São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, though inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Historically attractive to immigrants as well as (somewhat later) Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.
São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often shaded by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.
A large sprawling city can present numerous challenges to sensibilities. São Paulo is no exception. Although the first impression might be that of a grey concrete jungle, soon it becomes apparent that the city has a great number of pockets of beauty. The population and environment of São Paulo is diverse, and districts within it range from extremely luxurious areas to hovels housing the poor and destitute, located usually in suburbia far from the so-called "expanded center".
São Paulo, together with Rio de Janeiro, is the spot where most visitors from abroad land in Brazil. While a complete experience of the city would take a few weeks (since the lifestyle of paulistanos and every-day routine in the city are huge attractions in themselves), it's possible to visit all major sites within three days.
Staying a little longer than that is always a nice idea. As the financial and cultural center of the country, the city is a sea of possibilities.
José de Anchieta and Manoel da Nóbrega founded the village of São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. Along with their entourage, they established a mission named Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani Native Brazilians to the Catholic religion.
São Paulo officially became a city in 1711. In the 19th century, it experienced a flourishing economic prosperity, brought about chiefly through coffee exports, which were shipped abroad from the port of neighbouring city Santos. After 1881, waves of immigrants from Italy, Japan and many other countries emigrated to São Paulo in order to work at the enormous coffee plantations established in the State. At the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices. The local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of São Paulo, attracting new contingents of overseas immigrants to the city.
However, due to competition with many other Brazilian cities, which sometimes offer tax advantages for companies to build manufacturing plants in situ, Sao Paulo's main economic activities have gradually left its industrial profile in favour of the services industry over the late 20th century. The city is home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies and consumer services.
All major Brazilian companies have offices in São Paulo, and its stock exchange is the main South American indicator.
Don't be surprised at the diversity of paulistanos. For example, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. The city's Italian influence is also very strong, and the large Arab and Jewish communities are well represented in every level of society, from art to business, and notably in politics.
The citizens of São Paulo have a reputation as hard-working and industrious, or alternately, shallow money-grubbers. Common word is that the people in São Paulo work while the rest of Brazil can relax; even though many say this is plainly wrong, it's a fact that São Paulo (the city alone) actually contributes with 15 percent of the country's gross national product (45 percent if the entire São Paulo state is taken into account).
But when a paulistano isn't working, he or she is clubbing. The city nightlife is as intense as it gets, which makes going to a club a total must-do. Everything is possible in a city that doesn't dare to blink.
São Paulo's basic spot for orientation should be Avenida Paulista. From there, it's pretty easy to reach every single spot in town, be it by bus or underground transport. It is located between the neighborhoods of Bela Vista and Jardim Paulista. Av. Paulista is also within walking distance to Centro and Ibirapuera Park, which makes it the perfect place to start a walking tour.
However, keep in mind that central Sao Paulo actually comprises a very large area, and travelling from one spot to another may require that you take a cab or public transport. Most of the main attractions are located in the city's "expanded center", the area limited by the Tietê river on the North, the Pinheiros river on the West, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the South and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf on the East. Outside the circle of the expanded center there are 8 areas, some of which you'll probably never go. To find out where you are, see the street signs, as it is colour-coded:
All other areas have blue street plates, and a bottom stripe on the following colours:
Although not at all a tourist city, its cosmopolitan inhabitants (i.e. of the middle and upper classes) probably speak better English, Spanish and Italian than anywhere else in Brazil. English is generally spoken at main hotels and those in contact with tourists, though in most bars and restaurants it may be difficult to find a menu in English. Several schools teach Portuguese for foreigners.
Following São Paulo's extraordinary growth during the 20th century, most of the old city buildings have given way to contemporary architecture. This means that most tourists sights are concentrated around the historical center, where 17th-century churches stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. The traditional ethnic neighborhoods are also fairly close to the center. Shopping and dining, though, are spread throughout the city. São Paulo can be divided in 7 main regions:
The most cosmopolitan city in Brazil could only have a central area that is equally cosmopolitan. A universe of diverse people moves through the center of São Paulo; there are business people rushing to get to the stock market, groups of punks in search of the latest record and a number of university students hovering around the region attending night classes. Put on comfortable walking shoes and sunglasses, and discover hidden secrets that many Paulistanos may not even know about.
