Jan 152012
At a "Cowboy and Jail" themed party in Brazil.

At a "Cowboy and Jail" themed party in Brazil.

Ok, first, don’t worry, I’m not in jail.

That lead photo was from my first night going out in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The party my friend Marleny and I ended up at was “Cowboy and Jail-themed,” hence the fake jail.

You see, from the first day to the last day of our month-long travels through Brazil in 2005, Brazil surprised and delighted us. I simply have to write about it now, in 2012, because it’s one of the best places on Earth I’ve ever visited, so we’ve got to get it into this blog!

I was initially terrified to visit Brazil. My brother, David, had moved to Rio for a semester abroad during college, and my dear buddy, Marleny, started obsessively proposing that we simultaneously visit David and tour the country.

“But I hear it’s so dangerous there!” I protested.

Famous and fabulous Ipanema Beach in Rio.

Famous and fabulous Ipanema Beach in Rio.

“No it’s not,” rebutted both Marleny and my brother. “It’s one of those places where, if you’re smart, you’ll be fine. Like New York!”

And thus we ended up with a raucous, ridiculously fun, and 100% safe travel summer in Brazil. We toured Sao Paulo, Rio (my favorite!), Salvador, the paradise island of Morro de Sao Paulo, and massive Iguazu Falls. Wow!

Here’s why we loved Brazil travel so much:

1. FUN. Of the 30-something countries I’ve visited, Brazil is #1 in terms of overall fun-in-the-air feeling. Maybe it’s the sun, or the smiles, or the music, or the food, or the fact that they have Cowboy-and-Jail-themed parties, but we were giddy with fun the whole time in Brazil.

Marleny, high above the phenomenal city of Rio.

Marleny, high above the phenomenal city of Rio.

2. FOOD. Where to begin… Brazil has tons of restaurants where you pay by the kilo and serve yourself, buffet-style, from heaping piles of fresh cooking. Brazil also has the lots-of-meat-on-sticks-in-your-face deliciousness known as Churrasco. The country is also teeming with tropical fruits and berries (and their fresh juices!), from pineapple to acai.

3. VALUE. It is insane how inexpensively Marleny and I were able to live it up in Brazil. Quality backpacker hotels and hostels were abundant and cheap, food was abundant and cheap, and in-country travel options were easy and cheap… even our 15 hour bus ride to Iguazu Falls. The only problem came in readjusting back to home prices. I got so spoiled ordering $1 freshly-squeezed exotic fruit juices that, once back in the U.S., I nearly punched the clerk in Boston who charged me $6 for a “tropical fruit smoothie” from frozen fruit!

Me and Marleny in front of Rio's famous giant Christ statue.

Marleny and me in front of Rio's famous giant Christ statue.

4. BEAUTY. The whole time he lived in Brazil (and years later for that matter), my brother delighted in sending us email links to every award Brazil won for “Most Beautiful Beaches” or “Most Beautiful Scenery,” or even “Most Beautiful People.”

But you really have to admit: Brazil is gorgeous, no matter what type of beauty floats your boat. I spent much of my time in Rio muttering, “How is it possible that a shopping street this chic is next to a set of mountains this grand, which is next to beaches this luscious? Zowie!”

5. FRIENDLINESS. Locals were outgoing and open, and fellow tourists were amiable and easy to connect with. We were never lonely in Brazil, with so many new friends every day. Many of them we still keep in touch with to this day!

6. CLIMATE. Since Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, our summer is their winter, meaning we visited in the heart of their winter… and yet the weather was perfect!

Making new friends (easy in Brazil!) on Morro de Sao Paolo.

Making new friends (easy in Brazil!) on Morro de Sao Paulo.

7. HISTORY. My brother wrote his Thesis in college about Brazilian History, thus giving me a taste of the richness Brazil has to offer. David explains: “Brazil’s history is fascinating and frustrating. In the words of historian Marshall Eakin, it is “a nation of paradoxes”. For one, Brazil received more African slaves than any country (8 times more than the U.S.!) and it didn’t abolish slavery until 1888.”  Some call Brazil a “Racial Democracy,” while others critique its brutal history of income stratification.

8. DIVERSITY. David explains, “Home to the Amazon Rainforest and the lush Pantanal wetlands, Brazil arguably has the most diverse set of ecosystems on earth. Brazil’s human population is also incredibly diverse. It actually includes the largest African population outside of Nigeria, the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and more Lebanese people than anywhere (including Lebanon!).” Wowza!

