Wednesday, 18 October 2017

BRAZIL: Sao Paulo - World Capital Of Gastronomy,Locals Love Clubbing, Avoid ATMs At Night

Sao 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 Sao Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. Sao 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 Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Sao Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed 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.

Just south of the city, lies the Parque Estadual Serra do Mar, part of the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a mountain range covered by exhuberant rainforest that faces the coast and provides various ecotourism options.

Following Sao Paulo's extraordinary growth during the 20th century, most of the old city buildings have given way to contemporary architecture.

This means that most historical buildings are concentrated downtown, where 17th-century churches stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. The best of Sao Paulo's gastronomy, nightlife, and museums are concentrated in the historic downtown and neighboring areas to the west.

Consequently, this is where most visitors to the city tend to stay. Those who are adventurous enough to venture beyond these areas may discover a completely different Sao Paulo, including areas of preserved natural beauty, affluent suburban neighborhoods, as well as more dangerous and impoverished districts.

The region of Avenida Paulista is partly in the Center, West, and South-Central, and its number of attractions, as well as its peculiar characteristics, justifies it having its own section.

Downtown - The birthplace of the city, with many historical areas, cultural centers, and a universe of diverse people rushing to work or to school.

West - Home to the government of the state of Sao Paulo, it is probably the most vibrant area of the city for business, science, gastronomy, nightlife and culture.

South Central - The wealthiest region of the city contains Parque do Ibirapuera, one of the most important recreational and cultural areas of Sao Paulo, and inumerous shopping malls.

Southeast - Home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who settled in the city, that is where Museu do Ipiranga, the Sao Paulo Zoo and other attractions are located.

Northeast - The Northeast is Sao Paulo's "event arena", where the annual Carnival and and many other large scale events take place. Part of the magnificent Parque da Cantareira is also here.

Far South - The largest region of Sao Paulo is still have some parts covered by forest, farms and water, and can offer many unique experiences to a visitor.

Far East - Sao Paulo's City of Workers contains two of the most beautiful parks of the city, and was the host of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in the city.

Northwest - The Northwest is a more suburban area which is home to Parque Estadual do Jaragua, where the highest point of the city is located.

Embu das Artes - Town just Southwest of Sao Paulo, known for its talented local artists. If you are looking for authentic Brazilian art, handicrafts, furniture, or just want to browse around some really cool shops, this is the place to go.

South - The South of Greater Sao Paulo, also known as the Great ABC region, is composed of mostly industrial cities separated from the coast by Parque Estadual Serra do Mar, a hilly area covered by Atlantic rainforest. The area offers inumerous opportunities for ecotourism.

Santo Andre - City containing the main campus of Federal University of ABC, the historical village of Paranapiacaba, and the nature area of the same name.

Sao Bernardo do Campo - City historically linked to Brazil's labor movement, offering nautical leisure at the Billings reservoir and ecotourism at Parque Estadual Serra do Mar, including a walking route in direction of the coast.

The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 47%, followed by the industrial sector at 46%. Agriculture represents 6.5% of GDP. Sao Paulo (state) exports: vehicles 17%, airplanes and helicopters 11.6%, food industry 10%, sugar and alcohol fuel 8%, orange juice 5%, telecommunications 4%.

Sao Paulo state is responsible for approximately a third of Brazilian GDP. The state's GDP (PPP) consists of 1,003 billion dollars, making it also the biggest economy of South America and one of the biggest economies in Latin America, second after Mexico.

Its economy is based on machinery, the automobile and aviation industries, services, financial companies, commerce, textiles, orange growing, sugar cane and coffee bean production.

Sao Paulo, one of the largest economic poles in Latin/South America, has a diversified economy. Some of the largest industries are metal-mechanics, sugar cane, textile and car and aviation manufacturing.

Service and financial sectors, as well as the cultivation of oranges, cane sugar and coffee form the basis of an economy which accounts for 33.9 percent of Brazil's GDP (equivalent to $727.053 billion).

The towns of Campinas, Ribeirao Preto, Bauru, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Piracicaba, Jau, Marilia, Botucatu, Assis, and Ourinhos are important university, engineering, agricultural, zootechnique, technology, or health sciences centers.

The Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo is a herpetology serpentary science center that collects snakes and other poisonous animals, as it produces venom antidotes. The Instituto Pasteur produces medical vaccines.

The state is also at the vanguard of ethanol production, soybeans, aircraft construction in Sao Jose dos Campos, and its rivers have been important in generating electricity through its hydroelectric plants.

Moreover, Sao Paulo is one of the world's most important sources of beans, rice, wheat, orange and other fruit, coffee, sugar cane, alcohol, flowers and vegetables, corn, cattle, swine, milk, cheese, wine, and oil producers.

Textile and manufacturing centers such as Rua Jose Paulino and 25 de Marco in Sao Paulo city is a magnet for retail shopping and shipping that attracts customers from the whole country and as far as Cape Verde and Angola in Africa.

A significant portion of the state economy is tourism. Besides being a financial center, the state also offers a huge variety of tourist destinations:

Sao Paulo, the state capital city is the center of business tourism in Brazil, which gives the city about 45,000 events per year. Sao Paulo also has the largest hotel network in Brazil.

Because of real estate speculation in the mid-1990s, nowadays there is an excess supply in the number of vacancies. The city also has demand in gastronomic culinary tourism after receiving the title of the World Capital of Gastronomy.

Cultural tourism is also highlighted given the amount of museums, theaters and events like the Biennale and the Biennale of Arts of the Book.

The coast of Sao Paulo state along the South Atlantic Ocean has 622 km of beaches of all kinds and sizes. Among the cities that receive the most tourists in the summer are Santos, Praia Grande, Ubatuba, Sao Sebastiao, among others.

In the interior, it is possible to find resorts, rural tourism, eco-municipalities with a European- like climate, waterfalls, caves, rivers, mountains, spas, parks, historical buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and Jesuit / Roman Catholic church architecture archaeological sites such as the Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park (PETAR).

Those looking for intense entertainment can browse the Hopi Hari, a major theme park in Brazil, in the Metropolitan Region of Campinas; the complex also includes a hotel and the water park Wet 'n Wild. In terms of ecotourism, Sprout Juquitiba has a fine infrastructure.

In winter, the city of Campos do Jordao emerges as the main tourist reference state, with the Winter Festival and several other attractions in an environment where the temperature can drop down below 0 - zero degrees (Celsius).

Sao Paulo state is a cosmopolitan region, a land influenced by its encounter with different traditions beginning with the Tupi-Guarani Native American nation, the intrusion of Iberian and other European elements and the traffic of enslaved Africans.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, European, Asian, and Middle-Eastern immigrants also made their way there. Earlier, the land had been the starting point of the bandeirantes expeditions, which sought to enslave the Natives of the hinterlands and explore their mineral wealth.

Hence, Sao Paulo influenced most of Western Brazil, as well as the states of Minas Gerais, its neighbor north of it, and Parana, which was originally part of the old Sao Paulo province.

A very distinctive character in the culture of Sao Paulo state is the Caipira tradition, a mixture of Luso-Native-Brazilian and immigrant elements, mainly southern Italian, which influenced its dialect, somewhat different from the Portuguese language spoken in Sao Paulo city, although the latter is also heavily Italianized.

The caipira culture is strong in countryside cities, although centers like Piracicaba, São Carlos, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Araraquara, Ribeirao Preto, Barretos, Campinas, Marilia, Assis, Presidente Prudente, Jau and Bauru also have a strong retroflex R style of pronunciation and unusual usage of words.

It seems that the influence is actually from the Calabrian or Sicilian Italian dialect though, and many of the words peculiar to the region are actually archaic Portuguese forms. Native languages might also have stressed the more nasal sounds of words ending in /m/ or /n/, which is also a feature of other dialects in Brazil.

Caipira food typically includes fried or barbecued beef steaks; fried eggs; couve (collard green); taioba (cabbage); manioc (corn flour); farofa (stuffing); frango Caipira (freshly baked or pan-seared chicken); frango a Passarinho (fried chicken pieces of chicken); fried breaded sardine or fish fillet; and pork chops or baked pork with lettuce or cabbage and tomato, seasoned with garlic, lemon, and onions.

Bean stew with carne seca or dried charque beef, toicinho or bacon and white rice is always the staple, but macarronada or spaghetti is always present on Sunday luncheons, and fried sausages are often eaten daily.

Mildly spiced legumes, as well as zucchini and other types of squash, are often prepared as a stew with or without meat, and sometimes with quiabo or ocra and abobora or butternut squash are a favorite dessert, as are sweetened sidra, canjica or white corn kernels cooked in milk, coconut, and condensed milk and peanut bits.

Pudim de leite, or milk custard, pave' (mounted cookies in rich condensed and heavy cream sauce) and manjar (white flan) are other mouth-watering treats.

If none of these desserts are present, countryside meals will rarely leave out citrics such as oranges and mexericas, bananas, caquis or abacaxi (pineapple).

Home-made loaves or regular bakery fresh rolls with butter or corn meal or orange cakes are served with coffee and milk or mate tea in the afternoon before dinner or before bed.

Pastries like chicken coxinha fried dumplings and risolis, and the Mediterranean or Syrian-Lebanese kibe and open sfihas are often served in birthday and wedding parties followed by a glazed cake, guarana' and other sodas, champagne, caipirinha sugar-cane liquor or beer.

Chopp or draft beer is a must in weddings celebrations.

According to the IBGE estimates for 2014, there were 44,035,304 people residing in the state. The population density was 177.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (459/sq mi).

The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) research revealed the following numbers: 27,612,000 White people (63.1%), 12,842,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (29.3%), 2,810,000 Black people (6.4%), 451,000 Asian people (1%), and 54,000 Amerindian people (0.1%).

People of Italian descent predominate in many towns, including the capital city, where 65 percent of the population has at least one Italian ancestor. The Italians mostly came from Veneto and Campania.

Portuguese and Spanish descendants predominate in most towns. Most of the Portuguese immigrants and settlers came from the Entre-Douro-e-Minho Province in northern Portugal, the Spanish immigrants mostly came from Galicia and Andalusia.

People of African or Mixed background are relatively numerous. Sao Paulo is also home to the largest Asian population in Brazil, as well to the largest Japanese community outside Japan itself.

There are many people of Levantine descent, mostly Syrian and Lebanese people. The majority of Brazilian Jews live in the state, especially in the capital city but there are also communities in Greater Sao Paulo, Santos, Guaruja, Campinas, Valinhos, Vinhedo, Sao Jose dos Campos, Ribeirao Preto, Sorocaba and Itu.

People of more than 70 different nationalities emigrated to Brazil in the past centuries, most of them through the Port of Santos in Santos, Sao Paulo.

Although many of them spread to other areas of Brazil, Sao Paulo can be considered a true melting-pot. People of German, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Russian, Chinese, Korean, American, Bolivian, Greek and French background, as well as dozens of other immigrant groups, form sizable groups in the state.

