Destination guide: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo is the most inhabited city in Brazil, with modern architecture that coexists in perfect harmony with the city’s greenery and white sandy beaches. On strolling through its streets, visitors witness a magnitude of culture and nightlife, as well being able to visit exclusive shops and art galleries.
Fly with LAN to Sao Paulo and get to know Guaruja Island, the legacy of the golden age of coffee and the place where the South American Grand Prix is held.
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Sao Paulo - Getting Around & Transportation
From the Airport
A taxi between Aeroporto de Congonhasand the city center costs R$30 to R$40 and takes around 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. For buses to the center, walk out of the terminal and then to your right, where you’ll see a busy street with a pedestrian overpass. Head to the overpass but don’t cross; you should see a crowd of people waiting for the buses along the street. Local buses 875A and 875M run all the way to Av Paulista. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the São Judas metro stop (R$15 to R$18) and take the metro from there to the center.
Aeroporto São Paulo/Guarulhos, São Paulo’s international airport, is 30km northeast of the city center. There are ‘Airport Service’ buses ([tel] 6221 0244) to Praça da República, Terminal Tietê bus station, Congonhas airport and high-end hotels in Jardins and the city center. Buses leave approximately every half-hour from 6am to 11pm, with less frequent service from 11pm to 6am. All trips cost R$31 and leave from the stop just in front of the arrivals terminal. Taxis from the international airport charge a set fee depending on your destination. Fares to the city center are around R$90.
City buses, which are run by the city agency SPTrans ([tel] toll-free 156; www.sptrans.com.br, in Portuguese), cost R$2.70, and most lines run from around 6am to 1pm. They can be slow going, crowded and prone to pickpockets. Fortunately, there is now a series of corredores – special, bus-only lanes that help speed up travel times. The city tourist-information booths are excellent sources of information about buses.
A combination of metro and walking is the easiest way to see the city. São Paulo’s efficient metro (www.metro.sp.gov.br/ingles/index.asp; 1-way ticket R$2.65; [hrs] 5am-midnight) is one of the best in the world, with clean, modern stations – many of which are decorated with huge murals by local artists.
Taxis are plentiful, though because of long distances and traffic they can be expensive. For example, a ride from Jardins to the historic center should cost around R$20. All taxis should be metered – if your driver doesn’t turn the meter on, be sure to mention it. If the driver still doesn’t, ask to be let out. If you need to call a taxi, try Ligue Táxi ([tel] 2101 3030) or Coopertax ([tel] 2095 6000).
Why has a helicopter been swaddled in cashmere and hung in the main hall of Daslu, São Paulo’s most exclusive shopping emporium? The answer is simple: a private chopper is the ultimate Paulistano status symbol. The city’s elite took to the skies in a big way during the 1990s, rebelling against congested roads and kidnappers targeting wealthy residents. Today São Paulo is said to have more helicopter traffic than any other city, with some 300 heliports versus a mere 60 in New York City.
The problem, however, is that only the super-rich can afford their own bird. What are the merely ‘very rich’ to do? In a fit of class solidarity, they have founded helicopter ‘collectives, ’ enabling members to share the cost of purchase and maintenance of the choppers, and also pilot hire. After an initial outlay of about US$70,000, members need only pony up as little as US$50,000 a year – a bargain when you consider it’s a mere 10 times the typical annual salary of a domestic worker.