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SIM Cards & Mobile Plans for Tourists Visiting Brazil

Millions of foreign tourists visit Brazil every year.  A large percentage come to celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.  Others take to the streets of Sao Paulo for the world’s largest gay pride parade.

As a tourist, staying connected to essential travel apps like Google Maps, WhatsApp messenger, and (let’s confess … Grindr) can be difficult, because unlike most countries, Brazil remains a difficult place for foreigners to acquire a SIM card with a mobile data plan.  In preparation for World Cup 2014, Brazil’s mobile companies released special packages targeting international visitors.  However, after the World Cup games, these are now almost impossible to find.

To help foreign visitors (gay and straight) find the best options, VamosGay researched all of the pre-paid options (also known as pre-pago) available in Brazil via the nation’s four biggest operators: Claro, Oi, TIM, and Vivo.

Factors for deciding the best option for foreigners included:

  • ability to acquire without a Brazilian national ID number (CPF)
  • availability of short-term plans (daily and weekly, not monthly)
  • ease of recharging credits
  • stores with English-language staff
  • price
  • bonus wi-fi hot spots

Details for each operator is listed below, but the clear winner and the provider that we recommend is Claro.  Read more about all four below and please leave a comment if you have updated information.


Our first, and most important criterion was the ease of purchasing a SIM card without a CPF (the Brazilian national ID number.)  To acquire a Claro SIM card and mobile data plan, just take your passport to any Claro store.  You will find one at most airports and shopping centers.  Unfortunately, it’s rare to find English-speaking attendants in any of Brazil’s mobile stores. However, Claro and TIM stores located in the tourist centers of the country’s biggest cities are the most likely to have helpful associates who fala inglês.

The Claro team is the friendliest and will most likely direct you to their “Internet Turbinada” plan which delivers 50MB per day for the low  price of R$0.99.  The deal gets event better with data used by WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter being thrown in for free.

Heavy data users can upgrade to daily packages of 65MB for R$1.29 or 85MB for R$1.99.  The SIM card itself from Claro will cost you R$10, but its a powerful 4GMax chip that includes automatic connections to wi-fi hotspots throughout the city.

One downside for tourists: Claro like all Brazilian operators offers no English-language customer support.  With that said … go get a Claro SIM card and get online!  (And remember, newsstands and grocery stores can sell SIM cards and are convenient places to buy credits, but you should make your initial SIM card purchase at a Claro store since only they can activate your line with your passport.


Beware of the pre-paid plan which does not require a Brazilian national ID … but does require a Brazilian credit card.  That’s a nasty surprise for tourists who sit down at an Oi store and start the paperwork with their passports in hand.

There is such a thing as the “Oi Visitor” package.  For R$40, the user gets a SIM card and R$30 in free credits.  It was a popular option when the World Cup games brought millions of foreigners to Brazil … but now, good luck finding an Oi location which carries it.

Currently, rates for Oi are nearly identical to Claro (R$0.99 per day) but without the perks.  For this reason, Claro remains a better option for foreigners.


The only mobile company that didn’t bother targeting World Cup tourists plans to ignore their needs for the Summer Olympics too (as far as we know.)  It’s a shame since Vivo offers great service, and used to be available for foreigners without a CPF number ten years ago.  However, as of today, Vivo is not an option for international visitors.


Spotty service and shady billing are the hallmarks of one of Brazil’s most popular cellular service companies.  TIM mobile gained a huge market share thanks to advertising and its early success offering unlimited calls and messages between TIM customers.

For foreigners, the company offers TIM Visitor, a special SIM card with 1.5GB of download data.  The package lasts for 7 days and cost R$24.  Like all of the operators listed, add-ons such as international calling and SMS can be added for additional fees.  In the case of TIM, international calls are R$1.00 per minute and SMS is $0.50 per message.  Despite being a partially European company, contacting Europe via TIM does not deliver any special discount.


In conclusion, Claro wins.

Load up your phone with our best apps for gay travel in Latin America, get a cheap Claro SIM card, and have a fun (and safe) time in Brazil. And, don’t forget to make sure your apps are not draining your battery and mobile data. Here are a couple of articles with useful tips … Android and iPhone

Gay Guide to São Paulo

São Paulo is famous across the globe for its Parada do Orgulho, the largest gay pride parade in the world.  However, compared to its tropical brother Rio de Janeiro, foreigners know very little about Latin America’s largest and most populous city.