A genetic study, from 2013, showed the overall composition of São Paulo to be: 61.9% European, 25.5% African and 11.6% Native American, respectively.

According to an autosomal DNA genetic study, the overall results were: 79 percent of the ancestry was European, 14 percent are of African origin, and 7 percent Native American.

A large sprawling city can present numerous challenges to sensibilities. Sao 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 Sao 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.

Sao 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. Sightseers will be disappointed however, because the city does not have a single major tourist attraction.

The city has a so called clean city law that prohibits advertising such as billboards. Likewise, heavy trucks are not allowed on most streets except during the middle of the night. These are small but constant improvements which make the city more beautiful and pleasant to live in.

Native American Chief Tibiriça and the Jesuit priests Jose de Anchieta and Manuel de Nobrega founded the village of Sao Paulo de Piratininga on 25 January 1554 -- Feast of the Conversion of Paul the Apostle.

Along with their entourage, the priests established a mission named Colegio de Sao Paulo de Piratininga aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani native Brazilians to the Catholic religion.

Sãao Paulo's first church was constructed in 1616, and it was located where today is the the Pátio do Colegio.

Sao 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 other European and Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria and Lebanon immigrated to Sao Paulo State due to the coffee production boom.

Slavery in Brazil was coming to an end, so incentives were given to immigrants coming from European countries such as Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices and competition from other nations.

The local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of Sao Paulo, attracting new contingents of overseas immigrants to the city. Many of those entrepreneurs were Italian, Portuguese, German, and Syro-Lebanese descendants such as the Matarazzo, Diniz, and Maluf families.

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 nowadays home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies, advertising firms and consumer services.

Many major international and Brazilian companies have offices in Sao Paulo, and the Bovespa stock exchange index (Ibovespa) is considered one of the most important Latin American market indices abroad.

After merging with the BM&F (Futures Markets Exchange), Bovespa (Sao Paulo Stock Exchange) has become the third largest exchange in the world (Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper 2008).

Don't be surprised at the diversity of Paulistanos. For example, Sao Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.

It is not uncommon to see businesses and churches being conducted by Chinese and Korean-Brazilians in Liberdade, which was originally an Italian district, then Japanese and currently is heavily populated by Koreans and Chinese.

The city's Italian influence is also very strong, mainly in the upper and middle-class spots, with about 6 million people in the metropolitan area having Italian background. The small but notable Arab and Jewish communities are also represented in the high-levels of society.

From arts to real estate businesses, and notably in politics. But over all the most notably communities of Sao Paulo is the Nordestinos, people with a north easterner backgrounds or descent, which have a very particular culture and accent.

Almost 40% of paulistanos have one of the parents or grand-parents who came from Brazilian northeastern region. Rarely this so important part of population reaches a high-developed level of economy or living, in exception of popular music and sports.

It is too much more common to hear north easterner accents in the streets of Sao Paulo, rather than immigrant accents.

The citizens of Sao Paulo have a reputation as hard-working and industrious or shallow money-grubbers. It is common to hear that the people in Sao Paulo work while the rest of Brazil relaxes; even though many say this, it is plainly wrong.

It is a fact, nonetheless, that the city of Sao Paulo alone actually contributes with 15 percent of the country's gross national product,45 percent if the entire Sao Paulo state is taken into account.

But when Paulistanos are not working, they are 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.

Sao 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. To find out the general direction where you are, see the street signs, as it is colour-coded:

Sé/República (in Downtown): White street plate.

All other areas have blue street plates, and a bottom stripe on the following colours:

Expanded Center: Grey,Expanded Center means the area limited by the Tiete river on the North, the Pinheiros river on the West, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the South and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf on the East

Northwest: Light Green

North: Dark Blue

Northeast: Yellow

East: Red

Southeast: Dark Green

South: Light Blue

Southwest: Purple

West: Orange

To find the direction of Downtown (most precisely Praça da Sé), just follow the direction of decreasing street numbers. That doesn't work, however, in the Santo Amaro subprefecture (South Central), neither in the Far South region; in these areas, decreasing numbers lead to Largo 13 de Maio.

Although traditionally a working and not a tourist city, its inhabitants, if more educated, probably speak better English and perhaps Spanish, Italian or French than anywhere else in Brazil.

English is generally spoken at main hotels and tourist-related businesses, although a menu in English is a rare find. Several Portuguese language schools teach English as a second language. You may ask a person if he or she speaks English, especially younger people.

Locals are often friendly, and will try to help visitors, but language difficulties can offer a barrier. It's a good idea to print out some key phrases.

A good tip is keep your destinations and addresses on paper, in case you cannot find anyone who speaks, you can show them the note.

If you want to say numbers, here is the translation

One - "Um"
Two - "Dois"
Three - "Três"
Four - "Quatro"
Five - "Cinco"
Six - "Seis"
Seven - "Sete"
Eight - "Oito"
Nine - "Nove"
Ten - "Dez"

Be careful when plugging in electronic devices, as voltages vary between 110V and 220V across cities in Brazil, always 60Hz. In the city of Sao Paulo the voltage is usually 127V.

Other cities in the state of Sao Paulo may use 220V plugs such as Jundiai, Sao Jose dos Campos and cities by the beach. It is always prudent to ask before you plug an electronic device outside the city of Sao Paulo.

Many electric outlets will accept both the U.S. / Canada type plugs and the parallel twin round pins used in many countries in Europe - low current europlug.

It is helpful to carry a world-travel adapter in any case, since other countries in South America vary in electrical plug formats and shapes. Some outlets for computers have the USA two flat pins and one round ground pin.

A new, exclusive to Brazil shape of plug with 3 rounded pins (similar to the Euro one, but with another pin in the middle, slightly above) was introduced in 2009 and became the standard for newer electronic equipment.

Numerous people bring their electronics from abroad to avoid the heavy-taxed price of the imports, it's still pretty common to find the older outlets or ones that can fit several kinds,the outlet for the new 3-pin Brazilian plug is naturally compatible with Europe's twin round pins.

Check the official Brazil tourism website for general information regarding visas and customs, and the Cidade de Sao Paulo homepage for updated events and art exhibitions around town.

Sao Paulo has three major airports: Guarulhos International (GRU) and Viracopos for international and some domestic arrivals, and Congonhas (CGH) for most medium and short haul domestic flights.

If flying into Sao 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 TAM, Gol and by international United, Delta, American, Air Canada, Emirates, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, TACA, TAP, Iberia, Alitalia, KLM, Swiss, Air China (via Madrid), Singapore Airlines (via Barcelona), Korean Air (via Los Angeles), South African, US Airways (via Charlotte, NC) and many others.

Non-airline shuttle buses are available from Guarulhos to Congonhas Airport, Praça da Republica (Downtown), Paulista/Jardins region, Barra Funda bus station and Tiete bus station,fastest access to the subway.

All lines except Congonhas connect to the Metro. R$42 one-way. There is also a regular urban bus every 20-30 min, which costs only R$5,95 and goes to and from Tatuape Metro station (30-45 min, via Ayrton Senna, the other is slower line 3, red.

Exit Terminal 1 Arrivals and head for the middle island. Look for buses 257 or 299. 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, Gol and Azul, the three 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.

If you're on a budget trip and have enough time, you can ride those buses to Congonhas airport - you must show your boarding pass or printed reservation to the bus driver and then get a taxi to your destination.

It will be much cheaper than getting a taxi directly from Guarulhos airport. The trip between those airports takes between 1h00 and 1h30. No reservation is required.

A taxi co-operative, Guarucoop, 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, although it's useful to have local currency as not all international credit or debit cards will work at all businesses in Brazil.

Expect to pay about R$100-140 depending upon your destination, as of October 2011, for the 25 km journey into the city. Passengers can ask to see the tabela, which shows the fares for each neighbourhood.

Other options such as Sao Paulo Airport Transfers, Vida e Energia Shuttle Services or LingoTaxi with English-speaking chauffeurs. When making your travel plans, keep in mind that a taxi ride into the city can take up to two hours during peak times 3 hours if it's a Friday, or around 45 minutes late at night or early in the morning.

The Congonhas Airport is in a very central region, 15 km (9 mi) from downtown. This airport handles most of the flights to southern and southeastern Brazil, inluding the Sao Paulo - Rio (Santos Dumont) hop, nicknamed Ponte Aerea. As it was built in the 30s, its simple but glamorous architecture is worth seeing.

Take any of the Aeroporto regular line buses that run along Avenida Paulista. After some 40-60 min in modest traffic you'll be dropped right in front of the airport and the fare is the regular R$3,50.

It is mostly faster to take the metro with a blue line to the Sao Judas Bus 875, 10 minutes to airport or Conceiçao Aeroporto bus, from stop closest to Habibs, 15 minutes, subway stations, and then the bus from there.

Cab drives from downtown or Paulista should be used after checking how is the out of control Sao Paulo traffic.

Viracopos International, located in Campinas, around 99 km (62 mi) from downtown Sao Paulo, Viracopos International is sometimes used when weather conditions prevent landing at GRU.

Brazilian airline Azul has its hub here, and it might be convenient depending on your exact location. TAP flies to Lisbon three times per week from here. It can be very difficult to get from Viracopos airport to downtown Sao Paulo or Guarulhos / Congonhas airports.

Sometimes a free bus service will be included in your ticket, but check this before you buy the ticket as otherwise the cost to reach Sao Paulo can be prohibitive. Check out taxi companies like Brazil Airport Transfers to get an idea of pricing.

There are three main bus terminals in Sao Paulo, all of them served by the Metro (Subway) network. Departing from Sao Paulo you can reach any city in Brazil and some cities in South America

Terminal Rodoviario do Tiete, Av. Cruzeiro do Sul 1.800, Santana Tiete metro station, Blue line, reachable from 6AM-11:30PM. Tiete bus terminal is the second largest terminal in the world, hence an enormous building, but there is an information desk in the middle of the main lobby.

Buses leave Sao Paulo for destinations throughout Brazil and for international destinations including Asuncion in Paraguay (20 hr), Buenos Aires in Argentina (36 hr), Montevideo in Uruguay (30 hr) and Santiago in Chile (56 hr). A taxi ride from Paulista/Jardins costs around R$40. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.

Terminal Rodoviario da Barra Funda, Av. Auro Soares de Moura Andrade 664, Barra Funda district, Expanded Center (Barra Funda metro station, Red Line).

Located west of Sao Paulo's downtown , carries departures and arrivals to and from western cities in the Sao Paulo state, to Mato Grosso, Foz do Iguaçu and west Parana cities. About 30 min from Paulista Ave by Metro.

You can also reach it by boarding the Barra Funda (875P) bus in Paulista Ave. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.

Terminal Rodoviario de Jabaquara, R. dos Jequitibas s/n, Jabaquara district, South Side (Jabaquara metro station, Blue Line). The Jabaquara Terminal serves cities in Sao Paulo state's south coast such as Guaruja, Santos and Bertioga. Located thirty minutes away by Metro from downtown. There is a baggage storage (Guarda Volumes) in the Jabaquara Metro, R$6 for 24 hours.

