Our original intention for visiting Brazil was to participate in the biggest festival on the planet before we got too old to party. However, when my best friend and I started planning our trip, we realized that this country had much more to offer than just the carnival.
A diverse multi-ethnic culture, captivating ancient towns, combined with its majestic wild nature give South American largest country its distinctive features. We have had wonderful experiences in our lives, immersed ourselves in the picturesque landscapes, amazed at the charming beauty of South American historical towns and burned out with the carnival and sexy Samba.
17 days seems just enough for us to explore a part of this huge country. The extremely long flight, halfway across the world from Vietnam to Brazil took 2 days of our itinerary (going and coming back). Brazilian states are also far apart and it take lots of time to travel among them. Therefore, we decided to spend the rest of our 15 days to visit selected places in the south of Brazil.
The mysterious Amazon jungles, though it is a very tempting and exciting destination, it is located in the north of Brazil and requires 6 hours flight from the south. Moreover, February is not a good time to visit Amazon as it is raining season (almost every day). Hence we regretfully skipped it from our itinerary this time. Hopefully we will come back one day to discover the magnificence of Amazon.
- Day 1: Fly in Sao Paulo
- Day 2-3: Foz du Iguazu city, visit Iguazu Falls (the 2nd biggest waterfall in the world)
- Day 4: Pelourinho ancient city
- Day 5: Lencois town
- Day 6-8: Trekking tour in Pati valley at Chapada Diamaintina national park
- Day 9: Day trip to Mosquito Fall and Blue Pond in a cave
- Day 10: Back to Salvador
- Day 11-12: Rio de Janeiro
- Day 13: Paraty town
- Day 14-16: Back to Rio, participate the biggest carnival on the planet
- Day 17: Fly home
(Click to the links for more details in each place)
If Brazil is not yet in your wish list, simply add it in. You will experience something extraordinarily unique and different from what you have known. I felt lucky and satisfied that I had completed successfully this trip.
Read my other articles about Brazil
Immerse in the nature of Pati Valley
Paraty and Lençois – The charms of South American towns
Pelourinho ancient city – Vintage but unpeaceful
Rio Carnival – Hot in Samba rhythms
All essential tips for Rio Carnival
Visa to Brazil (tips for Vietnamese)
Visa to Brazil is not hard to get. However, it is inconvenient if you live in Ho chi minh City as you have to fly to Hanoi to submit your visa application to the Brazilian Embassy, located at 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi. Otherwise, you can easily go through many agencies with slightly higher fee. It will take around 7-10 working days and visa fee is around $100. The visa will valid for 90 days from the day granted with multi entry.
The application requires following documents (in English or Portuguese)
- Application letter
- Passport with more than 6 months valid
- 1 picture 4×6 on white background
Financial documents (Bank statement in last 6 months, saving account).
- Employment Certificate: Approved letter for annual leave, Pay slip for last 3 months or Employment contract
- Round trip flight ticket.
- Itinerary and hotel booking
Get to Brazil
- From Vietnam to the big cities of Brazil is a long journey of about 25 – 30 hours. We bought flight tickets from Emirate Airlines, transited in Dubai, to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This flight was the most reasonable for both duration and transit.
- Other airlines may be chosen such as Qatar or Turkey Airlines. If you own an American visa, United Airlines or American Airlines is a good alternative with attractive prices.
Brazil is the largest country in South America, so traveling from one city to another is typically done by plane.
- There are three major airlines in Brazil: Avianca, Azul and Gol Linhas Aereas, with domestic airfare from $50 – $200 depending the on location.
- In addition, if you have time, buses are also fairly popular, safe and in good quality. The scenery on the way is also remarkably beautiful. We traveled from Salvador to Lencois for 6 hours at 27 USD/one-way. From Rio to Paraty for 4 hours at 75 USD/round-trip.
In order to travel within the big cities, we used UBER, which is much cheaper and safer than normal taxis. The drivers do not speak English, but they are good with technology and used Google Translate to communicate with us.
Brazilians mainly use their Real currency in cash, especially in small towns. Even in big cities like Rio or Salvador, many restaurants and eateries still refuse credit cards or charge highly for them. Everyone should exchange money at the airport because there are few currency exchange places in the city. Even when we exchanged money at the airport, the commission fee was fairly high.
Food & Drink
- Brazilian cuisine is immensely prolific thanks to the multi-ethnic culture. It is famous for barbecues, especially Picanha Beef, extremely tender and aromatic. There is also Moqueca, a specialty of the Bahia region, a kind of seafood stewed with tomatoes and onions, very savory and exclusive.
You should taste Caipirinhas, a kind of cocktail similar to Mojito, but mixed with many intriguing flavors. Brazilian coffee is rather bitter, light brown and has an intensively sweet flavor. Beer is much lower in alcohol than normal; you don’t have to fear getting drunk when giving it a try.
Here, people have breakfast with fruit and pastries. There are several varieties of bananas, all of which are sweet, that are made into diverse dishes. We loved the fragrant soft-baked banana the most. Pao de queijo (Cheese bread) is always served for breakfast in Brazil.
- Before the journey, I had read a lot about the security situation in Brazil, which is complex and dangerous, especially for women. But when we arrived there, it was not extremely serious. However, those warnings were not groundless, you should exercise caution when walking on the streets at night, especially in major cities such as Rio and Salvador. In towns, we felt very safe and secure.
- In Pati Valley, we spent the night at hostels owned by the villagers of the valley. Rooms are basic but clean; they include breakfast and dinner with tasty local dishes. The cost is included in the tour. We booked a tour with Diamantina Mountains Company; the service was good and the travel guides were very enthusiastic. An allinclusive price for 3 days in Pati Valley and 1 day traveling the Mosquito Falls and Blue Lagoon is 480 USD/person.
- In Salvador, we stayed in a small boutique hotel right in the old quarter, priced at 70 USD/ night. While in Paraty and Lencois, we stayed in a nice motel, 30 – 50 USD a night.
- In Rio, we stayed in a hotel by Botafogo beach, priced at 150 USD/ night. It has rooftop bar with great view of Sugarloaf mountain
The total cost of a 17-day trip is 5,000 USD.
Traveled in Feb, 2018