Petty crime: the big risk
Brazilians are a peaceful and extremely friendly people. Brazil hasn't terrorist activities or political violence, and in general is a safe place to travel… Most problems happen in the big cities: Sao Paulo, Rio, Recife. There are well known safety problems in a number of neighborhoods. Inform yourself with your travel agent. Most of all inform yourself locally (at your hotel reception).
Petty crime, namely small robberies, is also very common...
If you leave your things unattended at the beach, the chance of them being stolen is high. If you walk in some unlit areas at night, as well as remote places, the risk of of being mugged also exists. Wearing flashy gems, rings and expensive watches in some places is unadvisable.
But there is no need to feel exaggeratedly insecure, namely in small towns and safe neighborhoods; you shouldn't let worrying about robberies interfere with your trip. Just be vigilant, particularly in big cities. Your hotel may have also some advice for you; if you take some basic precautions you'll most likely be fine.
- Do not act like a tourist.
- Ask for information about local safety and local precautions to be followed at your hotel reception.
- Avoid wearing jewels, expensive watches and anything that may bring unwanted attentions. If you have nothing worth stealing, you won’t be robbed.
- Don’t leave your things unattended (at airports, beaches...).
- Put your money and documents in your hotel safes. Use a photocopy of your ID documents and of your passport), instead of originals.
- Avoid uncrowded and clearly unsafe squares and streets, especially at night
- Avoid buses and trams in Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Salvador, Fortaleza and Sao Paulo. Taxis and metro are better options in those cities.
- Avoid unlicensed taxis. You can buy pre-paid taxi tickets at one of the various taxi offices or in the airport arrival halls and use them with licensed taxis.
These rules are particularly valid for the big Brazilian cities. Robbery and hold-up riskss are far more reduced, or practically inexistent, in other places and in most tourist resorts. There are many Brazilian destinations where you will feel extremely secure. Brazil is a very big country, very diverse, and such places do exist.
Sophisticated resorts are very low risk travel destinations: Buzios or Angra dos Reis, just outside Rio de Janeiro, or Costa do Sauipe, near Salvador da Bahia, are some examples. But these are a few of many; there are, for instance, dozens of traditional fishery villages in the Northeast, with excellent animation and beaches, where you will feel extremely secure.
Examples of Extremely safe Brazilian destinations
Buzios, Angra dos Reis, Florianópolis
Just a two-three hours drive away from Rio de Janeiro, Buzios or Angra dos Reis are two great beach resorts offering fun, enternaiment, beach life but also extreme security.
Florianópolis, further south, is also a great and safe destination.
Porto Seguro is a small town in a country landscape (warm sea waters and palms, lagoons, rivers and sea cliffs), with modern animation but also with a colonial and Indian past, where fishermen and other people are extremely friendly, and where you don't have to worry about robberies or security problems.
Porto Seguro is 406 miles/653 Kms away from Salvador da Bahia and 696/1120 Kms from Rio de Janeiro (land distances), and has its own airport, 1 mile/2km from the city.
For more details, see: Porto Seguro
Praia do Forte
Praia do Fort is an excellent eco-resort with 7 miles/12 Kms of unspoiled beaches surrounded by palm groves. It’s an ecological paradise, where people are very friendly and there aren't reports of petty crime.
Land distances: 40 miles/65 Kms from Salvador da Bahia, 1024 miles/1649 Kms from Rio de Janeiro
For more details, see: Praia do Forte
Just some miles from Ilheus, Comandatuba Island is a luxurious leisure destination that is extremely safe. The island is a mixture of sophistication, ecology, comfort, peacefulness and amusement.
Land distances: 40 miles/70 km from Ilheus, 287 miles/462 Kms from Salvador da Bahia, 720 miles/1200 Kms from Rio de Janeiro
For more details, see: Comandatuba
LOCAL TRAVEL: INFORMATION & SAFETY
Local travel/Car rental
If you like to drive, car rental can be a good option for exploring some regions or for doing some city tours or suburban tracks, but you must take some precautions and inform yourself previously. Driving in Brazil isn’t, in many cases, an advisable option.
Transit, at some places, is chaotic, and the Brazilian roads outside urban areas are generally in bad conditions and poorly lit, signposted and policed. Except for well known tracks, you shouldn't drive, especially at night. Be prepared for unexpected stops and be careful with people, animals, slow vehicles, vehicles without lights, other drivers and the general conditions of the roads.
Ask for safety advices and regional-specific information at the car rental office or at your hotel.
You will find many car rental offices (Locadoras) at Brazilian airports and at every decent-sized town. Hertz, Avis and other big international companies operate all over Brazil. Unidas, Interlocadora, Nobre or Localiza are also good Brazilian alternatives in car rental.
Bus and taxi travel
There is a large bus net linking all the main Brazilian cities. However, while inexpensive, a long distanced bus trip can be quite unconfortable. Some northern Brazilian cities (Belém, Fortaleza…) are more distant from Rio de Janeiro than the capital of Argentine, Buenos Aires.
The bus stations (called rodoviárias) are usually situated on city outskirts or near airports and the reservations should be made in advance through a local travel agent or at the bus terminal.As mentioned before, when travelling in the big Brazilian cities you should only choose licensed taxis. Trams or buses, at some hours and places, are unsafe. Look for local information concerning public transportations in your hotel.