Paraguay is one of the truest hidden gems in South America. Lesser-known and lesser-visited, that’s what you’ll come for. It may not be home to the flashy mega-destinations of some of it’s neighboring countries, but it makes up for it by offering an untouched culture and way of life that you have to hunt much harder for elsewhere. Get off the well-worn path and see the other side of South America that isn’t crowded with tour buses, chain hostels and swarms of foreigners. Kind locals, cheap prices, comfort food, a laid-back pace and those travel moments where you can’t believe how you ended up where you are: that’s Paraguay. Here you’ll find the most authentic experience possible, ready for just a few more travelers in the know to come and explore…
How to Get to Asuncion
You can get to Asuncion either by plane, bus, or even cargo ship along the Rio Paraguay!
Most people arrive to Asuncion by bus, which is most convenient if you’re traveling from within the country and cheapest if you’re traveling from a commonly connecting-city such as Iguazu Falls, Ciudad del Este, or some cities in Argentina (such as Resistencia, Salta or Buenos Aires). The bus terminal is about 5 km (3 miles) from the center, so you’ll need to take a bus (#28, less than a dollar) or a taxi ($7) from there to where you’re staying.
Read more: Salar de Uyuni: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Trip
If traveling from within Paraguay, you’ll have a choice between two types of buses: común and rápido. The first is cheaper, but stops in every small town along the way. The latter is direct (or stops maybe once), but runs less often.
Some common routes: Ciudad del Este (5-7hrs, $7-15, several daily), Resistencia, Argentina (12 hrs, $40, 1 per day in morning, connects to Salta), Buenos Aires (17hrs, $90, several daily).
One route that we strongly caution to avoid is bus travel between Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and Asuncion, Paraguay. It is slow, mostly unpaved, buses are often stopped by drug police in the middle of the night for checks, and they usually don’t have food or toilets for the 21 hour journey. Flights are only a little bit more if booked in advance and highly worth it.
You’ll fly into Silvio Pettirossi International Airport. If coming from another country in South America, you can sometimes get a good deal on flights with local carriers. If coming from abroad, you’ll likely have to connect through Panama in Central America, or Lima, Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo in South America.
When arriving at the airport, you’ll be far from the center and need to take a taxi in. They all charge flat, non-negotiable fares of almost $20USD. If you walk to the main road and take a yellow cab there you might save about $3.
You can also take a local bus into the city for about 50 US cents. If you walk a block outside the airport (there is only one road), then you’ll see two buses going to different streets in the center. You can take one, then a cheaper taxi to your hotel or hostel.
You can travel along the Rio Paraguay from Concepcion and even further if you want! The boat is called the “Cacique II” and leaves Concepcion for Asuncion every Sunday morning at 6am, and makes the trip back every Wednesday. The boat takes 22hours and costs around $8. Bring warm clothes and food, food may not be sold.
What to Do & See in Asuncion
National Congress: A very impressive building, this giant pink structure lights up with a beautiful array of colors at night. One of the more photogenic spots around! If you go before 1pm you can try to get a free English tour (the English guides aren’t there every day though), and you’ll get to visit the small museum inside. We also found it interesting because of the mirrored facade, where you’ll see reflections of the slums on the riverbank nearby. Gives a unique perspective. (Fun Fact: This was built by the Taiwanese government! Paraguay is the only country in South America that recognizes them as independent from China).
National Cathedral: A simple church with beautiful architecture, it sits on a wide plaza with beautiful fountains. Seeing locals pause outside looks like somethin gout of an old film. If you want to see inside though, try to go mid-morning as it closes for the midday siesta.
Municipal Museum: Not too much, but has a general introduction to the history of the city that is great for foreigners who don’t know all that much about Paraguay. (If you don’t know much about Paraguay, you should also check this article out for a fun introduction and snapshot of the country).
Costanera de Asuncion: A paved promenade along the Rio Paraguay, this is a great spot for locals who want to exercise, or to catch the view of the river and enjoy their mate or terere. On weekends you can rent bikes and such from people on the streets and ride along the length of it.
Loma San Jeronimo: A play on Buenos Aire’s colorful little “La Boca” neighborhood, this is a tiny collection of colorful homes, cafes, bars and restaurants. It’s small, but fun to wander. You can eat in local’s homes and hang out with residents, all who agreed to turn it into a tourist hot-spot! We recommend going on a Sunday afternoon when there’s a small local festival, it’s not nearly as buzzing the other days.
