How to Keep Safe When Travelling to Brazil

Is Brazil Safe to Visit? Brazil Safety Travel Tips

 

The country of Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country by area. Its capital is Brasília while the largest and most populated city is São Paulo. Brazil is the birthplace of festivals, music and partying, and one could say that even of football.

The famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro can be witnessed here, as well as many other carnivals in Olinda, Recife and Salvador. Besides music and parties, Brazil still has a lot left to offer.

The country is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and has borders in north, south and west with ten different countries, every one of them situated in South America, except Chile and Ecuador.

As said, besides the crazy urban life of Brazil, there much left to see. The Amazon River Basin is home to more than half of the world’s rainforest. Brazil is also the home of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, such as the Iguaçu Falls.

If you came here with the question “is Brazil safe to visit” in mind, then you’re in the right place because in the following paragraphs we will present you each and every risk status of this amazing country, ultimately helping you make a decision.

Let’s begin our Brazil safety guide.

Highest Risks You Are Exposing Yourself To When Visiting Brazil 

Overall Risk in Brazil: Medium to High

Overall, Brazil is a pretty safe country, meaning that you don’t have to worry about being the victim of any serious crime while visiting it. However, according to our sources, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams – which are very common in Brazil – can still occur, so you’d better keep an eye on everything at all times.

Also, it is recommended that you don’t visit any favelas. These are the slums or “shanty towns” of Brazil and are very unpredictable in terms of security. Here you can find a map where all of the favelas are marked, so you know which places to avoid. Some of these slums are also known to have been the hosts of armed shootouts between the authorities and the many gangs of Brazil.

Therefore, as long as you stay away from these areas or tread with extreme caution if you choose to visit them, your trip to Brazil should be very safe.

Pickpocketing Risk: High

Pickpocketing is the crime that is being done the most on the streets of Brazil. We are aware even of football players that have been pickpocketed during their stay in this country. No part of the city is actually safe in this case.

Being a much-visited country, with tourists at all steps, thieves take advantage of this and of you, in order to get their hands on your goodies. But don’t worry, this list of Brazil safety tips includes everything you should do to avoid being pickpocketed or any type of unpleasant incidents.

  • How to avoid being pickpocketed in Brazil?

This can be done in very simple ways. First of all, you should avoid any large crowds, like those of festivals and demonstrations. Then, you shouldn’t travel on shady streets, and of course, avoid entering any favelas. Also, you should be more vigilant when visiting places like Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach and the areas of Lapa and Santa Theresa – as seen here, these are areas with the highest reports of theft and pickpocketing.

As always, keep your valuables out of sight, don’t carry a large amount of money with you and be careful about your surroundings.

  • What to do if you’ve been pickpocketed in Brazil?

If you’ve been pickpocketed or you notice something missing from your vehicle, bags etc. you should alert the police immediately. Don’t run after the criminal or try to fight back as they might be armed as well as under the influence of drugs.

The authorities are sure to solve any of your problems, so you should let them do that, and refrain from acting on your own.

Scams Risk: High

Is the country of Brazil safe and care-free for tourists? It is safe – but not care-free. As you can see here, there are over 22 types of scams that you might run into when visiting Brazil. Your task here is to get informed and get prepared, in order to avoid being scammed.

You must be extra careful with the ATMs in the airports of Rio de Janeiro, as Brazil has one of the highest ATM theft risks. Be careful and choose your way of action wisely.

  • How to avoid being scammed in Brazil?

As mentioned before, there are more than a dozen ways through which you can get scammed. The most important rule is that you mustn’t trust any stranger. Many of them might offer to help you, for free, with some problem you may face, after which they will ask you for money and become violent. As for the ATM scams, you must use your credit cards as swiftly as possible or choose to withdraw money from within the bank.

Always be very alert, trust nobody and avoid unlicensed taxis.

  • What to do if you get scammed in Brazil?

If you find yourself scammed out of a sudden, there’s pretty much nothing you can do. In most of the cases, there is no person you can run after for, or threaten because the Brazilian scammers are known to use elaborate plans – leaving you with just the fact that a certain item is missing.

Therefore, the first thing to do is alert the authorities – nothing else has to be said. Alert the police, fill in a report and wait for the results.

