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All essential tips for Rio Carnival

Tiếng Việt

Get in Rio de Janeiro

Rio is the biggest city of Brazil, hence you can access easily by all kinds of transportation.

  • From Vietnam to the big cities of Brazil (including Rio) is a long journey of about 25 – 30 hours. As per our itinerary, we didn’t fly directly from Vietnam to Rio, but to Sao Paulo. We selected Emirate Airlines as it had the most reasonable flight for both duration and transit time (in Dubai). Emirate also has similar route from Vietnam to Rio with more or less the same cost and duration.
  • 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.

Get around Rio

We used UBER, which is much cheaper and safer than normal taxis. Not all drivers can speak English, but they are good at technology and used Google Translate to communicate with us.

Travel safety

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, the situation was not extremely serious. Although we received frequent reminders from either taxi drivers or staffs in hotel/ restaurant, we were lucky for not having or witnessing any accident. However, those warnings were not groundless, you should exercise caution when walking on the streets, especially at night.

Where to stay

It really depends on your budget and what you like since there are various options in this big city. If you like to be close to the beach, choose your net in either Copacabana (vibrant, the famous party spot, very crowded), or Botafogo (next to Copacabana, but much more quiet and less busy) or Ipenema (more luxurious hotels).

We stayed at Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity, good services & location, but the most important thing is its rooftop bar has the perfect view of Sugarloaf mountain. We happily enjoyed our cool beers in this beautiful sunset.

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The rooftop of hotel – Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity

Everything about the Rio Carnival

Time of the Rio Carnival

Every year, around Feb or Mar. For 2019, the carnival will officially begins on Friday, March 1st. and ends on Tuesday of Carnival, March 5th. If you arrive in the city before the official start of the Carnival, do not miss the chance to participate in some of the many events that shake Rio de Janeiro in the pre-carnival period. It’s super nice!

How to buy ticket for the main Carnival show – Sambardrom Marques de Sapucai

Since it is the most important show of the best carnival on the planet, attracting millions of people every year, the tickets are kind of expensive and tend to be sold out months before the show. There are several official websites from Brazil selling the tickets online, which also have very detailed information to guide you on when to buy, day to watch, type of ticket and which sector to have best view. Please visit the page we bought the ticket from for further information about 2019 Carnival – www.rio-carnival.net

For your convenience, here are some of my sharings that may help you to buy the right tickets

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Grandstand ticket
  • Buy ticket online, of course, but not very far in advance, i think 2-3 weeks is good enough. My friend even managed to get a ticket 1 day before the event, thru a street dealer. Please note that there is no ticket counter on the spot, so you have to pre-purchase ticket. When you are in Rio, go to ticket office to exchange your e-ticket to a hard paper ticket
  • Grandstand is good enough, fun and affordable. There are many types of tickets, from Grandstand, to Open front box to Luxurious suite with price varied from 150$ to 2000$. For me, Grandstand is good enough as it is where the local people are. You just need to choose the right sector with good view, then you are all set. The only inconvenience for Grandstand is you need to come 2 hours before the show to get your seat as first come first serve, no numbered seat.
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Luxurious suite below Grandstand, Open box is in front.
  • Sector 8-11 have the best view. Sectors in the middle or slightly towards the end of the runway have better view since you can enjoy almost the whole length of the parade.  Paying just a little bit more for a ticket makes a big difference when it comes to the view. Sector from 8 to 11 are probably the best, as most judges are located at this height of the Avenue and you will be facing the Drummers’ Niche, who bring the passionate atmosphere for the night. Please note that it doesn’t matter which side you choose, odd or even number, they have the same view.
carnival stadium.jpg
Seating map in Sambodrome stadium

What should I bring to the Sambodrome?

As the performance will start from 10pm, you will surely spend overnight there, hence you should prepare yourself for it. Bring food, snack, lots of drinks to fill you up. You can still buy at the stadium from many hawkers. For your comfort, you can bring pillows and paper fan as it is super hot. And of course, don’t forget your camera or your phone to record the best show of your life.

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Rio Carnival

Is it safe in the Sambodrome?

It is considered to be the safest place in South America :-). There is a very high concentration of international celebrities, politicians and royalties among the crowd. It is surrounded by huge perimeter fencing which no-one can pass without being checked for both, safety, security and commercial reasons. All sectors are equally safe.

I brought all of my camera gears and phone with me to take photo and video with no issue. However, you should be extremely cautious when going back to your hotel after the show. Better to take a taxi right at the gate, instead of walking any minute in the dark.

Read my other articles about Brazil

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