Transport in Sao Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 6AM-9AM and 4PM-8PM, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays.

The cheapest way for tourists to get around is to use the subway/metro, trains and trolleybuses as much as possible, and then take a taxi for shorter distances. 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 transport smartcard that is used for paying fares on buses, subways, and trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in Sao Paulo's public transportation system with free transfers between the subway system and buses within 3 hours.

The card is issued at underground stations and costs R$3,50 plus an amount to be used for travel (R$ 21 in total); charge them with any extra amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops known as lotericas, supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red, round "Bilhete Único" logo. Fare charging rules are as follows:

On buses: upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$3,50 and can board up to three other buses in a three-hour period without being charged a second time.

On the Metro or CPTM trains: for a single trip in the underground train system, you'll be charged R$3,50.

First Metro/CPTM train then bus: you'll be charged R$2,90 when passing by a Metro or CPTM station's turnstile. Once you board a bus, you'll be charged an extra R$1,20 and will be able to board two other buses in a two-hour period - starting from the first validation at the train station - without any further payment.

First bus then Metro/CPTM train: once you board a bus, R$3,50 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$1,45.

It's possible, after leaving the Metro or CPTM system, to board up to two other buses without any further payment in the two-hour period that starts from the first validation, depending on whether you boarded one or two buses before entering a train.

Note that the discounts do not typically apply to intermunicipal buses usually in blue color and operated by the EMTU company, although there are some exceptions.

The rail network, composed of metro subway and surface trains, is the method of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting Sao Paulo.

The metro is modern, safe, clean and efficient; the quality of surface trains varies, but those in more touristic areas area as good as the metro. An update-to-date map of the rail network can be found in this link.

The three companies operating the rail network are Metro, CPTM and ViaQuatro. There are the lines which are more likely to be useful to a visitor:

Line 1 (Blue): The first metro line built runs from North to South, passing through the Historical Center. Tiete and Jabaquara bus terminals are also reachable through via Line 1 (Blue). Operated by Metro.

Line 2 (Green): The Green line runs from West to East, passing through Avenida Paulista. Operated by Metro.

Line 3 (Red): One of Sao Paulo's busiest lines, it runs from West to East (north of Line 2 (Green), and far more extensive), passing through the Historical Center. The Barra Funda bus terminal is on the west end of this line. Operated by Metro.

Line 4 (Yellow): Connects the Historical Center to the West (mostly south of Line 2 (Green)), passing through Avenida Paulista. It will be fully operating in 2012. Operated by ViaQuatro.

Line 9 (Emerald): Runs from North to South (west of Line 1 (Blue)), crossing the entire West. Operated by CPTM.

Surface trains can also be used to reach a number of other cities in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo and even beyond. The fee is the same, make some of these trips incredible cheap depending on where you want to go.

If you don't have a Bilhete Único smart card, trains uses a simple flat-price ticketing scheme - you can get only one-trip tickets, which cost R$3,80, and allows you to go as far as you wish. Free train transfers appear as white links in the map; paid transfers as black links.

The single tickets can be bought at the counters or automatic machines, which can be found in every station. Buying multiple tickets will not save you money but will save time locating a vending machine or waiting time in line, which can both be bothersome.

If you plan to take buses together with trains, using a Bilhete Unico is highly recommended.

Typical operating hours for trains are Sunday to Friday, from 4:30AM-midnight (or 1AM Sa) or, depending on the station, up to 12:40AM.

Connections on the network operated by Metro are guaranteed only for boardings before midnight (1AM Sa), regardless of the station. Check the operating companies' website for more updated information.

Daily use of public transport may be quite stressful to Paulistanos; many take more than 2 hours to get to work or school! As consequence, manners are often left aside on train and metro, and on peak hours, pushes are common.

When boarding, walk as far as possible into the train after the door opens, and if you wish to wait for the next train, step outside of the boarding area immediately. Otherwise, you may end up being forcefully pushed into the train.

Inside of the train, it is not uncommon to have a lot of people blocking the way to the door, even if they are not leaving the train in the next station. Unless it is a hub station, politely ask Vai descer aqui? (Are you going to step out here?) to make people move on for you to get out.

Paulistanos do not typically wait for people to get out of the train before getting in. If you are confronted with a mass of people outside when stepping out, walk vigorously, otherwise they may end up pushing you back.

Do remember to keep on the right side of a metro escalator in order to give way to other people in a hurry - you may be pushed aside if just standing on the left side of it, especially on the busiest hours.

Also, should you sit in the assento reservado or reserved seats, be kind enough to give them up for the elderly, pregnant women, parents with babies and disabled people.

Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of Sao Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. In addition, they can get really crowded. However, unlike the metro/train, they do reach every neighbourhood.

Tickets are R$3,80 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 3 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.

Most Brazilians move straight to the back of the bus when they board, which can make it difficult to get off the bus, but it's considered the polite thing to do. Also, if you are holding a large bag and standing, another person may offer to hold your bag for you.

This is a perfectly alright thing to do, as they're really just being kind and polite. Use your best judgement if the offer seems like anything other than a friendly gesture.

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 are 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 radio cab, or just call a company. Some companies now provide an on-line, fixed price, quote and book service.

Taxis in Sao Paulo are relatively expensive compared to other large cities worldwide and, depending on the neighborhood, there is a risk of being overcharged if you're a foreigner.

Unlike you may have heard otherwise, incidents of tourists being brought by taxists to be robbed are extremely rare. Taxis are one of the safest ways to get around the city, and certainly much safer than riding your own car if you are only for a few days of visit in the city.

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 be reached only 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.It is 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 can be chaotic and parking is a nightmare. It is also not so straightforward to find your way in certain neighbourhoods where streets can get windy. So be warned that visitors to Sao Paulo don't really need a car.

If you're comfortable enough to adventure yourself 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 (Rodízio): 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 do Estado 900, near the Armênia metro station (blue line).

If you have an 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 predio principal):

- Original valid driving licence from your home country and a photocopy of your licence

- Original ID document and a photocopy of a valid leave to remain in Brazil (passport with a valid visa or stamp)

- Translation of the driving licence by a sworn translator or your country's Consulate in Brazil

- A document such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a letter from your landlord proving your local residential address.

Drinking: Please be aware that, according to the national transit authority laws, it is illegal to drink and drive. Even tiny traces of alcohol detected in your blood (0.2g per litre, or the equivalent of a glass of wine) are enough for the police to apprehend the driving licence, apply a fine of around USD 600 and prosecute the drinking driver.

The police will often search for drivers that seem to be under the effects of alcohol in large avenues and areas with an active night life - locals call this kind of searches a blitz.

Parking fees (Zona Azul or "Blue Zone"): 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, newspaper stands and transit guards selling parking 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 M-Sa 7AM-7PM, and charging hours may vary across neighbourhoods.

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 fee,it might be as costly as R$ 25 in upscale places.

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 encouraged 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 fueled with either ethanol or gas, or a mixture of both in any proportion. Staff in petrol stations will fill in the tank for you, so you don't even need to step out of the car, unless if you're paying by credit card, in which case you will need go to the cashier to swipe it.

Biking can be the best way to see the city, especially during rush hour. Most of the city is flat or moderately steep, with only the extreme north part of the city being extremely hilly. Most drivers respect cyclists, but many drivers (including bus drivers) don't.

However, many bike paths/lanes existing, including an excellent one on Avenida Paulista.

Some of the best areas to explore by bike are Parque Villa-Lobos, Parque do Ibirapuera and Avenida Paulista. The latter is especially pleasant on Sundays when it's closed to cars for the Ciclovia.

Cyclists with bicycles are allowed in the metro/train network at the following times:

In the metro (Metrô/Via Quatro): Monday-Friday starting from 20:30, Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day

In surface trains (CPTM): Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day

There is a free public bike system called Bike Sampa. You only need to download the app and sign up with a credit card. Then you can immediately go to one of the stations and use the app to withdraw a bike. You get 60 minutes per trip. As of early 2016, the system is so-so.

Don't expect to find a bike near Avenida Paulista late in the afternoon, or an empty slot to put your bike there in the morning. There's no way to report damaged bikes, so if you see on the app that a station has one bike left, don't bother walking there, because it'll likely be too damaged to use.

There is another, much smaller public bike system called CicloSampa. As a foreigner it is complicated to sign up for CicloSampa.

There are public bicycle parking lots in many metro stations (06:00-22:00 daily), and in some it is also possible to borrow a bike using a credit card. Check the Metrô website for an up-to-date list of stations with infrastructure for bicycles.

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. In metro/train stations, cyclists are allowed to put their bicycles on escalators to go up, but not to go down.

At Ibirapuera park near gate 3 (Portao 3) it is possible to rent a bike for R$5 per hour. You only need your passport. It's a popular place for locals as well, with hundreds renting bikes on weekends.

Sao Paulo has about 55 km of bike paths. You can see many of them on this map. The map might not be up to date. On Sundays, it is also possible to use the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. The bike paths that cover more than one region are listed below. Others are described in the individual district sections.

Cycleway Marginal Pinheiros, from Cidade Universitário to Jurubatuba train stations. The longest cycleway of São Paulo, running in the east shore of the Pinheiros River and linking the West, South Central and Far South regions.

Offers very nice views of the city, although the bad smell of the river may take some time to cope. The only problem of the cycleway is that it is isolated from the city by a train line and a motorway, so it is only possible to enter and leave the cycleway at specific points. 21.2 km.

Cycleway Radial Leste, from Tatuape to Corinthians-Itaquera train/metro stations. Goes from the middle of the Southeast to the middle of the Far East regions, running in parallel with the Line 3-Red metro line and the Radial Leste avenue. The cicleway gives an extensive view of suburban residencial areas in São Paulo's East region. 12 km.

Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads. 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 Historic Center area and Avenida Paulista are definitely places to be explored on foot. Check the individual district listings for other nice walks.

Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue) is one of Sao Paulo's most popular postcards, as it is the pride of Paulistanos. It is one of the largest business centers, and probably the largest cultural region in the city. Its architectural contrast reflects the fact that the avenue is located between the "old" and "new" parts of the city.

The avenue and its surroundings, such as Rua Augusta, Alameda Santos and Rua Oscar Freire, contain numerous shop galleries, art galleries, theatres, movie theaters, pubs, hotel, coffe shops, bookstores, and gourmet restaurants. Gay nightlife is intense on Consolacao and Haddock Lobo Streets.

Sao Paulo's Historic Center met a period of degradation, but it is gradually recovering with recent projects and investments. Even though it still has some problems, it is an area to not be missed due to its historical and cultural value for the city.

Here you can find many constructions and landmarks from glorious moments of Sao Paulo's history, ridiculously crowded commercial areas, and a multitude of theatres and cultural activities.

