São Paulo – traffic, traffic, all-you-can-eat, traffic

Big sightseeing plans ran into the wall of São Paulo’s traffic. We did do some sightseeing at 11 pm in the backseat of a friend’s car after a huge feast, though those photos did not turn out. São Paulo is pleasant-enough, it is just crippled by traffic. Best advice I can give is base in one neighborhood, aimlessly explore, and don’t get too ambitious with sightseeing plans.

Brazil 315

Calm above the storm

Brazil 310

Traffic galore

We found restaurants in Brazil to be quite expensive for what was on offer, the best values we found were various all-you-can-eat ‘rodizio’ menus, from barbeque to sushi, we would have lunch and skip dinner. We liked best the ones that generally serve a la carte but have the option for rodizio. A Japanese place near our hotel, the Park Inn Ibirapuera was sumptuous.

Brazil 311

Rodizio to the rescue

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  • That sushi looks delicious. Why didn’t you use the subway? It was fairly convenient for getting around when I was in SP.

  • Santastico

    LOL!!!! Sao Paulo has one of the worst traffics in the world. And you were very lucky that by looking at your pictures the weather was nice with blue sky. You should see what the traffic will be when it rains. Total nightmare!!!! As for restaurants, indeed Sao Paulo is one of the most expensive places in the world but also one of the best places to eat in the world due to the diversity of cultures you find in the city. Sao Paulo has the one of the largest Japanese, Lebanese and Italians communities outside of those countries so you can imagine the quality of the food you can get there. I am a Brazilian and every time I go back to my home country I visit family and eat out every single day visiting my favorite restaurants. Let me know if you want my list of best places to eat in Sao Paulo and I can share with you. Enjoy your trip!!!

  • @Trevor – the subway was nowhere near our hotel, unfortunately.

  • Pamela T

    Oh my. I can’t imagine traffic worse than Nairobi.

  • @Pamela T – in SP’s defence the traffic is pretty orderly and there are not all manner of vehicles, carts, bikes, etc popping in and out, the trouble is that the traffic just doesn’t move!

  • James

    So would you recommend, when going, to make sure one’s hotel is near the subway?

  • Brian R.

    Is your first picture by your hotel? It looks like a fairly nice area of SP. I only stayed for 2 nights, over by Paulista & then one night in the city centre by Republica (which was not a good idea). Food was great (other than the cheap sushi I had, I am Japanese so probably pickier when it comes to sushi), but the city didn’t feel safe for the most part to me especially the city centre. Also, was a bit surprised by the lack of people who could understand English outside of nice hotels.

  • @James – for ease of sightseeing that would be a big help because many of the sights are in the city center which is not safe at night. That said, hotels are in short supply and often packed, so our backup to be in pleasant, safe neighborhood worked OK for what my wife wanted to do.

  • Linda

    I love Sao Paulo and agree the subway is helpful. And no, traffic not even close to Nairobi!

  • @Brian R – that first picture is from an extremely pretentious shopping malls, Jardins, that my wife had an appointment as she slipped in a little work. The mall does not allow walk-ups, you need to arrive by car or helicopter.

    English was a big challenge for us, one fruit juice stand we found a Chinese staff with a picture dictionary that taught us the Portuguese for our favorite fruits.

    The city center is rough and we are glad we did not stay there. Our midnight drive-by tour took us in that area, my local friend pointing out the “zombies,” various drug dealers and addicts, etc that were hanging around in the streets near the most beautiful old buildings.

  • JB

    Have to say I didn’t enjoy Sao Paulo. everything is overpriced, traffic is so bad the only option is to take taxis because they can drive in the bus lane.

    Oh and the Park Inn Ibapura is a dump – I complained to Club Carlson and got 15,000 points in compensation.

    If you must stay in the city for tourism, stay here http://www.royaljardins.com.br
    great restaurants in walking distance.

    The at&t international data plan works in Sao Paulo – I used the phone map to show the taxi drivers – as I don’t speak Portugese.

    If you travel alone catch the aiprot shuttle from GRU to the local airport at Congonhas then hop from there. otherwise – share a taxi.

    Best food? the Tekamaki chains – japanese seafood handrolls. also Pricey/good: Dalva e Dito

  • Santastico

    The first picture is from the top of Cidade Jardim shopping mall that was inspired by the Bal Harbor Mall in Miami. The reason you cannot walk to this mall is that it is located at Marginal Pinheiros, one of the main expressways in Sao Paulo so you can’t walk. The mall is very fancy but nice for window shopping. The other fancy malls are Iguatemi and JK.
    Sao Paulo downtown is beautiful and very historic but not a nice place to stay and visit due to the reasons mentioned in this blog. For hotels, your best options are the international chains located in the Jardins or Berrini areas otherwise local chains of “flat hotels” in the Itaim neighborhood.
    Agree that Sao Paulo is a very expensive place but you can find the most amazing restaurants from every type of cuisine of the world. I would say that other than amazing Japanese food, other Asian cuisines such as Thai, India, Vietnamese, etc… are not well represented in Sao Paulo but any European and Middle Eastern cuisine in Sao Paulo challenges their home country in terms of quality and options. Brazilian regional food is also amazing and you can find great places in Sao Paulo. Don’t forget the meat which is how Brazil is known for its cuisine.