Mercado 4: On Avenida Silvio Pettirosso, this is a wild market where you can get just about anything for super cheap. A miniature Ciudad del Este within Asuncion. We also like it for the great street food!
Parque de la Salud: A beautiful clean and safe park, it’s nice for taking a walk and enjoying the greenery. Those hoping to go for a jog or bike ride will also love it. Not a main attraction, but if you’re staying a few days and looking for an oasis, this is it. Bring ID to get in!
Estadio Defensores del Chaco: The local soccer stadium, this is the perfect view into what Paraguay loves most! It’s a classic structure, and at the heart of Paraguayan soccer. They have local games often, but it’s especially fun if you can catch an international one!
Plaza de los Heroes: Those hoping to buy indigenous crafts and artisan work can find them in the artisan shops in this plaza! You’ll see the classic Paraguayan lace “Nanduti“, carved wood & leather, pottery and other locally-made items. Be aware that some homeless locals choose to loiter here, and it is also a popular spot for student-run protests. Nothing to be worried about, but so you’re not alarmed.
Read more: The Ultimate City Guide to La Paz, Bolivia
What to Eat & Where to Eat It
Well, we have a decently-sized list of what to eat in Paraguay, because we think it’s the most underrated food in South America. Make sure to check off the first few on the list and you know you’ve gotten a good taste for it!
These are a few of our favorite spots right in downtown that are great for trying typical Paraguayan food:
Na Eustaqia: This is quality food at a cheaper price than the others. It’s very busy at lunch, so you may need to wait for a table. Perfect for sampling local dishes and they also have a great juice bar! Meals start at around $3USD.
Lido Bar: Like a typical American diner, this place was established in 1954 and word is it hasn’t changed a bit since. All the classic Paraguayan foods (Sopa Pescado is the most popular; Also try Sopa Paraguaya, chipa guazu), plus a ton of beautiful desserts in the case. It’s very crowded at lunch and even busier at dinner time. You’ll see people popping in in their work attire for a quick, warm meal and feel just like a local! Stays open late.
Bolsi (aka Confiteria/Snackbar/Restaurant Bolsi): Our favorite, this has a mix of classic Paraguayan dishes and contemporary food. Gives you a great look into how modern Paraguayans are going out and dining! Great menu, fun atmosphere, and might even have some comfort foods you’ve been missing from home. Perfect for a meal or just grabbing a drink and snacks and people-watching!
Cafe de Aca: A cozy cafe, this place has a warm and creative decor and great nooks for sitting with friends. Every pastry imaginable, quality takes on all of Paraguay’s favorite drinks, snacks and dessert, and a beautiful twinkle-lit front patio and back garden make you feel like you’re in a very cool friend’s home. We recommend the 4-Cheese Mbeyu to eat, and mate cocido to drink (just to get you started).
It may not be one of the most famous in South America, but Asuncion has a great nightlife scene it should be better known for! It’s gone through a revival in recent years, with the addition of a ton of contemporary new bars, many of which show the ties between modern Paraguay and its historic landmarks. We’ve shared some of our (and locals’) favorites below to get you started!
La Cachamba: Set in a train graveyard, and within some of the carriages, this is an example of the new spots making Asuncion’s nightlife stand out. Creative cocktails, fun young crowds and the outdoor dance floor make it a fun, unique experience for any kind of visitor.
Cactus Bar: Another new favorite, this is in a restored colonial building which hosts multiple DJs on the weekend.
Britannia Pub: Where every hostel will send you, it’s always a fun time with an international crowd. Expats gather here, not only for the fun vibe but also because they have a ton of draught beers which can be hard to come by in these parts!
For a general area to go out, you can also head to trendy Paseo Carmelitas, called the “new downtown” and quickly becoming famous for growing into a popular nightlife district! Some hot spots here include Hippie Chic, Kilkenny (an Irish Pub), and Long Bar (crazy cocktails!). Faces and Coyote are clubs with multiple stories of dance floors, perfect if you want the full Paraguayan discotheque experience.
Where to Stay
There are only 10 hostels listed on Hostelworld, but it’s more than enough. Each usually offers a very friendly and cozy environment because there are so few foreigners. Most range from $8-12USD for dorm rooms and $25-40 for privates, and we recommend finding a place on Hostelworld and then booking directly with the hostel on their own website.
If looking at hotels, you’ll actually find a ton of nicer options here, yet many are comparable prices to much hotter destination cities. These can all be searched and booked online, most range from $75-200 USD per night. La Mision Hotel Boutique has hosted many famous people who have visited Paraguay, and is perhaps one of the most stunning hotels we’ve seen ($180/night).