Regarded as an ugly and gray concrete jungle even by many Paulistanos, Sao Paulo's city center indeed does not conform to a standard definition of beauty, but nonetheless, it has become a source of inspiration for countless artists and photographers who can see on it much of the personality of the city.

The Pinheiros river crosses the West of Sao Paulo in North-South direction, and although heavily polluted, the river and its shores are among the most beautiful and interesting areas of the city.

The East shore is filled with skyscrapers that compose the business centers of Brooklin Novo and Vila Olimpia, and contains the longest cycleway of the city, as well as one of the most vibrant nightlife areas.

The West shore is home to University of Sao Paulo and exhibits a stereotypical portrait of Sao Paulo's social inequality, contrasting luxurious appartments and mansions with low class suburbs and favelas.

In the middle of the river, stands the magnificent Ponte Octavio Frias, more known as Ponte Estaiada. The Line 9-Emerald train line runs alongside the river, making all spots quite easy to reach.

Although Sao Paulo is commonly associated with gray, concrete, and lack of green space, the Atlantic rainforest still covers large portions of the city and even of the municipality.

These green areas are constantly under threat by irregular occupation, so the government has turned many of them into into public parks in order to better protect them.

Parks in the city can be divided into three types:

Leisure parks are those with plenty of recreational, sport and cultural facilities, but do not contain considerable amounts of original vegetation. Parque do Ibirapuera is certainly the most famous park of this type in the city, hosting various museums, monuments, and cultural activities;

Ecotourism parks are those which are mostly covered by the Atlantic rainforest and other natural ecossystems, and contain limited recreational facilities. They are suited for those seeking an adventure. These include Parque Estadual da Cantareira , APA Capivari-Monos and Parque Estadual do Jaragua.

Mixed parks are a mix between the two above types: they have both leisure facilities and preserved nature areas. They are a nice option if you think that nature is best enjoyed with the company of other people, or if you want to do something more relaxing and less adventurous. These include Parque do Carmo, Parque Ecologico do Tiete and Horto Florestal.

Represa do Guarapiranga is not exactly a park, but a huge dam where there are recreation areas with nature mostly preserved. On weekends, some families go there to practice nautical sports like riding jetskis , wakeboard and some sailboats . There you can rent some of these boats and enjoy an almost bucolic landscape in the middle of the concrete jungle.

As the art center of the country, Sao Paulo offers inumerous museums and cultural centers. Two museums to not be missed, due to their size, architecture, and historical importance, are Museu do Ipiranga (Southeast) and Memorial da America Latina (West).

Appreciators of art should also check Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (Paulista), Pinacoteca do Estado (Downtown), Instituto Tomio Ohtake, Museu de Arte Contemporânea (West) and Museu de Arte Moderna (South Central).

Check each district section of this guide for a comprehensive list of museums.

Sao 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.

Banespa Tower, Rua João Brícola, 24, Centro. Sao Bento Metro station. M-F, 10AM-5PM. The observation deck is on the 34th floor, 160 m above ground. For many decades, it used to be the highest building in town. There is a small museum on the top of the building." Make sure and bring ID (passport) because it is required for entrance. Free entrance.

Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique, Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antonio, 4700. On the rooftop of posh Hotel Unique, Skye serves excellent fusion food under the supervision of chef Emmanuel Bassoleil. Good for night views of the area around Ibirapuera Park. Free entrance.

Sao Paulo Jockey Club, Av. Lineu de Paula Machado, 1263. There are two bars and a couple of posh restaurants with a great view of the River Pinheiros, especially around 6PM, when you can go straight from work or a busy day walking about to watch the sun set above town. Free entrance.

The two most important concert and opera houses of the city are Theatro Municipal and Sala Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which feature plays in Portuguese.

The British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Française occasionally have plays in English, German, Spanish and French, respectively; check individual District listings.

Now it is possible to safely cycle in the city during Sundays and holidays, using the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. It is a 255.2km route that passes mainly through middle and high class residential areas in the West and South Central parts of São Paulo and bike friendly parks such as Parque Villa-Lobos and Parque do Ibirapuera.

Every Sunday, until about 4pm, Avenida Paulista is closed to cars, and people come out in droves to enjoy biking, rollerblading, walking, etc. There's a lot of live music on the street, from the usual street performers to a higher caliber band playing on a big stage. It's one of the best free things to do in the city.

Both adults and kids are ensured to have fun by seeing the animals in the Sao Paulo Zoo, Zoo Safari with animals roaming freely and in the Sao Paulo Aquarium . Sao Paulo also has educative spaces aimed both at adults and children, including Catavento Cultural and Espaço Ciencia.

Finally, Mundo da Xuxa is a theme park only for the small ones.

Football is an inherent part of Brazilian culture, and Sao Paulo is no exception, being home of four football teams that generally run in the 1st division: Sao Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Portuguesa.

The four large football stadiums in the city are Morumbi, Parque Antarctica, Pacaembu and Caninde. A new stadium was constructed in the Sao Paulo/Far East region to host the opening and some games of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

Although most matches are safe and fun events, games between the biggest local rivals Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and, to a smaller extent, Santos have had episodes of violence flaring up,the majority of cases, such incidents happening outside of the stadium, due to a minority of violent fans or ultras. Going to such games can be a risky proposition.

Estadio de Morumbi is not easily reachable from the center e.g Av. Paulista) by public transport. A taxi from Av. Paulista costs about 50 R$.

Invest this money instead of splitting the trip to Morumbi into metro and Taxi combinations, it will only save you about 10 R$. If you want to watch a game there, try to get tickets before the match day,Online tickets are available until 3 days before the match because they might get sold out easily.

Parque Villa-Lobos or Villa-Lobos Park is one of the most pleasant urban parks in the world. It's similar to Central Park In New York City. Perhaps not worth a visit just for sightseeing, but it's an excellent escape from the bustling city.

On weekends, it can become quite busy. It's far superior to most parks because:

It's huge surrounded by hills which block almost all sights and sounds of the city.

Selling stuff is prohibited. This is a small but constant improvement over say, most beaches in the country, where you can feel like you're in a mobile shopping mall.

- Play one of dozens of possible sports. You could probably just ask to join some people who are playing.

- Lay on the grass under a palm tree.

- Go to one of the world's few completely free gyms.

- Go biking, rollerblading, etc.

Parque do Ibirapuera or Ibirapuera Park is also a massive, bustling park. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Paraiso, Vila Nova Conceiçao, and Moema. There are plenty of sports facilities, such as basketball courts, a soccer field, and running and cycling tracks.

Skateboarders and hip-hop break dancers hang out around the covered pavilion known as Marquise do Ibirapuera. On weekdays, people from all over the city come here to run in the early hours or walk their dogs.

On weekends, the park is at its busiest, with families gathering under the trees, people exercising, and kids rollerskating.

Afro-Brazilian Museum: there are plenty of artworks covering Afro-Brazilian culture

Planetarium: Recently refurbished and equipped with a Gauss lens projector, this place is worth a visit if you want to learn about stars and planets in the Southern Hemisphere. There are exhibits many times a day, check at the entrance of the Planetarium for an updated schedule.

Oca: this is a cultural space where temporary exhibitions of art and culture take place. It has been built in the shape of an oca, which is the original Native Brazilian housing.

MAM: this is the Museum of Modern Art of Sao Paulo. There are artworks of many contemporary artists such as a giant spider by Louise Bourgeois, from the same series of spiders such as the one seen at the Mori building in Tokyo or at the Tate Museum in London.

Japanese Pavilion: a peaceful Japanese garden and pond with pine tree bonsai and koi carps.

Sao Paulo Historical City Tour is a panoramic tour for those keen to have an introduction to the history, culture, and the lifestyle of the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere.

The city tour takes about 3 hours, during which the visitor will pass by places in Sao Paulo Old Centre and get familiar with highlights such as the Cathedral of Se, Patio do Colegio make a short stop at the square, the site where the city was founde.

Monastery of Sao Bento, the Banespa Building - Sao Paulo’s Empire State Building, Martinelli Building the first skyscraper in South America, Viaduto do Cha (Tea Viaduct), the Municipal Theater, Sala Sao Paulo concert hall, Estaçao da Luz train station and the Municipal Market.

SP Up Close is run by Americans who love Sao Paulo and have experienced the ins and outs of the city and are able to showcase the best of the local flavors. SP Up Close operates Culture, Architecture, Shopping, Food & Custom Tours to meet any visitor's needs.

The price of their Tours includes transportation, snacks & drinks.

TurisMetro offer a variety of city tours every weekend. The tours are mostly walking but with some use of the metro. There is no charge but you will need to take some money with you to buy metro tickets during the tour as necessary.

Tours start at the TurisMetro desk in Se metro station at 9am and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays; you need to arrive half an hour earlier to sign up.

The desk is inside the ticket barriers, so if you arrive by metro don't leave the station while looking for the desk or you'll have to pay for an extra ticket to get back in, and if you're already in the area you will have to pay for a ticket to gain access to the desk, although you will use it to make the first journey of the tour so it's not wasted. The guides speak English.

According to the Sao Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sao Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, from meetings and conferences to sports and cultural events.

Events tied to a particular region are listed in the individual district sections. The following events are considered important to the city as a whole:

Sao Paulo Carnival, Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana at the Sambodromo from Parque Anhembi, near Armenia and Tiete stations. If you're in Sao Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March.

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 or 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.

However, Sao Paulo is not a traditional Carnaval destination for Brazillians, like Rio. The city will usually be less crowded on Carnaval then usual, as Paulistanos leave for the Paulista Coast or other states.

Gay Pride Parade, Avenida Paulista. 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 Republica, while every type imaginable marches along. The drinks are plenty and the rave party feel keeps the paraders dancing way pass sunset.

Virada Cultural, (Downtown). Virada Cultural is a round-the-clock cultural marathon that takes place in various parts of the Historic Center (Downtown), happening yearly around April-May.

It is a free event that gathers an audience of several million of people circulating during a 24-hour, non-stop cultural party. Exceptionally, the metro and train work uninterruptedly during the event. During the 2012 edition, there were about 1,300 shows and 15 km of streets were occupied. Free.

Sao Paulo Indy 300, (Northwest). is an event in the IRL IndyCar Series, which opened the 2010 IndyCar Series season. The circuit is located in the Santana district, birthplace of legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna and Brazilian auto racing pioneer Chico Landi.

The main straightaway of the track is along the Sambadrome of Anhembi and utilizes portions of the Marginal Tiete service drive. The Anhembi Convention Center will be used for support facilities and spectator attractions.

Unlike many other circuits, the pit lane is not located around the start-finish line; it is instead positioned after turn four.

Brazilian Grand Prix, Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Far South),a Formula One championship race which occurs at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Interlagos.

The Interlagos circuit has created some of the most exciting and memorable races in recent Formula One history, and is regarded as one of the most challenging and exciting circuits on the F1 calendar.

Along with Spa-Francorchamps, it is rare in that the circuit in its modern form is one of the few with a lengthy history in the sport not considered to have lost much of its mystique or challenge in its adaptation for the modern, much more safety-conscious era of 21st century Formula One.

