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Safety Tips For Travellers Heading to Rio De Janiero for the World Cup

Updated on May 29, 2014
One of the nine great wonders of the world: The statue of Christ, the Redeemer in Rio De Janiero.
One of the nine great wonders of the world: The statue of Christ, the Redeemer in Rio De Janiero.

So, you have scored yourself some tickets to the world’s most famous event – the world cup. Congratulations! This year it’s being hosted in the country that prides itself as the “originators of football” – Brazil. As a seasoned traveller to this beautiful country, I have had to learn the hard way on how to really be safe and enjoy my journey. It’s a shame that the majority of travellers who head to Rio usually go back home devastated and disappointed and vow to never return to this country because of experiencing the harsh realities of what Rio can do to you if you are unprepared. This hub aims at educating both first time travellers and seasoned travellers on how to be safe and handle yourself so you enjoy the best of what this city has to offer. Here are some seven safety tips to use whilst you’re roaming around Rio:

Ipanema Beach is one of the most crowded beaches in Rio.
Ipanema Beach is one of the most crowded beaches in Rio.

NEVER TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN RIO ALONE!

If you are planning to travel to Rio, get a group of people to go with – preferably a group of minimum six people. Never attempt to travel to Rio alone, regardless of whether you are Rambo or Tinkerbell. Tourists are easy prey and targets for locals so if they see that you are alone, you will only invite trouble upon yourself. Even if you are going to a public toilet, do not go alone. Always have somebody you know and trust next to you at all times. If you are a girl or a woman, always have a guy or guys you know next to you. If you travel as girls only, you are deemed as singles that want fun or prostitutes. Yes, I know it’s shallow and stupid but remember this isn’t the west where women have freedom. If you travel with a guy or guys, it will not invite a lot of unwanted attention. Avoid walking in dark corners or narrow streets. At night, make sure you are with your group at all times and do not separate from each other.

PUT ON THE AWARENESS RADAR!

This is the base point of every traveller regardless of where you are going. In Rio the streets and beaches are constantly jam packed with people and when they are events like the world cup or the carnival, it’s five times as packed. The city is well known for pick-pocketing so be very aware of your surroundings and keep your guard up. Don’t move around like a headless chicken with no sense of direction. Be super observant and vigilant. Trust your instincts and don’t talk to anyone you don’t know. Brazilians are very friendly people but they use that against you so don’t just be friendly to anyone who smiles at you.

Everyone in Brazil is a footballer! Beach football is also a popular leisure activity.
Everyone in Brazil is a footballer! Beach football is also a popular leisure activity.

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LEAVE YOUR GOOD SAMARITANISM HOME!

This is one of the most common ways that tourists are attacked in Rio. The perpetrators usually stage a scene that needs a Good Samaritan (like a girl being raped or a man being robbed) to come to the rescue only for you to be brutally attacked and in rare instances killed. So no matter how tempting it is to rescue someone in distress, never attempt to involve yourself in rescuing someone you don’t know in trouble. Just walk past it like you can’t see anything and worry about it when you’re safe and sound.

HAVE FANCY GADGETS & VALUABLES? DON’T BRING THEM ALONG!

I know, you need to take decent photos and videos but if there is one thing that screams “rob me” is when you flash your phones, tablets and jewelry. Buy a cheap camera that can take photos and videos. Never carry a handbag or a backpack. Be as empty handed as possible. Leave your passports and valuable stuff at your hotel security. Ladies, avoid wearing any jewelry or bangles or rings. Guys, do not wear baggy pants with a thousand pockets. One trick I use that works for me is that I wear a very hairy wig and pin my money inside of it, or I put it in my underwear. When I want to go shopping, I go to the bathroom take it out and wrap it in a newspaper or magazine so it looks like I’m only carrying reading material. Avoid carrying credit or debit cards and always have spare cash on you.

AVOID DRUGS &ALCOHOL AT ALL COSTS!

So many tourists are banged up abroad because they always neglect the one rule that outside countries don’t tolerate – drugs. Even though Rio is one of the drug capitals in the world, if you are caught with them, it’s goodbye to your life basically. The penalty for being in possession of drugs is a minimum of eight years behind bars and it doesn’t matter if you have an ounce of it or a ton of it. The Brazilian legal system is slower than a snail so if you’re a foreigner and caught with drugs, you are almost as guilty as charged. If you drink alcohol, do not get completely drunk. Do not accept drinks from anyone you don’t know. Drink spiking in Rio is very common so order your own drinks and keep sober at all times. There is always a party on every corner so don’t get grossed in by a pretty girl smiling and flirting with you or a guy that is superbly friendly. Most of them are predators so be very watchful of your surroundings.

