Brazil Travel Tips
The following basic rules of etiquette will assist travellers to have an enjoyable and embarrassment free stay in the large and diverse country of Brazil.
Brazilians are generally very free spirited and friendly
Physical contact is a part of simple communication in Brazil. So don’t step away if a Brazilian feels comfortable enough to stand close to you as they speak and don’t flinch by light touching as this is normal practice in Brazil.
Offensive hand gestures - it’s not "okay"
The "OK" hand gesture is considered offensive to Brazilians so avoid making this sign - it's basically like saying "up yours". However, the "thumbs-up" hand sign is a very popular hand gesture and means "okay" - use this gesture instead.
Maintain eye contact
Eye contact during conversation is a sign of respect. Even making eye contact with strangers is common. Some suggest that pickpockets are known to target people who don’t make eye contact as they are less likely to identify them - so that’s always good incentive!
Gift giving ideas
Try to avoid giving purple or black gifts (including wrapping) as these colours are associated with grieving. If you are invited to a home it is a good idea to bring the hostess some flowers. Gifts are generally opened when received. Always remember to bring small gifts such as toys or stationery if the host has children.
Keep your hand bag or satchel (man bag) off the floor
This is considered bad luck by some Brazillians. If in doubt - ask someone for the best place to put your bag.
Don’t try and impress Brazilians with your Spanish
They do not understand this language (unless they have learnt it as well as their native tongue) and they are proud of their Portuguese heritage.
Beach wear is often viewed as a fashion show in Brazil with women wearing very revealing swimsuits and men wearing speedos or tight boxer brief style swimmers. Women must remember that going topless is considered taboo, and should be reserved for nudist beaches.
Enjoy the drama - on the TV
Many locals in Brazil love their soap operas and drama serials. So if you’re visiting a home in Brazil and you’re asked to join them in watching a telenovela such as “Amor a Vida” - don’t be surprised!
Don’t eat and walk
Eating and walking in public is considered a social faux pas by many Brazilians.
Keep count of the alcoholic drinks you consume
Try and maintain a low profile if you suddenly feel intoxicated - Brazilians do not appreciate public displays of drunkenness.
This includes even casual wear. Instead of tracksuit pants - wear nice jeans instead. Brazilians are known generally to be very well dressed and enjoy maintaining a polished appearance. So don’t be surprised if you see men getting manicures or even getting their eye brows shaped.
Engage in conversation
Brazilians like to ask you many questions during conversation, and closed answered like “Yes/No” or “I’m not sure” may be seen as a sign of disrespect. Brazilians place an importance on family and relationships - so they may only be asking you questions to get to know you better.
Live on Brazil time
Brazilians are very relaxed and in general are not known for their punctuality. So if they plan to meet you at 10am, don’t be surprised if they turn up half an hour late. Also ensure that you have plenty of time as Brazilians tend to love socialising and catch ups can take several hours.