The beautiful game in a beautiful country - the 2014 FIFA World Cup is here!
June 12, 2014
Brazil is hours away from hosting the biggest football tournament in the world, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, kicking off June 12, in Sao Paulo.
Millions of fans from around the world are on route to the month long event, taking place in the country of contrasts. There's so much to see, do and take in, so we've created some handy tips to help the fans get the most out of this once in a lifetime trip. These tips are sourced from local experience, Crown staff and expatriates living in Brazil who have an in-depth knowledge of the 12 host cities, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Bela Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Recife, Manaus, Cuiabá, and Natal.
Traveling and getting around
Due to the huge size of the country, domestic flights will be required when attending games in different cities. If you use the most familiar travel sites such as, Kayak, Expedia and Skyscanner, you may experience booking problems when using them within Brazil using a foreign credit cards. If this happens, it's recommend to use www.decolar.com.br, www.tripadvisor.com.br, and even www.hotelurbano.com.br. These sites are secure and provide English versions. In addition, comparing options on Brazilian airlines sites such as, Gol, TAM, Azul and Avianca Brazilhttp://www.voepassaredo.com.br/seta_idioma.asp before booking.
Talk to your local contacts and hotel staff if any help is needed.
It's especially important to check your origin and destination airports for Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as you may fly into to one airport and out of another. Both of these airports will have a heavy amount of traffic, by not confirming the correct airports there's a high chance of missing your flight, and in turn, probably the next game - a costly error!
Rio de Janeiro airports
Sao Paulo airports
1. Galeão (GIG), International Airport
2. Santos Dumont (SDU) City Airport
1. Garulhos International Airport/Cumpicas (GRU)
2. Congonhas São Paulo City Airport (CGH)
3. Varacopos International Airport (VCP) in Campinas.
Campinhas may look far on Google maps, but can be the easiest traffic route. Azul for example, offers good reach, costs and free busing from various Sao Paulo shopping locations to and from the VCP and GRU.
Busing services in Brazil are not organized as the road system is not what you would expect. However, inter-state and intra-city busing is safe and a good option. Bus operations are modern and comfortable and usually leave and arrive on the time. The challenge can be making a reservation, as bus company websites do not offer English versions. International credit cards may not allow transactions because a local CPF (social security) number is required.
Ask the locals! Brazilians know their way around by bus and are always very helpful. Alternatively, speak to your local host or hotel who can help you book on www.rodoviariaonline.com.br or www.transportal.com.br and will let you know how to organize departure/arrival times, travel to the station and buy a ticket.
What to bring
At this time of year, it is Winter in Brazil, however you will generally only experience the conditions in the south of the country, so fans watching matches in Curitiba and Porto Alegre will need coats. Please be warned that everything in Brazil is extremely expensive, from shaving razors to forgotten baseball caps and energy bars. If you're visiting multiple cities, temperatures will vary a lot, for example, Australia's first game in Cuiabá, will be in the high of 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), and the second match is in Porto Alegre, with lows of 4 Celsius (40 Fahrenheit). Our recommendation is to pack both a rain coat and warmer options for evenings when in Sao Paulo or south of São Paulo, Curtiba or Porto Alegre.
Like most big cities around the world, Brazil attracts crime. However, Brazil is well known for its higher than normal crime rates, especially targeting foreigners, so try not to be alone, especially at night. If ever you are in a mugging situation, allow it to happen, it is common to come home without the possessions you left with, so be prepared. In most instances, these situations are non-violent, the aim is to take items such as wallets, purses, branded caps, cell phones, laptops and sunglasses, not to hurt anyone. Be smart, don't display your phone on the street or visit the ATM alone. In addition, don't use an international bank card at Brazilian banks, only use HSBC, CITI, CHASE, or any other major international bank, not the local Brazilian ones.
Transactions and tipping
In restaurants, it is the norm to pay of offer a 10 percent service charge. Most transactions occur on debit cards, cash is less common. The Point of Purchase (POP) machines from Cielo and Rede will become familiar and for the most part accept foreign credit cards. Be sure to repeat that you're using a credit card rather than a debit card (Credito, cre-di-tu or Debito, de-bi-tu, break down the syllables - the o at the end sounds like u.) Credit Cards without chips can have problem, so state that you are using a credit card and an alternative machine will be provided. Restaurants and bars usually provide you with a running receipt or plastic card (ficha/comando) to calculate your total purchases. When leaving or settling the bill, the costs are validated to submit the bill, always review it. Generally, cash is required for taxis, or ask them if a POP machine is available. Prior to departure, be sure to get the taxi cost based distance and number of people. No tipping is required, however, it's nice to round up the total, which the drivers are very appreciative of. They will provide you with a company number and website to book with them again in the future. The Uber App does not yet work in Brazil, however, the Easy Taxi App does, and might be helpful. Major hotels, restaurants, shopping and tourist areas will always have a taxi stand close by if you need one. In hotels, it is polite to tip all bellhops and housekeepers as a measure of courtesy and they are accustomed to a small tip when helping you with baggage and cleaning.
Cellular and local WIFI
It is strongly advised not to use data roaming in Brazil with an international cell plan. Check with your service provider about your options prior to leaving your home country. Smart phones can be used in hotels, and almost all restaurants and bars which have free WIFI, just ask for the password (senha). Hotel tariffs can be high when making international calls, even when using calling cards.
Enjoy yourselves, you'll be a part of Brazil's history!
To read more about the FIFA World Cup 2014, visit the official website here.
For an insiders view of each of the stadiums, please click here.