Kidnapping Risk: Medium

The risk, in this case, is stated as being a medium one. But as seen here, there is something called “express kidnappings” in which a certain individual, local or tourist, is kidnapped for a short amount of time, then forced to withdraw money from the ATM to pay for his freedom or hand over any valuables he or she has.

Carjacks and vehicle break-ins are reported to happen on a regular basis, so you should be very careful in case you travel by car or rent one just during this visit.

  • How to avoid being kidnapped in Brazil?

As we always recommend you, avoid any large crowds, especially if you are alone. If you are accompanied, keep an eye on the person next to you that you trust. In this way, there’s no chance that something bad will happen. As long as you are vigilant at all times, you are safe.

Also, to avoid any situations involving carjacks or break-ins, prepare your keys before reaching the vehicle, for a faster get in and keep your doors locked and windows closed.

  • What to do if you or someone close to you has been kidnapped in Brazil?

If you have been kidnapped, remain calm and do whatever the criminals say as you will probably be released very soon. If something that hints at a kidnapping occurs, you should, again, remain calm and reach the authorities for their help.

As we said, this Brazil safety guide provides you with everything you should know about the risks of Brazil and how to avoid them – but in all cases, the first thing you should think of is alerting the authorities, as they have the required power to act and help you solve your problems.

Theft Risk: Medium

The case of you, as a tourist, getting robbed, is pretty high, but not as high as getting pickpocketed. While you can get pickpocketed in almost any location in Brazil, thefts and robberies happen only in certain areas and, of course, in poorly lit places and shady alleys – which you should always avoid.

Armed robberies have been reported to happen on the Corcovado walking trail to the Christ the Redeemer statue. In Sao Paulo, you should avoid Avenida Paulista, with its historic downtown area. Very dangerous are the red light districts on Rua Agusta, Catedral da Sé, Praça da República and the Estacao de Luz metro area.

The central bus station of Brasilia is also to be avoided as it has a high incidence of robberies, as well as the Federal District area. In case you want to visit any beaches, keep in mind that these are areas where thefts are most common, especially in Brazil where they involve “arrastões” – big groups of thieves that run on the beaches and grab any valuables they can see.

  • How to avoid getting robbed in Brazil?

First of all, you should leave your most valued possessions back at your hotel – or at least avoid displaying them. Then, as the risk of pickpocketing is higher than the risk of theft, the Brazil safety guide advises you to keep your original documents inside your accommodation and instead carry photocopies of them, to avoid some of the most unpleasant situations – at your departure.

  • What to do if you got robbed in Brazil?

What one repeats, one also learns! With this being said, we strongly advise you to go to the authorities straight away. If someone has robbed you, don’t run after him and don’t confront him as the situation may turn very violent. Instead, alert the police and wait for your problems to be solved.

Rape Risk: Medium

In Brazil, sexual offences are quite rare, when it comes to tourists. But, in the reported attacks, which have been against both men and women, the most common way the criminals do such a thing is by using “date rape” drugs.

  • How to avoid unwanted scenarios in Brazil?

As always, one important thing to remember while visiting Brazil is to never go inside any of the favelas marked on the map we have provided you with earlier. These areas have a high incidence of any criminal offences that happen across the country.

Avoid any shady streets or dark alleys and always walk accompanied by someone.

In case the unpleasant happens, contact the authorities immediately. There’s not much you can do, just abide these Brazil safety travel tips and you will be just fine.

Terrorism Risk: Low

Recent history shows no reports of any terrorist attack in Brazil. Still, demonstrations and proofs of civil unrest still occur across the country. This means that large groups of people may gather – in locations such as Avenida Paulista, Largo da Batata, Sao Paulo, Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia and Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro – and there might be a chance of a terrorist attack.

While low, this risk should be taken into account as you can never know what could happen.

  • How to avoid terrorists in Brazil?

Unknown areas, favelas, shady streets or the slums should be avoided. You don’t want to find yourself peaking on some criminals of sorts. Therefore, avoid the mentioned areas as well as churches or government building that happen to host a large crowd.

  • What to do if you encounter terrorists in Brazil?

If you see any suspicious activity you should contact the authorities immediately. Don’t wait for a second confirmation and rush to the police. This way you save yourself as well as the lives that may be put in danger.

Risk for women travelling alone: Medium

After all these safety travel tips, you might wonder if Brazil is safe for solo women travellers – and the answer is yes. In most areas of Brazil, being a solo woman traveller is no big deal, and you won’t have any issues.

