Ciudad del Este is a city in Paraguay, on the triple border with Brazil and Argentina. It is linked to the city of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, by an international bridge over the Paraná river. It is mainly a shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians.
Getting in by land is by far the easiest way to enter Paraguay via Ciudad del Este. The Paraguayan government made a very intelligent decision to allow easy access into Ciudad del Este from Brazil. This admits a great influx of foreign people into Paraguay that typically spend hundreds and thousands of US dollars (or the equivalent in other currencies) in their country to benefit the Paraguayan economy and people.
The local Guaraní International Airport (IATA: AGT) has direct connections to São Paulo and Asunción by TAM, on Airbus A320 jets, but there are much more frequent flights from many Brazilian cities (and some in other countries) to nearby Foz do Iguaçu airport in Brazil (IATA: IGU). The airport in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina (IATA: IGR) also receives several daily flights from Buenos Aires.
The bus terminal is located around 1km South of the city center, a bit hidden behind the large sports stadium on Bernardino Caballero. Buses from Brazil leave regularly and can be found on several of the main streets in Foz do Aquacu and especially on Av. Republica do Paraguai/Rua Carlos Souto Maior (277) near the Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge).
Taxi prices at the bus terminal which is about 2 km south of the main road to the Brazil border, are a total rip off. You do not want to walk to the center after dark; here is what you do even if you arrive late. When you walk outside of the bus terminal, taxi stand is to the left; you turn right and walk about 50 yards until you come to a road; make a left and walk about 200 yards; it comes to a dead end; here you make a right and walk another 200 yards on the road; you come to a large shopping which you cannot see from the bus terminal, get a taxi there.
International Border Crossing
- If you are a citizen of a country requiring a visa, the bridge border is very loosely patrolled and you can easily bus or walk in and out without being stopped to have your passport checked. It's generally permitted, and often encouraged, to enter without the required visa as long as you leave the same day from the loosely patrolled "Friendship Bridge". If you're from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or Taiwan, and planning on traveling to Asuncion, there is a hefty $100+ visa-on arrival that is technically required. While you could simply cross the border without checking in with customs, you will surely encounter an issue if you don't have an entry stamp and plan on, for example, flying out of Asuncion.
- Crossed from CDE to FDI by foot early July 2016 during morning rush; from a visa free EU country, had to go to buildings on both sides to get stamped out of Paraguay and stamped into Brazil; there is nobody standing in your way and checking anything. Safety -- on CDE side, people are busy with selling and all sorts of strange looking characters, just look like you know what you are doing; on the FDI side it is quieter; across the bridge, join other pedestrians; the whole area feels OK (this traveler has been to 103 countries). The biggest danger are cars and motorcycles; it is a mad rush hour in the morning. As you cross into Brazil, you get to a small collection of stores on the right; about 300 meters straight is a bus stop with buses going to "terminal", where you can catch bus 120 that passes the airport and goes all the way to the falls. The Terminal is about 3.5 km from the border. The Brazil side is like a normal town, much less scruffy than CDE.
- The most common way to arrive is through the Ponte da Amizade (Portuguese) or Puente de la Amistad (Spanish), meaning "Friendship Bridge," which connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil over the Paraná river. There are frequent bus connections, also to and from Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. Taxis sometimes do the trans-border trip as well.
- A couple of kilometers south of Ciudad del Este, where the Paraná and Iguaçu/Iguazú rivers join, is a ferry crossing to Puerto Iguazú in Argentina without crossing Brazilian territory. The ferry runs hourly during daylight hours for AR$5. There´s a bus to Ciudad del Este passing close-by. From the centre (av Gral Bernardino Caballero) take a bus labeled "Tres Fronteras" (destination, not the company name) and ask to be dropped at "La Balsa" (the ferry).
