Even if your spending power is more budget than mega-bucks, it would be a shame to return empty handed from your vacation in Rio de Janeiro.
That’s not to say that you should throw taste to the wind and buy glow in the dark Christ statues for friends and family – there are some inexpensive buys out there that your nearest and dearest would actually be pleased to receive.
Firstly, think Rio, think beach fashion, think Havaianas. These supremely comfortable rubber flip flops might be cheap and ubiquitous in Brazil, but they’re highly sought after by fashionistas in other parts ofthe world. There are so many colours, styles and designs to pick from that making a choice can be tricky, so prepare to invest a little time. Also, word to the wise – Havaianas, like many things in Rio, are more expensive in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon than in Centro and surrounds.
For Havaianas and other bargain fashion finds, your best bet is to head on a Metro to Uruguaiana, in the heart of Centro. The stalls of Uruguaiana Market are worth a rummage in themselves, while the maze of streets leading off from the market, Saara, is bursting with super-cheap clothes, jewelry and more. Should you wish to invest in a samba dancer’s outfit as a keepsake, Saara is the place to find it.
Brazil is, of course, synonymous with ‘Futebol’, and a Brazilian football shirt makes a great gift for anyone with even a passing interest in sport. While originals are expensive (think up to R$300), the city is awash with copies so convincing that it’s almost impossible to distinguish them from the real thing. Again, avoid the bumped up prices of Copacabana and Ipanema beach fronts and take a wander around Uruguaiana – here it’s possible to pick up replica shirts of local sides such as Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco as well as the famous yellow Brazilian national shirt.
Lastly, you’ll no doubt have some fond (if hazy) memories of nights out drinking caipirinhas, those tangy but oh so intoxicating cocktails of cachaca, sugar, lime and ice.
Expensive outside the country, even a decent bottle of cachaca is affordable in Rio, while even those on really tight budgets are sure to have enough for a bottle of bog-standard 51, the cause of many a crazy night out in Rio. Of course, check how much alcohol you are allowed to take into your home country from abroad – and don’t stick it in your hand luggage if you don’t want it to be confiscated at the airport under the ‘no liquids’ safety laws!