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Asunción

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The Cathedral

Asunción is the capital and economic centre of Paraguay.

Understand

The Asuncion metropolitan area is home to two million of Paraguay's six million inhabitants. It is a young city - 65% of it's residents are under the age of 30.

Few people speak English here and without at least some basic Spanish it might be hard to get by. From Saturday afternoon and all Sunday most businesses are closed and the city centre can appear fairly deserted.

Visitor Information

  • Senatur (State Tourism Agency), Palma 468, (595 21) 494.110 (, fax: (595 21) 491.230), [1]. Mondays through Fridays from 07:00 to 13:30. The main tourist information office.

Get in

By plane

The only direct flights from Central America to Asuncion are from Panama (Tocumen international airport).

American Airlines announced direct flights from Miami to Asuncion starting November 15th, 2012.

From the rest of North America there are no direct flights to Asunción (Silvio Pettirossi International Airport). The best options are São Paulo, Lima or Buenos Aires and change to one of the local carriers, e.g. TACA, TAM, PLUNA, GOL Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Sol del Paraguay.

Taxis are available at the airport. A taxi to the centro (city centre) is about Gs 100,000 ($25 USD). If you walk a block outside the airport (on the only road) there is a small bus stop. Two city buses are available one takes you into the city on the main road Mariscal Lopez and the other down Espana (you can tell where the buses go by the sign in the bus window). Buses run until about 10PM. Buses cost Gs 2,300 (50 US cents).

By train

There are no trains, apart from a tourist train to Areguá which departs on Sunday from Jardín Botánico station. The building near Plaza Uruguaya once used as the main train station is now a museum and cultural events venue.

By car

Driving a car yourself is not recommended since many streets are in disrepair and apart from the main roads many are unpaved. The traffic in the city can be quite chaotic for unaccustomed drivers. However, it gets much better once outside of the city. The car rental companies can also provide drivers.

  • Hertz Car Rental, (at the airport).
  • National Car Rentals, (Yegros 501), (+595) 21-492 157.
  • Avis Car Rentals, corner Antequera and Pte. Franco (at Plaza Uruguaya).

By bus

The bus terminal is about about five km from the centre, so it is advisable to take a taxi or bus (bus number 8) into town. The street Fernando de La Mora in front of the terminal leads to the centre. Some bus companies maintain offices around Plaza Urugaya in the centre, but most are now inside the Terminal.

There are normally two types of services to the bigger cities: común and rápido. While the first are cheaper, they also stop in every small town or community along the way and hence take longer then the rápidos which run direct or with a few stops only. Rapidos are less frequent.

  • Buenos Aires, ca. 17h, several daily, 45 US$ (Crucero del Norte, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Chevallier)
  • Encarnación, commun: ca. 7h, several daily, 50,000 Gs; also rapido: 5h, 75.000 Gs
  • Ciudad del Este, several daily, 5-7 hours, 40,000 - 70,000gs
  • Concepción, ca. 6h, several daily, 60'000 Gs
  • Santa Cruz, 40$, 21 hours.
  • Colonies in the Chaco (Loma Plata, Filadelfia, Neuland, Mariscal Estigarriba, ca. 8h, about 1 to 2 services per day each, 90,000 Gs (NASA, Golondrina). You can book tickets on the corner of 25 de Mayo and Antequara, in an internet café.

The bus to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, is not recommended: it is extremely slow (the Transchaco Highway is only paved as far as the Bolivian border), buses generally travel only at night - meaning that you miss out on any views of the Chaco, and roadblocks on the Bolivian side of the border are common and can easily cause your journey time to double. Most of the buses making this journey (at least 21 hours) do not have toilets on board. Flights to Santa Cruz are nowadays only marginally more expensive than the bus if booked in advance. All the other buses are extremely good. It's wise to spend extra to get the better service (the 70,000gs bus to Ciudad del Este takes two to three hours less than the 40,000gs services, for example). Food and drink is often served on the more expensive long-distance services, and almost all will stop en-route to let someone on selling chipa and cocido.