- It is also possible to take a bus from Puerto Iguazú bus terminal through Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu), across the "Friendship Bridge" and into Ciudad del Este. The bus is specially marked "Foz, Puerto Iguazú, Ciudad del Este" or simply "Paraguay" and leaves from Puerto Iguazú bus terminal at platform 7 every hour and costs 15 Pesos. The ride to the Brazil-Paraguay border bridge will take approximately 45 minutes and you will be required to disembark at the Argentine border crossing to obtain an exit stamp before reboarding the bus for the rest of the journey. If your nationality is required to have a Brazilian visa and you don't have one, before boarding the bus, be sure that the bus will take you all the way across the Friendship Bridge into Ciudad del Este. If it does not, then it will drop you off right before the bridge and you will have to walk through immigration (exiting Brazil) and run the risk of being stopped and questioned by the Brazilian Federal Police about how you got into Brazil without a visa. Explain to them that you only wanted to visit Ciudad del Este and were unaware that the bus would not take you all the way. Also add that you will be returning straight to Puerto Iguazú (Argentina) at the end of the day.
To leave Ciudad del Este back across the Friendship bridge there are basically three options:
1) Walk back across the bridge. During everyday conditions this is relatively easy and pain/hassle free. If you are crossing during busy seasons, or rush hours, you may have to wait in line at Brazilian immigration along with scores of other people returning from shopping.
2) Take a bus from the bus terminal that goes into Brazil or directly to Puerto Iguazú.
The bridge experiences traffic at certain rush hour times like most busy cities. If you cross the bridge going back to Brazil around 4-5pm on a weekday (besides Friday), expect about a thirty minute commute; this may drastically change around holidays and vacations, etc. Expect a Brazilian customs official to board the bus and quickly inspect any bags you are carrying for goods that exceed the maximum allowed back to Brazil. Unless you are attempting to bring back large quantities of electronics (for example, carrying ten mobile phones, or a stack of iPads and tablets), you have nothing to be concerned about.
3) Hire a motorcycle to take you across the bridge through the line specifically for Motorcycles that is rarely ever stopped by immigration officials. This option is by far the quickest and took the Author 3 minutes to get from one end of the Friendship Bridge on the Paraguayan side, to the other end of the bridge on the Brazilian side - Past immigration. Cost = 10 Argentine Pesos. This is the best way to cross if you are not afraid of riding passenger on a motorcycle and/or are not carrying many bags.
If you are transiting Paraguay (not coming back across the same border the same day), you will have to go to the Paraguayan customs office just past the bridge. Citizens of Mercosur are granted entry just with their ID: others need a passport. The stories of bribing and scams in the Paraguayan customs offices are frequent. Make sure that you get everything that you are supposed to get when they check your passport and/or ID.
Those that handle them the ID should receive back, along with the ID, a formulary with the arrival stamp in it. If you're with the passport, you'll receive only the usual stamp on the page.
A common trick is not handing the stamped paper back with the ID; that way you cannot prove having legally entered the country. If so, you'll certainly be asked for money for the exit to be granted. So make sure you get the stamped paper at the border.
If you arrive with your own car make sure you find a parking lot (usually the local touts will lead you to one). However, if you do not feel comfortable with the situation you still can research a parking lot in advance as some of them have websites on the Internet.
There are many local city buses available, typically charging 2500 Gs. It is common and advisable to sit down without paying due to the number of people boarding and disembarking as well as the fast pace of traffic. The driver's assistant will come by eventually to collect your payment and make change.
Taxis are available, but are unmetered. Always agree on a price before getting inside. If possible, contact your hotel in advance to find out what the normal fares should be (20000-30000 Gs from the bus station to Hotel Austria or Hotel Munich for example). Taxi drivers commonly attempt to overcharge foreigners either by quoting an unreasonable fare up front, or claiming they had quoted a higher fare at the end of the trip. Paying with exact change or close to it will provide leverage in case the driver attempts to increase the fare at the end of the trip.
For the adventurous, motorcycles taxis are common and a fast way to move through the heavy traffic near the Friendship Bridge to Brazil. Drivers are generally easy to spot due to their reflective shirts and should provide you with a helmet.