During the 20th century, little São Paulo became a giant metropolis and the historic downtown was just too small to hold its title. Since then, districts surrounding downtown in every direction became a circle known as Centro Expandido. The area is the most visited by tourists along with historic downtown, and home to the largest variety of services.
On the South Zone you can go from residential green areas by a lake, middle-class villages with local commerce, to the area that has been called the new downtown, where the skyscraper lovers find themselves at home, together with high profile businessmen.
Home to the University of São Paulo, the State's Palace, and the largest soccer stadium in town, the West side offers a green suburban feeling in contrast with the chaotic megalopolis. The northwest neighborhoods of Rio Pequeno e Jaguaré hold lower class residential and industrial areas respectly.
In the northern area of São Paulo you can find neighborhoods with a small-town feel, such as Freguesia do Ó. Places of importance are Expo Center Norte, one of South America's biggest venues for fairs and exhibitions, Serra da Cantareira State Park and Anhembi Park. This region also hosts the Sambodromo and concentrates the bulk of samba schools of the city, as "Gaviões da Fiel", Unidos do Peruche, Rosas de Ouro and Imperio da Casa Verde.
The east side was the former industrial region of São Paulo and also the home to thousands of immigrants who settled in São Paulo during the early 20th century. It's the region with the largest population in the city. Some neighborhoods of interest are Vila Zelina, with its strong Lithuanian influence, and Mooca, the place that many italians chose as home. Tatuapé/Anália Franco is also worth noting for its "newly-rich" vibe.
The places here are part of Greater Sao Paulo, although each is an independent municipality:
São Paulo has three major airports: Guarulhos International (GRU) and Viracopos (CPQ) for international and some domestic arrivals, and Congonhas (CGH) for most medium and short haul domestic flights.
Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
If flying into São Paulo from abroad, you'll mostly likely land at Guarulhos International Airport, also known as Cumbica. Located 40 km from the city centre, the airport has two terminals that are served by Brazilian airlines Varig, TAM, Gol and by international United, Delta, American, Continental, Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, TAP, Iberia, Alitalia, KLM, JAL, South African and many others.
Non-airline shuttle buses are available from Guarulhos to Congonhas Airport, Praça da República (Downtown), Paulista/Jardins region, Barra Funda bus station and Tietê bus station(fastest access to the subway). All lines except Congonhas connect to the Metrô. Fares are R$ 28 one-way. There is also a regular urban bus every 20-30 minutes (timetables), which costs only R$3,40 and goes to and from Tatuapé Metro station (30-45 minutes, via Ayrton Senna, the other is slower) (line 3, red). Less comfy than the shuttles, but can prove faster way to Paulista (and elsewhere) on days with dense traffic, as it goes for the closest Metro station. Be aware that you might be denied access with luggage that won´t fit on your lap.
TAM and Gol, the two main Brazilian airlines, offer free shuttle buses for their passengers with flights to/from Guarulhos International Airport and Congonhas Domestic Airport. Check the schedules for TAM and Gol.
A taxi co-operative, Guarucoop (tel: +55 11 6445-7070), has a monopoly on cabs leaving Guarulhos. They are plentiful and the queue is outside the arrival terminal. Credit-card users can pay for their journey in advance at the booth. Expect to pay about R$75 - R$110 (depending upon your destination) for the 25km journey into the city. Passengers can ask to see the tabela, which shows the fares for each neighbourhood. A taxi ride into the city can take up to two hours during peak times; 30 minutes late at night or early in the morning.
