5 Travel Tips For Paraguay

I can’t help but squeak with joy when I hear murmurings of friends and family thinking of visiting us in Paraguay. If you haven’t considered it yet, take a moment and imagine yourself sipping ice-cold tereré from a hammock on our patio and dusting off that Spanish you learned in school as you try the local fare.

For those of you I just convinced to visit the up-and-coming travel destination (yeah, I’m still talking about Paraguay), I put together five travel tips to impress the natives and make your stay here more enjoyable.

1. Toilet Paper – it goes in the trash can, not the toilet. I guess the sewer systems can’t handle it. And it’s not a bad idea to carry a little pack of tissues in your purse or pocket as sometimes public restrooms aren’t stocked with toilet paper.

Toilet Paper in Paraguay

2. Clapping – Knock? Ring a doorbell? That is so last year. Here in Paraguay, just clap a few times outside someone’s house or their despensa (corner store) and they’ll be out to greet you in no time!

3. Guaraní – Arrived in Paraguay with perfect Spanish but still feeling frustrated you don’t know what’s going on? Probably because the people are using the 2nd official language of Paraguay, Guaraní. Not to worry, nearly everyone speaks Spanish as well (unless you’re in the very remote towns), but learn a few Guaraní phrases and you will jump into the hearts of Paraguayans faster than a cockroach dodges a shoe and runs into the darkness of the night. Here’s a little help:

Guaraní Phrase        How It Sounds               What It Means
 Mba’éichapa  by-AESH-ih-pa  How are you?
 Iporã  e-pour-AH  I’m fine
 Haku  ha-KOO  It’s hot (everyone loves a little weather talk)
 Heterei  hey-ter-eh-EE  Yum, yum delicious (to compliment someone’s cooking)
 Jajatopata  jah-jah-toe-PA-ta  See you later!

4. Dogs – Most dogs here aren’t strays, but they still roam around the roads unattended. Want the pup to back off? Just make a loud kissing noise at him and he will keep his distance. Works like a charm every time, as demonstrated in this video.

5. Gracias – This is the word for thank you in Spanish, but in Paraguay it’s also used for “no thanks.” For example, if someone holds out a guampa of tereré that you’d rather not drink, smile sweetly and say gracias with perhaps a slight shake of your head. Salespeople approach you at the bus terminal to sell you snacks, toys, lotto tickets, oil, batteries, or any number of things that you might not want? Gracias! Simply saying “no” is a bit harsh to the ears of Paraguayans, so the gracias trick is a good tool to know.

And now for some technical tips like when to visit and which documents and vaccines you’ll need in order to enter Paraguay.

Visa – United States citizens need a tourist visa to visit Paraguay. This can easily be attained upon arrival in the airport in Asunción, Paraguay. Just bring your valid passport and $160 cash.

How to get a Paraguayan Visa

Vaccines – No vaccines are required for US citizens to visit Paraguay, but a Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended (details here) as well as to be up-to-date on your Rabies, Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid vaccines. The Yellow Fever vaccine is only administered at certain locations, which can be found here.

Season – You are welcome into this new country of ours anytime, but we recommend avoiding June-July because of the cold and December-January because of the heat. Without insulation, heating, or air-conditioning the outside weather really soaks into your soul 24 hours a day, making both the hot and the cold feel more extreme than they actually are.

Like food as much as I do? December-January is mango season, pears in January, May-June will show fresh grapefruit and all the mandarins you could dream of, in July-August Isaiah will whip up guacamole from our avocado trees, and in December there is the sweet passionfruit just to name a few of the delicious things you’ll find growing near our house.

So, how are you feeling? Excited to plan a trip to our little landlocked island in the sun? We can’t wait! And don’t hesitate to ask any questions (even if you’re visiting Paraguay and not us). We have a good network of contacts here who can help us find the answer. For now, Jajatopata!

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9 thoughts on “5 Travel Tips For Paraguay

    • Just to say it’s typically cold with no escape during those months (of course there are exceptions too) so that no one is shocked when they arrive! You guys will be fine though – I mean we’ve lived through it once already!

  1. Dear Allison: Kids are finally back to school and I had a moment to catch up with your blog. Sounds like you are having such great adventures and I am envious!! Your hair looks so cute. I love it !!! Also, I was thinking about being away over the Holidays. As you know, Steve & I have chosen to take our immediate family skiing during the Holidays and we too miss our family, but feel comfortable knowing that they are at home loving us even though we aren’t with them…and we have our own precious family time. This year we spent Christmas Eve skiing on the beautiful mountains of Snowmass and then headed to a little church in historic downtown Aspen where we enjoyed a candlelight service. A young man played a guitar and sang “This Must Be Christmas” by “The Band.” A moving song which really makes you think about the true meaning of Christmas. I’m glad you are making your special immediate family memories with Isaiah..you won’t regret it!!

    We loved the article in the Goshen Bulletin. You both write so beautifully. Keep up the Yoga…one of my favorite things to do Ashtanga!! Let us know if you need anything, perhaps some pool toys…ha, ha. We will be sending another package soon. Much love…Tammy

    • So good to hear from you, Tammy! I agree with your sentiments about Christmas and your time this year sounds beautiful. We’re doing our best to enjoy all this precious time Isaiah and I have together, realizing it’s quite rare! Yoga is the best. I try to get myself to run from time to time but what I actually enjoy is yoga. Very sweet and generous if you chose to send another package. Your first one was amazing so I trust you to pick out anything! But we’ll try to think of something we’d enjoy but can’t find here – perhaps natural toothpaste (without sodium lauryl sulfate)? Weird, but that’s the only thing I can think of right now! Oh or pumpkin seeds. Much love!

  2. I just arrived this morning 8 February 2013 and will be staying until 18 February. This visit is in connection to my research on Colonia Nueva Australia. I came across your blog by doing a general search on travel tips in Paraguay. If you know someone who might be happy to travel with me on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday (12-14 Feb) to Nueva Australia (which is near Colonel Oviedo) and Ciudad del Este please sned an email to tudor@texmar.ro and we could meet in town (Asuncion). Thanks!

  3. Pingback: January Goals – Accomplished? | Gold Stars & Double Rainbows

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