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What to know before traveling to Brazil

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

In this article, I will share with you some things I wish I knew before I traveled to Brazil.

I spent in total one month in Brazil visiting several places so I have gathered some useful tips you should know before traveling to Brazil.

Short on time, here is a quick summary:

  1. You can get around it but in many instances, you will need CPF

  2. With Claro, you can get a tourist SIM card

  3. Only the 'Rappi' food ordering app will work for foreigners

  4. Always use Uber and not a local taxi

  5. People only speak Portuguese, just a little bit of Spanish and English

  6. The homeless problem is catastrophic

  7. Brazil is not as dangerous as it was

  8. You have to try Açaí!

  9. Brazil is not a cheap country

  10. You can pay everywhere with a card

If you prefer this in a video format, please scroll down to the bottom of the article.

CPF Required

CPF is a Tax ID number and you will be required to have it for many daily things. For example for data, or ordering food.

I spent one month in Brazil and got around things but I did face many walls because I didn't have a CPF number and of course, I wasn't planning to get one.

So here are some loopholes I found along the way for some of the things that I needed but CPF was required.

Mobile Data

After several attempts to get data and being denied because I do not have a CPF number, I went to Claro shop which is a great service provider all over South America.

They do not advertise it openly but if you go to their office and explain that you are a tourist, you do not have a CPF number and you need data for a week or month, they will offer you a tourist SIM that only works if you activate with them in the shop.

For ordering food home - 'Rappi'

If you only visiting Brazil for a week on a vacation this might not apply you but I know all my fellow digital nomads will appreciate this point.

So after 2 hours of hungry and angry search for food online, downloading every single app I knew, I finally stumbled across 'Rappi', an app that didn't require a CPF number.

So if you wish to order food, please don't waste your time, just use 'Rappi'!

Uber or local taxi

ALWAYS choose Uber over a local taxi! Unfortunately, local taxis charge twice as much, and in general, in South America ordering Uber is a safer option as you have all driver's data!

I used Uber for 6 months while traveling South America and never had any issues.


Only Portuguese

Unfortunately, most people speak only Portuguese so definitely a good idea is to learn some basic phrases.

If you think you speak good Spanish and you will get by...forget about it! Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation is so different from the European one, that I promise, you will not understand anything!

The homeless problem is catastrophic

I just want to warn you that if you will visit the big cities and their downtowns, you will see a lot of homeless people. It might be disturbing at first glance but as long as you do not wander alone in the late hours you will be completely fine!

Brazil is not as dangerous as it was

I do not know about you but I had the worst image in my head about Brazil. In Europe, we only hear about favelas and drug gang crimes.

The moment I landed in Brazil and started to speak with locals I realized how big and developed the Brazilian economy is! It is truly an amazing country and as long as you stick with the tourist route, you will be completely fine.

You have to try Açaí!


Açaí is a berry that grows only in Amazon and because Brazil covers such a big part of the Amazon it is quite specific to Brazil.

It is a sour berry but for this special dessert, you have to try, they mix the berry with loads of sugar. It is not a healthy dessert, but a delicious one! They usually serve it with some nuts, granola, chia seeds, or oats and decorate it with strawberries or bananas.

You will see it everywhere. Please give it a try. I absolutely loved it!

Brazil is not a cheap country

I must to admit, Brazil was the most expensive country in South America that I traveled. The prices are not as high as in Europe or America but they are still quite close to that level, in the metropolitan areas at least.

You can pay everywhere with a card

Brazil is great in regards to paying with a card. Even a little tiny chocolate or water you can buy anywhere with a card. Street artists have a little card machine. Brazil is very card friendly.

Here is all the above in a video format:


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