- Itaipu Binacional Hydrodam, (The visitor centre is on the road to Hernandarias. Any bus to Hernandarias can drop you 500 m from the entrance. Get off when the bus makes a left turn off the highway or when you see prominent signs indicating the turns for Itaipu and Hernandarias. Bus La Santaniana G. 3500, other companies (apparently not running on Sundays) G. 2500), ☎ (+595 61) 599-8040; (595 61) 599 8094; (595 61) 599 8069 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (595 61) 599 8061), . Visits only on guided tours, times depending on tour. General Tours consist on a 30 minutes documentary on the Itaipu project, followed by another 30 minutes drive around the dam. Often in Spanish only. A short lookout over the spillway, an another at the top of the dam, provide the only photo opportunities, and visitors are herded back onto the bus after no more than 5 minutes. Times: Monday to Sunday 8.00 to 16.00, with visits starting hourly on the o'clock. Technical Tours allow visitors to see the inside of the dam and power generation facility and turbines. Reservations are required at least a week in advance. Light Tour on Friday and Saturday evening only. Requires reservation until Thrusday, although if there is still room you may get the permit there and then. Registration starts at 19.30 in summer and 18.30 in winter. Show starts at the same time with music around the information center and continues with a drive tour on the lighted dam at 20.50 in summer. (info from November 2016). Passports necessary for all visits, you may have problems if not original. Free. edit
- Centro Ambietal Itaipu Binacional, (About 2 km from the visitor centre on the way back to Ciudad del Este. Bus La Santaniana from Ciudad del Este to Hernandarias G. 3500, other companies (apparently not running on Sundays) G. 2500), ☎ (+595 61) 599-8040. Tuesdays to Sunday 8 am to 17 pm. A park with benches, paths and playground that includes "Museo de la Tierra Guaraní, Zoológico Regional, a wildlife rescue center, a plant nursery, a miniature model of the dam and some offices and temporary exhibitions. The museum is mainly on the Guarani culture and the local wildlife, with descriptions in Spanish. Visits to the zoo with guide only, departing from entrance every hour on the o'clock from 8.00 to 11.00 and 14.00 to 16.00. The model is free to visit. On the offices you can get the permit for camping at the Itaipu Nature Reserves. (info from November 2016). Free. edit
- Museo el Mensu, Avda. Eusebio Ayala y Pampliega (Near the center, behind the Municipalidad), ☎ +595.61.501706/10. Objects from the Chaco War and of pre-hispanic cultures. Free. edit
- Museo Planet 3D, Shopping Paris. Everyday 12.00 to 19.00. The first museum of pictures in 3D in Latino America, and the third in the World. Interesting visiting even if only on the outside. Guided tour G. 90.000 from 3 to 12 years old, G. 120.000 above 12 (November 2016). edit
- Hito de las Tres Fronteras, Presidente Franco (Bus Matiauda drops you at the entrance from the center (G.2500), Tres Fronteras and Trans Parana leaves you nearby. Ask the driver when you hop on). A sort of park with a look out to the confluence of Parana River and Iguazu River. Each coast belongs to a different country, all with look outs over the area and a big column with the colours of the respective country. A quiet place to relax, with nice views, benches, playground and toilets. Nearby there is a car and passeger boat connecting Paraguay with Argentina, and customs. G. 5000. edit
- Refugio Tati Yupi, 3km north of Hernandarias on the Supercarretera (Highway) to Saltos del Guairá, ☎ (+595 61) 599-8040. One of several areas of Atlantic Forest not flooded by the Itaipu reservoir, now preserved by the Itaipu Binacional organization (other Reserves are Itabo, Limoy, Pikyry, Yvyty Rokai, Mbaracayu, Carapa and Pozuelo). Refugio Tati Yupi is the most accessible and has facilities for camping, picnicking, outdoor grills, horseback riding, and a small hospedaje (guest house) with male and female dorms and a kitchen. The reserve offers tours of 10 minutes around the visitor center on a horse pulled cart, on a tractor pulled cart and on bicycles. There are horses to ride on a enclose. It is not allowed to leave the camping and visitor area at all, other than on these tours. If staying overnight, permission must be requested at the office in Cantro Ambiental, and can be collected on the spot; if on a day trip, permission can be