Crossing The Border: Paraguay to Brazil
Are you planning on crossing borders from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to Foz do Iguazu, Brazil or vice versa? Read our step by step guide on how to do it and how to stay safe.
It is quite funny that although not many people intend to visit Paraguay, an overlooked South American country in terms of tourism, quite a lot of them after all visit at least the closest city to Paraguay-Brazil borders, Ciudad del Este.
Why? Simply because it is so close to Foz do Iguazu on the Brazilian side that not many travelers who at first arrived in this area solely to witness one of the most incredible natural wonders, Iguazu Falls, cannot miss an opportunity to get another stamp in the passport.
Ciudad del Este is a classic border town by nature, and for a visitor not expecting what to see it can seem crazy at first, maybe even at second sight. Most of all travelers come to Ciudad del Este only for a day because of the possibility of cheap shopping, but we spent in this city three days and found out there are many things to do in this easternmost city of Paraguay.
When you plan on crossing borders from Paraguay to Brazil or vice versa, you should know that those two countries are connected by Bridge of Friendship and an area around this bridge up to 30 kilometers is open to both locals and foreigners. In case you are visiting one of those countries only for a day and do not plan on traveling any further (and also in case you don't collect passport stamps), you can easily cross the bridge without stopping.
In case you will be in either Paraguay or Brazil longer or further from the borders, we summed up all things you should know to make your border crossing as smooth as possible.
We crossed borders from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay to Foz do Iguazu, Brazil, but in case you will do it vice versa, you can follow this guide as well, only from the bottom.
WHERE TO STAY IN CIUDAD DEL ESTE
When in Ciudad del Este, it is convenient to stay in the city center. Not only you will be able to catch a bus from here to Itaipu Dam or to Salto Monday, but your access to the borders will also be much easier.
Budget | Sur Brasil - This hotel offers basic, but clean rooms close to the bus terminal for all traveling on a tight budget.
Mid-range | Hotel Convair - A four-star hotel offering amazing, simple and clean accommodation for the unbeatable price.
Luxury | Howard Johnson Ciudad del Este - Beautifully appointed rooms, free wifi, breakfast and pool on the roof overlooking the city are some of the features this hotel has to offer.
You can also search for all hostel options using HostelWorld.
HOW TO SAFELY CROSS THE BORDERS BY LAND VIA FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE
1. First, prepare yourself that closer you will get to the borders, more people, stalls, and cars you will see which can be quite overwhelming. Petty theft is not unknown in Ciudad del Este, so try to store everything safely in your backpack and have the passport ready in one of your most accessible pockets.
2. Next task is to decide how will you get to the Paraguayan borders. You have three options. The first option is to take a taxi (the rate depends on where you'll ask the driver to be dropped off - he can surely take you directly to Foz do Iguazu with waiting for you to get all necessary stamps). It is for sure the easiest way how to get to Brazil, the only downside is, that there is very often a traffic jam which can be annoying, especially in the heat (make sure your cab has an aircon).
Another way how to get to borders is by taking public transport. Buses between Ciudad del Este and Foz do Iguazu run frequently from either the city center or from the bus station - they have a sign Foz do Iguazu. You can get stuck in the traffic jam as well, but the bigger problem we see in no guarantee that the driver will stop at the borders (although at first, he'll tell you he will) because you'll be probably the only person on a bus who needs the passport stamp. When taking a bus, always sit in the front to announce you need to get off - but there is a small chance the bus will wait for you so you will need to catch another one and it means paying the transfer fee twice.
The last option of how to reach borders was to walk. Guess what we chose.
Our hotel was right in the city center, and when looking on a map, we soon found out that the border crossing is only about 15 minutes walk from us. It was a hot day, so it made the walk with all our gear a bit more challenging, but we believe we were there still quicker than if we would have taken a taxi or public transport, plus we did not have to be worried that we would miss the exit and entry point.
3. Once you get to the Paraguayan borders, enter the office on your right. Because everyone in the area travels literally forth and back without stopping, there was no line, and we got our exit stamp straight away.
4. Cross the Friendship Bridge. Continue to Brazil via Friendship Bridge by taxi, public bus or on foot. There is a sidewalk, so you don't need to worry you'll be hit by a car. This bridge serves not only as a transport hub between two neighboring countries but is also incredibly important for Ciudad del Este's economy because an insane number of people cross the bridge forth and back from Brazil to Paraguay only to do cheap shopping and return to Foz do Iguazu the same day.
5. Once you are on the other side of the bridge, enter the Brazilian border office on your left. You should not have any problems getting your stamp here quickly as well.
6. There is an ATM in case you want to withdraw Brazilian Reais, but we tried and were not successful, the ATM did not take our Visas, so your next option where to withdraw money will be in Foz do Iguazu in Muffato supermarket near the bus terminal.
7. From Brazilian borders we jumped on the first bus going to Rodoviario Urbano, luckily we were still able to pay with Paraguayan money, guarani.
Enough said, crossing the borders between Paraguay and Brazil went really smoothly, and the process was much easier than the Colombia - Ecuador border crossing we did last year.
WHERE TO STAY IN FOZ DO IGUAZU
From the bus station, we headed to our hotel. As there is not much to do in Foz do Iguazu apart from visiting Iguazu Falls, we advise you to stay near the bus terminal, of course, in case you plan on getting there by bus.
Budget | Suite Cardoso - Basic but conveniently located hotel great for all budget travelers.
Mid-range | Nadai Confort Hotel e Spa - For the price this is the absolutely nicest hotel in Foz do Iguazu which also features an outdoor pool, spa, and gym.
Luxury | Continental Inn Hotel - A stylish hotel close to the center of Foz do Iguazu where you can find an outdoor pool fitted with jacuzzi, tennis court, wifi throughout the property and aircondition in every room.
You can also search for all hostel options using HostelWorld.
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