Guide to LGBT Pride Parade 2018 »

Gay nightlife in Sampa, as São Paulo is also known, rivals major cities like New York and London. (One could even argue the city’s gay nightlife mecca The Week, pictured above, surpasses any gay club in the US or Europe.)  By day, São Paulo offers world-class gastronomy, visual arts, and architecture.

Dive in with the VamosGay 2018 Guide to São Paulo to plan your trip, unlock insider tips, and enjoy the best of the city!


Learn more about the diverse “gayborhoods” of São Paulo.

View all »

Bars & Clubs

A to Z listing of every bar, lounge, and club in the city.

View all »

Restaurants & Cafes

The 2018 hotlist of where to eat in a city full of options.

View all »

Sex & Saunas

An up-to-date list of Sao Paulo’s hottest hot spots.

View all »

Hotels & Airfare

Location, amenities, price, and gay-friendly!

View all »

Places to Visit

Museums, parks, street fairs, and more.

View all »

New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the best places in the world to ring in the New Year (or, as Brazilians call it Réveillon.)  While the northern hemisphere is freezing, the beaches of Rio are warm … and the men are hot!  This guide for 2018 is split into three sections:  getting there, enjoying New Years Eve on Copacabana beach, and finding the best gay parties.

Getting There / Places to Stay

We recommend that you fly down in late December and spend a week discovering Rio de Janeiro.  (Rates for the high season start on flights departing after December 27.)  To book an international flight to Rio, the best websites are:

Once in Rio, you will need a place to stay.  Ipanema Beach is where the boys are.  Copacabana is amazing as well.  Check out our list of the best LGBT friendly hotels and apartments in gay Rio.

For the plane ride down, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro, the best English language guide to the city.  (United States citizens will also need to apply for a Visa to enter Brazil.  Americans won’t be able to board their flights without it.)

Copacabana Beach

Fabulous and free!  The sands of Copacabana (and neighboring Ipanema) are the place to be this time of year.  The New Year’s Eve tradition is to wear white and pay tribute to Iemanjá, the water goddess at the center of Brazil’s Candomblé religion.  Every year, there is a massive party with live music that fills the sands of Copacabana Beach, however if you stay in Ipanema you will only be 20 to 30 minutes away by foot.  The music starts between 8 and 9PM, and the fireworks begin at the stroke of midnight.

Parties, Parties, and More Parties!

Get every last drop out of 2017 before the year ends.  Rio’s gay bars will be open and ready to party after Christmas Day.  There are three major gay parties which will run from Saturday, December 30th through the end of Monday, January 1st.

Joy Party: Pre-New Year Saturday + New Year’s Eve at Sea

Mega-promoters Joy Party have two great events planned.  On Saturday, Dec 30, a line-up of DJs from across Brazil will fill Rio de Janeiro’s MAM for an oriental-themed party.  Then, on Sunday Dec 31st, revelers are welcome on board an exclusive boat to ring in the New Year off the coast of Copacabana beach with a perfect view of the fireworks.  Tickets to both individual events and combo-packages are available online from the Sympla website.

Posto 10 Réveillon 2018

Drinks, food, and fun at Barra da Tijuca hotspot Euphoria Music Bar is an awesome way start 2018.  Euphoria attracts a younger mixed crowd that loves to party to pop music. And ten hours of free alcohol should make things even wilder.  (Pre-order tickets online.)

The Week (Saturday Dec 30 & Monday Jan 1)

Editor’s Choice for Best Nightclub The Week brings you a special edition of their popular “Safado” party to be hosted at Armazém da Utopia.  An international line-up of DJs guarantees that it will be the place to be for the boys who like to party.  (Pre-order tickets online.)  The Week’s next big party starts após a virada (Portuguese for the time after midnight when the fireworks are over.)  Doors will open for the first big party of 2018 where even more DJs and shirtless men will keep the party going.  (Pre-order tickets online.)

Bookmark this page for your gay Rio New Years plans, or subscribe to our newsletter below.