  • How to avoid unwanted scenarios?

If you are a woman and travelling alone you are mostly safe if travelling across Brazil. However, be very careful if travelling in the North East and the remote parts of the Amazon. Also, while in Rio de Janeiro, be careful as well, as there have been some cases of tourists’ rape cases.

If travelling in the locations mentioned above, you should be accompanied by someone you trust and avoid shady streets and crowded areas.

  • What to do if you encounter something unpleasant?

Naturally, you should run away and call for help at the same time. The faster you call for help, the faster the authorities can help you or the persons in need. As always, keep calm and think straight.

Risks for people travelling with children: Medium

To the questions “is Brazil safe for solo women travellers” we have answered you with a yes – that in most of Brazil’s areas. When it comes to children, it’s just the same. As long as you keep an eye on your child, everything should be just fine.

Don’t leave the children unattended and have yourself or someone watching over them at all times. Care for your children as much as you’d care for you – of course.

Natural disasters risk: Medium

While in Brazil, you should be especially careful when swimming, as there is the risk of riptides which can be very dangerous. Therefore, never swim alone or far away in the sea.

Is Brazil safe to visit? Yes, but bring bug spray.

Many of the natural hazards come in the form of animals and insects, such as mosquito-borne diseases.

Top 3 Most Dangerous Cities in Brazil

  1. Salvador

Reportedly, there has been an increase regarding criminal offences in Salvador, as well as fights between gangs. Also, take into account that even the locals of Salvador recommend against travelling into this city – it has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

  1. Sao Paulo

Besides the petty crimes that happen in Sao Paulo, there is also the threat represented by the gang wars. Organized crime groups, theft and assault are very likely to happen in Sao Paulo according to the yearly criminal reports. Therefore, you should tread carefully.

  1. The favelas

While not necessarily a city, the favelas are definitely locations that should be avoided at all costs. Here, crimes from petty to extremely violent can occur and they are not safe areas. Check the map to know which areas you should avoid while visiting Brazil.

List of Vaccines You Need When Visiting Brazil

In the ending of this Brazil safety guide, we will provide you with a list of vaccines that you will need when visiting Brazil. But, as always, you should consult your medic before leaving for Brazil, as he might offer you precise information regarding this aspect.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria
  • Zika Virus
  • Dengue Fever

Short Conclusion

Brazil – you surely have heard of it and its wonders. The Sugarloaf Mountain, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer are sights you will definitely want to see while visiting this beautiful country. And there are also the festivals that you won’t want to miss!

Still, you should be careful during your journey. The highest risk is that of getting pickpocketed or getting robbed – and you don’t want that to happen! Therefore, follow these Brazil safety travel tips into account before venturing into this country. Also, contact your embassy and ask for additional information before travelling, so you’d be fully prepared when landing in Brazil.

As always, if you ask yourself “how safe is Brazil for tourists”, besides reading this article you should always check the sources we provide you for better understanding of this country’s situation.

3 Comments

  1. Hi, i don’t know who was your source, but i can say that is someone that doesnt like living in Brazil!
    I am brazilian, i live in São Paulo, and i can ensure you that the only thing you said that is true its the information that you said about favelas. There are a lot of favelas that is save to go, but is still a “lotery”…
    I am just saying this because this post about my country bothered me a little bit! We have a lot (thousand or maybe millions) of people from medium or high class that dont like living here, and you probably got your source with someone like this. I really love my country, and i wont be denying about our problems, but i think that you need a few more opinions about Brazil!
    I apologize for anything!

    • Hi Enrique,

      Thank you for your input! Indeed, the information that we post is gathered from numerous sources, such as government websites, statistics and indexes. For example, you can check the following article which was one of our sources: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil/safety-and-security

      If you feel like we were wrong in any way, we’d like to invite you to write an article from your own perspective (presenting both the good & the bad of visiting Brazil from a local’s point of view). We promise to post it. If this sounds like a deal, please send us an e-mail at travel@isthatplacesafe.com

      Best,
      Tiberiu

  2. It’s soooooo true! Henrique is that type of Brazilian who doesn’t see what’s right in front of him because it is sad to admit it but it’s true! We are a dangerous country and my advice is: don’t go at least not now. There are so many beautiful & safer countries out there why would you risk yourself?

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