$1 = 5,000 PYG $1 = 3 BRL $1 = 9 ARS
1. Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.
We took the overnight NSA bus from Asuncion to Foz for 140,000Gs. We departed at
midnight and arrived around 6am. They woke us up around 5:30am for immigration. First in Paraguay’s Immigration and then a few minutes later in Brazil’s Immigration. Even though our seats were very comfortable, we didn’t get much sleep. We got seats on the lower floor and they leaned all the way down. It’s a pity that the bus ride was only 5 hours long. We also got a breakfast box with juice and cookies. Another thing that I loved from this company is that they had a VIP waiting room in front of the terminal with sofas, TV, WiFi, bathroom and the bus stopped there 30 minutes before departure time.
We arrived at the International bus terminal and took the light green bus that stops outside. This bus takes you to the local bus station. It cost R$ 2,9 and took around 15 minutes. You can take numbers 105, 125 and 145 that run between the International terminal and the local bus station. Inside this bus station you can also take the one that goes to Iguaçu National Park number 120. Park entrance costs R$ 52,3 and its open from 9am to 5pm. Another thing to see around is the Itaipu Dam. The second biggest hydroelectric dam in the world
2. Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
We went outside of the Bus Station in Foz and took the buses that pass across the street going towards the Argentinian border for R$ 4 or AR$ 20. First it will take you to the Brazilian Immigration point and give you a ticket when you get down. After you are done with the Immigration stamps you are supposed to wait where the bus left you. And you show the ticket to the next bus so you wont have to pay again. There are a couple of different bus companies. So if you wait for the one you took, you will have to wait from 40 minutes to an hour. So what I recommend is to take whatever bus comes next and just pay the extra AR$ 20. Then it will take you to the Immigration point in Argentina, wait for you there and then finally take you to the International Bus Terminal in Puerto Iguazu.
We stayed at Marcopolo Inn from Hotels which is located right in front of the Bus Terminal. We arrived there before our check in time so they storaged our backpacks in the lobby and we left for the Falls. Back to the bus terminal, all agencies sell the bus tickets to the falls for the same price, AR$ 100 round trip. There is no time written on the ticket so you can take them at any time you want. Buses are going back and forward every 15 to 30 minutes. Then the Entrance to the Park was AR$260 and it’s open from 8am to 4:30pm. In Argentina they won’t accept any other currency than pesos and finding a good exchange place is not that easy so I recommend to exchange before arriving to Argentina.
I have been to the Brazilian side twice and its very simple and small. At the Argentinian side there is so much more to do like “La Gran Aventura” for AR$ 520, “Aventura Nautica” for AR$ 270 and “Ecologico” for AR$ 120. Which are trips around the jungle or under the falls. We had our heart set on the Nautical Adventure which is a 15 minute boat ride under the falls but it had rain a lot on that day so the water flow was very high and it got closed. Also the Macuco Trail was all muddy so we couldn’t do it. But the main attraction was Garganta del Diablo which means the Throat of the Devil. This is a lookout point on the top of the waterfall and to get there you have to walk over a metallic bridge for like 20 minutes. It was exciting and scary at the same time.
We usually don’t have meals at touristic places but we had been travelling all day since the night before and it had been raining and we were cold and wet from the mist of the falls so we went to the buffet restaurant El Fortin and had some hot asado. The asado was delicious, specially after a tiring and cold day. But it cost AR$ 250 per person which was almost the same price as the entrance to the park.
Then we headed back to the Hostel and got our room. We had to leave AR$ 50 per person as a deposit which was returned on check out. Even though the room was quite big the door didn’t really lock well, the TV didn’t work at all, they didn’t offered towels and I think the heating was not running. At least they had really thick covers but I’m not sure how clean they were. I think it was just enough for the price we paid. Which was around AR$ 530 for the night. We only needed a place to sleep and a hot shower and that’s exactly what we got. However the facilities in the hostel looked better. A big garden with a place to watch movies and have barbecue. In my opinion this must be a very fun place during the summer season. Around that area there were many little shops that sold handcrafts souvenirs which were way cheaper and nicer than the stuff they sold at the Falls.
The next day we ate breakfast buffet which was included and then headed back to the Brazilian side to take our bus towards Sao Paulo. At Foz Terminal we storaged our backpacks for only R$ 5. We also spotted this great place called Jardim da Cerveja that advertised this traditional “Picanha na Pedra“. In my opinion it was by far the most delicious beef I had had during the entire trip. They served the picanha on a stone platter so the meat was still cooking and it was sizzling hot. It was very salted seasoned, juicy, crispy on the top and soft in the middle. It was sided with some fried mandioca, french fries, rice and salad. The set was R$ 104 for two and it was totally worth it.
3. Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
Since our bus was at night we headed for a day trip to Ciudad del Este. Famous for being a “Tax Free City” where thousands of Brazilians cross the open border everyday to buy electronics, cloths, leather, toys, beauty products, etc at way lower prices than they can find in Brazil. Brazilians are the main target so many shops will accept Reales and employees will be fluent in Portuguese. But most prices are set on dollars though and this is the preferable currency to avoid dealing with the exchange rates. Ciudad del Este can seem very chaotic and dangerous and it’s true, it can be! But it’s just a matter of knowing when to go, where to go and when to leave.
Shops open from very early in the morning around 7am and stay open until around 4pm. Do not stay later than that! When you see the flow of people crossing the bridge then it means it’s time to go. After shops close between 4 to 5 the view of this city is completely different. During opening hours it will be totally crowded, it will be difficult to move around and even difficult to breath in the intense heat and humidity. After everything closes it will be completely dark and deserted. It is extremely dangerous to be out during that time. If you want to avoid crowds then you can try going between Monday and Wednesday early morning.
There are buses for R$ 5 and “moto taxis” running back and forward across the Friendship bridge that connects Paraguay and Brazil. I strongly advise against going there by car. The roads are crowded with street vendors and people walking all around so traffic moves very slow. When going back into Brazil, if you are carrying a lot of bags then customs will check you. There is a restriction with buying a certain quantity of product and if you pass it then you will have to pay a lot of fees to get your stuff into Brazil or they will be confiscated. The open boarder means that if you are going for a day trip only, then you don’t need to do the immigration papers.
The main places we went to are Mona Lisa, Sacks, and Shopping del Este which are more on the fancy side. Casa China, Bonita Kim and Vendome for cheaper and miscellaneous stuff. Of course, there are also many stands along the road selling cloths and electronics. During the day I saw many policemen around with big guns and it was not as crowded since is low season during winter.
All in all what most people do is go to the Falls in Argentina or to the Falls in Brazil and then go shopping in Paraguay. For all of these is preferable to start the day early, especially if you are going during high season. Dress light and sporty. Do not carry valuables like jewelry or electronics or big purses. And exchange currency beforehand in small bills. Transportation is easy since buses go back and forward from all 3 boarders every 15 to 30 minutes and it’s really cheap. Safe Travels!