São Paulo Gay-Friendly Hotels

The “gayborhoods” of São Paulo are very diverse.  Which unique flavor is right for you?  Check out our guide to the gay neighborhoods of Sao Paulo to help you find the perfect place to stay from our recommended list of gay-friendly hotels.  From inexpensive places to crash near nightlife to five-star hotels, our shortlist has what you’re looking for.

Update for São Paulo LGBT Pride 2018:
Hotels in the neighborhood Frei Caneca / Consolação are the closest to the parade route.  Check our map of gay Sao Paulo for assistance.

Blue Tree Premium Paulista

Extremely well-run hotel within a ten minute walk from the heart of “Gay Caneca.”
Neighborhood: Frei Caneca / Consolação
Read our full review »

Bourbon Sao Paulo Business Hotel

Straight-laced, yet gay-friendly, hotel next door to the bear and daddy bars.
Neighborhood: Largo do Arouche / Centro
Read our full review »

Hotel Fasano

Five-star luxury in the upscale Jardins district.
Neighborhood: Jardins / Cerqueira César
Read our full review »

Golden Tulip Bela Artes

Well-reviewed and convenient hotel on Frei Caneca street.
Neighborhood: Frei Caneca / Consolação
Read our full review »

Guest Urban Hotel

“Hip, cozy, lovely … The boutique hotel that São Paulo was missing!”
Neighborhood: Pinheiros
Read our full review »

H3 Hotel Paulista

Elegantly simple new hotel.
Neighborhood: Frei Caneca / Consolação
Read our full review »

Hotel Heritage Comfort Inn

Exceptionally priced mid-range hotel.
Neighborhood: Frei Caneca / Consolação
Read our full review »

Mercure Sao Paulo Paulista

An excellent option from the Mercure line of hotels.
Neighborhood: Consolação
Read our full review »

Hotel Moncloa

Low-budget option in the thick of Rua Augusta.
Neighborhood: Largo do Arouche / Centro
Read our full review »

San Michel Hotel

A great home base for exploring Largo do Arouche.
Neighborhood: Largo do Arouche / Centro
Read our full review »

Transamerica Executive: The Advance

Small modern hotel with extra amenities.
Neighborhood: Largo do Arouche / Centro
Read our full review »

Tryp Sao Paulo Paulista Hotel

Sharply stylish hotel catering to the corporate crowd is blocks away from one of the city’s gay epicenters.
Neighborhood: Frei Caneca / Consolação
Read our full review »

Hotel Unique

Exquisite design and stunning views of São Paulo.
Neighborhood: Jardins / Cerqueira César
Read our full review »


Thermas Lagoa

World famous Brazilian sauna has it all!

Rua Borges Lagoa 287
São Paulo, Brazil Google map »

Hours: Sun – Thurs 2PM to midnight
Fri 2PM – 2AM  and Sat 2PM – 1AM

Hot muscular Brazilian men are the main attraction at Thermas Lagoa, so don’t be timid if you feel like a kid in a candy story at one of the nation’s best gay saunas.  Prostitution is legal in Brazil, but before you jump in … sit back and enjoy the show!  In fact, many visitors go just to see the live entertainment.  Friday nights are particularly a good option to catch the show from 10 to 11PM and still have time to hit a nightclub or two.

The shows are wilder (and gayer) then anything the Chippendales could ever deliver, and the seating is within a few feet of the small stage.  Behind the stage, a glass-enclosed shower room gives patrons an eyeful of good clean fun.

After the show, clients and garotos de programa have the option of getting a room, or just relaxing in one Thermas Lagoa’s many areas (steam room, pool, and dry sauna.)

For those concerned with safety, the management knows they have a good thing going and do not tolerate on any sort of criminal activity.  Visitors have a locker room separate from the working boys, and the streets outside of Termas Lagoa are quiet and conservative with no indication of what goes on behind closed doors.

Bars & Clubs of Gay Lisbon

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Gay nightlife in Lisbon is fun, fabulous, and pretty easy to navigate.  Most of the bars and nightclubs are within walking distance of the  best gay-friendly places to stay in Lisbon.
Download our VamosGay Google Map to Gay Lisbon to your phone before you go  to avoid using mobile data.

