Rio de Janeiro Warnings and Dangers
Sun meets surf in Rio de Janeiro, famous for Carnivale, beach volleyball, and bikinis as far as the eye can see. But with six and a half million people stuffed into a small space, it’s easy to find yourself in a bad part of town. Here’ s how to stay safe and enjoy your time in Rio de Janeiro.
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Rio de Janeiro Carnivale
Carnivale draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Rio each year, but it also draws people in search of easy targets. Don’t be put off from visiting Rio during Carnivale, but make good decisions about where you stay and which activities you engage in while you’re there.
In general, cheaper lodging in Rio de Janeiro can be found further from the beaches like Ipanema, but these areas are less well-lit and have fewer police on patrol. Balance cost versus safety to the degree to which you’re comfortable, and when going out in public during Carnivale, make certain to avoid wearing any conspicuous items, such as watches, jewelry, or cameras.
Finally, stay away from heavy crowds whenever possible, as “snatch and run” theft is most common when there are many people around.
Tourist Attractions Become Dangerous After Dark
Just about every city becomes less safe at night, but in Rio the risk is especially great once the sun goes down. Criminals and gangs are known to stake out popular tourist locations, such as museums, nightclubs, and restaurants, even if these locations are safe in and of themselves. Famous sites like Corcovado Mountain or the Tijuca Forest are notorious for becoming unsafe after daylight hours. When the sun does go down, take a cab instead of public transportation whenever possible.
Carrying Money in Rio de Janeiro
The safest way to spend money in Rio is to use a credit card with a 24-hour fraud hotline. Using one of these cards lets you cancel it in the event of theft. However, it’s far more practical for most people to carry cash, especially since shops and restaurants may only accept cash.
If you choose to carry cash, make certain not to carry high-denomination bills. Furthermore, be certain not to carry all your bills in one pocket. A traveler’s pouch hidden on your stomach or around your waist can help avoid pickpockets. Above all, never carry your passport in a pocket that can be easily reached by a thief.
Favelas in Rio de Janeiro
The infamous slum villages of Brazil, locally called favelas, are working-class shantytowns that should generally be avoided by tourists. These areas are by far the most dangerous in the city, with the highest rates of crime. And while some are safer than others, there is very little police presence here and it may be difficult or even impossible to get emergency services in a favela.
Thieves in Rio de Janeiro
Theft of personal items is not uncommon in Rio de Janeiro. When visiting the beach or other populated tourist attraction, leave your valuables locked in the hotel safe. You should also be sure to keep your purse located close to your body or don’t carry one at all.
Rio de Janeiro Taxis
There are a few reputable taxi services located in Rio, but there are also some drivers who are specifically out to get tourists. After your ride, make sure you have the exact change on hand to give the the driver the correct payment. Pay close attention to the money transfer because some drivers will try to convince you that you didn’t pay enough.
Personal Safety in Rio de Janeiro
Most areas in Rio de Janeiro are perfectly safe for tourists during the day. Nighttime is a different story. If you must head out on the streets at night, make sure you travel in groups. Pay close attention to your surroundings and avoid remote areas.
You should also avoid wearing expensive clothes, as this may make you a target for muggers. Leave your cash in your pocket and don’t flash it about or count it in public. Stay where the action is. The police tend to be plentiful in these areas, so there will always be someone around to help.
More from SmarterTravel:
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Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Rio de Janeiro warnings and dangers.