City Feels Very Unsafe
The time that I visited here from Foz do Iguaçu, in Brasil, I felt extremely unsafe. The street merchants had interesting stuff to sell, and were positioned all up and down the sidewalk with booths that completely covered the sidewalk - so that you could not avoid walking through their booths if you wanted to get anywhere. The marketing was very aggressive, and everywhere it seemed it was necessary to watch every move in the event someone would have their hand in your pocket in a moment.
Inside some of the shopping buildings it seemed a bit safer, though only somewhat. We managed to find a bunch of cheap Paraguay made pirated tools and auto parts in one of the stores, but the stores themselves didi not seem to have much interesting in them.
The street merchants seemed to have more interesting things, but under conditions that made it difficult to buy anything safely.
I decided it was better to stay on the Brazilian side of the border and get what I wanted there. Despite the reputation of Foz do Iguaçu in some circles of having a crime problem, it was nothing compared to what I saw in Ciudad del Este.
ciudad del este - not THAT dangerous
all i hear is everyone saying how dangerous this place is. i was there last year, stayed for a day, bought some goods, went to a top of the table football match and had a few drinks and stayed the night. all good fun, nobody died.
It's said that every night dies 2 or 3 people in Foz de Iguazu and Ciudad del Este, but most of the times the deaths are members of the smuggling bands. I think that it wouldn't be nice to be inside a shooting between bands. Be carefull where you go and who you talk to.
Foz de Iguazu and Ciudad del este are separated by Parana river, so if you cross the bridge you'll be in another country, boila!!
Never cross this bridge walking, specially when you cross from Panama to Barsil, because you'll be supossed to be bringong items from Ciudad del Este.
Take always the bus, 2 reais is a quite low price to risk life or health!! ;-)
Crossing the border
You are able to freely walk across the bridge with all the other people without getting your passport stamped. But if you are stopped and found to have crossed without the stamp you can be prosecuted. It is important you get a stamp as not having one can cause problems as you try to leave either country.
On the brazilian side you need to go to the office on the right hand side as you are going to cross. They will stamp you in or out of the country.
On the paraguay side you need to go to the office on the left as you approach the bridge. The same office is used for arriving and departing.
Ciudad de este is a horrible market town. Developed seemingly completely for the sale of dodgy stuff its teeming with people. There are bargains to be had but most likely you will end up with a fake sony dvd camera that stops working after a few weeks!
Avoid this place and definately do not stay here, if you want cheap stuff make the day trip from over the border in brazil (foz de igwazu).
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Nothing bad happened to me there, and I did not saw any robbery, but watch out your wallet, camera and other goods; the streets and markets are really overcrowded.
Some of the stuff sold in the streets is counterfeit; perfumes, whiskies, watches, jeans, whatever...
The peddlers are really annoying... There are ten by square meter, trying to sell you Carolina Herrera perfumes, digital cameras, halogen lanterns... And all this happens at 104ºF!!!
Nada malo me sucedió, y no vi ningún robo, pero cuiden su billetera, cámara y otras pertenencias; las calles y mercados están realmente atestados.
Algunos de los objetos que se venden en la calle son falsificados: perfumes, whiskies, relojes, jeans, lo que sea...
Los vendedores ambulantes pueden ser realmente molestos... Hay diez por metro cuadrado, intentando vender perfumes de Carolina Herrera, cámaras digitales, linternas halógenas... Y todo esto con 40ºC!!!
What? You didn't read the intro!!??
Well, in case you missed it, this place can be dangerous. It's full of smugglers and drug traffickers, so unless these are the type of folks you normally invite to your house for Sunday dinner, you might want to be careful here. You definitely don't want to stick around after dark. In fact, most of the stores close between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, so your best bet is to get out before then.
You should also be forewarned that the products that you buy here will not be guaranteed in any way. They are probably not authentic. They probably will not work properly. And they are possibly stolen or illegal in some other fashion. Buyer beware.
Beware when purchasing...
Beware when purchasing electronic goods in the many stores. Although you might think that you are buying a name brand like Sony, Panasonic, etc., they might actually be counterfeit, or they might be factory seconds, or discontinued models. At any rate, there are no returns in these shops, and you would be hard pressed to get any kind of warranty service on these items. I got stuck with a worthless MP3 player, myself, and I would caution others to be careful.
Another danger is the potential for exceeding the Brazilian limit on imported goods, which is around US$300. If you are stopped with goods exceeding the limit, it could cause delays and complications with your exit. One of Brazil's most famous futbol players, Ronaldinho, was caught in such a manner, and was made front page news throughout the country of Brazil.
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