How Long to Stay
You can see a lot of the main sites in a couple days, and luckily distances are short so you can get around quite quickly. The pace here is definitely slower though, so you’ll either want to get in, see it, and move to your next spot, or if you’re looking for somewhere slow to relax you might want to roll with it and stick around for about 4-5 days so you can take your time getting to know it. Because it’s smaller and less touristy than other spots, it sometimes attracts backpackers who want somewhere to chill out between the more popular destinations.
Landlocked Paraguay bounces from very hot to chilly and cold, so it’s important to consider the time of year you’re visiting during (or plan based around it). Generally, there is always a slight chance of rain, so be prepared for this.
The rainy season (October to April; summertime) may be a time of flooding, but temperatures are high. These floods could get in the way of some overland travel. In January, the warmest month, temperatures average around 27.96 °C (82.33 °F), but often reach 38 °C (100 °F) in the middle of the day. Frequent gusts of cool air coming from the south may cause rapid weather changes, humidity and storms at times as well. If you’re visiting in these hot months, you should check if your hotel or hostel has a pool or air conditioning or something.
Dry season travel (June to August) is easiest, but chillier. Temperatures in July, the coldest month, are usually 17.87 °C (64.17 °F). August annually experiences the least amount of rain.
Safety & General Tips
Generally, Asuncion is a relaxed and very safe city. Locals are under the impression that there is a higher level of crime, but it’s actually one of the safe capitals in South America! Violent crime rates are low, and the main issues are just getting ripped off (which obviously doesn’t put you in danger!).
Lately, there have been some complaints of police requesting to check your passport in main areas. It looks like the fake police scam from La Paz (which we gave the heads up about here), but they’re real police. But, their gig is to ask for your passport to check, then demanding a payoff to get it back. You probably won’t have even close to the amount of cash they’ll ask for. You should never carry your passport around anywhere when you don’t need to, but this is a reminder to have a photocopy of your passport on hand at all times. You can show this, and if they want to keep it then by all means (except they won’t even bother once they see it’s a piece of paper). If you’re just coming from the bus station or whatever and do have your real passport on you, still show your paper version instead.
It’s recommended to get a Typhoid vaccination before going, and there is also a risk of dengue fever from mosquito bites. This is a risk in many places, but there’s no vaccine so just make sure to be on it with your bug spray!
Areas to Avoid
Right in front of the river and next to the Palace is the “Chacarita” area. You’ll see a ton of makeshift houses all of the sudden. This area is extremely impoverished and known to be dangerous, you can walk right past it and be fine but do not go wandering between the homes.
Taxis are more informal here, but perfectly fine. Just make sure to agree on a price beforehand, or request the meter be turned on. This is a common trick to make an extra buck on tourists!
Where to Go Next
We traveled through here to connect between Northern Argentina (Salta & Jujuy) and the triple border with Brazil & Argentina at Iguazu Falls (we also spent a day exploring the wild Ciudad del Este right next to the border). As mentioned in “How to Get to Asuncion” above, we don’t recommend connecting between Asuncion and Santa Cruz, Bolivia by land. It’s easiest to get to Argentina and Brazil from here, and most travelers go to one of those spots next, or travel deeper within Paraguay itself.
It’s clear that Asuncion, Paraguay has more and more to offer, despite managing to stay under the South America tourist radar for so long. We know you’ll be glad if you add it to your South American route- and who knows for how much longer it’ll stay this way!
Where are your favorite recommendations or tips for Asuncion? Share them with us below!
NOTE: The CDC has identified Paraguay as an affected area of the Zika outbreak. Pregnant women are advised to be cautious as the virus can lead to birth defects. Adults affected by the virus experience fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) typically lasting a week. You can learn more by visiting the official CDC website.
Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America bordering Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. The country is rich in natural resources: the world's largest drinking water reservoir (Guarani Aquifer) is beneath its soil, the biggest hydroelectric producer—the Itaipú Dam—is on its border with Brazil. It's also the world's fifth largest exporter of soya beans, as well as a renowned producer of beef. Despite this, it is one of the poorest countries in South America. As a result, it is very common to see beggars asking for money on Asuncion's corners.
|Population||6,349,000 (2009 estimate)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite, and other Protestant|
|Electricity||220V, 50Hz (European plug)|
Colonized for 3 centuries by the Spanish, since the 1500s, Paraguay has managed to keep a lot of its indigenous character and identity. Nowadays, the mestizos (Spanish + Amerindian) account for more than 80% of the country's 6 million inhabitants and Guarani is, side by side with Spanish, the country's official language.