requested at the visitor center and collected at Laboratorio de Hidraulica, on the road to Ciudad del Este. Take the set of papers with you to present to the guards for admittance. The only buses stopping by are long distance ones to Saltos del Guaira (G. 10000). Alternatively, take a local bus to Hernandarias and stop at the Terminal (Company Hernandarias, G. 2500). From there, either walk or hitch hike to the reserve, north on the road to Saltos del Guaira. The facilities are approximately 8 km inside the gates. It is not allowed to enter the reserve without vehicle, but there is constant transit in and out from visitors, staff or school groups. Should be easy to get a ride from the guard house at the entrance. From Ciudad del Este, Km 4, a bus would cost you G. 20000 to the entrance.(Info correct on December 2016). Entrance, camping, hospedaje, and activities are free.. edit
- Walk across the Friendship Bridge, Above Parana River between Brasil and Paraguay (Follow the flow, there is a lot of transit to and from Brasil). 24h. The Friendship Bridge commemorates good relations between both countries and connects Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay, with Foz do Iguacu, in Brasil. Customs are both sides of the road at both ends of the bridge, Paraguay in one and Brasil in the other. However, within 30 Km of that bridge there is border-free territory so you can just walk and spend some time in a different country. Views from the bridge are nice and are a good background for your pictures. Free. edit
Shopping is the main business of the visitors. The main shopping streets are San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy about anything and everything at really good prices; it is not without reason that so many Brazilians come in hordes to shop there and often resell the goods back home at a profit. Many people come for electronics, computer parts and accessories, liquor, perfume and other luxury goods. Counterfeit products are common, so you should prefer larger, more reputed and better structured stores, even if you find cheaper deals elsewhere. In addition to Paraguayan guaraníes, Brazilian reals, Argentine pesos, US dollars and euros are all widely accepted (and you can even get change in the same currency), though at wildly variable exchange rates. Using credit cards is usually no problem either.
If you want to buy electronics such as cellphones or cameras, make sure you do this:
Ask to test the device if it works. Never give it back to the shopkeeper/assistant, as that person might exchange the device with faulty versions or hand the box back filled with paper but not with what you just bought.
Please Note almost all the shops are closed Sundays besides a Supermarket and a couple of stalls across from Customs.
Due to the premium placed on street-front property, Ciudad del Este's eateries and dining establishments are commonly found inside multi-leveled shopping malls and are relatively scarce on the main street of San Blas.
As a consequence of considerable immigrant populations, Ciudad del Este has a diverse variety of ethnic food options that one can take advantage of. Lebanese food can be found off the main streets and in many shopping centers and typically serve good shawarma/kebab; this is perhaps the best food to eat in the city. Ask local store owners for good Lebanese food and you will most likely be very happy with what they recommend.
Chinese and Korean food restaurants can also be found. Your best bet is to ask a local to direct you to the nearest restaurant or eatery. Additionally, because of the large influx of Brazilian nationals that enter Ciudad del Este every day, the most popular restaurants are those which serve typical Brazilian fare and are easy to find; expect the Brazilian style churrascaria meats to be very well-done and tough (as is typical of most Brazilian churrascarias, as well).
For some of the better-looking Asian restaurants, try exploring the areas around the corner of Adrian Jara and Av Boqueron. Not far from the same area are some US style burger houses. Above the 'Arco Iris' supermarket (corner of Av Pioneros del Este and Adrian Jara) is a good but relatively expensive Japanese restaurant. In the supermarket various foods and other supplies can be had. Outside the supermarket, cheap hotdogs are available (but ensure that the hotdogs are heated well and not merely warmed - and this heating advice is recommended for foods from all street vendors).