A heavenly beach on Morro de Sao Paolo.

A heavenly beach on Morro de Sao Paulo.

9. BEACHES. In the words of my brother, “Brazil has over 4,600 miles of coastline, meaning there are countless pristine, sun-kissed, aquamarine beaches to choose from.”

Yup! And did I mention that Marleny and I got a private room with a porch and two hammocks right on the beach in Morro de Sao Paulo for the price of a cheap dinner back in Boston?

10. DANCING AND MUSIC. I was doing a Zumba dance fitness exercise video at home yesterday, and a Samba song from Brazil came on. “Yay!” I squealed, as a flood of memories came back. There is something so fun and accessible about Brazilian music! It makes you want to join in and jump around, no matter how gangly you are. And, yes, you WILL have the song “Girl from Ipanema” stuck in your head your whole trip.

At splendid Iguazu Falls on the border with Argentina.

At splendid Iguazu Falls on the border with Argentina.

11. IMPORTANCE. As my brother points out, “Brazil has the world’s 5th largest population, 6th largest economy (it just passed the United Kingdom), and a land mass larger than the continental U.S.”

It’s worth it to pay attention to Brazil, because it’s important. And it’s fun!

Indeed, we loved Brazil, and we bet you will, too!


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  93 Responses to “Why Brazil is one of the Best Places on Earth to Travel”

  1. Hi! I’m a Brazilian girl and I loved your article!! Brazil has got many beautiful northeast’s cities, for example : Maceió, Recife, Salvador and others. We have got São João Party that’s looks like Carnival or Réveillon. I love this Party!!(sorry if I wrote something wrong, I don’t speak English fluently). 😁

    • Thanks for reading the article and leaving a comment! We didn’t get to the northeast, but I’ve heard wonderful things!

  2. If I am planing to travel on a winter vacation and I am choosing between Brazil and China. Which country is suitable for a 20 year old guy. If I am looking for an unforgetable trip.

  3. Wow sound amazing!.. My boyfriend’s Brazilian and I will visit this year! .. And your blog is amazing!! Thanks!

    And also can you please tell me the name of the place in Morro de Sao Paulo?? sounds amazing!!

    • Thank you! Unfortunately, my trip to Brazil was several years ago and I forget the name of the hotel. 🙁 I’m sure there are many good options out there. Have a wonderful time!

  4. Hi Lillie!!!

    I’m a brazilian and I really loved to read this article!!
    I love living here but sometimes I want go out because of the highly tax we are paying for.. it is unfair

    My dream is to know New York City or Toronto.

  5. I agree with all of these except for #3… Brazil is by no means CHEAP! It is one of the most expensive countries I have ever visited. The ridiculous taxes on imports and the offensively high cost of living that does not match the salaries of the people who live there. What year did you travel here? Maybe you should take out number 3, because it’s definitely not true anymore! I’m currently living in Brazil and agree it’s an amazing country, yet I find myself struggling and I have a “high salary” for Brazil.

    • You make a great point. I traveled there several years ago, and have heard prices have skyrocketed with all the huge events going on there now, such as the World Cup. Thanks for the edit!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Brazil. It’s always great to meet new friends on our trips. Our new friends would make our trip more memorable.

  7. It sounds amazing! I’m going to Brazil for the first time in June and I absolutely cannot wait. Some of the facts from your brother are also really interesting to find out about. Great post!

  8. Very true and lovely, but I wonder if you met as much as obnoxious, pushy guys as I did….that for me was a bit too much and annoying for my taste. The rest was amazing and beautiful…..just like you said!

  9. I’m brazilian, and I loved to read it 🙂

  10. Brazil is one of the countries that is in the top five of my travel bucket list. In my university I got to know a few guys from Brazil and every time they tell me about the dancing on the beach, the beautiful girls who dance to hip hop music and the nights where the party never ends, I want to go there more and more.

    I also thought that this country might be dangerous but all of my Brazil friends told me that it is the same in every city. Some areas are great, others aren’t.

    Now I dream a little bit more about Brazil and the ocean, endless beaches and pretty girls…

  11. As a brazilian woman, I just loved your article!!! =)

  12. This is a great article and I love the pictures. I have traveled to Argentina a few times and my favorite place to visit is Iguazu Falls. The views are great and you always meet new people.

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