By boat

The port is at the riverside end of Montevideo just after Paraguayo Independiente.

  • "Cacique II" leaves Concepción to Asunción on Sundays between 6-7AM 22 hours, 55,000 Gs. Returns to Concepción on Wednesday morning. Bring warm clothes and your own food. A cheap meal might be bought on board but don't count on it.
  • Travelers can occasionally book passage on cargo boats doing the trip to Concepción and even further up the Rio Paraguay.

Get around

The historic centre of Asunción is small enough to be explored by foot. However, some of the attractions, such as the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden) are a bit outside. In addition to the city's historical core - which is essentially between the streets Colón and Antequera - the Carmelitas area has become a hub for retail and entertainment, containing several large shopping centres and North American-style bars and restaurants. East-west street names change at Independencia Nacional, and North-South ones at Avenida Mariscal López.

By bus

Buses are ubiquitous, cheap and an experience in themselves (be careful while exiting, since many only slow down, rather than stop completely for the passengers to get off). They go more or less everywhere in the city - destinations are displayed on boards on the front window, if in doubt just shout your intended destination at the driver when he stops and he'll tell you yes or no. The are sometimes a few different versions of each bus number - 16, 16.1, 16.2 etc. which often have completely different routes from each other, so watch out not to accidentally get on the wrong one. There aren't many official bus stops in Asunción, you can just stick your arm out and flag down a bus pretty much anywhere. You need a knowledge of Spanish to ask your way along. As of May 2012, the fare is Gs. 2.300 (USD 0.52).

Some useful bus routes: Centre (Oliva) to Shopping del Sol: 28, 30 Centre to Shopping Mariscal Lopez/Villa Morra: 18, 26, 28, 30.2 (from Oliva), 56 (from Haedo) Centre (Oliva) to the Botanical Gardens: 1, 13 Centre (Oliva) to the Bus Termninal: 8, 36 Centre (Haedo) to Mercado 4: 2, 21, 25, 27, 29, 133 Centre (Oliva) to the airport: 30A

By taxi

Taxis are also available and reasonably inexpensive. Many of the taxis are old, lumbering diesel Mercedes, which can be a fun throwback. A 30% surcharge is added on late at night (after around 10PM) and on Sundays. Tipping isn't expected. Make sure that drivers use the meter, or arrange a fare beforehand.

From the bus terminal walk up the stairs marked "SALIDA", then down the stairs into the car park. Ignore the taxi touts and catch a taxi from the rank. A taxi into the city centre during the day should cost around 40,000 Gs. From the Airport taxis in front of the terminal charge a flat, non-negotiable rate of 100,000 Gs to the centre. It is possible to get a cheaper fare by walking up to the main road and taking a yellow cab from there, though you're unlikely to save any more than about 20,000 Gs.

See

Asunción may not have many conventional tourist attractions, but if you are willing to be your own tour guide, Asunción can be an interesting place to visit.

Every July there is a trade fair with exhibition booths, food, music and liquor. This is a good way to learn about what goes on in the country, the exhibitors range from agricultural suppliers to liquor manufacturers. Keep an eye out for the many free samples of food, soap, drinks, etc.

  • National Congress One of the more impressive new buildings in the city. It was built in 2002 with $20 million from the Republic of China(Taiwan) government. Paraguay is one of the few countries and also the only country in South America that recognizes Republic of China(Taiwan) as opposed to mainland China(People's Republic of China). Most striking is its mirrored facade, which reflects the nearby slums along the bank of the river. You can ask for a tour in English - and maybe get one. Be sure arrive there by 1PM you will be able to visit a small museum inside.
  • The National Cathedral Across the broad and picturesque plaza with fountains, but it is frequently closed, especially at midday siesta.
  • The Municipal Museum is modest, but has some tidbits about the old tram line from the 1880s and other civic history. Nearby is the Visual Arts Museum with temporary exhibits from national artists.
  • The Fine Arts museum is fairly unimpressive.
  • The Panteón del los Heroes houses the tomb of the unknown soldier along with other "heroes" from Paraguay's disaterous wars, as well as plaques for the heroes of the Chaco war. Changing of the guard occurs every other day.
  • Backyard birds in the city are interesting. There is the Great Kiskadee, Saffron Finch and Hornero. Kiskadee is like a yellow blue jay-- aggressive and large. Saffron finch is similar to a yellow house finch, Hornero is much like American Robin without the red breast. It builds a unique nest about the size and shape of a football completely out of mud and resembles a Paraguayan oven or horno. Thus the name: "baker".

