Trip Budget: Brazil
Brazil may not be the cheapest country in South America, but on a global scale it’s still a pretty cheap place to travel. However, my time in Brazil included the massive expense that is Carnival- a week of non-stop parties, expensive parade tickets, and extortionate hostel prices. So, although my month in Brazil involved the least amount of travelling around, it ended up being my most expensive month of travel so far.
I’ve already posted on whether it’s worth planning your trip to Brazil around Carnival. But, in short, Brazil is an awesome country, and Rio is one of my top cities ever, and no matter when you visit, you’ll have the time of your life. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you may want to plan your trip to avoid Carnival.
Our hostel (the cheapest we could find), was a whopping R$700 (£134/$189) just for the five nights of the festival. The tickets to the parade (and if you do go during Carnival, I’d highly recommend the parade) were a hefty R$240 (£45/$65).
That said, however, all of the parties on the streets and on the beach were free to attend, and drinks and street food were pretty cheap.
Outside of Carnival, hostels are pretty cheap in Rio, from as little as R$30 (£6/ $8). Prices are similar in the city of São Paulo.
I also visited Região dos Lagos, a coastal region made up of three towns (Arraial do Cabo, Búzios and Cabo Frio), where the hostels were a bit pricier, starting around R$45 (£8.50/ $12).
Food and Drink:
In Rio, You can pick up pretty cheap street snacks for R$5-10 (£1-2/ $1.35-$2.70). A meal at a buffet comes to around R$15-20 (£3-4/ $4- $5.50) in the cheaper parts of town (depending on how much you eat!). Restaurants in more expensive parts of town, such as Ipanema and Copacabana, will cost significantly more.
São Paulo was slightly more expensive for food, and we splurged on some R$50 (£10/ $15) meals. It was worth it though, particularly the sushi in the Japanese district of Liberdade.
Beers throughout the country cost as little as R$5 (£1/ $1.35), and one of Brazil’s signature Caipirinhas will set you back R$5-10 (£1-2/ $1.35-2.70).
Taxis are pretty reasonable in Brazil (R$4 initial charge, plus R$1.20-2.50 per mile), but the cheapest way to get around is to take the bus or metro for just under R$4 (£0.75/ $1).
I only took three long distance bus journeys during this trip to Brazil. The first was from Rio to Arraial do Cabo, which took three hours and cost R$80 (£15/$21). The return journey from Cabo Frio to Rio cost R$60 (£11.50/ $16). Rio to São Paulo cost me R$90 (£16/ $24), but can cost as much as R$200 (£38/ $54). Check Buscaonibus to check times and prices. Bargains sell out in advance so buy ahead of time if you can.
Activities and Entrance Fees
Visiting the famous sights of Rio can be pretty expensive. Cristo Redentor costs R$37 (£7/ $10), plus R$30 (£6/ $8.50) for the bus to the top. Taking the cable car to the top of Pão de Açúcar (the Sugarloaf) costs R$71 (£13.50/ $20). Entrance to Jardim Botânico (the Botanic Gardens) was a surprisingly cheap R$9 (£1.70/ $2.50). And a tour of Rocinha favela cost R$60 (£11.50/ $17).
I took in some zouk lessons while I was in Rio. A course at the wonderful Renata Peçanha school (two lessons per week for one month) costs R$140 (£28/ $40) (click here to read about my zouk exploits!).
A lot of the best activities in Rio are free. The best parties are free to attend, and take place outdoors, on the streets, or along the beach. One of my favourite parties is Pedra Do Sal, which takes place every Monday.
While Região dos Lagos was more expensive in terms of food and accommodation, the main attractions are relaxing on a beach and strolling the pretty streets, so my brief trip here wasn’t all that pricey.
Sao Paulo is a more expensive city than Rio in many ways, but there’s so much you can do for free! We strolled around markets, took in some live music, visited a photography exhibition, and admired the impressive street art, all without paying a penny. Some bars have a high entrance fee, but there are also some that have free entry, cheap beer, and a live samba band. (Click here for my top things to do in São Paulo!)
All in all, my month in and around Rio knocked a massive R$3,630 (£696/ $983) from my budget. Well over my monthly limit of £600/ $850. This works out at £23/ $30 per day.
If I’d been a bit more careful with money, not splurging on meals (and maybe drinking less!), I reckon I could have knocked a bit off this, but, ultimately, if you’re planning a trip to Brazil, budget more than you think you’ll need (and if you’re visiting during Carnival- double it!).