Brazil is the largest country in South America and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Over 6 million people visited Brazil last year, its tourist attractions ranging from amazing nature like beaches and rainforests, to architectural gems like the capital city, Brasilia. The Carnival in Rio alone attracts over one million tourists every year.

There are some things, however, you should be aware of when visiting Brazil as it isn’t really the kind of country you just put your yoga pants and yoga socks on and can relax.

Tourists are vulnerable to falling prey to street crimes, especially thefts and robberies. It’s very important to always stay on guard, avoid going out at night, and always keep an eye on your belongings. Only take a small amount of cash with you when you’re out sightseeing, and leave expensive possessions in your hotel’s safe or at home, including jewelry and expensive phones and cameras.

If you decide to rent a car, keep the doors and windows closed and locked at all times and when you need to withdraw money, look for an indoor ATM in a well-lit area. You should also be a bit careful when it comes to the locals — occasionally, some might seem helpful with the only purpose of stealing from tourists.

All these general safety tips shouldn’t keep you from visiting such an amazing country, but do keep in mind to exercise caution and try to stay away from these five places.

Favelas

The Brazilian slums, favelas, are pretty much some of the most dangerous places in the world you can go to. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry, you should just stay away from the favelas.

There is a lot of violence and aggression going on in the Brazilian slums and they’re mostly controlled by drug cartels which have their own private armies under their command. One such cartel is Red Command. In Rio, avoid going to Vila Cruzeiro. This favela might look like it’s owned by the church, but it’s actually run and controlled by drug lords.

 

Salvador

For nature lovers, this is one of the most desirable Brazilian destinations. It’s also a very good spot for taking photos for your Instagram feed, being a city with a rich colonial heritage. That is if you are willing to risk your life for those photos.

Homicide rates are off the chart in this place, which is now one of Brazil’s most violent cities. Prison gangs at war with each other and drugs have made Salvador a simply dangerous place. Even the Brazilians will tell you not to go to Salvador during your South American trip.

 

Recife

Another colonial jewelry, another dangerous place. Recife it the fifth biggest metropolitan area in Brazil and it has been called “Venice of Brazil” because of its beautiful canals and bridges and picturesque tortuous rivers.

It might sound heavenly, but it’s quite the opposite: Recife has one of the highest murder rates per capita in the whole of Brazil. It’s extremely dangerous especially on the weekend and in the hours after the sun sets, when it’s easier for culprits to sneak around and escape unseen.

Mato Grosso

Mato Grosso is actually a huge plain running throughout Brazil and even though it’s so enormous in size, it has similar crime rates to large cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo.

Homicides are a big part of the violent crimes in this region which has one of the highest assault rates in Brazil. The number of violent and non-violent crimes in Mato Grosso make it a dangerous area to visit. If you really want to go, you have to be extra careful and take all necessary precautions.

 

Caracarai

Women travelers and families with children are especially advised to stay away from this small Brazilian city in the state of Roraima. Young children and girls can fall victim to human trafficking and sexual exploitation which are some of the most common crimes occurring in Caracarai.

Truck drivers are usually the perpetrators when it comes to the widespread sexual exploitation of the underaged in Brazil. They generally lead their exploits at local rest-stops. You would want to avoid this area if you are traveling alone or with young children.