Congonhas Airport (CGH)
The Congonhas Airport is located in a very central region, 15km (9 miles) from downtown. This airport handles most of the domestic flights and the popular São Paulo - Rio (Santos Dumont) short-flight or air shuttle (nicknamed Ponte Aérea). As it was built in the 30s, its simple but glamurous architecture is worth seeing.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Congonhas is by taking any of the "Aeroporto" regular line buses that run in Paulista Avenue. After some 40 - 60 minutes in modest traffic you'll be dropped right in front of the airport and the fare is the regular R$ 2,30 (Bilhete Único accepted). It is mostly faster to take the metro to the São Judas or Conceição subway stations, and then the bus from there (10 minutes).
Cab drives from downtown or Paulista should be used after checking how is the out of control São Paulo traffic. Check the CET website (only in Portuguese), which is the traffic administration department of the city.
Viracopos International (CPQ or VCP)
Located near the city of Campinas, around 99 kilometers from downtown São Paulo, Viracopos International is the second biggest airport in Brazil but is mainly used for air cargo transport; however, domestic and international flights also arrive there and it can be used when weather conditions prevent landing in Cumbica. The new (jan 2009) Brazilian airline Azul serve important cities throughout the country from this airport.
There are three main bus terminals in São Paulo, all of them served by the Metrô (Subway) network.
Transport in São Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 06:00-09:00 and 16:00-20:00, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays. The solution for tourist is to use subway (metrô), train (CPTM) and trolleybuses (EMTU) as far as possible. Even these means of transport can be uncomfortably crowded during peaks, and only a very limited carry-on is recommended. You can check the SPTrans website, which is the city's transport administration department. There you can get itineraries using all the city's public transportation options.
The Bilhete Único is a contact-less smart card that can be used for paying the fares in buses, subways and trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system. You can get the card at no cost at many underground stations; charge them with the minimum amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "lotéricas"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red, round "Bilhete Único" logo. You can use the card to pay for your trips in the public transportation system as follows:
By subway and train
Metrô (Subway System)
São Paulo's subway system, known as the Metrô, is the method of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting São Paulo. It is modern, safe, clean and efficient. It has four lines in operation and one under construction. In several stations, Metrô connects to São Paulo's extensive suburban trains network, called CPTM(Downloadable map (PDF)).
Fare and hours of operation
If you don't have a Bilhete Único smart card (see above), the Metrô uses a simple fixed-price ticketing scheme - you can get only one-trip tickets, which cost R$2,55. The single tickets can be bought at the counters or automatic machines, found in every station. Buying multiple ticket will not save you money but will save time locating a vending machine or waiting time which can both be bothersome. Metrô tickets are valid for inter-line changes on the Metrô system.
The Metrô's working hours are from 4:30AM to around 12AM, depending on the station, up to 12:40AM. Connections on the Metrô network are guaranteed only for boardings before 12AM, regardless of the station.
CPTM (Commuter Trains)
There are 600 commuter train lines to suburban areas, with free transfer to Metro at Brás, Luz, Barra Funda and Santo Amaro stations. The one-way ticket costs R$2,40. "Bilhete Único" is accepted. Info toll-free 0800-055-0121.
Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of São Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. In addition, they can get really crowded. However, unlike the Metro lines, they do reach every neighbourhood.
Tickets are R$2,30 one way. You can pay for the ride inside the bus, or use a Bilhete Unico card topped up with credits before boarding. If paying for the ticket on the bus, simply hand over the money to the teller sitting by the turnstile, and he or she will let you pass through. Note that children under 5 years old are allowed by law to slip under the turnstile for free! If you have the Bilhete Unico magnetic card, then a single fare payment allows you to take other buses for free for the next 2 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.
If you are carrying large suitcases, try to avoid rush-hour traffic as buses can become incredibly packed. It is not always wise to take the bus late at night, especially if you find yourself all alone waiting at the bus stop - consider calling a cab instead, or asking someone you know for a lift.
Taxi ranks in Sao Paulo are white, with a distinctive luminous green "TAXI" sign on the roof top. Check out for the white color of the taxi rank (unless it's a radio taxi), the official license sticker with the driver's name and photo on the passenger side of the control panel, and the red license plate.