Do

  • Running, Parque Ñu Guazú. Lots of elite Asunceños work off the stresses of their days at Parque Ñu Guazú, located just outside Asunción in the city of Luque, on the way to the airport. There's a great paved 9K loop for jogging or walking. (-25.27372494644745,-57.542172968387604)

Learn

Learning Guarani Language is a great opportunity to get into the paraguayan culture. IDIPAR [2] institute has good choices for that.

Work

Teaching English is a possibility, but without a visa it can be difficult and wages are low. In a country such as Paraguay with widespread underemployment, obtaining paid work is almost impossible for foreigners. Volunteer work in poorer areas of the city is easy to come by.

Buy

The cost of buying goods and services is cheap. This is only partly due to the fact that Paraguay is a piracy and smuggling haven. Be aware that some goods may be cheaply made.

Indigenous crafts and artisan work are available such as tooled leather, carved wood, pottery and a particularly Paraguayan lace based on a spider's web called "Ñanduti". Check out the artisan shops in Plaza de los Heroes. Most goods are in fact locally made.

Shopping malls There are two main malls in Asuncion Shopping del Sol on Aviadores del Chaco and Shopping Mariscal López on Avenida Mariscal Lopez, exist in the suburbs of Villa Mora and Carmelitas. Take buses 28 or 30 to reach them. Mall Excelsior on Chile, and the more basic Asuncion Supercentro on the western end of Oliva are both in the centre. These "Shoppings" are useful as places to eat on Sunday evenings, when many more central places are closed.

Mercado 4 along Avenida Sivio Pettirossi, is a chaotic market where you can buy just about anything very cheaply, it is particularly good for counterfeit clothing and pirated CDs and DVDs (of varying quality). Good street food and some foreign, mostly Chinese, restaurants.

Typical souvenirs from Asunción would include guampas/bombillas, t-shirts, traditional lace, or leather goods.

  • Palma is the main shopping street. Pretty much everything you can buy here, you can get cheaper in one of the parallel streets.
  • American Express Traveller Cheques can be changed at Banco de la Nacion Argentina (at Plaza de los Heroes). Above average exchange rate, 3 US$ comission. It will take a while though - time to experience the place which could be a sight in itself. BBVN supposedly does as well. Casa de Cambios don't. All banks close by 1:30PM. Also can be changed at Maxicambios [3] which are located in all main shopping-malls.

Eat

Paraguay has a tradition for beef which is normally good quality and cheap. Grilled meat (asado) is the thing to eat. Pasta is also popular as are the street stalls selling panchos (hot-dogs), hamburgers, empanadas and similar fast-food. Vegetables, salad and other types of meat are not that common but available. In restaurants you normally get manioc as a side dish for free (similar to bread in other countries).

You must try the Paraguayan traditional food, which includes dishes like the following:

Mbeju is a starch cake made with manioc flour and cheese. Pastel madi'o is a manioc pastry stuffed with "So'o ku'í" or minced meat. Payagua mascada (Guarani for chewing gum for dogs but has nothing to do with that) is a tortilla also made with manioc and beef (high in proteins and calories). The famous chipa is a kind of cheese bread made with manioc flour.

At lunch time there is no shortage of cheap restaurants to dine in or take away - you can't miss them. The places where you help yourself and pay by weight are usually very cheap and a decent option besides the slightly more expensive restaurants with their daily menu. At dinner time only very few eating places are still open and finding a good deal - especially if you are budget-conscious - is a lot harder.


