Most major international credit cards are accepted, though not universally. There is an extensive network of ATMs around the country.
Brazilian currency is Real (R$). Dollar cash is broadly accepted. Traveller’s checks are accepted at banks, hotels and major stores. Internationally known credit-cards are accepted at most large establishments. Banks, hotel cashiers and “cambio” shops exchange dollars and other major currencies.
Brazilians speak Portuguese with a softer accent and some differences in vocabulary from the language spoken in Portugal. There are no dialects in Brazil, just some differences in intonation and vocabulary from region to region. Spanish is well understood. Leading hotels, restaurants and stores are able to attend English-speaking customers, other languages being spoken too at major hotels.
Due to the large span from East to West (4.319 km / 2.684 mi), the country has four time zones. In the largest part of the territory and in the main cities the time is 3 hours earlier than GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and 4 hours earlier than ECT (European Central Time). The ocean islands are 2 hours behind GMT and 3 hours behind ECT, while a great part of the Amazon Region and of the Pantanal Marshlands is 4 hours behind GMT and 4 hours behind ECT. The westernmost part of the territory, encompassing part of the Amazon and the State
Voltage in some parts of the country is 110 volts, and 220 volts in some others. Major hotels have double voltage and some others hold a small number of converters at the guests’ disposal. It might be a wise decision, for those travelling to different destinations in Brazil and bringing electrical equipment, to pack a converter and an adaptor.
10 to 15% is usual for most services not included on the bill.
FOOD - NATIONAL SPECIALITIES
- Feijoada (thick stew of black beans, chunks of beef, pork, sausage, chops, pigs’ ears and tails on white rice, boiled green vegetables and orange slices).
- Moqueca (delicious fish stew from Bahia)
- Vatapá (shrimps, fish oil, coconut milk, bread and rice).
Brazil is a gourmet’s paradise. Each region in Brazil features many savoury typical dishes, always made with very fresh raw materials. International cuisine is found all over the country, simple or sophisticated, but always very tasty and fresh. Fruits are a must in the country, of most various kinds, due to the climatic diversity of the continent-sized territory, from the ones typical of cold regions to the most colourful, tasty and sweet tropical fruits used in juices, ice-creams and desserts, or enjoyed in their natural form.
A large variety of drinks and liquors found around the world are also made in Brazil. But the favourite beverages are fruit juices, guarana (a soft drink made out of an Amazonian fruit), locally made beer and draft beer of very good quality, Brazilian brands of wine, and the delicious caipirinhas and batidas, made of sugarcane spirit (cachaca) and fruit pieces or fruit juices, respectively.
The best entertainment occurs in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In Rio, the major clubs do not present their main acts until after midnight, and the daily paper gives current information; small clubs (boites) provide nightly entertainment throughout the city. São Paulo nightlife is more sophisticated, with greater choice.
Both cities host top international DJs. Samba shows and clubs are popular, especially in Rio. Outside the main cities, most towns have late night bars and clubs.
In Rio and São Paulo, major shops and markets stay open quite late in the evening. Rio and Salvador specialise in antiques and jewellery. Special purchases include gems (particularly emeralds) and jewellery (particularly silver). Fashions and permissible antiques, crystal and pottery are a speciality of São Paulo.
Beautifully designed jewellery, with coloured precious stones of which the country is the largest world miner, is found in prices much below international ones.