There are two kinds of cabs: cheaper street-hail and radio taxi. White taxis often found at stands near city squares and big venues. Radio taxis can be ordered by telephone; ask reception at your hotel for help to call a radiocab, or just call a company:
Cars are an important tool in the life of every paulistano. By commuting to and from work, one can spend several hours a day inside a car, stuck in the traffic. Some places can only be reached by car, and if you have to travel long distances in town, it is usually the most convenient means of transport. It is also part of the Sao Paulo's own urban culture, some years ago, it used to be common for some middle- and upper-class young people to receive a car from their families if they passed the entrance exams for university.
However, as it is the case in many big cities, getting around by car is borderline crazy if you're not used to São Paulo. Traffic is hell, parking is a nightmare, and the definition of a lane often is "wherever I can fit a car." So be warned that visitors to Sao Paulo don't need a car.
If you're comfortable to adventure and feel more like a paulistano, feel free to explore the city from behind a steering-wheel. There is some information about driving in town that you should know beforehand:
Rotating transit policy: In order to reduce the congestion and the air pollution in Sao Paulo, the city council has adopted a mandatory rotating transit policy: cars whose license plate number ends in 1 and 2 cannot circulate on Mondays; if it ends on 3 or 4, Tuesday is off; 5 or 6, stay home or take a cab on Wednesdays; 7 or 8, Thursday is the unlucky day; 9 or 0, on Fridays you can walk. The prohibition is valid only on the so-called Expanded Center (blue street plates with grey bottom stripe), and for peak hours: 7AM-10AM and 5PM-8PM. During the remaining hours, cars are allowed to circulate freely.
Provisory driving licence: Being able to drive around the city is a great advantage for visitors staying in town for a longer period of time. You'll need a Brazilian provisory driving licence, valid for 6 months and renewable, that can be obtained at Detran (State Transit Department), on Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral, 1301, 04094-901, near Ibirapuera Park. If you have a International Driving Licence, you'll still have to go to Detran and register it. Submit the following documents to “Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro” (4th floor of the main building, also called prédio principal):
Parking fees: The city council charges a parking fee of R$2 for one-hour parking in some of the main streets in the central area, so be careful not to be fined for not paying the charge. Check for signs in the sidewalk and yellow lines on the pavement. There are plenty of authorised shops and transit guards selling tickets (Zona Azul) in the streets, which have to be filled in with the car plaque number, the date and the hour of the parking and placed inside the car, on the frontal window pane. These tickets are valid for one hour only, but they can be renewed if you plan to stay longer. Only two one-hour tickets can be placed at one time, which means that you'll have to check on you car every two hours to renew them. The fee is charged Mondays to Saturdays, from 7am to 7pm.
Driving at night: Buses stop at 1AM and the metro around midnight, so it can be tricky to get to many of the famous bars and night clubs unless you take a taxi, or... drive. If you go out at night by car, expect to pay a small fee to unofficial "car keepers" in order to park your car along the streets. This is a common use in many busy outing hubs around town, which may seem unfair given that parking your car in the streets is free of charge after 7pm, but they occasionally may check your car against stereo robbers. If the neighbourhood seems a bit dodgy or deserted, try to find a parking lot rather than parking in the streets.
Valet services: Most bars and restaurants offer non-compulsory parking and valet services to customers, for which you will be charged a small fee. These services are often covered by insurance, nevertheless, whenever using valet services, do not leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, electronics and sunglasses in the car, as these items are usually not covered by the insurance policies in parking spaces.
Fuel: At petrol filling stations, you'll notice that ethanol is as common as traditional fuels in the pumps. That is because, after the oil shocks in the 1970s, the Brazilian government incentivised car makers to develop and improve the existent ethanol-fueled engines. This policy, applied over the years, has resulted in a large number of people choosing to buy this type of car. Ethanol tends to be cheaper than petrol, but the consumption in litres is around 30 percent higher. Many flex-power cars can now be fuelled with either ethanol or gas, or a mixture of both in any proportion. Staff are hired in petrol stations to fill the tank for you, so you don't need to get out of the car, unless if you're paying by credit card, in which case you can go to the cashier to swipe it.