Budget

Most shopping malls have decent food courts with a variety of restaurants, however, they are located away from the centre. Bigger supermarkets often have a cheap self-service restaurant inside.

  • Burger King, Palma between 14 de Mayo and 15 de Agosto. If you fancy something you know. Also open in the evening.
  • Supermercado El Pais, Antequera and 25 de Mayo (on the east side of Plaza Uruguaya). open until 21:30, Sunday only until noon. Upstairs is the buffet, with various meats, pastas and salads available. Pay by weight, ½kg around 15,000Gs. It is not recommended to dine in the evening, shortly before they close.
  • Restaurant Internacional, Fernando de la Mora (opposite the bus terminal). A good and not too expensive place. Sometimes with live music. Popular also with locals to hang out for a beer. Open in the evening.
  • La Vida Verde, Palma 634. 9AM-2PM. Good Chinese-vegetarian food. Self-service. Very popular at noon. No more than US$5 per person.
  • Na Eustaqia, 421 Palma, past Lido's and the hall of martyrs, near Burger King. Lower prices than Lido's, and quality food. Very busy for lunch, you may need to wait for a table. Main lunches cost 15,000 - 25,000. Great juice bar there too.
  • Seoul, Chile, near the intersection with Oliva (Plaza de los Heroes) and opposite an Esso petrol station. Open for lunch and dinner (19:30). Wonderful Korean buffet, with lots of vegetarian options where you fill your plate and pay per kilo (40,000 PGY)

Mid-range

  • Confiteria/Snack Bar/Restaurant Bolsi, (corner Estrella and Alberdi). M-Su, also open in the evening. It has been there for decades, serving some more and some less traditional food to a mixed crowd of people.
  • Lido Bar, (Av. Palma, opposite Panteón del los Heroes). open daily till late. Established 1954 in the style of a contemporary American cafe-bar, Lido Bar has hardly changed since. All the usual Paraguayan foods, plus a wide selection of desserts. Very popular during peak times, particularly dinner. The Fish Soup (sopa pescado) is famous and recommended.
  • Hacienda Las Palomas, Senador Long 1481 (corner Senador Long and Guido Spano), 605-111. Really good Mexican food (not "chips & salsa Tex-Mex"). The margaritas are particularly good, but the food is even better.
  • Shangri-La, Aviadores del Chaco c/ San Martín (corner Aviadores del Chaco and San Martín), 661-618. Good Chinese food.
  • Bar San Roque, (Corner of 25 de Mayo and Tacuary. Green building.). Open all evening, earlier than many other places until late. A mix of traditional and fine cuisine. Excellent food and service in a very traditional feeling atmosphere. Really fantastic beer on tap, served in their chilled Oktoberfest steins.

Splurge

For a traditional Paraguayan meal, visit "La Paraguayita." Don't miss a Brazillian steak house called a "churrasqueria."

  • Acuarela, Mcal. López 4049 (near San Martin), +595 21 609 217.

Drink

General

Unlike in most of the rest of Paraguay, tap water in Asunción is potable.

The most common drink in Paraguay is Mate made of Yerba Mate (Mate herbs) that is similar in style to tea but the preparation is distinct. To add sugar is not common in Paraguay. When it is summerly hot, it is more common to drink it with cold water and called Terere (pronounced tae-rae-rae) - often drunk from a cow horn fasioned cup. Cold or hot, it is drunk through a communal silver-plated straw (the bombilla). It is a social activity so the cup is passed around - with in between a refill for each person. If you are offered either you should accept at least one cup. Another variation of preparation is to boil the yerba on the stove with sugar then strain it before serving it with milk. It tastes a bit like smoked tea. In this form it is called Cocido, which simply means "cooked".

Gaseosa means fizzy drinks of any description. All the usual brands are available. Try the local Guarana.

