travelling through South America I always carried neccesary Travel Insurance everywhere that I went. . This is a really big country and not without its dangers. Especially once out of the major cities medical help is distant if you have an accident.
    I always have sufficient travel insurance that will cover me and all hospital care in case something happens..I always include repatriation as well..when I'm travelling I really hate to think of something going wrong but we all know ...anywhere !...anytime.!..Mother Nature can even throw a tantrum. When formulating my travel plans along with visas etc. I make sure that travel insurance is high on my list in preparation.
    I surely love to have peace of mind when Im on the road.. Remember what they say:
    DONT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT !!!

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    Walking in Rio at Night

    by draguza Written Jun 12, 2011

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    Do not dress expensive clothes when you are walking and wondering around like everyone...jewels, expensive watches, ellegant clothes just for very important social events... NEVER COUNT YOUR MONEY LIKE YOU EAT BANANA, DO IT AND BE VERY DISCREET. AND REMEMBER you are not in a war zone, Rio has street gangs like NEW YORK AND LONDON, so we know that there are some parts of the city that you must avoid, and in the beach area the places tend to be safer and more patrolled.

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    PICKPOCKET

    by draguza Written Jun 12, 2011

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    Like every major city, Rio has an area more dangerous than elsewhere, and a time when this is especially true. It may even be safe during the day, but becomes sinister after nightfall. Such areas are always well-known to locals, so get advice from a hotel, tourist office, or waitress. Most guidebooks include warnings about red light or seedy areas, but conditions may have changed since the information was written.

    Another point is that just because other travelers say someplace is perfectly safe, that doesn't make it true. It may only means they didn't encounter problems. Local authorities and tourist offices cannot always be relied upon, either, as they may have an interest in minimizing problems, so you always need to use your eyes, ears, instincts, and best judgment, along with a few degrees of body lean towards safety, away from recklessness.

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Comments (2)

  • Oct 1, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Im currently in Rio on holiday, two attempts to grab my back pack in Copacabana in one day, held at knife point after walking out of a cash machine, cutting my trip short and getting the hell out of here!! Good luck to all visiting next years world cup, you WILL get exploited!!

  • Mar 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    I am a 44 year old female experienced traveler who has traveled to many 'dangerous cities' I was passing by Copacabana beach today at 2pm and decided to take out my $100 digital camera to take a picture of the beach. 2 men came up one tried to take my camera and the other held a knife at my throat. I screamed which attracted the attention of a cyclist. There was no harm done, I am actually here working and this incident will not limit my ability to do my job. What I will say is the wisdom of 'just hand everything over' is good advice but when confronted with a knife I thought...I am looking at a knife, why am I looking at a knife. You see and think of nothing else but the knife in this situation. I have seen a lot of defence of Rio on the various forums, what I will say is this: Rio is a fabulous city but my advice is not to take anything for granted....I think of crime as being the of the pick pocket variety, i.e if you don't watch your camera or your wallet you might lose it. having a weapon involved is another matter. I also asked the tourist police how many knife incidents there are around Copacabana beach on a daily basis and the answer is 5 or 6 that are reported, I think that is pretty high.

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