If you’re only visiting for a weekend, try Thursday and Friday nights in Bairro Alto, and Saturdays and Sundays in Principe Real.  (Check this calendar of Portugual’s public holidays for dates when nightlife will  explode.)

Gay Parties in Lisbon

Conga is the best and one of the most popular monthly gay parties.  Most parties don’t have a fixed location.  Once you’ve arrived, you’ll encounter party promoters with flyers and free passes for events at any of the larger clubs like Trumps or Construction.

Several major events in 2018 will guarantee parties throughout the city: Eurovision Song Contest (May 8-12),  Lisbon Bear Pride (May 30 – June 4),  LGBT Pride March (June 15), Arrail Gay (late June TBD), Queer Lisboa (September 14-22.)

Gay Bars & Nightclubs in Lisbon

49 da ZDB

Hipster bar connected to Zé dos Bois Gallery
Young men and women come to drink, chill, and enjoy the bohemian vibe of the space.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua da Barroca 49, Lisbon Portugal

Bar 106

This small place to grab a drink is one of Lisbon’s oldest gay bars.  Happy hour until 11:30pm.  Also popular on Sundays.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua São Marçal 106, Lisbon Portugal

Bar Cru

Raunchy mix of bar and sex club.
Being asked to check your clothes at the door might scare off the timid, but once inside, you can join the mix of locals and tourists at the bar in their underwear and take a peek at what’s going on in the “play area.”
Neighborhood: Principe Real
R. São Marçal 170, Lisbon Portugal

Bairru’s Bodega

This wine bar offers a mature oasis as you enjoy the streets of Bairro Alto.  Order their excellent sangria de champagne.  Or try the  ginjinha!
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua da Barroca 3, Lisbon Portugal

Clube da Esquina

Outstanding cocktails and local men make this “corner bar” worth a stop as you explore this popular section of the city.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua da Barroca 30, Lisbon Portugal

Construction Lisbon

Very popular multi-level gay night club.  DJs keep the men on the dance floor.  Sometimes Friday can be so much fun, you’ll want to go back for more on Saturday.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua Cecílio de Sousa 84, Lisbon Portugal

Corvo Real

New, trendy, and highly-recommended!
Cocktails, craft beers, cheeses, oysters, and more upstairs.  After 10pm, step down to the small basement dance floor where the DJ keeps the men moving until 2am during the week, and 3am on weekends.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Calçada Eng. Miguel Pais 18,, Lisbon Portugal

Espaço 40 e 1

Small bar with a mixed crowd.  Take a look at the many equally small bars surrounding it.  Depending on the night, you may be tempted somewhere else, but Espaco 40 e 1 is a popular place to start.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua da Barroca 41, Lisbon Portugal

Finalmente Club

Open everyday from midnight to 6am.  Finalmente remains a popular night spot for gay guys over 30.  Have a drink, enjoy the music, and cruise the crowd.  Finalmente’s legendary and spectacular drag shows start around 3AM.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua da Palmeira 38, Lisbon Portugal

Friends Bairro Alto

Fun and friendly!  Grab a mojito and take a selfie with any of the energetic staff.  Popular with groups, but solo visitors will easily be equally drawn into fun atmosphere.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Travessa da Água da Flor 17, Lisbon Portugal

Lux Frágil

Destination for DJs where the party doesn’t kick into gear until after 2am.  See who’s playing on the clubs website, and be prepared for attitude at the door.  Gay friendly, but the crowd depends on the guest DJs.  It’s near the coast and has a rooftop deck.
Neighborhood: Santa Apolonia
Av. Infante D. Henrique, Armazém A, Cais da Pedra a Sta Apolónia, Lisbon Portugal

Maria Lisboa

A popular stop in the Bairro Alto gayborhood.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua Atalaia 97, Lisbon Portugal

Pride Burlesque

A fabulous crowd (including more and more straights) fills this narrow space for drinks under the chandelier.  Fridays are popular.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua da Rosa 159, Lisbon Portugal


You’ll find Purex at the top of nearly every list of LGBT bars in Bairro Alto.  This trendy nightspot has a great bar and their Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights fill a void in Lisbon’s weekend-centric calendar.
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Rua das Salgadeiras, 28, Lisbon Portugal

