The people are friendly and the pace is slow. The country has about 6.7 million people and 2.3 million of them live in the capital city, Asuncion.
Here are 18 tips on traveling to Paraguay:
1. Spanish and Guarani are widely spoken in Paraguay.
2. Summer is extremely hot and can be up to 40 degrees Celsius according to the locals. Our visit was in winter. You do need a light jacket at night and early morning. Trinidad was extremely cold at night and early morning. You need winter clothes in this part of Paraguay, bordering Argentina in the northwest.
3. Time zone in Paraguay is the same as US Eastern Time.
4. Electricity is 220 volts.
5. Official currency is Guaraní. During our visit it was US$1 to 4400 Guaranis.
6. You can withdraw US dollars or local guaranis in major bank ATMs in Paraguay. We withdrew ours at HSBC bank along Calle Palma.
7. Money exchange can be made at the border town of Cuidad del Este if you are traveling by a local or tour bus from Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.
8. Most shops prefer cash in Paraguay and do not accept credit cards.
9. If you need to consult with a bank official, banking hours are between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
10. Tipping is 10% in restaurants and bars.
11. You can travel cheaply by bus from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil to Paraguay. I do not have the experience but I’ve seen bus ticket counters in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay that sells tickets to Asuncion, Paraguay. You will have to be aware of the need to go through immigration and customs on your own.
12. Americans need Paraguayan visas. It costs US$160 per person and lasts until the passport expires.
13. There are American fast food restaurants in Asuncion like McDonald’s and Burger King.
14. We were careful with fruit juices and salads while eating in Paraguay. On our first night in Asuncion we asked for stir-fried vegetables instead of salad. BAD choice… we were given fried salad (tomatoes, shredded carrots and lettuce).
15. Services at restaurants are slower than expected. So be patient.
16. Get a hair cut in Asuncion. It is cheap. My son got one at Ayala, across the Grand Palace Hotel for USD4.50 by a barber who has 40 years of experience. He paid US$25 in Florida, US$10 in Mendoza, US$15 in Montevideo and US$13 in Sao Paulo.
17. Tap water is drinkable in Paraguay according to the Paraguay Tourism Board. We bought bottled water.
18. Airport tax is US$31.