Coffee is mostly of an Italian variety. There are several locations of Café Havanna [4], a Starbucks-like Argentine coffee chain. One is just off the corner of Avenida Mcal. López and Avenida Rca. Argentina.

In Paraguay, orange juice and other fruit juices, unless squeezed fresh, are almost always reconstituted from dehydrated concentrate. This applies to all unrefrigerated Tetra-Pak juices. Note that the dehydration process destroys vitamin C, and unlike in the West, ascorbic acid may not be added back after reconstitution, thus these fruit juices may not contain any appreciable amount of vitamin C. Either check the packaging, buy fresh juice (freshly squeezed from a street vendor, or Purifru brand in the refrigerator cabinet), or enjoy the wide variety of fresh fruit available on many street corners.

Bars & Clubs

  • Britannia Pub, Cerro Corá 851, [5]. Tu-F from 19:30, Sa-Su from 20:00. The number 1 hangout for English speaking foreigners, still outnumbered by locals however. Try their microbrewed Britannia Beer and the chicken platter.
  • Older, Cerro Cora. Great bar opposite Brittania. Run by a friendly guy named Francisco. Excellent selection of retro classic rock. Friendly local crew and local prices. Food darts and outdoor seating area available.
  • Coyote, Sucre 1655 (corner San Martin Avenue), [6]. Dance club, fashionable but loud
  • Hollywood Dance, Independencia Nacional and Teniente Fariña (One block away from Mall Excelsior). Fri and Sat from around midnight. Dance venue for mostly gay people. 20.000 Gs.
  • Glam, Av. San Martin 1155 and Agustin Barrios (Next to Salemma Carmelitas Supermarket), [7]. Thu Fri Sat from midnight. One of the finest dance clubs in Asuncion
  • Kandi, Av. Aviadores del Chaco (Two or three blocks from Sheraton Hotel and Shopping del Sol).
  • Planta Alta, first floor, Caballero 294 (corner Mariscal Estigarribia). W-F 17:00 - 01:00, Sat 21:00 - 03:00. A lounge-style hangout for artistic types, often playing live jazz. Reasonably cheap drinks. 10,000 Gs.
  • Paseo Carmelitas, (595) (21) 608226, [8]. from morning till late. A gallery with lots of stores to do shopping during the day and an excellent selection of bars and restaurants to go during the night, probably the most popular place in Asuncion during the night. Selection of bars include the "Kilkenny Irish Pub" "Cover Singing Bar" "Kamastro Resto Arte & Bar" in between others. (-25.285582,-57.577221)
  • La Taberna Cafe or La Tabernita, CHILE 1179 between YGATIMI y JEJUI, (595) (21) 453620 (). 0700-1500 and 1830-late. Is a Cafe Bar with good atmosphere, good music, drinks and very friendly staff. If you like the 70's, 80's, 90's Rock & Pop.

Sleep

While a great many hotels exist in Asunción and to find a bed should never be too difficult, decent places in the budget range are rare. The highest concentration of hotels from budget to splurge can be found in the city centre between the streets Cristobal Colon and Estados Unidos. There is also quite a number of cheap places opposite the bus terminal (in particular on Lapacho a side street of La Mora), though you get normally better value in the city centre. During off-season you may be quoted discounted prices before even asking for it.

Budget

Try it also in the following streets next to Plaza Uruguay: Mexico, Paraguari and Antequera. July/2010: practically all hotels around the bus terminal are offering basic single rooms for 35.000 Gs.