It is best to cycle on the weekends, when the number of pedestrians and cars in the streets are much lower than on weekdays. Don't ride your bicycle on the pavement, and follow the direction of traffic at all times. Watch out for car doors opening without warning.
There are public bicycle parking lots in Guilhermina-Esperança and Pinheiros metro stations (opening hours: Monday to Sunday, from 6am to 9pm). Parking lots (mainly the ones designed for cars) may not accept your bicycle, so if you are to chain yours to a pole, use a good chain with a strong lock.
The Metro underground system accepts cyclists with bicycles on weekends and holidays.
São Paulo has built 23 km of the 300 km planned cycle routes. Many are underutilised, such as the one that connects the Largo da Batata to Avenida Pedroso de Morais, in the district of Pinheiros. You can also ride your bicycle in public parks such as Ibirapuera Park and Cidade Universitaria, which are cyclist-friendly.
Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads, and have become an extention of people's bodies. Take care whenever crossing the streets, watching out for cars that may come unexpectedly, even if the pedestrian lights are green. Do not try to cross large roads with a high volumes of car traffic: usually there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk.
Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The historical Centro neighbourhood is definitely one place to explore on foot.
The Jardins are also great to explore by strolling around the Rua Oscar Freire, Rua Haddock Lobo and Alameda Santos. More on this area can be found below on the "Buy" section of this guide and on the region section.
As the art center of the country, São Paulo offers museums in a variety of subjects. Check each region section of this guide for a list of museums.
Buildings with observation decks
São Paulo is a beautiful city seen from above, so spare some time to go to one of the few points where you´ll be able to see how far this city extends to, specially at sunset.
São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which carry plays in Portuguese. Specific places, such as the British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institut and Alliance Française occasionally carry plays in English, German and French, respectively. Check each region of the city for list of theaters.
Go to the park
For more parks, check a city region section.
Watch the city
Whether taking a tour by bus, walking in specific neighborhoods or admiring a great view of the city on top of Edifício Itália, São Paulo has many options for sightseeing and exploring. Stroll around Vila Nova Conceiçao, one of the most expensive property areas in town. Drive along Pinheiros neighborhood which contains some of the most famous and popular night clubs in the city. The crossing from Av. Faria Lima and Av. Juscelino Kubitschek is a good place to start. Driving along the Faria Lima and surroundings, visitors will be rejoiced by a wide selection of bars and clubs.
Go to the Zoo
The Zoo. Open Tu-Su, 9AM-4:30PM. Always a good option to get to know a little bit more about the varied fauna of Sao Paulo. It is also a nice entertainment option for families with children in town. From Metro Jabaquara station, there is a shuttle bus that takes you straight there.
Ride on a theme park
According to the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau, São Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, from meetings and conferences to sports and cultural events.
Biennial of São Paulo
The arts Biennial takes place every two years (even ended) in the Biennial Pavillon, inside the Ibirapuera Park. It is an art show that displays the works of both renown artists and fresh talents.
If you're in São Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March, you should definitely get tickets to parade in the Sambodromo, near Armenia and Tiete Metro stations (Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana. Tel. +55(11) 6226-0510). This is where the typical Carnival parade takes place, with dancers dressed up in costumes and musicians play samba songs on the top of fancy cars.
If you can afford it, get tickets closest to the "pista" (standing area, close to the parade itself). This will give you a premium view of the parade, and the possibility of comfortably sitting down on benches. Waiters pass to and fro selling chocolate, chips, beer, soft drinks and booze.
Another option is to visit one of the various samba school in town, where you can see the rehearsal concerts of musicians and dancers. You can even have the opportunity to join the parade at the time of Carnival holidays by acquiring the costume from a samba school and getting in touch with the people organising the event in one of the schools.