Secret Bar

From the owner of Trumps, Secret Bar draws a younger crowd with pop music and themed parties.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua Cecílio de Sousa 72, Lisbon Portugal

Shelter Bar

Bear-ish bare where you can have a drink, hang with old friends, and make some new ones.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua da Palmeira 43 A, Lisbon Portugal

TR3S Lisboa

Meet the friendly staff behind one of Principe Real’s most popular bear bars.  TR3S can be cruisier than the rest and attracts masculine bears from around the world.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua Ruben A. Leitão 2, Lisbon Portugal


The most popular LGBT nightclub in Lisbon.  Tourists are very welcome.  Open Fridays, Saturday, Sunday from midnight to 6am.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua da Imprensa Nacional 104 , Lisbon Portugal

Woof LX

You could have a drink at the bar, but you would miss out on all of the bears, cubs, otters, and wolves outside.  The sidewalk outside of Woof LX has become more popular than the bar itself.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua da Palmeira 44A, Lisbon Portugal

Woof X

Ring the bell to enter.  This papa bear bar has a dark side … and a dark room!  Woof X is where many bearded guys go after Woof LX.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua Manuel Bernardes 2B, Lisbon Portugal

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Gay Saunas, Cruising, and Sex Clubs of Lisbon

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Looking for a good a time in Lisbon?  Our Editor’s Choice for Best Sauna is Trobeta Bath (see photo above.)   But, there are many worth competitors who are open and ready for action.  Check out the full list of below.  Plus, a few of Lisbon’s gay bars also have playgrounds and backrooms.  And of course, the less adventurous can always “get a room” from our list of Lisbon’s gay-friendly hotels.

Drako Club

Private sex club for men only with a hardcore edge.  Aside from the traditional slings and dark rooms, there’s also a “pissing zone” and more.  Drako has a popular Wednesday afternoon party.  Check their website to see what’s on their calendar before you go.
Neighborhood: Near the Museu da Saude
Rua Nogueira e Sousa 11, Lisbon Portugal

Olissipo Bath

Brand new facility with a focus on the amenities: pool, sauna, relaxation rooms.  No website at the moment, but here are their hours of operation:
Mon-Thurs 12 noon – 6am , Fri, Sat, and Sun 24 hours.
Neighborhood: Principe Real
Rua Telhal 5, Lisbon Portugal

Praia 19

Legendary beach spot that is worth a day trip to the Caparica coast.  Aside from gay sex, the entire stretch of Portuguese coastline is fun and relaxing.  Post 19 is where you will find the LGBT visitors.  Start with with a drink on the deck of Casa da Praia.  Then, you can wander along the clothing-optional beach and check out the guys.  The notorious outdoor spot was the topic of a documentary short film, Beach 19.
Getting to the beach is not easy.  There are two options.
Either take bus TST 153 to Costa da Caprica.
Or, you have to take a ferry boat, then connect to either a bus (number 135 or 124,) or a charming little train (only available during the summer.)
Neighborhood: Costa da Caparica
2525 Costa da Caparica, Lisbon Portugal

SaunApolo 56

Dedicated to being LGBT-inclusive, SaunApolo 56 welcomes women, bisexual couples, and transgender men and women.  Photos of the facility and a list of services available on their website.
Neighborhood: Conde Redondo
Rua Luciano Cordeiro 56A, Lisbon Portugal

Trobeta Bath ★ Editor’s Choice 2018

Big, clean, safe, and located in the heart of Bairro Alto … Trobeta Bath is popular with tourists from across Europe as well as locals.  There’s enough traffic to almost always guarantee a nice selection of men.  They also have a team of professional masseurs … perfect for a jetlagged visitor.
Rua do Trombeta, 1C, Lisbon Portugal


Take the metro outside of the “gayborhoods” and into the time warp of an authentic XXX cinema.  Buy a ticket at the box office , walk past the snack bar, and into an actual movie theater.  You’ll find straight sex on the screen, and gay sex in the aisles.  Open from noon until midnight for fans of bi-curious Portuguese men over 40.
Neighborhood: Metro Picoas
R. Actor Taborda 27B, Lisbon Portugal

⚠️ Update for 2018: Last year, unfortunately, The Cock, Virato Sauna, and Setimo Ceu all closed their doors and have been removed from the list.

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