  • El Jardin Hostel, Price: 52,000 Gs for 6 bed dorm with fan, 60,000 Gs for 4 bed dorm with fan, 69,000 Gs for 4 bed dorm with air-con. Privates around 90,000 per person. Good breakfast included. A really nice, new place (3 months open as of April 2012). The owners, Tomas and Carolina (Swedish/Paraguayan) are extremely friendly and knowledgeable and will help you with anything you need to organise. Located at 941 Azara St. Easily reached from the bus terminal by buses 15-2 or 15-4 (stop on the doorstep) or 14, 28, 30. Beautiful garden where hummingbirds like to hang out. Hammocks in shaded area with french vines growing overhead. Near a supermarket, and a short walk to Palma and the centre. A good idea to book ahead, as this place is really getting popular. Contact: eljardinhostal@hotmail.com
  • Paraguay Hostel-Asuncion, Price: 9.00 USD per person per night. Facilities included in price: washing machine and washing powder, bottled water, cooking facilities (including range, oven, microwave, blender-liquefier, cooking oil, salt and pepper), internet, coffee and tea all day. Rooms: Air Conditioned, balcony, 4 beds and 4 large private lockers. To check for availability - Email: david.gallo@hotmail.com Call or SMS: +595 992 446 887 [9]
  • Black Cat Hostel - the first hostel for backpackers in Asunción, Eligio Ayala 129 near Independencia Nacional, at the city centre, phone (595 21) 449827 - e-mail: info@hostelblackcat.com Dorms from 20$ and privates from 40-50$. Great location with all the historical spots just a few blocks walking, no need to take buses. Facilities: Light breakfast (standard toast with coffee and juice), computer with internet and internet WiFi, security lockers, laundry service, the best tourist information, fully equipped kitchen, air con in dorms, cable TV, BBQ area, 24 hour reception, luggage storage, towel and linen included. Close to the best pubs and restaurants. Paper thin walls, so can be noisy. Two travellers reported bedbugs in private room (2012)[10]
  • Hotel Miami (Youth Hostel), Mexico 449, C/ 25 de Mayo (right off Plaza Uruguaya), (59521) 444 950. Best location in town. Open 24 h, economic and comfortable rooms, private bathroom and hot water. air con./central heating, cable TV, breakfast, laundry service, Internet and WiFi. Excursions. Single 90.000 Gs.
  • Hotel Embajador, Calle Presidente Franco 514, corner Calle 15 de Agosto (one block from the Teatro Municipal, and one block from the Plaza de Los Heroes), +59521 493393. One of the cheapest options, located right in the centre, room for 30.000 Gs. You can share a room to divide the price.
  • Hotel Imperial, Calle 25 de Mayo, 352 (/ Caballero) (located between the Plaza de Armas and the Plaza Uruguaya). Probably the cheapest in the center. The rooms are very basic and can be rented for the hour - therefore this hotel is known to be used by secret couples and prostitutes. Rooms with A/C for 40.000 Gs with private bathroom. Smaller rooms with fan and private bathroom for 20.000 Gs (probably the cheapest in town), but don't expect too much for this price.
  • Hotel Sagaró, Presidente Franco 657 (between 15 de Agosto and O'Leary), ++595 21 440 377, [11]. A place that has seen its best day. However, it's very central though the disco on the weekend can be a nuisance (get a room on the left). double 70.000 Gs (Aircon, Cable TV, breakfast 12.500 Gs).
  • La Española, Luis A. de Herrera 142 (just SE of Independencia Nacional). A friendly though dilapidated option in the centre, with free WiFi. Some of the beds are on the hard side. May have mosquitoes, even in the dry season. double 80.000 Gs (Aircon, Cable TV, breakfast).

