Ciudad del Este is a city in Paraguay. It is mainly a shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians. Apart from that the city is not very attractive.
The bus terminal is located in the southern part of the city, a bit hidden behind the stadium.
International Border Crossing
- The most common way to arrive is through "Ponte da Amizade" (Friendship Bridge) which connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. There are frequent bus connections, also to and from Puerto Iguazu in Argentina. Taxis sometimes do the trans-border trip as well.
- A couple of kilometers south of Ciudad del Este, where Rio Paraná and Rio Iguaçu join, is a ferry crossing to Puerto Iguazu 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.
- It is also possible to take a bus from Puerto Iguazu bus terminal through Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu), across the "Friendship Bridge" and into Ciudad del Este. The bus is specially marked "Foz,Puerto Iguazu, Ciudad del Este" or simply "Paraguay" and leaves from Puerto Iguazu bus terminal at platform 7 every hour and costs 5 Pesos. The ride to the Friendship Bridge will take approximately 45 minutes and you will be required to disembark at the Argentine border crossing to obtain an exit stamp before re-embarking the bus for the rest of the journey. If you do not have a Brazil visa, before boarding the bus, be sure that the bus will take you all the way across the Friendship Bridge and 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 Iguazu (Argentina) at the end of the day.
To leave Ciudad del Este back across the Friendship bridge one has three options.
1) Walk back across the bridge and wait in line at Brazilian immigration along with scores of people returning from Shopping.
2) Take a bus from the bus terminal that goes into Brazil or directly to Puerto Iguazu and wait in the long line of cars.
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 can be rather dangerous as the driver will weave in and out of incoming traffic. 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
If you are transiting Paraguay (i.e. 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 Mercosul are granted entry just with their ID, others need a passport. The stories of bribings and scams in the Paraguayan customs offices are frequent. Make sure you get everything you're 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 only receive 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.
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 Puente de la Amistad bridge. Drivers are generally easy to spot due to their reflective shirts and should provide you with a helmet.
- Itapú Binacional Hydrodam, (The visitor centre is on the road to Hernandarias. Any bus to Hernandarias can drop you 500m 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), ☎ (061) 599-8040, . Visits only on guided tours at 8 am, 9:30 am, 2 pm, 3 pm; Sundays morning tours only. Two tour options are available for the general public. The Panoramic tour is a short and underwhelming 30 minute tour, often in Spanish only, that involves driving around the dam on a bus. A short lookout over the spillway provides the only photo opportunity, and visitors are herded back onto the bus after no more than 5 minutes. An in-depth technical tour allows visitors to see the inside of the dam and power generation facility and turbines. Reservations are required at least a week in advance for the technical tour. On Friday and Saturday evening there's an audio-visual show (reservation required). Passports necessary for all visits. Free.
- Museo de la Tierra Guaraní and Zoológico Regional, (About 2 km from the visitor centre on the way back to Ciudad del Este), ☎ (5561) 599-8040. Tuesdays to Saturday 8am to 12pm and 2:30pm to 5pm; Sundays morning only, Mondays afternoon only.. A small museum mainly on the Guarani culture and the local wildlife. Descriptions in English and Spanish. Free.
- Refugio Tati Yupi, 3km north of Hernandarias on the Supercarratera to Saltos del Guairá, ☎ (5561) 599-8040. One of several areas of Atlantic Forest not flooded by the Itaipu reservoir, now preserved by the Itaipu Binacional organization. Refugio Tati Yupi is the most accessible and has facilities for camping, picnicking, outdoor grills, horseback riding, and a small hospedaje with male and female dorms and a kitchen. The reserve has many small trails available for walking and wildlife includes birds, capuchin monkeys, armadillos, capibara and more. Permission must be requested at least 1 day in advance of arrival and you will need to collect a set of papers to present to the guards for admittance. If visiting the dam before going to the reserve, permits can be requested in person in the office to the left of the zoo entrance. By stopping by in advance of touring the dam, zoo, and Guarani museum permits can likely be collected before returning to Ciudad del Este at the end of the day. There is no direct public transit to the reserve, and the facilities are approximately 10-15km inside the gates. To access the reserve without renting a vehicle, take a bus to Hernandarias (it must have a sign in the windows that says "Sin Area." Other buses to Hernandarias take different routes). Get off the bus at a roundabout with Copetrol and Petrosur gas stations on the far corners and a Diske taxi stand on the near right corner. From here, a taxi to the visitors center inside the reserve should cost about 50,000 Gs. The guards may be reluctant to allow a taxi inside, but with your permits and some persuasion they will relent and allow the driver to leave you at the facilities 10km inside. Make an appointment to be picked up or take down the taxi dispatch phone number for park staff to call when you're ready to leave. Entrance, camping, hospedaje, and horse riding are free. A cantina sells souvenirs and a very limited assortment of snacks and beverages..
Shopping is the main business of the visitors. The main shopping streets are Av. San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy about anything and everything. Many people come for electronics.
A WARNING: If you want to buy electronics such as cellphones or cameras, the procedure shall be as follows:
Ask to test the device, if it works DO NOT give it back to the shopkeeper/assistant as some of them exchange them with faulty versions or hand the box back filled with paper or other but certainly not with what you just bought.
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. Arab food can be found off the main streets in many shopping centers and typically serve good Shawarma to go. 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.
Many street vendors grill delicious and cheap asado at night on Cap. Miranda just north of the main route through town. A plate of asado with manioc is 10000 Gs, and salad, bread, and a liter of beer can be had for an additional 10,000 Gs.
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.
- Caribe, on Emiliano R. Fernández between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos. A cheap place to stay and not far from the main shopping streets. from 17.5 US$ (aircon).
- Hotel Tía Nancy, Garcete & Cruz del Chaco. checkout: 10:00am. A cheap place very close to (just West of) the main Bus Terminal. from 12 US$ (fan).
- Hotel Munich, on Emiliano R. Fernández between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos. from 30 US$ for a double with aircon.
- Hotel Austria, Emiliano R. Fernández 165 (between Cap. Miranda and Mongelos). A very basic room is available in a side area from the parking garage for US$25. from 30 US$ for a double with aircon.
- 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$.