Every year, during Corpus Christi holidays (usually between May and June), around 3 million people take part in the largest Gay Pride parade in the world. It takes place on a Sunday, and Avenida Paulista is the spot to head to. Floats bustling with eletronic music parade from MASP to República, while every type imaginable marches along. The drinks are plenty and the rave party feel keeps the paraders dancing way pass sunset.
check district sections for located options of learning
Information for students
By bus:From Avenida Paulista to the Policia Federal department, you can take the bus line "669-A/10 Terminal Princesa Isabel" in front of Trianon-Masp Metro station (on the same side of MASP museum), get off at the final stop, then take bus "978-J Voith" and get off at Rua Hermano Marchete, 1030. Walk up the street until you see the Policia Federal. To return, take the same bus "978-J" to Terminal Princesa Isabel. Then, take bus "669-A/10 Terminal Sto. Amaro" to return to Avenida Paulista.
By train: From Metro station Barra Funda (red line), take the CPTM light rail train to Lapa station.
There are a number of language schools where you can learn Portuguese, for as short as two weeks or for a longer period of time. These include both private lessons and classes with more students.
You'll find practically anything in São Paulo. Imported goods can be expensive, but look out for Brazilian-made bargains in all categories. Spend some time in one of the many "shoppings" (as Brazilians call the shopping malls) and also look out for areas with shops catering for specific interests.
There's not one single main shopping area in São Paulo, but many specialized streets, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (Metrô Clínicas) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua Oscar Freire (Metrô Consolação) for designer clothing such as Versace and Dior and jewelry shops, Rua José Paulino (Metrô Tiradentes) for bargain and wholesale clothing, and Rua Santa Ifigênia for electronic equipment. Every region of the city (Central, South, North, East and West) has several shopping areas.
Street shops usually open at 10AM and close at 6PM, including Saturdays, and close on Sundays. The countless shopping centres, opening hours are 10AM to 10PM from Monday to Saturday, and 12PM to 8PM on Sundays.
Check each city region section for shopping options.
The Brazilian currency is the real (plural reais), abbreviated BRL or R$ (as used in this guide). It is the legal tender, and no other currency can be used within the country for everyday uses, such as shopping, taking a cab or paying for a meal. One real is divided into 100 centavos. There are two families of coins, the first one with all silver coins, and the second one as follows: R$0.01 and R$0.05 (copper), $0.10 and $0.25 (golden), $0.50 (silver) and $1 (silver with a golden halo), plus bills of $1 (green), $2 (dark blue), $5 (purple), $10 (red, paper and polymer), $50 (golden) and $100 (blue). As of December 2008, one sterling pound is worth about R$3.45, one US dollar is worth about $2.30, and one Euro is worth about $3.05.
São Paulo has one of the highest living costs in Latin America. Even so, costs are usually lower than in Western Europe or North America, and it is possible to enjoy the city's attractions while spending low cash in both accommodation and food. For example, a set-meal, drinks included, in a not-so-bad place is around R$ 12 (US$ 5,50). Ask locals for tips how to make the best out of your money if you're in a tight budget.
It is not common to leave handbags on the floor; local superstition says your money can go away. The waiters may even offer an extra chair for you to leave your belongings whilst you have your meal. Many restaurants have a small hanger underneath the dining table, or a hook-and-loop velcro fastener on the chair rest for you to hang your bag.
If you don't know what to order in a Brazilian bar, look up for mandioca (Portuguese for manioc or cassava root) on the menu. Most likely they'll have it, deep-fried and sprinkled with salt (great alternative to chips!), or cooked and seasoned with melted butter. If you are up to a more conservative choice, french fries are spelled batata frita in Brazilian Portuguese.
You will have no trouble finding bars in São Paulo, where you can enjoy an ice cold beer, a shot of cachaça or a caipirinha - or anything else for that matter. A chopp (a 300 ml glass of draught beer) will set you back between R$ 2 and R$ 10 (in extreme cases), depending on the bar, but anything around R$3,10 is fine.
There are two ways of serving beer in bars: draft or bottled. Draft lager beer is called chope or chopp ('SHOH-pee'), and is commonly served with one inch of foam, but you can always ask for it "sem colarinho" (without foam) if you prefer. In bars, the waiter will usually collect the empty glasses and bottles on a table and replace them with full ones, until you ask him to stop, in a "tap" charging system. In the case of bottled beer, bottles (600 ml) are shared among everyone in the table and poured into small glasses, rather than drank straight from the bottle. Brazilians like their beer nearly ice-cold - hence, to keep the temperature down, the bottles are often kept in an insulated polystyrene container on the table.
Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. For some suggestions of bars, check the district section.
This city has an unbelievably rich and diverse night life, and is able to provide entertainment for all tastes, from traditional samba-rock live music to electro-pop night clubs. It is worth planning at least one night out while you're in town. On the other hand, São Paulo's nightlife can be quite expensive; most clubs charge an entrance fee. Usually, entrance hovers around R$ 25 (US$ 14), but they can be over R$ 100 (US$ 55) in some upscale places.
You can also easily book a hotel on lastminute.com or Expedia.com, or go to the hotel's website and make a reservation. Check the region section for a list of all hotels, sorted by price range. The most touristic areas are the Centro Histórico and the districts within the Expanded Center.
Internet cafés (also called cyber cafés ou lan houses) can be easily found in every neighbourhood.
Free Wi-Fi Hotspots
There are around 886 hotspots in the Greater Sao Paulo area, according to Hotspot.live.comMSN(TM) WiFi Hotspots, not all of them free though.
People from Sao Paulo kiss on the right cheek once when they say hello, goodbye and nice to meet you. Some will kiss twice, once on each cheek, a kiss in the air. Men kiss women on the cheek and women kiss women as well, but two men won't give the kiss out unless they're gay or with intimate long-time friend or family. If you feel the occasion is a bit formal, especially on business occasions or if you don't know the person too well, a hand shake will do the job. However, if a paulistano takes the initiative to kiss, make sure you turn your face to the left side to avoid embarrassment.
São Paulo, like any big city in South America, has its crime problems. However, with due caution and common sense, the likelihood of being a victim is very small for the average tourist. Visitors need to take some care when wandering about areas outside the main shopping and hotel districts alone at night, as in any other large city. Leave your jewelry and excess cash in the hotel's safe. Wearing extravagant or expensive-looking clothing will make you stand out if you're traveling by foot or public transportation.
At the airport
Pay close attention during check-in and when claiming baggage. Always remain alert at airport terminals and observe the following tips:
When asking for information or assistance, always look for a duly identified police officer or an employee of the company with which you are traveling. There is a DEATUR police station at all São Paulo airports, staffed by professionals specially trained to provide assistance to travelers. Never handle large quantities of cash in public. If you must use an ATM, make sure no one is watching when you type your security code. If the machine malfunctions, only request assistance from duly identified employees. Never agree to carry packages for people who you don't know. When using taxis or renting cars, choose only registered professionals and companies. When entering the vehicle, ask that all of your belongings be placed in the trunk. If the driver refuses, look for another taxi. When using your mobile phone inside the taxi, keep it away from the window. In slow traffic, do not handle large quantities of cash inside the vehicle.
In public areas and at large-scale events
Events and public places where there are a lot of people with bags and other belongings are attractive targets for thieves. Take the following precautions to avoid any unpleasant occurrences:
Tourist police stations
Familiarize yourself with the location of the police stations specializing in tourist service and protection. These stations offer information on public safety and are staffed with qualified professionals to meet your needs.
Provides courier service within Sao Paulo by using professional cyclists. An eco-friendly alternative to car and motorbike deliveries, preventing an increase in air pollution and in your carbon footprint.
The city of São Paulo is only one hour driving from the Paulista Coast, which is a typical Brazilian region full of splendid beaches and great seafood. The young and the old of São Paulo alike head there on the weekends to enjoy the sand, sun and fun. You can take a bus to your chosen destination at the Terminal Rodoviario Tiete Bus Station, Metrô Portuguesa-Tietê station (blue line). Note the telephone code changes from 11 to 12 (northern coast - São Sebastião and remaining cities to the north) or 13 (Bertioga and remaining cities to the south) as you travel from Greater São Paulo to the Paulista Coast. All coded from 14 to 19 are upstate São Paulo. The rich agricultural state offers winter destinations, upscale retreats and large Rodeos.