Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city but it can also be a dangerous place. If the following recommended precautions for safety in Rio are taken, tourists won’t suffer anything worse than a few bad hungovers. Travelers should pay attention to simple things and follow the rules to stay safe. Local thieves easily identify tourists and consider them as an easy target for robberies; being cautious will minimize the risks of getting robbed.
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Avoid taking buses at night and keep an eye on your belongings while you are on them; taking taxis is the best option to get around the city during the night. The metro is quite safe and it is recommended to use it during the day for going from one place to another. The downtown areas are deserted in the evenings and in weekends, so try to explore the Centro during weekdays and you will find it is full of people and open shops. When walking around downtown or Copacabana try not to stop by any shoe-shiner because you might get involved in a scam.
Going to the beach during the night is dangerous idea; you should never walk on the beach at night! The only beach that is lighted and policed during the night is Ipanema beach, though it is not entirely safe. If you like to go jogging at the beach during the mornings try to wait until 10 am when it is more crowded. Purse and bag snatching are extremely common in Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Keep an eye on your stuff all the time and don’t take anything valuable to the beach. A common beach scam consists in one thief who approaches you asking for a lighter and while you’re distracted, the thief’s partner grabs your gear from the opposite side.
There is no need of walking around carrying lots of money, ATM’s are everywhere and credit cards are widely accepted. Also avoid wearing expensive jewelry or other signs of wealth, such as digital cameras, iPods or fancy cell phones, because these can attract thieves’ attention. If you have the misfortune of being mugged, don’t resist or do anything to aggravate the muggers. Stay quiet and let them go with your staff and money, and contact the police once the thieves are gone.
Rio has around 700 favelas located all over the city, often on a hillside; they are easily recognized by their expansive brick walls. All the favelas are considered dangerous places and you should never go to a favela by yourself. If you are interested in visiting a favela ask for special tours that will guarantee your safety in Rio.
You will notice that most of cariocas don’t stop their cars at the traffic lights late in the night, and always drive with the windows shut and doors locked. If you are driving a car you should do the same to avoid being robbed.
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