In the past, Franciscan and Jesuit missions mingled with the Guaranis' dream of Yvy maraë´y, a land without evil, and produced singular societies. The ruins of the Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana and Jesus de Tavarangue, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and several villages throughout the country, are witnesses to that peaceful past.
But Paraguay also has a history of blood and tears. Being one of the richest countries in the 1800's (and the only one in America to have railways transportation at that time) before the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70). Paraguay, facing the allied forces of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory including their coast with the sea. It was also the scene of the first ever attempt at Communism when 700 people sailed from Balmain, in Sydney, Australia in 1893 to found "New Australia." A split occurred soon after arrival when some of the arrivals started mingling with the local ladies who were suffering a lack of men due to the War of the Triple Aliance. Two-thirds of the immigrants eventually returned to Australia but around 2000 Paraguayans can trace their heritage to Australia. In the Chaco War of 1932-35, large, economically important areas were won from Bolivia. The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner was overthrown in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, democratic governors have been in power since then.
After World War II Paraguay received many immigrants, who fell in love with the hospitality and decided to stay and call Paraguay their home. Therefore, is common to find colonies of Germans, Russians, Italians, French and Spanish people in the country areas of Paraguay.
Modern Paraguay is largely based upon political uncertainty and economic hardship - Since the early 1980s, Paraguay has been making the difficult transition to a more modern market economy. While Asuncion is filled with new economic prospects and construction, much of the country remains underdeveloped, consisting of deficient infrastructure. Corruption here is ubiquitous compared to neighboring Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina.
In recent years, though, economic wellbeing has been reported and democratic elections have been taking place with little to no uncertain events.
- National holiday: Independence Day, 15 May (1811)
With an area of about 406,000km² Or 157,048 mi² Paraguay is divided into two regions: Oriental and Occidental by the Paraguay River. Despite being landlocked, the country is bordered and criss-crossed by navigable rivers.
The Tropic of Capricorn also crosses the country from East to West and determines a more tropical climate to the North and subtropical to temperate climate to the South.
Paraguay has been recently ranked by several research studies as the cheapest country in the world, measured through Purchasing Power Parity. Prices, measured in dollars, euros or pounds sterling are very low.
- Economy - overview
- Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. The informal sector features both re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. A large percentage of the population derives their living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97, but GDP declined slightly in 1998, 1999, and 2000. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, lack of progress on structural reform, substantial internal and foreign debt, and deficient infrastructure. however, in 2010 paraguay registraded an outstanding 15,270 % of GPD growth.
- purchasing power parity - $26.2 billion (2001 est.)
- GDP - per capita
- purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2001 est.)
The large, wild, semi-arid plains in the northwest of the country.
Home to the population center of the country, in and around Asunción.
San Bernardino- (45 minutes)Paraguay´s liveliest balneario, a summer destination for the young and beautiful. Originally settled by German inmigrants, you can still see some houses remaining from that period. The Lago Ypacarai used to be known as the blue lake, is no longer blue, but filled with people doing water sports during december-february.
Aregua- (45 minutes) laid back town with a nice church and lake. Home to many artists and writers, which have set up nice galleries and museums. Outdoor street market selleing colorful ceramics. You can visit the Museo del Mueble, Centro Cultural del Lago and El Cantaro Galería de Arte.
San Lorenzo (30 minutes) Museo Etnografico Guido Bogiani- indigenous wood carvings and feather pieces. Nice and cheap store selling indigenous handicrafts. Call before going. Located in nearby San Lorenzo, be sure to take a taxidriver who knows the place, as most people in san Lorenzo do not even know of its existance.
Encarnación (4 hours) On the way, stop at ruins and churches along the Jesuit trail. Santa maria de fe is a small town where you can see women embroidering in a sisterhood comunity.
Pilar- (3,5 hours) riverside city where the countries biggest cotton manufacturing industry is located. Very relaxed atmosphere.
Nueva Australia- Settled by disgruntled and idealistic Australians in October, 1893, this was the first attempt at communism anywhere in the world. About 700 people set up a colony without money or bosses based on the theories of Karl Marx. The tiny town with some of the descendents of the original settlers still exists about 5km West of Villarrica. Villarrica is an interesting town with a square that comes alive on a friday night. very cheap wares sold. A second town, again with descendents, was founded by the same group of Australians at Cosme, 90km South, near Ca azapa.