Many street vendors grill delicious and cheap asado (grilled beef) at night on Cap. Miranda just north of the main route through town. A plate of asado with manioc is 10,000 Gs, and salad, bread, and a liter of beer can be had for an additional 10,000 Gs.
Vegetarians will have to ask around, but outside the city center there are a few vegetarian Chinese restaurants. Friends have reported that an Indian vegetarian restaurant called Gourangas is located behind the Municipalidad, not far from the city centre.
Like most businesses in Ciudad del Este, you can pay for food with Argentine, US, Paraguayan, or Brazilian currency, and expect to receive change in the same currency used for payment.
Bottled water, soda, juice and ice cold, alcoholic beverages (mainly beer, but liquor is in no short supply) can be found everywhere. It is not uncommon to find vendors of all of the above within ten meters of each other. There are also vendors with roaming carts everywhere. Good coffee can be difficult to find, but Coffee House is a great local coffee shop with pastries and wifi located at Av. Rogelio Benitez, Ciudad del Este.
- Hotel Tía Nancy, Garcete & Cruz del Chaco (South South West of the main Bus Terminal). checkout: 10:00am. A friendly and cheap but slightly grubby place very close to the main Bus Terminal. from 12 US$ (fan). edit
- Hotel Caribe, on Emiliano R. Fernández (between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos), ☎ (+595 61) 512460. Clean, comfortable rooms. The building is new, with air-conditioning, hot water, and cable TV. from 33US$ (aircon). edit
- Hotel Postillon, Calle Cañadones Chaqueños (Slightly south of the main Bus Terminal), ☎ (+595 61) 518621. Air-conditioning, hot water, television and clean rooms in a building being refurbished. 18 US$. edit
- CDE Backpackers Hostel, Avenida Los Yerbales (One block up from Sport Zone, Area 1, within walking distance to downtown), ☎ (+595) 993-253866, . Brand new hostel with shared rooms, shared kitchen and awesome terraces with great views of the city. Breakfast included. 15 US$. (-25.518088,-54.62684) edit
- Hummingbird Hostel, Rua Los Sauces (one block East of McDonald's off Avenida Monsenor Rodrigues). checkout: 12:00 noon. Friendly, efficient, simple and cheap. from 6 US$ (4-bed dorm with a/c). edit
- Hotel Munich, on Emiliano R. Fernández 71 (between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos), ☎ (+595 61) 500347. from $30 US for a double with aircon. edit
- Hotel Austria, Emiliano R. Fernández 165 (between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos), ☎ (+595 61) 504213, . Also, a very basic room is available in a side area from the parking garage for $25 US. from $30 US for a double with aircon. edit
- Hotel San Rafael, Av. Adrian Jara y Avay (downtown Ciudad del Este), ☎ (+595 61) 500804. checkin: 3:00 pm.; checkout: 12:00 pm. Good hotel located in downtown. Room with tv-cable, air-conditioning, private bath and telephone with direct calls. 30 US$. edit
- Hotel Mi Abuela, Av. Adrian Jara (downtown Ciudad del Este, close to the corner with Pioneros del Este), ☎ (+595 61) 500333. Pleasant hotel located downtown. Like many of the mid-range hotels, offers a good breakfast buffet. from 28 US$. edit
Ciudad del Este is regarded as unsafe by many. It has been named in either the Notorious Markets List or the Special 301 Report for over 15 years. The border crossing and city have been the focus of U.S. and international attention as the hub of distribution of counterfeit and pirated products in the TBA and beyond. The city’s economy is reportedly based in large part on the trafficking of counterfeit and infringing goods. In 2013, authorities engaged in some enforcement actions, including conducting raids and seizing merchandise in Ciudad del Este. Trivial crime is common, smuggling band shootings also happen. Caution is advised in this area.