University of Sao Paulo (USP) is Brazil's most important university in terms of academic research and international reputation, with its main campus located in the West. It was considered the top university of Latin America according to the QS Ranking.

Other important public universities present in the city are Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) and Federal University of ABC (UFABC).

The city also contains many traditional private high education institutions. Check the individual district sections for a comprehensive list of them.

Brazil has exchange programmes with many internationally-recognized universities. In order to register at a Brazilian university as an exchange student, you must obtain a student visa at the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

After you have arrived in Brazil with a valid student visa, then you must register in the Departamento da Policia Federal (Federal Police Department) within 30 days of your arrival and obtain the RNE (Registro Nacional do Estrangeiro), which is the national ID card for overseas citizens.

This is also where you can renew your visa with the Brazilian authorities. It is located at Rua Hugo Dantola, 95, Alto da Lapa, near Ponte do Piqueri (Piqueri Bridge). It is open M-F, 8AM-2PM.

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 can find practically anything in Sao 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.

Remember that street shops usually operate 8AM-6PM, including Saturdays (when they close earlier), but most of that are closed on Sundays. The countless shopping malls operate M-Sa 10AM-10PM and Su 10AM-8PM.

The area between Avenida Ipiranga and Parque Dom Pedro II (Downtown) is the closest to what Sao Paulo has from a central shopping area, with various pedestrianized and non-pedestrianized shopping streets. The exceptionally crowded Rua 25 de Março, with its diverse range of bargains, is perhaps the most famous commercial street of the area.

Avenida Paulista and Rua Augusta (Paulista) form a smooth transition between the popular commerce of Downtown and the affluent commerce of Rua Oscar Freire (West).

Sao Paulo has also many specialized shopping areas, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (West) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua Jose Paulino (Downtown) and Bras neighborhood (Southeast) for bargain and wholesale clothing, Liberdade neigborhood (Downtown) for cosmetics and Asian products, and Rua Santa Ifigenia (Downtown) for electronic equipment.

Paulistanos, especially those with higher income, have an indoor shopping culture. The fear of criminality, traffic and Sao Paulo's unpredictable weather are strong factors to this. Shopping malls in Sao Paulo are not only centers of shopping but also leisure areas, typically offering spaces for kids, cinemas, food courts, and sometimes even theatres, expositions, and sport areas.

Many shopping malls in Sao Paulo also offer miscellaneous services such as banks, laundry, repairs, and sometimes even police stations and doctors.

The selection of shops of a mall depends on the type of public predominant in the surroundings: at shopping malls located at working class neighborhoods, it is easier to find bargain department stores, while shopping malls in wealthy areas may be the only way to have access to exclusive designer stores. Check the individual district listings for a comprehensive list of shopping malls in the city.

Some shopping malls that deserve special mention are Morumbi/Market Place (South Central - with more than 600 shops and dozens of restaurants), Eldorado (West - with an immense food court), Iguatemi (West - the oldest shopping mall of São Paulo, with very upscale profile), Cidade Jardim (West - the "rich-only" shopping mall), Aricanduva (Far East - the city's largest and most famous working class shopping mall), and Frei Caneca (Downtown - the favorite of the LGBT public).

Far from Downtown, there are many suburban shopping areas. The busiest of them is probably the area around Largo 13 de Maio (South Central), the central shopping area of the former city of Santo Amaro, now part of Sao Paulo.

There are also the outdoor markets or feiras livres and municipal markets where you can buy fresh and cheaper fruit, vegetables and meat, supermarkets and atacados a type of supermarket where you pay less if buy at least a certain quantity, very convenient for families.

Most of these local commerce centers are not listed in this guide, but they are of extreme importance in the daily life of Paulistanos.

Sao Paulo has the highest living cost in the Americas, and it's the 10th most expensive city in the world, according to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living 2011 Survey.

However, it should be remarked that such rankings are based on averages, which hardly describe a city as huge and with so many contrasts as Sao Paulo.

It is absolutely possible to enjoy the city's attractions while spending a moderate amount of cash in both accommodations and food. For example, a set meal, drinks included, in a reasonably good place is around R$43. Ask locals for tips how to make the best out of your money if you're on a tight budget.

Sao Paulo is home to a superb diversity of restaurants and cuisines, where you can enjoy typical dishes from literally all over the world. The price range is as wide as the diversity of the restaurants in the city.

From cheap snacks and meals in simple and cozy restaurants and food tents in popular markets, to the hugely expensive high end cuisine and internationally recognized restaurants, such as D.O.M, which was elected the 4th best restaurant in the World and the best in South America by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

The city is also home to a vast array of Brazilian and international fast-food chains, offering varying options ranging from burgers, to sushi and kebab. The fast-food chain Habib's, which originated in Sao Paulo, is the favorite of lower class Paulistanos due to its cheap Arab-Brazilian snacks.

In Sao Paulo, the ever-present beans-and-rice accompaniment typically involves brown beans instead of black beans, as in Rio.

Another typical food in Sao Paulo is the Virado a Paulista, which consists of rice, tutu de feijao a paste of beans and manioc flour; sometimes made of corn flour, in order to be drier than the manioc flour one, sauteed collard greens (couve) and pork chops, typically bisteca. It is usually accompanied by pork rinds, bits of sausage, a fried egg and a fried banana.

Another typical type of restaurant in Sao Paulo, are the world famous churrascarias where an enormous range of meats and cuts, comes to your table by the stick, offering also a range of sides and salads.

In those places, you can eat as much as you want, paying a single fee whose price range may vary from R$45 to R$115. This system is called rodizio, and it has been very successful in the city, spreading to other types of cuisine like Italian, where you can find the rodizio de pizza and Japanese, with the rodizio de sushi.

The cuisine of Sao Paulo shows the influence of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. The majority of immigrants in Sao Paulo arrived from Italy, and other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Germany.

There's also big numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants from Japan, Lebanon and many other nationalities. Therefore, it is possible to find a wide array of cuisines in the city of Sao Paulo.

Pizza is a particularly popular dish, which can be found with and endless range of toppings, and paulistas will swear their city has the best pizza in the country, if not in the world.

When eating out, a tip of 10 percent on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include this service charge,when you may come across the message "Serviço não incluso" at the end of the bill, but unless the staff are upsettingly rude, do pay the standard 10 percent tip as it is usually part of their wages.

You will have no trouble finding bars in Sao 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$3 and R$10 in extreme cases, depending on the bar, but anything around R$4, R$5 is fine.

Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. For specific suggestions of bars, check the district section.

Sao Paulo history is connected directly to the coffee cultivation so Brazilian coffee is the real deal here. In fact, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, and if you watch the locals, you will see that they drink plenty of it, too.

Stop at a cafe or padaria and order a cafezinho (espresso), cafe com leite, or cafe pingado hot milk with a shot of espresso added to it, slightly stronger than cafe com leite.

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, raves and even some fetish clubs. It is worth planning at least one night out while you're in town.

On the other hand, Sao Paulo's nightlife can be quite expensive; most clubs charge an entrance fee. Usually, entrance hovers around R$25, but they can be over R$250 (US$145) in some upscale places.

The main areas for nightlife in the city are Vila Olimpia, Vila Madalena, and Barra Funda (West), Moema (South Central), Tatuape and Mooca (Southeast), Avenida Paulista (Paulista), (Southeast)and Santana (Northeast). Be sure to check the individual District listings.

If you plan to explore the city and cannot rely on car/taxi, staying near a Metro or train station is a very wise choice. Just be sure to avoid degraded areas. For lists of recommended hotels in the city, see the individual District listings.

Public telephone booths can be found on almost every corner of town. They work with phonecards only, which can be bought at any newspaper stand. Regular phonecards allow you to make local and national calls, but the credits fall at an incredible rate if the call is directed to another city or to mobile phones.

There is a special phonecard for international calls, so make sure you ask the clerk for the correct one if that's the case.

The city code (also known locally as the DDD code) for Sao Paulo is (11), hence local telephone numbers have the following format: +55(11)0000-0000. If you are making local calls, the +55(11) prefix should be dropped.

When making national calls from SP, you have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 0 followed by (15) Telefonica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the two-digit DDD code and telephone number.

When making international calls from Sao Paulo to abroad, you also have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 00 followed by (15) Telefonica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the country code and telephone number.

To make reverse charge calls within the same city code area, dial 90 90 + the telephone number (do not use the city code (11)).

To make reverse charge calls to other cities, dial 90 followed by (15) Telefonica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the 2-digit DDD code and the telephone number.

Internet cafes or cyber cafes or lan houses can be easily found in every neighborhood.

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.

Paulistanos do appreciate if you are on time. However, given the infamous traffic congestion that prevails in town, a 15-30 min delay in a meeting is usually tolerated, and you shouldn't worry too much if you or someone else turns up a bit late.

In general, do not plan more than two meetings per day, with a possible lunch meeting in between, due to the traffic delay in getting from place to place.

Office hours are usually from 9AM-6PM, and banks are open M-F 10AM-4PM. However, don't be surprised if a meeting is scheduled after 6PM, as the business culture in Sao Paulo is a bit workaholic.

Small gifts are usually gladly accepted, but exchanging presents is not the general rule.

It is always safer to first adopt a business attire to a meeting, suit and tie for men, business suit for women even if you turn out to be a bit overdressed in a more informal business environment.

Before a meeting starts, it is not unusual to have some 5-10 min of informal chat, not related to the business to be discussed,traffic, weather forecasts, and football matches are accepted example topics. To cut short this informal chit chat might appear slightly rude and potentially embarrassing.

Sao Paulo is the host of one of the biggest Gay Pride parades in the world, attracting every year about 4 million people.

Although paulistanos are relatively tolerant to homosexuality, openly public displays of affection between people of same sex are uncommon and likely to attract attention, with the exception of places such as Avenida Paulista and the Ibirapuera Park, and at some bars, coffee shops, night clubs and shopping centers.

Such displays of affection should be completely avoided in poorer neighborhoods and on public transport, where prejudice is more likely to be openly manifested.

Although the area of Avenida Paulista was a traditional haven for gays and lesbians of Sao Paulo, a number of violent attacks against homosexuals had recently been reported in this area.

If this situation does not revert, gays and lesbian couples are advised to take extra care while walking Avenida Paulista and its surroundings, specially at night.

Sao Paulo, once one of the most violent cities of Brazil, has managed to drastically reduce crime during the 2000s, similarly to Rio de Janeiro. According to the Sangari Institute, Sao Paulo was the safest capital city of Brazil in 2011, in terms of homicide rate.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that a visitor can really relax about safety, because Sao Paulo is simply too large and diverse to be described by average statistics.

In fact, two of the most visited areas, Downtown and the Pinheiros subprefecture (in the West), have respectively 150% and 50% more violent crime than the city average. Check the individual district listings for safety advice in each area of the city. The general advice is as follows:

Visitors should avoid walking in deserted areas at night, or at least avoid walking alone. Buses are reasonably safe, but waiting alone at a bus stop at night is not. The metro is always safe, but commuter trains that go to peripheral areas can be dangerous late at night.

