Follow as many as possible the Rio de Janeiro safety tips below if you want to take minimum risk during your stay in the city. That does not mean that if you don’t follow a particular safety tip something bad will happen to you.
There are tourists that stay in Rio de Janeiro for several days and even weeks and don’t follow most of these safety tips and yet nothing happens to them, no mugging, no pick-pocketing, etc. Good for them! It depends a lot on where they have walked, if in group or alone, if they are old or young, their looks, their pace, what time of the day, what day of the week. There are many variables.
Being robbed in Rio is the worst-case scenario, it is an exception, not the rule. In fact, I would say that the vast majority of Rio de Janeiro visitors (I would bet on over 99%) have nothing negative to report to Rio’s authorities or any reason to visit the local Police station during their stay in the city.
Whatever negative story you have heard about Rio happened to a very tiny minority. So, if you really want to minimize to almost zero your chances of being part of this unlucky (or street-unwise) minority stick to the safety tips below.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 1:
Leave your watch, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, jewelry in the safe of your hotel in Rio. Even if they are cheap. From far a robber does know if it is cheap or expensive. He will get to know it after he robbed it. If you have nothing visible on you, there are great chances that he will look for another target.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 2:
DO NOT FIGHT WITH A ROBBER. Among Rio de Janeiro fatal cases are those when the victim tried to play hero. Many robbers in Rio are still teenagers. However, DO NOT sub estimate their firing potential. Most of them have knives and even fireguns.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 3:
Do carry a nice bill in your pocket (say, a fifty-Reais bill). In the case of being robbed, you have something to ‘please’ the robber right away. That increases the chances that he will leave you alone immediately instead of digging for more. You can keep bigger bills and credit cards in your water-proof travel money belt.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 4:
In case of an attack, raise your arms and let them empty your pockets and run happily with a 50-Reais bill!
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 5:
Bring on you ONLY what you don’t mind to loose. For example, bring a 100- or 200-dollar camera that you don’t mind to loose. If you take photos with your iPhone, be sure that you have a copy of your address book and important data on your PC. If you are carrying a bagpack, be mentally ready to loose it and what ever is inside it.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 6:
Do not walk by the water at night on the beaches of Rio. If you do want to stay or walk by the water or even take a swim, do it at Arpoador beach, at the end of Ipanema, close to Pedra do Arpoador (Arpoador Stone).
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 7:
Do not walk in downtown (Centro) on the weekends.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 8:
Walk as minimum as possible at night. Take a taxi to your destination and take a taxi back to your hotel. As a general rule, the emptier the street, the riskier it is.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 9:
Look for taxis that have the company name or telephone number on it. They tend to be more reliable although taxis in general are very safe in Rio. Always prioritize taking a taxi at night, even for small distances. However, many taxi drivers will take a slightly longer route once you pronounce your destination.
Rio de Janeiro Safety Tip # 10:
Hire Madson, tour guide in Rio!