on January 21, 2004
Some of the other criticisms here seem petty (e.g., the changing cost of visas, changes in costs due to unstable currency, the screed about the Carmen Miranda museum which isn't difficult to find, yammering about the fairly moderate politics). Indeed, some seem typical of the reviews of travel guides one expects from people with unrealistic expectations of a guidebook and limited travel experience. That said, this is definitely one of LP's weaker efforts. I found numerous errors on maps and in descriptions of locations, important enough that one can miss important places (like hotels or laundries--which can be few). There are significant areas of neglect, e.g., the book doesn't mention that Itacare is an international surfing center, although this is evident pretty quickly. People looking for quiet beach town will be disappointed. My guess is that the next revision needs much more care. Unfortunately, the alternative is the "Footprints" guide which has some gaping holes (e.g., few descriptions of tours and jungle lodging in the Amazon) and the Rough Guide which also has significant weaknesses.
on November 9, 2003
I never viewed Lonely Planet as one-size answer to all your travels: along with brilliant LP guides to strange and not-so-strange destinations (West Africa and Canary Islands are just two big success stories) there are sad failures (Iceland & Greenland, Bolivia and anything else penned by Deanna Swaney), marred with self-important ideological preaching, poor research and lack of any writing skills.
Brazil is somewhere in between. The book does not suffer from excessive ideologization and does not fancy itself as a latter-day Marxist's political history handbook. America-bashing was kept to a minimum. This is refreshing.
There is fairly good amount of practical info (some of it is out of date), although nothing has been done to address the chronic ailment of Lonely Planet: shameless recycling of "general info", which in most cases is either misleading or simply insults your intelligence. The guide, as before, has no idea how most people book ticket these days; and nuggets of deep knowledge and inside advice like "your camera can get damaged, lost or stolen" (you don't say - how many years of travel experience helped you acquire this rare insight?) makes you wish you could have your money back.
However, useless passages are essentially harmless (apart from making the guide thicker than it needs be). More regrettable is the stuff that's MISSING: that is, focus and helpful informed opinion. It seems that, once a traveller got to Brazil, got a place to stay and figured out the cheapest way to get around, he's not entirely sure why he is there in the first place. Descriptions of the places to see are lazy, unenthusiastic and uninspired. The authors seem to have been going through the motions.
With abundance of books on Brazil on the market, there is no compelling reason to stick with this one other than brand loyalty.
on November 1, 2003
as many other reviewers have mentioned, this LP is a bit below the standard of the other LP country guides, and i am 100% certain that this is because brazil is such a huge country to deal with... i only traveled to some of the main cities in brazil, but on those evenings when i sat down to flip through the LP as improptu reading material, i could tell that information was missing on huge portions of the country... when i have used other LP country guides, i had the feeling that i could go to almost any small town, whether of tourist interest or not, and the LP would help me out...in brazil, i felt just the opposite: i'm sure it doesn't cover dozens and dozens of places which, though not interesting to the tourist in general, may become an unforeseen stopover on a trip, or a destination for a long-term traveller getting a more in-depth view of brazil, or just a place with some sort of alternative interest...
the pros: the maps and city plans are substantially better than in the competitors' guidebooks (where footprint is severely lacking, for example)... lonely planet is one of the few "backpacker"-style travel guidebooks that gives you information on at least a few hotels that are not youth hostels, dives or other forms of bottom-barrel accommodation; in other words, they at least give you a few mid-range and expensive options if you wish to go that way (which ends up being often in an inexpensive country like brazil)... all the essentials are there, with great suggestions on places to sleep, eat and visit
the cons: as with ALL of the backpacker/youth travel guidebooks, the info. on sights/monuments/museums, etc., is SEVERELY lacking... there is just the most basic of information on the history of the sights that you have gone so far to see... which makes it necessary to buy another book, pay an expensive guide or some such thing... (for instance, you will rarely read detailed descriptions of the artwork to be found in a church and are often left wandering about saying 'this is so beautiful, i wonder what it is...i wish the guidebook would tell me more!')
i know that giving all the information i have mentioned would make the brazil guidebook the size of the encyclopedia britannica, but even 50% more information on the background of sites and 25% more locations would be wonderful!
despite LP's quality, i would take another guidebook (especially one with specific historical and cultural info.) along, just in case...
on September 7, 2003
An excellent guidebook is intended to guide and not lead. The Lonely Planet Brazil guidebook is a great guide. Its maps are accurate, its plces to stay and eat are reliable, and it offers extensive info on the sights and activities for every town included in the book. But Brazil is a dynamic country, particularly its economy and that has an impact of all prices quoted in the 5th edition (2002). The actual prices in 6/2003 for meals, accommodations and transportation were consistently 15 to 20 percent less. Bus schedules changed, but not their itinerary and frequency. Unfortunately the guidebook does not offer the names of the bus companies which would be of great help, especially when departing from Rio, where there are over a hundred bus companies.
