Has anyone been to Sao Paulo, Brazil?

I’m a college student and I’m visiting my dad (who’s working there) for Christmas break. I’ll be spending Christmas Day and probably spend a bit less than 3 weeks there total. Reading around I get the impression Rio de Janeiro is the real place to be in Brazil and Sao Paulo is more of the big dirty industrial city. I’m concerned about transportation since I get the impression Sao Paulo is also pretty dangerous and my Portuguese is basically nonexistent, though I can speak a little bit of Spanish, which will help hopefully.

So what is there to do in Sao Paulo? How do you get around? Any other places of interest near the city as well? Where I’m staying is pretty close to center of the city so I’d be interested in knowing if are there any English speaking bars or pubs around. This will probably be my only chance to see Brazil so any information is appreciated. :slight_smile:

They speak Portuguese in Brazil. Some people have told me it’s similar enough to get by, but if you only know a little Spanish you might be in trouble.

Do yourself a HUGE favor and pick up Lonely Planet’s Brazil guide. The maps of Sao Paulo alone made it worth it.
Crime: It’s the biggest city in South America. It has crime, but not as bad as Rio. Just don’t wear anything flashy (like a necklace or a watch). Have a minimal amount of cash on you.
Eating: good pizza, GREAT japanese food (in Liberdade), fantastic clubs and bars. Everyone is down at the beach though after Dec 15th until February.
Remember that they are VERY cosmopolitan. Learn a few key words (Por Favor, Obrigado, Cerveja), and try to make yourself understood with a dictionary. A large part of the population can speak some English, but it’s nicer if you try to make some effort. Enjoy yourself!

On the Travel Channel tomorrow (Thursday the 6th) at 12:30 PM Central time (1:30 Eastern time) there’s a program called “Samantha Brown: Passport to Latin America”; this episode covers Sao Paulo - it’s a good introduction to this HUGE city (although I’ve never been there). Hope that helps you.

Samatha Brown’s Latin American series is interesting since Europe gets lots of “how-to visit” shows (including her “Passport to Europe”); it’s nice to see different parts of the world.

There’s lots of good restaurants. Otherwise, there’s not much to do for entertainment; everything is in Rio.

My recollection is that there’s a zoo…? It’s been over 20 years since I was in Sao Paulo.

Well, I know there was a film festival there in October, ‘cause my brother had a film in it…but other than that, I got nothin’.

Basic travel tips apply, I’m sure: make two copies of your passport, one to leave at home with a friend and the other to give to your father in Brazil. Keep your ID and money close - like inside your clothes close, not in a wallet close, and try not to look like too much of a doofus. Don’t let people rush you when making monetary transactions with unfamiliar currency. If they’re being a jerk and making you hurry, it’s probably because they’re trying to scam you. (I had one moneychanger in Bali - only one, I hasten to add - drop bills behind the countertop as he counted them out. I refused to take the money, telling him to count it again, and he did, dropping more bills behind the counter! I called him on it, in front of several Balinese witnesses and my American husband, and he changed his mind and told me he couldn’t change my money. Asshole. The rest of the people there were awesome, but there’s always a few jerks in every paradise…)

Thanks for the info so far, especially about that show tomorrow (I have class then so I’ll try to record it) and Lonely Planet recommendation. I have a fair amount of experience being abroad, but being completely ignorant of the language is something new so I should probably try to learn some travel phrases. If anyone else has more information or recommendation it’s still welcome.

Oh, I almost forgot: don’t bother changing money in the airport or in the banks. You get a better rate at both hotels and tourist spots, plus no real fee.

I wouldn’t bother changing money at all, I just took cash out of an ATM while I was there and thats what I have done on various trips to Brazil.

I’ve been to Sao Paulo for a brief period of time but not enough to get to know the city like I did Rio de Janeiro. Sao Paulo is a huge city and you can find pretty much anything that you are looking for there. Unfortunately the dollar is in the toilet right now so Brazil is not all that cheap for clothing like it was a few years back. I had friends who lived there for a few years and they always liked living there. There are some amazing restaurants and a lot of nightlife as well.

I saw Samantha Brown’s segment on Sao Paolo on the Travel Channel. It reminds me of L.A…basically all sprawled out and not what you’d call pretty, and with horrible traffic, but with lots of interesting things to see and do.

Sao Paulo has excellent restaurants and elegant shopping. The night clubs are excellent. However, it is a BIG city (18 million people), and the air quality isn’t great. As far as crime goes, stay away from public transport, and don’t go into dubious places…you will be fine. One restaurant I like is BARBACOA-great grilled meats.
Bring lots of money, the city aint cheap-and the dollar is VERY weak these days