Be extremely careful when using ATMs at night or better, do not use them if they are located in a deserted and dark places, if you really need one, try searching in places like shopping malls, theaters and cinemas and gas stations.

Driving can sometimes also be risky, especially when you are alone and/or in a upscale bars/clubbing area, like Vila Madalena or Vila Olimpia. If you are driving at night, when stopping for whatever reason (even at a traffic light), check your surroundings.

Keep your doors locked and windows closed during the night. If possible, when going back late to the hotel, take a cab or ride with a group of friends. During the day, keep valuable objects away from the window (even if you are using a taxi).

Some areas can be dangerous even during the day. These includes run-down areas, like favelas and areas populated by drug addicts. The last can be easily recognized by the presence of poorly maintained buildings, bad odor, and dirty streets - there are many of those in the Historic Center.

Most drug addicts are harmless, but a few may resort to violence to get money to buy their drugs.

Contrary to popular belief, nowadays poor neighboorhoods in Sao Paulo aren't usually dangerous, at least not more dangerous than an ordinary neighborhood. Still, some of them can be dangerous, so if you are in doubt, don't go or have the company of a local.

And naturally, every safety recommendation that applies to big cities in general also applies to São Paulo:

- Don't trust strangers, especially those who seem excessively helpful;

- Always prefer the help of an identified officer or employee than that of a stranger;

- Watch your belongings all the time in crowded streets or public transportation;

- Avoid withdrawing and carrying large amounts of money;

- Avoid using expensive clothes and jewelry that make you stand out.

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.

No vaccination is required for Sao Paulo, unless you are planning to travel to central-western (Mato Grosso) or northern (Amazon) regions of Brazil afterwards, for which you should take a shot against yellow fever, and carry anti-malaria medication (quinine).

If you're arriving from Peru, Colombia or Bolivia, the vaccination of yellow fever is required only if you need a visa ie, if you are going to stay for longer than 90 days. Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil.

Tap water in Sao Paulo is generally safe, at least when straight from the water supply system. However, several buildings can be lacking in the periodic cleaning of their cisterns and water tanks,the locals themselves tend to avoid tap water and drink bottled or filtered water instead.

The city of Sao 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 Sao Paulo alike head there on the weekends to enjoy the sand, sun and fun.

Note the telephone code changes from 11 to 12 northern coast - Sao Sebastiao and remaining cities to the north or 13 Bertioga and remaining cities to the south as you travel from Greater Sao Paulo to the Paulista Coast.

All coded from 14 to 19 are upstate Sao Paulo. The rich agricultural state offers winter destinations, upscale retreats and large Rodeos.

In parenthesis the typical duration of the journey by car using the fastest route in good traffic conditions is listed. During long holidays like Carnival and New Year, expect to be much more.
Santos (1h) - Estuary city near São Paulo, home to Pele's famous football team Santos F.C. and Brazil's most important seaport.

Guaruja (1h) - Many Paulistanos have their beach houses in this town, which becomes packed with tourists during the summer months of December, January and February. Be careful, despite being a beautiful place, it's a city with a lot of occurrence of crimes , most of them related to burglary , theft and robbery.

Bertioga (2h): just NE of Santos and Guaruja, this beach town hosts a variety of annual festivals, including a Japanese, an Italian and a Native Brazilian. Don't miss the waterfall on the way down the mountain (via Moji das Cruzes), as there's no access on the return trip.

Sao Sebastiao (2:30h) - Second in preference for summer houses, the beaches of Sao Sebastiao are a mixture of rustic paradisiac nature with first class night life. Contains one of the most famous beaches of the Sao Paulo coast, Maresias.

Ubatuba (3h) - Beautiful beaches are the main attraction of this place, as well as its well-preserved nature. Hotels sometimes provide leisure activities such as scuba diving, mountain biking and trekking. The city is known for providing a good surfing environment.

Ilhabela (3:30h) - Accessible only from São Sebastiao by ferry, it is an archipelago with various savage beaches and ecotourism options.

Peruibe (2:00h) - City located on the south coast with beautiful beaches. In urban area, are distributed many seaside resorts of high standard construction with predominantly horizontal architecture.

At south is located ecological reserve Jureia with dozens of preserved and virtually unspoiled beaches, plus many water clean rivers with waterfalls and natural pools.

Campos do Jordao (2h) -Charming little town in the mountains, at 1,600 m high. Well-off Paulistanos buy their winter house in Campos do Jordao, due in part to the famous winter classic music festival in July, when the high season takes place in town. Many upscale club and bar owners go up the mountain and promote events and parties at this time of the year.

Indaiatuba (1:30h) - Millionaires addicted to the Polo lifestyle have always loved this town and its Helvetia neighborhood. Today, the region that began as a small swiss colony holds the highest density of private Polo fields in the world.

Hopi Hari (1h) - A big theme park located in the city of Vinhedo, one hour from Sao Paulo. It offers many rides, from those for children to the radical ones. Various food, from snacks to a la carte. You can get there by car or shuttle buses from many places.

Wet'n Wild Sao Paulo (1h), Itupeva (See the Vinhedo article). A water park of the American Wet'n Wild chain, just beside Hopi Hari, with 12 rides and many food shops.

Sao Paulo, as well as other states of Brazil, has two types of police forces to carry out public safety in their territory, the Military Police of Sao Paulo State (PMESP), the largest police in Brazil and the third largest in America Latina, with 138,000 soldiers,and the Civil Police of the State of Sao Paulo, which exercises judicial police function and is subordinate to the state government.

According to data from the Map of Violence 2011, published by the Sangari Institute and the Ministry of Justice, the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the state of Sao Paulo is the lowest in Brazil.

The number of homicides in Sao Paulo fell from 39.7 to 10.1 per 100,000 inhabitants between 1998 and 2014. The state, which occupied the 5th place among the most violent states in the country in 1998, he came to occupy the 27th position in 2016.

Tourism Observer

BRAZIL: Sao Paulo Sets App To Boost Taxi Drivers

The city of Sao Paulo will launch its own mobility application to help taxi drivers compete in the sharing economy.

The SPTaxi tool will be available to a limited number of drivers from January 2018.

It is result of a project led by Department of Transport and Prodam, the city's information technology company.

The app is entirely based on a tool launched earlier this year by the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The budget to implement it in Sao Paulo, including customizations and local infrastructure, is hoped to be under 2 million reais ($633,000) - which is the amount spent by the Rio administration to create the app from scratch.

SPTaxi will equip traditional taxi drivers with features that mobility apps like Uber already provide, such as georeferenced ride data to improve passenger safety, as well as fare estimates and discounts.

Currently, there are approximately 38,000 taxi drivers in Sao Paulo.

According to the Sao Paulo Mayor's Office, the intention of the SPTaxi is to help drivers improve their operation rather than compete with existing mobility apps.

Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria, who has been promoting his "smart city" plans, is under pressure by taxi drivers - especially after launching a tender for staff transportation, won by local ridesharing firm 99.

The SPTaxi launch is therefore seen as an attempt to please taxi drivers and unions.

Last month, a Senate vote for legislation aimed at making the operation of Uber and other mobility apps unviable was postponed.

Tourism Observer

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

TAJIKISTAN: Dushanbe Is Safe But Robberies May Occur In Broad Daylight, Tap Water Not Good To Brush Teeth

Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan.

Dushanbe is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. Dushanbe means Monday in the Tajik language.

It was so named because it grew from a village that originally had a popular market on Mondays. Until 1929, the city was known in Russian as Dyushambe, and from 1929 to 1961 as Stalinabad. As of 2014, Dushanbe had a population of 778,500.

Situated at the confluence of two rivers, Varzob and Kofarnihon, Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan. Although archaeological remnants dating to the 5th century BC have been discovered in the area, there is little to suggest that Dushanbe was more than a small village until the early 20th century.

The first written mention of the village of Dushanbe occurred in 1676. It was at the crossroads, where a large bazaar occurred on Mondays, hence the name Dushanbe-Bazar from Dushanbe, which means Monday in the Persian language,literally - the second day after Saturday.

In the village, there were more than 500 households and a population of about 8,000 people.

By 1826, the town was called Dushanbe Qurghan Russified as Dyushambe. The first map showing Dyushambe was drafted in 1875. At that time, the town was a fortress on a steep bank on the left bank of the Varzob River with 10,000 residents.

In 1920, the last Emir of Bukhara briefly took refuge in Dyushambe after being overthrown by the Bolshevik revolution. He fled to Afghanistan after the Red Army conquered the area the next year.

At the beginning of 1922, the town was taken by Basmachi troops led Enver Pasha, but on 14 July 1922 again came under the power of the Bolsheviks and was proclaimed the capital of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924.

A Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic separate from the Uzbek SSR was created in 1929, and its capital Dyumshambe was renamed Stalinabad for Joseph Stalin on 16 October 1929. In the years that followed, the city developed at a rapid pace.

The Soviets transformed the area into a centre for cotton and silk production, and tens of thousands of people relocated to the city.

The population also increased with thousands of Tajiks migrating to Tajikistan following the transfer of Bukhara and Samarkand to the Uzbek SSR as part of national delimitation in Central Asia

On 10 November 1961, Stalinabad was renamed Dushanbe, the name it retains to this day.

Severe rioting occurred in February 1990, after it was rumored that the Soviet government planned to relocate tens of thousands of Armenian refugees to Tajikistan.

The Dushanbe riots were primarily fueled by concerns about housing shortages for the Tajik population, but they coincided with a wave of nationalist unrest that swept Transcaucasia and other Central Asian states during the twilight of Gorbachev's era.

In January 2017, Rustam Emomali, current President Emomali Rahmon's son, was appointed Mayor of Dushanbe, a move which is seen by some analysts as a to reaching the top of the government.

Dushanbe features a Mediterranean climate with strong continental climate influences. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are chilly, but not very cold.

The climate is damper than other Central Asian capitals, with an average annual rainfall over 500 millimetres (20 in) as moist air is funnelled by the surrounding valley during the winter and spring.

Winters are not as cold as further north owing to the shielding of the city by mountains from extremely cold air from Siberia. January 2008 was particularly cold, and the temperature dropped to −22 °C (−8 °F).

Tajik Air has its head office on the grounds of Dushanbe Airport in Dushanbe. Somon Air has its head office in Dushanbe.

For Westerners there are only a few ways to fly into Dushanbe. It is possible to transit Moscow - Domodedovo Airport, which has daily flights to Dushanbe.

There are several airlines that fly from Moscow,Tajik Air, Somon Air, Domodedovo Airlines and Sibirian S7 to Dushanbe.

S7 or it's share code flies to most European countries and you could check in your luggage up to Dushanbe. Otherwise you will require a transit visa to collect your luggage and check it in again. If you have no checked luggage, you could walk straight to transit area.