Mid-range

  • Apar-T-hotel Porta Westfalica, Dr. Camacho Duré 555, 298-906 (), [12]. weekly and monthly rates. double from 55 US$.
  • City Hotel and Restaurant, corner Nuestra Señora de la Asunción & Humaitá, +595 21 491 497, [13]. Reasonably clean, four blocks from the city centre. Free internet and WiFi (open signal). double $30 (inc. breakfast).
  • Hotel Chaco, Caballero 285 (corner Mcal. Estigarribia, near Plaza Uruguay), +595 21 492 066, [14]. A decent hotel in the centre of the city. Built in the 1970s, refurbished recently, clean and in good condition. WiFi internet and above average breakfast included. The manager speaks English. double from 75 US$.
  • Hotel Los Alpes - Santa Teresa, Avda. Santa Teresa 2855 (On Santa Teresa, a few blocks away from Shopping del Sol), 607-348. Owned by the same people who own the Los Alpes in Villa Morra. The Santa Teresa is larger and has better swimming pools. Wi-Fi, breakfast included. This location is better except for the fact that it's harder to catch a bus from here since they don't pass down Santa Teresa.. double from 45 US$.
  • Hotel Los Alpes - Villa Morra, Del Maestro 1686 (Del Maestro off of Avenida San Martín), 606-286 (). Great hotel, well-located, and very comfortable. double from 45 US$.
  • Hotel Palmas del Sol, Avenida España 202 (Tacuary, near Plaza Uruguaya), [15]. Popular with groups. Has pool and a feel more appropriate to a seaside hotel. Quiet. Free Internet and WiFi. single/double 137.000/ 192.000 Gs (inc. IVA and breakfast).
  • Hotel Westfalenhaus, [16]. Cheaper per week. double from 75 US$.

Splurge

  • Apar-T-otel Porta Westfalica, Dr. Camacho Duré 555 (Halfway between the Airport and the city centre), 021-298-906 (, fax: 021-293-855), [17]. . Has a gym, open-air pool, sauna, and free wifi throughout. $55+.
  • Asunción Internacional Hotel, [18].
  • Crowne Plaza Asunción, Cerro Corá 939 (In downtown, on Cerro Corá between Estados Unidos and Tacuary), 021-452-682 (, fax: 021-452-683), [19]. Nice hotel in downtown. Opened in 2005 so it is in very good condition. Good location if you need to be in downtown, but far from offices and attractions in the nicer parts of town. Has a gym, open-air pool, restaurant, and free wifi throughout. $100+.
  • Hotel Excelsior, Chile 980 (Manduvira Street), +595 21 495 632, [20]. from 100 US$.
  • Hotel Portal del Sol, Denis Roa 1455 c/Sta. Teresa, +595 21 609 395 (, fax: +595 21 662 910), [21]. Gs 190,000/240,000 for single/double.
  • Sheraton Asunción, Aviadores Del Chaco 2066, 617-7000 (, fax: 617-7001), [22]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12PM. The newest among the big international chain hotels. Has a gym, sauna, restaurants, pool, and spa services on-site. $100+.

Long Term

For stays of one month or more, it can make sense to rent an apartment. Although use of the internet for such things is limited in Paraguay, you can find a number of apartments and houses for rent on Clasipar [23]. The majority of properties are not furnished, and lessors generally seek one-year leases; however, comfortable furnished apartments in the centre can be had for between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 Gs per month. Make sure you get a receipt for the deposit specifically (insist if necessary; claim you won't rent without one) or you probably won't get it back.

Stay safe

Federal police have a highly visible presence. Some already decked out in riot gear as if an uprising were forthcoming at any moment. Because the dictator did not tolerate crime in any form-- a violator simply disappeared, possibly in the river-- crime is not prevalent. Although the perception of crime now that the dictator is no longer in power runs high. Houses are protected by twenty foot high walls topped by barbed wire and electric fence or razor wire. Many, who can afford it, have a full time 24 hour guard on their grounds. Prostitution is rampant and obvious after dark on the main avenues. Transvestite prostitutes are common around many areas, and are best avoided as they are known to cause trouble occasionally. Despite the locals' rather high perception of crime, Asunción is one of the safer capitals in South America and violent crime is very uncommon. Due to the low numbers of tourists in Paraguay in general, visitors are not likely to be specifically targeted by criminals. Key things to watch out for are petty thieves (watch your pockets on crowded buses) and taxi drivers trying to rip you off (make sure they use the meter).

Liquor is easily available but not widely abused, there are a fair few street drunks in some parts of the city, but they are invariably harmless. There are casinos for gambling but only with electronic machines so again not abused. Pickpocketing is said to be prevalent in crowded downtown streets near expensive hotels. Women travelers should be aware that they will receive a lot of unwanted attention from Paraguayan males -this is mostly intended as innocent banter in the form of shouts or wolf whistles etc, but can sometimes be accompanied by touching, especially in clubs. This sort of attention is best just ignored.

