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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.

Claro

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.

Oi

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.

Vivo

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.

TIM

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.

operadoras-brasileiras-vivo-tim-claro-oi-showmetech

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

Bars & Clubs of Gay Buenos Aires

Navigating nightlife in BsAs (the shorthand code for one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world) is easy.  Each of the neighborhoods is walkable, or accessible by a short metro or cab ride.  Recoleta and Palermo are have the most options.  Pick any of the gay-friendly hotels of Buenos Aires from our list and you will be in the center of almost everything.  (There are even options for gay tango!)

Nightlife starts late with many places opening doors at 11:30PM.  Early birds should try bars like Sitges, Peuteo, and Flux Bar before hitting big clubs like Glam and Amerika (pictured above.)  Restaurants also stay up late and can be great pre-club options.  Use the VamosGay Google Map to Gay Buenos Aires to find over a dozen popular places to eat and navigate your night of bar crawling.

And, don’t forget … our list of gay friendly hotels and places to stay in Buenos Aires will give you the best perfect spots to rest between parties.

Amerika

Size matters! And it doesn’t get much bigger than Amerika.
Full review & details for Amerika »

Bach Bar

Simple bar with a local following.  Gay men and lesbians, but much more popular with the ladies.
Visit Bach Bar on Facebook »

Chupitos Bar

Festive place with a wild menu of specialty shots, and bartenders that keep the party rolling.
Full review & details for Chupitos Bar »

Contramano

Daddies, and Hustlers, and Bears … Oh My!  Experience one of Buenos Aires’ oldest gay bars.
Full review & details for Contramano »

Glam

Editor’s Choice 2016: Best Thursday Night Club (Saturday’s are hot too!)
Full review & details for Glam »

Fiesta Jolie

Young and fun!  Every Wednesday.
Full review & details for Fiesta Jolie »

Flux Bar

The best happy hour cocktail.
Full review & details for Flux Bar »

Jungle Bar

Show place and cruising bar.
Visit Jungle Bar on Facebook »

KM Zero

Strippers and drag continue to draw tourists to one of Buenos Aires most well known bars.
Full review & details for KM Zero »

Palacio Alsina / Fiesta Dorothy

Monthly nightlife spectacle at the grand Palacio Alsina.
Full review & details for Palacio Alsina / Fiesta Dorothy »

Ma.Cho

Catch these parties when you can!  Fun young crowds of locals.  Ma.Cho parties are occasionally in nightclubs like Glam, but sometimes at trendy rooftops, and even pools!  Visit our MaCho gay parties in Buenos Aires page for links to the latest party.  Sometime you can even catch them in Montevideo!
Full review & details for MaCho

Mundo Bizarro

Mostly straight bar with rockin’ food and music attracts a gay crowd with stylish pulp fiction decor.
Full review & details for Mundo Bizarro »

Peuteo

⛔ Closed
Full review & details for Peuteo »

Sitges

An easy first stop for tourists visiting Buenos Aires.
Full review & details for Sitges »

Zoom

Have a friendly beer … or a hardcore encounter at this bar/bathhouse hybrid.
Full review & details for Zoom »

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!

Neighborhoods

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 »