I just got back yesterday from a whirlwind of a trip on My South America Mileage Run Vacation to Foz do Iguacu, Brasil. I spent two nights in Foz do Iguazu on the Brazilian side, a side trip to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, 23 hours in Sao Paulo, and 11 hours in Santiago Chile. Here are 10 Things I Learned From My Recent Trip to Foz do Iguacu Brazil:
1. You can get from Foz do Iguacu International Airport (IGU) to Foz do Iguacu city center for R$2.90 reais ~ $0.95 USD – There’s actually a public bus that goes between Foz do Iguazu Airport to Downtown Centro Foz do Iguacu’s central bus terminal station (TTU). Best of all, it only costs 2.90 Brazilian reais ~ 95 cents USD. Conversely, you can do the same and get from Centro downtown Foz do Iguazu to IGU Airport by bus as well.
2. Hotels are ridiculously cheap in Foz do Iguacu – I stayed at the Best Western Taroba Hotel in Centro Foz do Iguazu for $30 all in which included free WiFi internet access and breakfast. There aren’t many major chain hotels on the Brazilian side of the falls.
3. There’s a great currency exchange house inside the Super Muffato supermarket – The best currency exchange ‘casa de cambio’ house is actually inside of a supermarket called Muffato Supermercado in downtown Foz do Iguacu. They can exchange US Dollars, Argentine Pesos, Brazilian Reais, and Paraguayan Guarani at very favorable rates with no commission. The exchange rate for US Dollars to Brazilian Reals at $3.10 BRL to $1 USD was better than the current interbank exchange rate at 3.03:1 !
4. You can get from Foz do Iguacu to Parque Nacional Brazil for R$2.90 ~ $0.95 USD – There’s actually a public bus where you can get from Centro Foz do Iguazu to the Brazil National Park for only 2.90 reais ~ 95 cents USD! Bus 120 starts from Terminal de Transporte Urbano (T.T.U or TTU) in Centro Foz do Iguazu.
5. Foz do Iguacu on the Brazilian side is a must see – Foz do Iguazu means ‘Big water’ and it’s the biggest attraction in Foz do Iguacu. The Brazilian waterfall is one of the seven natural wonders of the worlds and it’s quite a beautiful sight to see. You must come here once throughout your lifetime and it beats Niagara Falls any day.
6. You can buy a Brazilian prepaid SIM Card from a street vendor – Since my last visit to Brazil during the World Cup last year, my Brazilian SIM Card has since expired. Last year, I bought a TIM prepaid SIM Card with data easily from a street stall in Rio de Janeiro and had a great experience with activation without a local Brazilian CPF number.
This time around, I was in Foz do Iguacu where it was really tough to find a place that sells prepaid SIM Cards. Luckily, while I was walking around in Centro Foz do Iguacu, I found a small convenience street stall who sold Claro, TIM, Vivo, and Oi prepaid Brazilian SIM cards. Since I had previously used TIM, I bought one again for 10 reais ~ $3.31 USD and had no problem activating it over the phone. The TIM prepaid SIM Card was 4G and I had great 4G signals all over Foz do Iguazu.
7. Ciudad del Este is walkable from Foz do Iguacu – After visiting the waterfalls on the Brazilian side, I decided to spend the rest of the day checking out neighboring Ciudad del Este. I’ve read that you can take a bus from Foz do Iguacu to Ciudad del Este, but the buses don’t stop at the border and that could get you into trouble. Alternatively you can take a taxi from Foz do Iguacu to Ciudad del Este as well, but the taxi’s won’t stop at the border unless you request them to.
I mapped the distance from my hotel in Foz do Iguazu to the Ciudad del Este border and it was only a 45 minute walk which wasn’t too bad. Since I had a lot of time and I love walking around, I decided to take a chance to walk to Ciudad del Este via Ponte da Amizade (Friendship Bridge) and got my stamp at the border. Last year I visited Asuncion in Paraguay, so I already had a visa and Americans do a need a visa to visit Ciudad del Este.
8. Crime in Foz do Iguacu is real – When walking from Foz do Iguacu to the border of Brasil/Paraguay, I actually witnessed a brazen robbery of a motorcycle taxi in broad daylight. I saw that the moto taxi victim was getting beat up by four guys who were also on motorcycles. No weapons were used and after taking the moto taxi’s money, the bandits fled on their motorcycles. I was by a car shop and there were witnesses as well that were watching. I was scared and was hiding behind a car and not one of us bystanders did anything. In this psychology world, this is called the Bystander Effect. After the thieves left, people came up to the victim and tried to see if he was okay. I was just flabbergasted that I couldn’t help him out while he was being beat up because I didn’t want to end up being killed. Who knows what kind of weapons these men could have had?
Last year I Was Held At Knifepoint In Rio De Janeiro During The World Cup In Brazil. Crime in Brazil is real and you just have to be vigilant at all times. It can happen anywhere if you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time.
9. Taxis are pretty inexpensive – I had an early 5am flight out of Foz do Iguacu and the public bus to IGU Airport stops running after midnight, so my only option was the taxi. As many of you know, I absolute hate taking taxis since they’re all out to scam you. I only take taxi cabs if they’re my last choice and at this point, I had no choice but to take the cab to Foz do Iguazu International Airport. In the end, the taxi from Centro Foz do Iguacu to IGU Airport was R$51.59 reais ~ $17.07 USD for a 20 minute ride with not raffic which is on par with UberX prices elsewhere in the world. My taxi standards are $1 per minute which is right on the money.
10. Brazilian BBQ is really cheap in Foz do Iguacu – Most churrascarias (Brazilian BBQ) in Foz do Iguazu are really inexpensive. A churrascaria is basically an all you can eat place where they serve all kinds of meat on a skewer. If you’ve been to Fogo de Chao, then you know what I’m talking about. I was astounded when I found a churrascaria rodizio near the Best Western Taroba Hotel called Churrascaria do Gaucho for R$28.50 ~ $9.43 USD all in per person. I was surprised that no tip was even required since you pay at the end in a caixa (cashier window)just like as you would in a kilo restaurant. The buffet spread was large and the different types of rotating meats were astounding for that price.