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Bus travel really gives you a great opportunity to see the real Brazil, while saving on the expensive airfares charged for domestic travel. From your seat on Brazil's comfortable buses you will experience the excitment of the larger cities and the tranquility of small towns pass you by, while also witnessing some beautiful country-side and coastline. So sit back and take in the colorful views while you bus Brazil!
What to Expect
Brazilian bus companies are some of the best in Latin America and offer excellent service in mostly modern clean and comfortable buses. Sometimes there may be delays in departures but in general there is respect for schedules.
All cities have at least one main bus station, known as the Rodoviária. Buses are usually well air conditioned and those linking cities have on board toilet facilities. No food service is offered on the buses but expect comfort stops every 2 to 3 hours where you can use facilities and purchase food and beverages.
Reliable buses link all the major centers, and in some cases transfer companies offer van services between towns such as Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande. There are an astonishing number of long-haul buses connecting most major cities, regardless of how great the distance is. If your journey crosses between states, then you will be required to fill out a form with your details before boarding.
Road conditions and bus services differ by region. Southern Brazil has the most and the best roads, with wide coastal highways which are generally good, while the roads in the Northeast are not great. There is a great Road Atlas (Quatro Rodas Atlas Rodoviário), which helpfully marks out the worst stretches of roads.
Travelling by bus in Brazil is always a great way to see the country and mingle with the locals. If you are travelling alone, it is always fun to meet fellow travelers heading in the same direction. Although crime is not a major problem on Brazilian buses, it is always good practice to look after your belongings and never leave your luggage unattended at the terminals.
It is best to plan out your visit carefully when travelling by bus around Brazil, because it is a huge country where distances between destinations are usually large, making doubling back a lengthy prospect! Bus travel is the predominant transport mode in the country and everywhere can be reached by bus.
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Brazil Bus Travel
5 Tips for your Trip
1. Arrive Early
Just to be safe, get to the bus terminals in larger cities at least 40 minutes earlier than your scheduled departure, even earlier if you do not already have your ticket. Just before buses depart you will find large queues at the ticket windows of people trying to collect their pre-bought tickets or buying directly at the last minute.
2. Checking in Luggage
To store your bags under the bus, just go directly to the back of the bus before boarding and there should be an attendant who will take your luggage and put it in the large storage compartment under the bus. They will hand you a small ticket which you must show to collect the bags at your destination. Make sure you put the ticket in a safe place where you will remember where to find it when your bus journey ends!
3. Filling Out Pre-Boarding Documents
If you are taking a long distance bus which will cross State lines, you will be handed a form to fill out and give back to the attendant before you enter the bus. You will need to fill in your details such as name and passport number. So remember to bring a pen with you, otherwise you will have to ask someone to borrow theirs.
4. Bring Warm Clothes
In such a hot country it is great that the buses are airconditioned, but this can turn into a nightmare as they tend to blast it so much that over time it gets frosty. The driver rarely adjusts it to be a comfortable temperature, even when you beg. This is not good if you are caught without something warm to put on and are trying to sleep. Its a good idea to take a jacket even on the hottest day in summer. The front of the bus tends to be colder than the back.
5. No Food Service on the Buses
No bus in Brazil provides food, rather they make stops at gas station and snack bars. If going long distance, many of the stops have restaurants, and the driver allows you a bit of time to have a quick feed. When you walk into the restaraunts or gas stations, you maybe handed something where they will write what you consumed on, and you hand this to the register attendant to pay on your exit. Sometimes this is a bit of plastic with a chip in it, which they scan.
Also be aware that sometimes the restaraunt stops are at a per kilo buffet, and in this case you load your plate and they weigh it to determine the price. If you have a special diet then bring your own food and snacks as selection is not always great.
and Seat Recline
Brazilian buses have different classes you can choose from for your journey between destinations. All long distance buses have onboard lavatories and air conditioning, but there are different classes of comfort.
Convencional Buses - seat recline of about 35 degrees to verticle. 42 to 50 seats
Executivio Buses - seat recline of about 55 degrees to verticle. 42 to 46 Seats
Leito Buses - seat recline of about 80 degrees to verticle. 24 to 26 Seats
Obviously the further the seats recline the higher the price of the ticket. The more expensive buses also usually have less seats with more distance between them.
CPF Numbers and Bus Tickets
In Brazil a CPF number works like a social security number, it is for tax and identification purposes and each Brazilian has a unique number.
They need it to purchase things like property, white goods, vehicles, registering a phone, and unfortunately buying a bus ticket online.
This does not help foreign travellers secure their tickets in advance and you may need to find an online travel agency to help with purchasing your ticket.
Above is a portal where vistors to Brazil can make bookings for buses without a CPF