Be extremely careful when crossing streets in Asunción. Most drivers consider stop signs and traffic lights to be merely suggestions, even if police are nearby. Buses will stop for almost nothing, so be very careful.

The United States CDC recommends that all visitors to Asunción receive a Typhoid vaccination prior to travel. Dengue fever is frequently a risk one takes when traveling to Asunción; unfortunately, no vaccine for this currently exists. To avoid insect-spread diseases, ensure that you use bug spray at all times of the day, without exception.

The "Chacarita" area by the river, next to the Palace is an extremely impoverished and dangerous part of the city, and is definitely not a place to go exploring.

Contact

Internet places are everywhere and usually cost between 3,000 and 5,000 guaraníes per hour. Connection speeds are usually good.

If you're travelling with a laptop or Wi-Fi enabled phone, it's relatively easy to find open Wi-Fi signals. Many restaurants have free Wi-Fi.

  • CyberKing, (corner Oliva and 14 de Mayo). Open 24h - more or less. A good place for Internet and one of the only ones open late as well. 5.000 Gs/h with Skype.

Cope

Asunción is just south of the Tropic of Capricorn so the weather is tropical. That is, mostly hot, especially in South American summer (winter in the northern hemisphere). Temperatures in December through March can consistently climb over 38 C / 100 F. Humidity can be high and uncomfortable. However the weather is highly variable! When the sun shines you bake. When the rains come they come in buckets and the temperature drops precipitously.It can be very dry when the rains hold off for just a few days. Then the clouds build and it becomes cold.

Flies, ants and especially mosquitoes (but no large, creepy bugs) are everywhere. There are no screens, windows and doors are simply flung open for ventilation. Air conditioners do exist but most people depend on less expensive fans. Heaters do not exist, though on the chilliest days they would be welcomed. The soil is bright red and as many streets are unpaved dust becomes a problem. There are trees (some in the middle of roads!) for shade, but palm trees are planted everywhere. Dogs and farm animals of every description are all over the roads. There is no humane society to care for wild dogs and some are pitifully mangy. It is not uncommon to see pigs wallowing in a mud puddle in the middle of a road, chickens are everywhere, horses, donkeys and cows run loose and can be found in anyone's property.

It is brutally hot in Paraguay's summer. If you've ever wondered why Latin culture has a "siesta" where everything closes down at noon for a few hours, you'll soon know why if you spend time in Asunción during the summer. You'll also understand why people eat dinner so late and stay out partying all night: it's too hot during the day to enjoy being outside.

Embassies

  • Flag of the Republic of China.svg Republic of China (Taiwan), MCAL. Lopez 1133 E/Vicepte. Sanchez, +595 21-213361 (fax: +595 21-212373).
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, Comendador Nicolas Bo esq. Guaranies, Canal 13, Lambare, 595 21 312-318 (, fax: +595 21 310-399).
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, Avenida Mariscal López 2364, 595 21 604-616 (fax: +595 21 606-901), [24].

Get out

  • A visit to an Estancia makes a good day off or so from Asunción (some are within easy reach of public transport). Horesriding, fishing, swimming, guided nature walks are among the activities offered. Those that participate in APATUR (get the booklet from the tourist information) have generally a high standard. Some can only be visited during the day others have accommodation (expect about 80 US$ per night incl. all food and activities). Bookings can be made through TACP (021-210 550) or by contacting the Estancias directly. Travel agencies also offer trips to Estancias and typically include private transport back and forth.
  • Circuito de Oro (Golden Circuit) is a day-trip to a couple of historical towns in the sourrounding of Asunción
  • Aregua is a lakeside town about 20km from Asunción and makes a good day trip. On some Sundays, there is a steam train running including a theatre on the way. There are also buses going there costing the standard fare, 2300Gs e.g. from in front of the Bus Terminal.



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