Rio de Janeiro: Tips and Advice

Rio is one of the prettiest cities that I have seen. It is warm in summers, the water is blue, the birds are chirping and the locals want to have a good time. Yet, when I was planning my trip to Rio, people warned me to ‘be careful’ and that they would be surprised if I would get back safe and sound.

Lovely Rio!

I found it to be very safe for women, unlike my own country, India. Wear what you want and you will never feel unsafe. No one will bat an eyelid at you if you are wearing a revealing outfit (unlike India and other conservative countries). It’s robbery (petty theft and armed robbery) which is the most common crime.

Well, I am back… safe and sound… after having fallen head over heels in love with Rio. I am glad that the trip went well and that I had such a good time. I did take my precautions and made sure that I did not act stupid to invite trouble. So, here are some tips that helped me stay safe while I was in Rio… and I am hoping they will help you stay safe too…

  1. Leave all expensive jewellery at home. Don’t flash your diamonds and show off the Rolex. Rio is the place to wear the funky artificial jewellery… so dress up people!
  2. Keep your phone in your pocket and do not talk on phone while walking on the road. It easy to have it flicked by snatchers on a motorbike.
  3. If you need to venture into an unknown area after dark, use a cab. Uber works well …or ask your hotel/hostel to get you one.
  4. Keep your eyes and ears open… you will suddenly not find yourself in a dangerous area. You will realise when the area transitions. If its lonely, desolate and looks run down, hop into a cab and get away, regardless of the time of the day.
  5. Stay in the safe areas and don’t try to skimp on costs by booking a hostel/hotel in a low cost, but unsafe area. I would highly recommend staying in Ipanema, which is inhabited by the well to do locals.

    Sunset at Ipanema

  6. Don’t get too adventurous and explore favelas on your own – you won’t know which one is safe and which one is dangerous. Plus, you are an outsider and will stand out as one too. In case you do want to see what goes on in a favela, join a group tour.
  7. Carry little stuff on the beach… stuff that you can take with you when you go for a dip. If you leave it on the lounger in a public beach while you are in the sea, don’t expect it to be there when you get back. I know people whose shorts and slippers were stolen as well!

    Good times on the beach!

  8. While using public transport, especially during peak hours, carry your backpack (which has your money, phone, passport etc) in front instead of carrying it on your back. Beware of pickpockets.
  9. Brazilians are very friendly and I had a great time with many locals. However, don’t trust people too soon and ask them to take care of your belongings when you visit the loo… they might not be there when you get back!
  10. Use google maps, get a local SIM card and stay connected. Look and be confident and don’t carry the ‘lost puppy’ look. If you have to ask for directions, step inside a shop and ask someone at the counter; be aware of who is watching you have this conversation.

And lastly, if you ever find yourself to the victim of an armed robbery or being held at gunpoint, just surrender all that you have and leave without your material possessions. Its easier to buy new ones, so long as you are safe and sound!

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