The guidebook has 752 fact filled pages including well researched Facts about Brazil, Facts for the Visitor, and Natural Brazil.
A few weak areas:
The language area should be strengthened by providing more information on pronunciation. The information they give for consonants t, d, and r is incorrect because it is only partially complete.
Where and how to exchange money needs to be updated, especially when exchanging cash.
Budget and moderately priced accommodations for Rio should be expanded. (Frommers does a better job in this area.)
Visa information needs to be updated. A Brazilian visa now costs $100 for US citizens.
on April 7, 2003
The conventional wisdom is that you can't go wrong with Lonely Planet guide, but this Brazil guide proves otherwise. The new 5th edition is little changed from the 4th, except for 1) the new Natural Brazil section. Most travelers will find this section too dry and uninteresting, while those really interested in nature will find it too superficial 2) $5.00 higher price tag.
Useful things, such as info on hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and prices are too often inaccurate. The most annoying aspect of this guide is that all prices are out of whack. LP translated prices (some of which were probably 5 years old) into US dollars when the real was 2.2 per dollar. Now it is about 3.5.
All this raises doubts of whether or not the authors actually went to Brazil to update this edition and not just slapped on a new cover and threw in a new useless section. So, if you have the 4th edition, keep using it. If not, look into buying either the Footprints or the Rough guides. The high popularity of LP is another reason to go with something else. When you go to places recommended by LP, you are very likely to run into hordes of other backpackers clutching their LP guides like bibles and afraid to make a step on their own. On a positive note, the LP guide does have useful info about Brazil's history, economy, culture, society, film and literature.
on December 7, 2002
I made the mistake of trying to travel in Brazil with this book. The new editions come out every couple of years or so, but really don't get updated much, which becomes obvious if you try to use the book extensively. Hotels are listed which closed years ago. Maps are next to impossible to use as they show only hotels and restuarants, not landmarks. Half a page will get devoted to the Carmen Miranda museum in Rio de Janeiro, which is freqented only by people who have read about it in LP, is next to impossible to find, and contains next to no history about her, and no artifacts apart from a couple of dresses. After a couple weeks of frustration (thankfully rescued with e-mail advice from Brasilian friends) trying to travel round Brasil with this book, a traveller I met gave me the Footprints guide, which is much more helpful.
on April 6, 2003
I lost count of the number of errors in this book. They printed the wrong dates for Carnaval Samba Parades, the prices are in USD rather than in local currency - all wrong by an average 30%, as well. Hotels and restaurants are listed that closed long before the January 2002 publication date, and it's obvious that they haven't been to Brasilia in years - citing it as `treeless` - which I`m sure it was twenty years ago, but not today.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend a better Brazil guide because I don't have any experience with any others, but I enjoyed ceremoniously burning this book when I left Brazil.
The most disappointing is that other Lonely Planet Guidebooks (I have used 5 other ones) far exceed the standards that this one set.
on March 23, 2004
On a three month research trip to Brazil, my husband and I began a letter to Lonely Planet detailing every mistake, omission, and out-of-date reference we could remember. Sometimes we just couldn't write fast enough! Many of the maps were virtually useless (particularly the one of Salvador, we thought). Prices were vastly different and inaccurate (and not due only to changes in the exchange rate). At the end of three months, our letter was in excess of 7 single spaced typed pages! And we certainly didn't go everywhere.
on July 15, 2002
This book is both interesting and informative. I planned a two week trip in Southern Brazil around the towns/pousadas/hotels in this book. Its information is up to date and very exacting. I bought 3 Brazilian travel books. This book is clearly suberb to the others and a "must have" for the Brazilian traveler. I traveled with a Brazilian and she too marveled at the useful information / history / travel tips. I cannot rate this book high enough! Thanx Lonely Planet!
on December 5, 2003
There is no other option than to agree with the other reviewers. the language section is bad (how do you call a waiter? how do you ask for the bill? basics that are not deemed important by the writers). The descriptions are sometimes uninspired..but most importantly...the information on Brazil's most important city, Sao Paulo, The city that is most difficult to find your way in, but that has far more to offer than Rio is limited to just 15 pages!