If you dress like one of these folks then you should be fine and blend in easily.
If you dress like one of these folks then you should be fine and blend in easily.

DRESS CODE – WHEN IN RIO..

.. dress as Rio! The most common dress attire is shorts and flip flops especially during this world cup time. So if you've dressed up like you’re going on a safari with six pound climbing shoes with trousers that have a million pockets then you've just invited unwanted guests. The rule in Rio is this – dress the part so you won’t depart – You need to look as local as possible to avoid unnecessary attention.

GO AROUND THE CITY SECURELY!

Travelling around Rio is a pain due to the high levels of traffic jams and pollution. In order for you to experience hassle free transportation, I high advise you to avoid the minivans that act like taxis. Not only are they a driving hazard but majority of them aid in kidnappings and robberies. Use registered taxis or the city shuttle buses. Better yet, rent a car and drive by yourself which is the safest mode of travel. If you need a guide, use the ones your hotel provides and makes sure they are certified guides. Better yet find someone you know that knows Rio very well and use them instead.

The bottom line is doing your research before you travel to Brazil. The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy your stay with peace and comfort. Make sure you get as much information from your embassy on the travel warnings and updates. Get information too from those you know that have been to Rio. If you don’t know anyone who has been to Rio, then use good old Google and other search engines. I hope these tips will be helpful to your trip. Have fun but be safe as well!

These are the many safe taxis you can use as they are usually run by hotel chains or tourist companies.
These are the many safe taxis you can use as they are usually run by hotel chains or tourist companies.

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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hiya, what great tips, I have never been or likely to go, but I would never have thought of the taxi services etc being part of the cities bad stuff so to speak, I would only hire a car as you said, its such a beautiful place but the crime is astronomical! great advice! nell

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Sounds like a date Aneegma, can't think if any one I'd rather accompany to Rio. You sure sound like you know your way around the place and how to stay safe.

    • profile image

      Globetrotter 3 years ago

      Rio is a very dangerous city if you don't know your way around and if you are clueless about Brazilian culture. It's a very dirty city and there's loads of poverty and prostitution. Also if you don't speak Portuguese you will find it tough getting around. I got robbed twice in the two weeks I spent there so I do agree with article that don't go to Rio alone and don't give to the begging children or anyone that begs and absolutely don't carry any valuables. I wish I read this article before going there. I will never go there alone again that's for sure, not even the world cup entices me to go there. It's far from a glamorous place like they portray it on TV.

    • Aneegma profile image
      Author

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      Hi Tensplash - Thank you for the vote up!

      Hi Soul Healer - Thank you for stopping by.

    • Aneegma profile image
      Author

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      Hi Tensplash - Thank you for the vote up!

      Hi Soul Healer - Thank you for stopping by.

    • Aneegma profile image
      Author

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      Hey John it's always a pleasure to see you on my comments. One day I'll take you on a trip round Rio when I get the chance to do so. Thank s for stopping by and for the vote up

    • Aneegma profile image
      Author

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      Hi swilliams

      Thank you so much for the vote up and tweet. Much appreciated.

    • SoulHealer profile image

      SoulHealer 3 years ago from Everywhere

      Very useful article with good info. Good work.

    • TenSplash profile image

      TenSplash 3 years ago from Scotland

      Hello Aneegma (Love the name!)

      This is a great hub and makes me want to pack my bags for Brazil! Well done, very informative and useful. Voted up.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Aneegma, this hub is packed full of sound advice for anyone planning to travel to Brazil, for the World Cup or otherwise. I always wanted to go to Rio but have never had the opportunity. It sounds like you have to be fully aware all the time and try not to look like a tourist. Voted up...well written.

    • swilliams profile image

      Emunah La Paz 3 years ago from Arizona

      Great article Jasmine. This advice is a life saver for many travelers! Thanks! Voted Up and tweeted out!

    • profile image

      Jasmine JellyBaby 3 years ago

      Brilliantly written my friend. I'm heading that way this summer so this has been helpful and a great hub. Thanks!