There’s no other place like Rio de Janeiro in the world. It’s stunning sunset and ‘samba’ ambiance until dawn are exactly why travellers worldwide keep visiting it year after year. The Rio Carnival itself attracts millions of tourists worldwide, just to experience this one-of-a-kind street party. In fact, the 2015 Rio Carnival was able to welcome as much as 977,000 tourists, while ‘blocos’ or free street parties had a combined attendance of more than 4.7 million last year.
Who wouldn't fall in love with this paradise? But, even with its lively and vibrant day and night life, Rio de Janeiro is plagued with plenty of crimes and scams that are also apparent in other parts of Brazil. Here’s how to survive Rio safely while continuously enjoying your trip in this party capital of the world:
Look and speak like a local
Pick-pocketing and mugging are some of the common crimes in the area. Even if you are aware of these common scams in Rio, tourists remain to be the main victim of perpetrators. Is there a way where I can be less of a victim? Yes, by looking and speaking like a local. By adapting the way locals move, speak, and even wear clothes, one prevents becoming the apple of the eye of criminals in Rio.
First, brush up your Portuguese, as that’s the national language in the country. Of course, one cannot be fluent in a week, but knowing more than just the basic gives you an edge, especially if one gets in an argument with a thief or needs to debrief the police. There are mobile apps that one can use to polish their Portuguese quickly. Another thing one need to consider is their choice of clothes. Although Rio has a warm, tropical temperature all throughout, keep beachwear limited to the beach, otherwise, jeans-and-sneakers should be the usual attire when roaming around other parts of the city.
Get fully insured
The best way to prevent any problems, especially financial ones, in a trip is by getting fully covered by a travel insurance. But, not all travel insurances are the same. Yes, some credit card offers free travel insurance, but is it enough to comprehensively cover your travel needs? The free travel insurance offered by some credit card providers is obviously the most basic plan, which may not cover some extreme adventures and uncertain scenarios on your trip. It’s also important to know that this offer is often only provided when one signs up for ‘top end’ cards, which they provide to clients for free in replace of a higher fee. It’s recommended to get a comprehensive travel plan that guarantees important aspects of a trip, such as:
– Are all family members covered?
– Does the policy provide enough cover for your valuables?
– What is maximum trip length allowed?
– Which pre-existing medical conditions are excluded?
– Am I covered for business and leisure trips?
– Am I covered for domestic and international holidays?
– What do I need to do to activate cover?
– Is there a minimum spend required?
Drink light, party hard, and stay alert
It’s never a good idea to get too drunk in a foreign country, so experts recommend going easy when hitting the samba spots or the boisterous bars in Rio. This is especially true for lady travellers. In fact, they should keep an eye on their drinks, as crimes related to sedative or another nefarious agent mixed into liquors are apparent in the city.
Always keep the address of your hotel or accommodation written down on a piece of paper and let the manager of the bar/club hail you a cab from a reputable company after the party. Illegal substances being passed on the dance floors and in the bathrooms of nightspots have become a normal part of the party, but it’s safe to say no when someone offers it to you. Be alert at all times while enjoying the party.
Rio de Janeiro remains to be a magnificent destination for many tourists, despite the extra care they need to bring in their bags before they leave. The perfect mix of city noise and easy life near the beach is the same reason why millions remain to visit Rio yearly.
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Photos: Tom @ adventurous-travels.com