Entry requirements and customs: Passport and a visa are required. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the end of your trip. The visa is issued by the Brazilian Consulate, but requires one photo. Tourists may bring 2 ctns cigarettes, 2 qts of alcohol, 2 qts of Champagne, 3 qts wine.
Language: Portuguese, but Spanish is understood. English in tourist areas.
Temperature: The Northeast, the Amazon, and Rio de Janeiro share a tropical climate. Summers, from Nov-Feb are the hottest season. Temperatures in Rio, Dec-Feb: 84, Mar-May: 80, Jun-Aug: 76, Sep-Nov: 77 °F.
Shopping hours: 9-6:30PM Mon-Fri, 9-1PM Sat
Bank hours: 10-4PM Mon-Fri
Things to buy: Semi-precious stones, rosewood carvings, Amazon dolls, leather goods, and sexy bikinis.
Food: "Frango com Arroz" is a boned chicken and rice, mixed with chopped olives, hard-boiled eggs, green peas, and other vegetables. "Churrasco" is a beefsteak grilled over an open fire. "Bife de Panela" is a thin steak grilled with onions and tomatoes. There are numerous fast-food restaurants in Brazil. It is also acceptable for two people to share one order. Just tell the waiter to bring one main dish and two settings. Do try the famous "grill restaurant" where roving waiters continue to bring around fresh grilled meats and carve as much as you want.
Drink: "Batida" is very popular. It's a potent sugarcane extract served in fruit juice.
Tipping: A service charge is added, but add 5% more. Taxis are not tipped, but round out the fare. Porters get 50¢ per bag; your chambermaid gets $1 per day, and give cloakroom attendants a small tip.
Electricity: 110 Volts AC in Rio and Sao Paulo. 220 Volts AC in Brasilia.
Health: Travelers to South America should have a gamma globulin shot.
Crime: Beaches are free and for pleasure. To assure that, leave your valuables at your hotel.
Miscellaneous: There are two types of currency exchange. One is the official rate and the other is unofficial but legal. Do not use credit cards or you'll be charged the higher official rate. There's also a departure tax at the airport.