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Traveling to Brazil as Economically as Possible

Looking to get down to Brazil, but as economically as possible? Here are some travel tips that the NY Time’s Frugal Traveler passed along from three Brazilian travel experts.


International travel to Brazil is relatively minimal; the country as a whole receives about as many visitors per year as Cancún. That means the tourism industry is dependent on the enormous domestic market, which has a particular quirk: Brazilians all seem to travel at the same time. That’s during January and June school vacations, Carnival (Feb. 9 to 12 next year), and on national holidays that become long weekends no matter on what day they fall.

For the rest of the year, a majority of Brazilian destinations (with the notable exception of Rio) are nearly empty – even though in many cases the climate is actually better during the off-season. So plan wisely.


Jan. 10 is the magic date that the Brazilian summer stops being so expensive. Families have emptied their bank accounts to be on the beach during New Year’s and must begin to save for Carnival. Prices drop appreciably, and innkeepers and small-hotel owners are open to negotiations.

The best place to be is in Bahia state, in beautiful coastal villages like Morro de São Paulo, Barra Grande, Itacaré, Santo André and others that aren’t as expensive as upscale spots like Trancoso. You can combine that trip with a great excursion to Chapada Diamantina National Park (seven hours by bus from Salvador, the state capital).


Southern Hemisphere fall, that is. In winter (July and August), Rio de Janeiro can actually get cold, so the ideal time to visit is in autumn, after Easter. May, with hot, dry days and cool nights, is the perfect time, with only one Brazilian holiday (May 1) drawing visitors. It’s also the perfect time for a side trip to the colonial town of Paraty, where things get rainy in spring and summer.


Upper-middle-class Brazilians won’t tell you this, because they can’t imagine themselves on an intercity bus. But the fact is that the Brazilian bus system works well, especially if you are traveling less than 200 miles. Alas, there is little information about bus trips online (and practically none in English) so your best bet is to go to the bus station where each company’s ticket booth has clear signs listing destinations it serves. A key word in Portuguese is “direto” (gee-REH-tew), which refers to a route with fewer stops. Keep your valuables close at hand (and gadgets in your pockets) in the stations.


The most convenient airline from the United States to Brazil is probably Panama’s Copa, which has a code-share agreement with United…

Read more: Seth Kugel,  NY Times


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