International SOS believes it is safe for travellers to visit virtually anywhere in Brazil, so long as they take the right precautions to mitigate risks, particularly in preventing opportunistic crime and road traffic accidents.
Debora Rocha, regional security manager, Brazil, at International SOS and Control Risks has the following advice for people travelling to Rio:
Travel & Security
- Zika virus: Women are advised not to get pregnant until at least eight weeks after returning from Brazil. Male travelers should not have unprotected sex during the trip and for eight weeks on their return, if they do not have any symptoms. If men do have zika symptoms, they should not have unprotected sex for six months.
- Transport: Taking public transport (underground and busses) is encouraged in Rio. There will also be special transport arrangements in place for the Games. Taxis are safe, but should not be hailed on the streets. Self-driving is not recommended and walking alone after dark also requires planning to avoid high risk areas.
- Uber: It is safe to use taxi apps and Uber cars in low and medium risk countries and Brazil is deemed a medium risk country. Uber should be avoided only in locations close to taxi stands, such as the airports for example, as there could be some conflict between taxi drivers and Uber drivers. Another good option is to ask your hotel to provide a taxi.
- Paying in cash: It is common to pay taxi drivers in cash; many of the drivers take credit cards, but not all of them. Tipping taxi drivers is not a common practice for Brazilians, but it is gladly accepted.
- Money exchange: Travellers should exchange money only in authorized booths or at banks to avoid receiving counterfeit change.
- Speaking English: English is not widely spoken in Brazil, but there will be bilingual volunteers working during the Games, and even the Brazilians who do not speak English will always try to help overseas visitors.
- Avoiding unwanted attention: When it comes to petty crime, the best way to avoid being a victim is to keep a low profile and avoid displays of wealth such as jewellery, smartphones and iPads. Avoid high risk districts and be suspicious of your surroundings. Turn on your personal security radar!
- Top scams to watch out for: Be aware of bag and jewellery snatching, spiking of drinks and cloning of cards. Favelas should be avoided but opportunistic crime is present everywhere.
- Terrorism threat: There will be more than 80,000 police and Army officers on the ground at the Games. Military police will join forces from different states and create a National Force stationed in Rio. Although we know that big events such as the Olympics illuminate the issue of terror attack threats, there is no credible information that Brazil could be subject to a terrorist attack. Brazil’s counter-terrorism agency is in constant contact with other countries.
- Enjoying the Games safely: Our golden rules on having an enjoyable and safe time at the Games are to keep a low profile, avoid displays of wealth and be aware of your surroundings. And carry only what you need.