Brazil Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Brazil
In Rio, São Paulo and other large cities, major shops and markets stay open quite late in the evening. Huge US-style shopping malls line suburban boulevards, offering the complete air-conditioned experience, with restaurants, cinemas and occasional live entertainment, though not usually the cheapest prices. Rio and Salvador specialise in antiques, handicrafts and jewellery. The state of Bahia has good Afro-Brazilian art, ceramics, soapstone carvings and musical instruments. Rio, with its love of the body beautiful, is the place to buy fashion clothing, particularly swimwear, flip-flops (Havaianas), and leather shoes, as well as cosmetics and other beauty products.
General specialities include gems (particularly emeralds and diamonds) and jewellery (particularly silver and gold); Minas Gerais, is the place to find bargains. Belém, Manaus and Santarém specialise in Amazonian items, including hammocks (redes) and wooden ornaments; visitors should be careful, however, not to purchase objects that have been plundered from the jungle, contributing to its general destruction. Manaus is also a free trade zone, selling all manner of high-tech goods, though with the current strength of the Brazilian Real, prices may be no lower than in Europe and the US.
Fairtrade eco-products are belatedly becoming more popular, for locally produced handicrafts, cosmetics and other sustainable products. O Sol (www.osolartesanato.org.br) is an excellent not-for-profit crafts organisation, which trains artisans from around Brazil, with an outlet in Rio.
Travellers should also be aware there may be restrictions on import to their home country of goods made from skins of protected species, particularly reptiles and wild cats.
Credit cards are widely accepted in shops and businesses, though less so outside of major cities and towns. Beware, however, of extra charges being added, both by local banks as well as your own branch. Haggling is still possible in markets for cash purchases.
Supermarkets are open Mon-Sat 0800-2200.
Major shopping centres also open on Sundays 1400-2000.
All the above times are subject to local variations and many shops open until late in the evening, especially in December.
Nightlife in Brazil
Brazilians are a highly sociable bunch, and love their nightlife late, loud and lively. The best entertainment occurs in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador. In Rio, the major clubs do not present their main acts until after midnight. Small clubs (boites) provide nightly entertainment throughout the city. Over recent years the downtown neighbourhood of Lapa has re-emerged as the hotspot for live music and dance, though the favelas' 'baile funk' parties are attracting more adventurous party animals - but do not go to a favela alone.
São Paulo nightlife is more sophisticated, with greater choice and some really unique drinking spots, especially on and around Rua Augusta. Both cities host top international DJs, and have thriving samba clubs featuring live music.
Salvador, with Brazil's largest black population, offers possibly the most diverse and creative live music scene, from reggae to MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), infused with many other regional influences. Outside the main cities, most towns have late night bars and clubs. A few hours up the coast from Rio, high-end resort Búzios is famous for its party lifestyle, with big clubs such as Pacha and Privilege, and many stylish hangouts in which to grab a fruity cocktail or two.