Every country has its pitfalls, but it also has its peaks. Our writer Tan Min Yan explored Brazil and found much to love. Here’s 8 reasons why we think you need to visit Brazil on your next holiday.
1) Brazil is chock full of delicious local food
When in Rome, visit the architecture. When in Rio, you need to check out the food. The city’s melting pot of African and European influences is well represented by the hundreds of vendors and bars touting snacks like empanadas (crispy filled pastries), sweet or savoury pipoca (popcorn), and coxinhas (dough-covered shredded chicken).
In the last decade, well-heeled residents and tourists have developed a taste for more refined food, resulting in elegant restaurants like Restaurante Aprazivel or Rubaiyat Rio, which have international influences and impressive ambiences.
2) You can visit the Christ the Redeemer statue in all its glory
This 38m-tall statue, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is awe-inspiring even if you’re not religious.
Here’s an insider tip: Book an official van from the Tijuca National Park as no other public transport options take you all the way up to Corcovado. Go as early as possible (the park opens at 8am), before the crowds come in.
3) The view from Sugarloaf Mountain is stunning
From the top, the 360-degree view of Rio and the surrounding Atlantic Ocean is worth braving tourist hordes for. Two cable car rides take visitors from the base of the hill to 220m above sea level.
But be warned, it gets blazing hot at midday, so slather on the sunblock and slip on the sunnies.
4) But if you’re not a fan of heights, you could visit the most beautiful steps in the world instead.
Escadaria Selaron is the famed 215-step stairway by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron. This stairway is his canvas for thousands of vividly coloured mosaics, collected from more than 60 countries.
His labour of love, dedicated to the people of Brazil, is great for Instagram if you take a shot from the bottom of the stairway, and so worth it even if you’d have to jostle with a lot of visitors.
5) Brazilian beaches are great for soaking up the sunshine
Photo: Travel & Leisure
Enjoy some of that worldwide famed Brazilian beach culture (and ogle the shirtless male volleyball players) at Copacabana Beach. But stick to the lively kiosks and populated areas for safety.
If you’re looking to bake in the sun, Ipanema Beach, with its cleaner sands and waters is the preferred option.
Just be sure to bring the right sun protection so you come back with tawny skin, and not a blistering sunburn.
6) You can take a moment to experience the quiet majesty of the Bonfim church
If Rio is the ideal landing point for visitors to ease into Brazil then Salvador, the capital city of the north-eastern state of Bahia, is a crash course on its rich cultural and historical roots.
Salvador is also a deeply religious city, with hundreds of Catholic churches. The one that stands out most would be The church of Senhor de Bonfim, the city’s most iconic church.
Even on a regular day, the church is quietly bustling with curious tourists who may be taking pictures of the colourful ribbons (meant to be good-luck charms) fluttering on the gates, or exploring the slightly eerie Room of Miracles, where gifted casts of body parts supposedly healed by the power of prayer are hung.
It’s an eye-opening experience for all.
7) Or you can step into the pulse of Salvador, the pastel-coloured Pelourinho Square
Photo: Travellers Point
Salvador’s historic centre has undergone major refurbishment, shedding its former seediness to become a popular destination for music, dining, and nightlife (though the police still patrol regularly).
Exploring this Unesco World Heritage site requires at least an afternoon -- so put on comfortable shoes.
There are so many things to do here, but be sure to stop by the Lacerda Escalator (where you can see grand views of the Bay of All Saints), the open-air market places, and the cafe Cafelier, where you can sip on a caipirinha while watching the sunset.
8) The Iguazu Falls are literally the grandest in the world
Gushing superlatives don’t do this Iguazu Falls any justice. It’s easy to feel small when you walk across this 2.7km wide waterfall system that spans a grand 275 waterfalls. Its main attraction, The Devil’s Throat, will elicit a visceral reaction from even the most jaded traveller.
You can visit the falls from either the Iguazu National Park on the Argentinian side or the Iguacu National Park on the Brazilian side. You can squeeze both into a day if you hurry -- the two parks are separated by a 50-minute drive.
Still it’s best to set aside two days to explore both parks so that you can soak in the majesty and magic of the area.
ALSO READ: Tips on how to travel safely
This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of Her World.