Portuguese is the official language all over Brazilian territory, but English and Spanish are usually spoken in touristic areas. A traveler’s dictionary with expressions in the local language might be very useful.
Brazilian time zone varies within UTC/GMT -2h and -5h according to the region. In the Southeast region, where São Paulo is located, the standard time zone is the same as Brasilia, official time of the country: UCT/GMT -3h.
Voltage in Brazil is not standardized, and depends on each State or city. In São Paulo, the standard voltage is 110 V.
Brazil area code is 55. City codes vary according to the region, and the one in São is 11. To make international calls, you need to dial country code, city code (omitting initial zero, whenever applicable), and then the remaining numbers. In order to use cell phones from another country in Brazil, 3G technology is required.
Local currency is real (R$). The equivalent dollar Exchange rate, in August 2015, is of US$ 1 to R$ 3,3. Dollars and Euros can be easily exchanged in hotels, authorized banks, and travel agencies. International debt and credit cards (Visa and Master Card) are accepted in most places. Many hotels also take Amex. Debit cards can be used to withdraw money in local currency at ATMs.
Almost all bars and restaurants include the tip on the tab, but the payment is optional. If the tip has not been specified, the general rule is paying within 10% and 15% of the total amount. Taxi drivers do not expect any tips.
Taxis and car rental
At major airports, bus stations and in downtown area is possible to find car rental agencies, which offer services with or without driver. Tourists who have foreign driver’s license are authorized to drive in Brazil when staying for less than 180 days.
Regulated by municipalities, taxi services are offered in all big cities in Brazil. Several taxi stands are scattered all over São Paulo, but taxis can also be called via radio taxi service or through smart phones apps. Prices are calculated by taximeter (Night additional fee after 08:00 p.m., Sundays and holidays, and regular fee otherwise), according to the distance traveled. Taxi routes departing from international airports charge fixed rates.
Taxis apps: 99táxi and Easy Taxi.