There is also twice a week a flight from Istanbul - Ataturk on Turkish Airlines. TA also flies to most of the major cities in Europe and your luggage will be checked up to Dushanbe.

If you use a different airline and have checked in luggage you need a transit visa because the airlines will not transfer it for you. For that reason you have to collect the luggage yourself and check it in for your final flight.

In order to collect it you have to pass passport control for which you need a visa,many countries get it upon arrival and free, google yours. These policies are subject to change without a notice. Check with your airline to find out whether they currently transfer luggage.

FlyDubai flies to Dushanbe from Dubai's DXB Terminal 2.

China Southern Airlines also flies into Dushanbe from Urumqi.

Most of the European and North American nationals can apply for a visa upon arrival in Dushanbe. The airport is very small and the immigration is just right before the passport control. Make sure to bring 2 passport photos, and know the person's address in which you are staying.

Don't lose your beeline travel slip which you will get at the immigration office. the luggage x-ray machines are very poor and they pay little attention to the screens.

Watch the kids when you leave the airport they will offer to take your bag to the car and start to pull it off you. though not with intentions of stealing, just wanting to help and gain a tip.

Rail services to Dushanbe are limited. International connections are available only from Moscow via Volgograd, Atyrau and Termez. Trains depart from the Moskva Kazanskaya rail terminal each Monday, Wednesday and Sunday at 12:08 PM, arriving 4:16 PM four nights later.

Tickets cost from 9000 RUB for a second class sleeper.

There are no international bus services. If you are planning to go to a different town, there are terminals or vaghzal in Tajik where you can either find a shared taxi or a minibus.

Khorog (Pamir) - the terminal is close to the airport, ask for povorot aeroporta terminal Pamira. There are usually 4X4 vehicles that will go to Pamirs. The roads are not in a good shape, hence make sure you look for a nicer vehicle for a 10 to 14 hours drive to reach Khorog.

Prices vary depending on a season.

Khujand and the rest of Sugd - the terminal is at the end of Rudaki Street towards Varzob Valley. Take a 3 taxi and ask the driver to drop you to the Vaghzale Khujand close to Vodonasos or Cemzavod. It is the end of the Trolleybus line. The price should be 100 TJS per person.

The trip takes about 5 hours from Dushanbe.

Qurghonteppa - Take a taxi or Marshrutka from Sadbarg/Poytakht hotel or any other marshrutkas going towards Korvon Bazaar to the Sakhovat Bazaar. There's a big intersection with crosswalks and many, many cars where the vaghzal is, but you can also ask someone for the vaghzale Qurghonteppa.

The price shouldn't be more than 15 TJS per person. The drive takes a little over and hour from Dushanbe, and the road is in comparatively good condition. When you get there, ask if you can be dropped off at the bazaar for a more central location than the vaghzal.

Dushanbe - Afghan Border (Sherkhon Bandar) - private SUVs go to the border on daily bases from Sakhovat Market. You will have to go early in the morning 05:00 to check for a shared car. Best is to go there a day before and arrange for the next day travel.

The easiest way to get around the city is to use the system of shared taxis or marshrutkas and trolley buses, which run on a standard set of routes, but which can be difficult to figure out at first.

The #3 taxi is especially useful as it runs all the way up and down Rudaki from Vodonosos in the North to the Train Station. These taxis Just hop in, pay 3 somoni, and get off wherever you wish.

The #8 taxi - there is also a mashrutka route, runs from the airport, down Rudaki, turns on Somoni, and can go as far as the US Embassy; you should take this if you need to go to Karabolo or 82 microregion.

Minibuses can be crowded, stop more frequently, and cost 1 somoni or 2 if it's a longer route,if you pay only 1 and the price is two, someone will let you know, while shared taxis are much quicker and cost 3 somoni. Which one you take will depend on where you want to go and how quickly.

The #67 and #4 mashrutkas run up and down Tursonzoda from Karamova in the North to Green/Zilione Bazaar and the South end of it's route.

The #25 mashrutka is a very long line, running from University of Central Asia/Merve, past Ashan - the Dushanbe mall, then across Rudaki, past Tank, Textil, the Sim-Sim factory, and Cirq, through Profsaiyus, the 82 Microregion, and to Zarafshon.

The #33 mashrutka runs from the airport to Sadbarg to Korvon Bazaar

Electric trolley busses can be crowded, also stop frequently, yet run on nicely pre-defined routes. No confusion here. They cost 1 somoni and you can hop on and aff at any street side bus stop.

The #1 Trolleybus runs North and South on Rudaki road. If you're staying in the city center, this route is ideal. The #1 medium sized non-electric bus does not always keep the same route as the #1 trolley bus. Look for the electric lines to be sure you're getting on the right one.

The #8 Trolleybus runs North and South on Southern Rudaki but turns West on Somoni Rd and heads out towards the #8 taxi and mashrutka routes.

Regular buses can be a bit hard to navigate, but are perfectly safe. They cost 1 somoni and you can hop on and off at any street side bus stop.

Important transportation language there are many variations you will hear, but these should be fine:

'hamin-jo ba maan koned' - stop right here

'yagon-jo maan koned' - stop somewhere near here

'svetafor' - stoplight (so, 'svetafor ba maan koned' will let you off before an intersection)

'peshikhod' - crosswalk

'gozashta' - past (you can say before or as you pass an intersection or roundabout to be let off just afterwards)

combine to get exactly where you need to go!

Since 2015 in Dushanbe operates bicycle rental service.

Rent a Bike, 3 Loik Sherali street,Operation Mercy building. 8:00AM - 8:00PM. It offers modern and reliable town/mountain bicycles of different sizes,kids bikes 5-8 also available. All bicycles are in good technical state.

You can rent a bike for sightseeing Dushanbe and the surrounding area as well as for a long trip. Bicycle tour & excursion with professional guide available upon request.

Prices from the price-list are negotiable, safety payment using credit cards available. Additional information on their website and in the Facebook community. $5-$15.

Dushanbe can be very interesting. There's not a ton of tourist attractions, but there is much to explore, and you'll easily stay busy if you're willing to see more than just the few museums and statues.

Massive Statue of Somoni: This statue commemorates the one for whom the currency is named, and is located very centrally on Rudaki beside Kohe Joma movie theater and in front of the massive National Library. Apparently, the crown is 10 kilograms of tajik gold.

Fort Hissar - a 15 minute drive out of town. Rebuilt 13th century fort and madrassa. It is a must-see and includes small museums of ancient Tajik culture. Entrance fees are 1 to 3 somoni.

Take a #8 taxi and tell you driver you need to go to vaghzale Hissor, or ride towards the end of the route when you see a large area full of cars.

From there you catch a marshrutka (minibus) or taxi to Hissar village (from 2 -5 TJS). You’ll be let off near the bazaar and can ask the taxi drivers there or your original driver to take you to the kale. This should be 2 or 3 som more.

The new park on Rudaki Avenue has a huge statue of Rudaki, a new government palace, and enough fountains to drain the whole of Dushanbe. Go at night to see the lights.

Gurminj Musical Instrument Museum: This small museum located a block east of Rudaki near the Iranian Embassy has an interesting variety of Central Asian musical instruments.

That alone is worth a peek if you like instruments, but better still is to go when a musical or cultural event is being held, or hope to catch the folk musicians who practice there and can demo many of the instruments in the collection.

Museum of Antiquities on the street directly across from Opera Ballet. It is quite old fashioned and includes a number of exhibits that detail the country's history.

It is great for historians of contemporary Tajikistan and the current President, but only if they speak Russian or Tajik, as there are very few English signs.

The museum is very poorly funded,there is a man who follows you to turn off the lights after you are finished with an exhibit room but charming and contains a number of interesting artifacts highlighting the syncretistic character of Tajik culture throughout the millennia.

The huge (14m long) statue of a reclining Buddha on the second floor validates a visit on its own merits. The Museum of Ethnography, which displays traditional Tajik dress and costume, is next door costs less and is certainly worth a visit.

Rohat Chaikhona. Old traditional teahouse located near central Dushanbe on Rudaki. Better to go for the interesting architecture, not the food.
Navruz Celebration
The streets are lined with old and tall trees and benches, so in the evenings a stroll along Rudaki is quite pleasant.

Rudaki Park also features numerous fountains lit by coloured lights, and the Botanical Gardens behind the Chinese Embassy, somewhat north along Rudaki is the best place to escape the dust and noise of the traffic for peace and quiet

The nightlife is not of a western standard, but fun is easily found or made. Peoples Bar, located on Turnsonzoda just down from Poytakht supermarket, is the only nightclub foreigners go to, and is usually busy on the weekends with locals as well.

Men pay a cover fee, but women are free. There are several other nightclubs, but they have a reputation for being very shady. The Cotton Club, a speakeasy style joint located at Opera-Ballet beside the Vaksh hotel, offers live jazz music and good hamburgers, but in a less than desirable atmosphere.

Public Pub, at the corner of Rudaki and Bukhoro at Dompichat/Twin Towers, remains the staple Irish pub in the city. Beside Public is Bundes Bar, a popular, modern, and stylish German-themed bar always filled with locals and foreigners alike.

Tons of hookah lounges are easily found walking anywhere near the city center, if you’re into that. Galaxy north just off on Rudaki near the Sha-re Dushanbe shopping center, turn right, downstairs near the Imon International office) offers some English and of course, Russian karaoke and vodka.

Victory Park: Hike to the top for a seasonal restaurant with topchaans offering views of the city. The gondola dates from Soviet days, and has not operated for several years. There's a Soviet memorial commemorating WWII. At the roundabout near Merve, follow the road at the top of the circle.

Opera Ballet regularly has free or cheap concerts sponsored by embassies and traveling companies, though not always of the best quality. The theater is lovely and full of Soviet splendor, worth going inside to see, and makes for an enjoyable atmosphere regardless of the entertainment.

Zilioni Bazaar is the biggest bazaar in downtown Dushanbe and has a huge variety of foods,very cheap by Western standards, including dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, meats, and bread, as well as an odd assortment of tools and household products.

It is possible to see the entire bazaar in an hour or two. An easy walk from Opera Ballet or Sadbarg.

Korvon Bazaar About a 30 minute ride from downtown, the main and very large goods market in town Marshruktas with "Корвон" signs on their dashboards will get you there for 2 somoni, and leave from near Sadbarg. You can take a #33 marshrutka as well, or taxis for 3 somoni that leave from the same area, just across from the Poytakht hotel .

Korvon has a massive indoor clothing and shoes section as well as a smaller food section. It is also the place to go to find rugs, although most of the rugs come from Turkey, not Tajikistan. Get lost here.

Sadbarg – more shopping, centrally located in downtown Dushanbe. Lots of clothes, make up, and housewares. A little more expensive, but more convenient, than Korvon for those short on time or weary of the chaos of the latter.

Sakhovat – while you’re near Korvon, explore the surrounding neighborhood. Filled with lots of Soviet-style apartment blocks, it’s a much more affordable alternative to the city center for many of Dushanbe’s residents.

There’s nothing to see really, but it provides a different feeling from the tree-lined streets and metal fences near Opera Ballet.

Watch a Tajik film in one of the theaters. You probably won’t understand anything, but some of the modern movies are quite enjoyable.

Buy fabric at Korvon or Sadbarg and have a Tajik dress made! You will spend less than 100 somoni for the whole process (less than $20), and you can also have western-style clothing tailored just to you as well. You’ll need 3 meters for a dress with pants.

Once you have fabric, take it to the doozandas at the top of Sadbarg. They’ll measure you and give you a price and a time to pick up your clothes, usually just a few days afterwards.

For men, consider buying a Tajik hat with different styles depending on the region it’s from. In Dushanbe it’s easy to find both Kulobi hats and Khujandi hats or a chopaan like a thick robe for winter.

In summer, the fruit is absolutely delicious. Definitely try the cherries, apricots, and watermelons from the bazaar.

In gift shops around time or in Tsum, look for a suzani or embroidered national fabric that can be hung on the wall for decoration, a nice souvenir, price will depend but be prepared to spend at least 300 somoni.

Traditional Tajik fabric, or atlas can be purchased at Korvon or Sadbarg and made into dresses, scarves, pillows and anything you can imagine. Pick the color and print you like best!

Cafe Merve: Excellent turkish owned Restaurant: Kebab, Pizza, salads, french fries, cakes, coffee and delicious breakfast,feta with olives. Yet loved by local people. It is on Rudaki 92.

Delhi Darbar: The most well-known and possibly the best vegetarian food in all of Tajikistan of three local Indian restaurants serves excellent butter chicken and spinach. It also offers private family rooms. It is on Rudaki near the Pedagogical Institute.

Merve: Happening, casual Turkish cafeteria always packed with students and young locals. Have several choices in mind, as they never ever have everything on the menu, no matter how basic. It also serves an authentic Turkish breakfast. It is on Rudaki next to Orima supermarket.

Salsa: The only Ecuadorian restaurant for hundreds of miles. It is a reasonable imitation of Latin cuisine and popular with Europeans. It is located just off the north end of Rudaki near Starry Night (Zvezdnaya Noch) billiards.

Tiflis: One of two Georgian restaurants in the city with some of the best meat dishes in the city and a substantial wine list. It is located behind the opera-ballet, across the park. As of August 2013, is in a state of disrepair and appeared to be closed for the long term.

Georgia Cafe: the other Georgian restaurant, located about a block north of the Opera Square on Rudaki Avenue. It has simple and tasty dishes, good cheap house wine, and a nice friendly atmosphere. Be sure to either book or come early, as the seats go fast.

La Grande Dame: The only French Restaurant in town. It serves great steaks and other food at a hefty price. It is, however, popular with consultants with hefty per diems. The place offers a good taste of the West for those missing their homes. On the corner of Bukhoro and Shevchenko.

Kellers, Ismail Somoni #6. A nice, well-hidden restaurant that serves European and National style food although the lines between the two are often blurred. Home made beer (3 som.) is well worth trying. It is on the left side of Somoni street near Rudaki end, at the side of a block of flats.

Steakhouse. Despite the name, Steakhouse is one of the only places in Dushanbe to get sushi. Other meals include steaks, pasta, and other American style cuisine. Live entertainment nightly. Try the mojito.

Segafredo, Rudaki Ave - Near the corner of Rudaki Ave and Ismoil Somoni Ave, across from Hotel Tajikistan. Western food,sandwiches, soups, chicken dishes. Great place to get coffee or a snack,one of the only places in Tajikistan to get Iced Coffee.

When even moderately busy the service is very slow so its wise to order drinks as soon as you are shown to your table. Try the salmon, its surprisingly good and fresh. Downside: Smokers. You will see many foreigners here.

Salaam Namaste, 81, Rudaki str. Indian restaurant, good service. Visited by foreigners and locals alike.

World of Chocolate - The Escalator Cafe, Rudaki Street 113. More commonly known as the escalator cafe, this cafe and restaurant is located on the ground floor of Rudaki Plaza. It's a convenient stop for a reasonably priced bite to eat.

They have satisfactory coffee options, above average ice cream and chocolate fountains from which anything can be garnished,try the chocolate covered waffle, or have your double chocolate scoop topped with even more chocolate.

More recently they have enlisted the help of western food consultants to create new and improved sandwich options. Try the Banh-mi and Mediterranean sandwiches. They will remind you of what a sandwich should be without breaking the bank.

Longcheng Restaurant (Dragon City), Near Somoni Statue. This restaurant caters to the ever-growing PRC presence in Tajikistan and Dushanbe in particular. The restaurant offers standard, fairly authentic if not outstanding Sichuan dishes.

There's a karaoke in case you want to sing off the calories. From the statue, proceed on Rudaki towards the Opera House. Take a right at the first traffic light. You'll see the building, a shopping center, on the right about 200m ahead.

At present, there is a red banner with the name of the restaurant in Chinese characters. It's on the 3rd floor.

Public Pub: This establishment opened in November 2012 and quickly established its presence in the city. It's the "go-to" location for a relaxing beer and burger in the afternoon, or a more hearty meal as the evening progresses.

It has the best burger in Dushanbe for about $5, although the French fries are a little weak. It has Guinness for 38 somoni, but the local draught beer is a mere 12 somoni for half a liter. The biggest negative about this place is that it has only one toilet.

It's located immediately to the north of Dushanbe Plaza, also known as the Twin Towers, corner of Rudaki and Bokhtar.

Irish Pub: This so-called Irish pub sometimes serves Guinness in a can, but you will find little Irish charm in this establishment, considering this is Central Asia.

Unfortunately the enterprising owners of this restaurant have discovered that foreigners are willing to pay absurd amounts for a Guinness, and now one can costs 40 somoni, or close to $8,other beers cost around 12-15 somoni.

To find it, go to the Gurminj museum, head south to the corner and turn left.

Bundes Bar: Just up the street from Public Pub is a new hip establishment that has outdoor seating in the summer and a fairly large indoor area. It seems to be a popular place for locals and tourists.

Serena Hotel, Rudaki 14. Medium-sized 5-star hotel convenient for the airport, government offices, and attractions. The hotel mixes modern and traditional styling, and regularly hosts exhibitions and performances by local artists.

The hotel was built in 2011 by the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Nizari Ismailis. Bar and restaurant on the lobby floor and rooftop pool. Services include a sauna.

As of January 2017, it ranked second of 18 hotels in TripAdvisor's rankings,a surprise for this contributor, since the Hotel Serena's services were impeccable, the style of the Serena was unmatched and the rates lower than at the Hyatt.

Gastnitsa Vakhsh, Rudaki 24 (Just next to the opera). checkout: 12:00. A nice, clean and very centrally located hotel. The staff might try to sell you to more expensive room first but ask for the more economical options.

All rooms have a bathroom and a tv while some of the rooms have nice balconies toward the square in front of the Opera. Some English and German is spoken at the reception sometimes. dm: 60 TJS, d: 120 TJS ste: 180 TJS.

Latifa Hostel, Rahmon Nabiev, 2. proezd, dom 23 (from the center take marshrutka 2 or 19 in direction to '1. Sovetsky'. get off at 'Korea Avto'. from the airport marshrutka it's nr 7. waymarkers on the street, once you got off. the way takes you ~15'-20'checkin: 00:00; checkout: 12:00.

Registered hostel with 18 beds. Shower and toilet are shared. Communal outdoor and indoor area. Free Wi-Fi. 6-8 US$.

Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Prospekt Ismoili Somoni 26/1 in City Park, near Lake Komsomol. A 5 star hotel with 202 rooms and suites. Amenities: floor-to-ceiling windows, sitting area, heated bath floor, iPod docking station, wireless internet and free access to pool and health club. Regency Club Lounge for free continental breakfast and evening cocktails. US $242.

Atlas B&B, 63, Mirzo Rizo. Very good Tajik Guesthouse... US$ 80.

Yeti Hostel, 34/1 Gafurova str. Opposite to Saodat trading center at 82 district. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Located in the heart of the sleeping area of Dushanbe, 7km west from the center.

Nearby attractions include waterpark, trading center, and a great number of cafes and restaurants. Hostel has 3 rooms with 8 bunk beds total. 24/7 front desk, free WiFi is provided. Rooms are instantly cleaned and maintained well. USD 15.

Hotel Tajikistan, Shotemur 22.

Hotel Mercury, Leo Tolstoy 9.

Green House Hostel, 98a Khusravi Dekhlavi street. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. All rooms have air conditioning, some have flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

Shared bathroom facilities, large communal lounge area, and a leafy garden with outdoor furniture, really used as a Jeeps and dusty motorbykes parking lot. Free breakfast. The city centre is 5 km away.

Both the Dushanbe Railway Station and Dushanbe Airport can be reached in less than 10 minutes by car. Green House Hotel can arrange shuttle services at an additional cost. $15.

Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel, 48 Aini Street. Located in the city center and only a five-minute drive from the airport, the Sheraton Dushanbe offers 148 tastefully decorated rooms and suites. Dining outlets include an all-day-dining Mediterranean restaurant and a Pan Asian restaurant.

Rohat. checkin: 12; checkout: 12. Rohat Hotel is quite central, across the road from the Opera & Ballet Theater.

Good mattresses; Kettle for tea or coffee in the room, free tea bags, coffee powder and bottles of mineral water provided daily, safe box, aircom and good Wi-Fi in the room, self-service substantial breakfast, discounts for long stays/off-season. Helpful English speaking staff. US 60.

Dushanbe is safe but robberies and street crime do sometimes occur even in broad daylight although this is rare. The police force can sometimes seem a little ineffective.

Avoid attracting police attention, as the law enforcement officials are primarily concerned with augmenting their small income. People tend to be private and conservative but with a little effort they can be incredibly welcoming and genuine.

Good Sights To Visit

- Tajikistan National Museum (Tajik Unified Museum)

- Vahdat Palace

- Dushanbe Flagpole—It is the second tallest free-standing flagpole in the world, at a height of 165 metres (541 feet),

- Dushanbe Zoo

- Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments (Gurminj Museum)

Never drink the water from the tap, nor use the water to brush your teeth. Always wash fresh produce, especially when bought from the local bazaar.

Some melons—although they are incredibly fresh and sweet—can be irrigated and fertilized with manure, so sometimes washing them will not help. As a rule of thumb all foreigners from developed countries will get sick at least once while in Tajikistan, but this can be delayed by avoiding unwashed/unpeeled fruits and vegetables be especially wary of this in restaurants.

There are many drivers for hire who will take you to lakes and mountains nearby. Varzob River also has some vacation areas with raised platforms above the narrow river, which is quite refreshing on a hot day.

Be aware that the drivers will most likely not speak English, so a working knowledge of Russian or Tajik is advisable, as are haggling skills.

Tourism Observer