Before you try to enter Paraguay, you need to check the visa requirements for your country. Most European citizens (EU) generally don't need visas to visit Paraguay for up to 90 days. However US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens do need visas.
Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan can apply for a visa on arrival, but only at the International Airport in Ascunción. Fees range from USD 100 to USD 160 in cash, depending on nationality, and the maximum stay on such a visa is 90 days.
Flights go out from other South American airports to Asuncion on a fairly regular basis. There are also two daily flights from São Paulo to Ciudad del Este. Direct flights between Miami and Asunción are currently available on a regular basis. Direct flights between Madrid and Asunción are scheduled to start on the first semester of 2014.
Currently, there is no train service available to and from Paraguay. In the past, Paraguay was connected by a train service to Argentina, but it has been discontinued.
Bus service is available to and from a wide range of South American cities. You can take a bus from Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cordoba, Argentina; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Buses are very modern and some buses have seats that fully recline into beds. In Spanish they are called cama. Semi-cama recline most of the way.
The bus to and from Bolivia crosses the Chaco. Only one bus company does the trip, from Santa Cruz to Asuncsion, with possible stops at Villamontes (Bolivia) or a few kilometers of Filadelfia (Paraguay) but typically for the same price. Beware that tourists should bargain, with minimum prices of 45 US dollars (payable in local currency or in US). The trip takes at least a full day, and easily more. Note that the bus comming from Santa Cruz passes Villamontes at about 2 in the morning.
The bus from Ciudad Del Este (Paraguay) at the border with Brazil is typically cheaper for going to Rio or Sao Paolo than the bus going from Iguasu (Brazil). To go to Puerto Iguasu (Argentina) many busses cross Brazil (without Brazilian border control) into Argentina for 35 Pesos or 12.000 Guarani (Des 2016). Best visit the border in advance to get an exit stamp for Paraguay because not all busses make a stop, otherwise ask before jumping on a bus.
A boat travels up the Paraguay River from Asuncion stopping at many ports to the north of the border with Brazil. Most of these boats weren't designed to carry passengers so expect a sticky crowded experience, but you can buy just about anything on board, even cold beer. Bring something comfortable to sleep on!
Taxis are the most efficient and reliable form of transportation, even though you can probably get there also by bus, or colectivo, as Paraguayans call it. Taxis are expensive compared to other prices in Paraguay, and in Asuncion the fares are determined by the meter. Outside Asunción there are no meters so make sure you decide on a price before you get in. Bargaining on a price may be useful, as tourists have been asked for US$10 for a five minute ride. To prevent any disputes, always ask your hotel concierge how much the real cost of the fare should be.
- total: 971 km
standard gauge: 441 km 1.435-m gauge
note: there are 470 km of various gauges that are privately owned
narrow gauge: 60 km 1.000-m gauge
There are highways connecting all the major regions of Paraguay, but most of them are one lane each way. You may hit toll booths along the way.
Police ('polícia caminera' (road police) ) may pull you over for any reason and some may expect bribes. If you have committed something wrong, you should pay the fine and always ask for a receipt.
Please note some tourists have been known to report difficulties dealing with the police on country roads, but that these problems do not generally occur in any of the wealthier areas of the major cities where somewhat 'nicer' relationships with the police are reported. Of course every person's experience in Paraguay will differ and the relations and treatments expected from the Policia will vary with every person's mood, vibe, timing and luck.
Buses are the most common public transport. There are many companies running different lines. You must check which one serves your destination.
- Nuestra Señora de la Asunción 
- La Encarnacena 
By Air Taxi
Limited infrastructure makes charter air travel a popular mode of transportation.
- Paraguay Jet - Instant Air Taxi Reservations
- 3,100 km
- Ports and harbors
- Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion
- Merchant marine
- total: 21 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 34,623 GRT/36,821 DWT
ships by type: cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 3
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 2, Japan 1 (2002 est.)
Both Spanish and Guaraní are official. Most people in Paraguay speak Spanish and use of English is very limited. Outside of Asuncion and big cities Guarani is all you will hear. Due to the extensive use of Guarani, even those who have managed to learn Spanish do not always speak it very well.
In Paraguay, Guarani is almost always spoken as a mix of Guarani and Spanish, known as Jopara, meaning "mixed" in Guarani. The number system in Guarani is rarely used, and is almost always replaced with the Spanish number system.
Some basic greetings in Guarani include:
Mba'eichapa? = How are you?
Iporã = Good
ha nde? = and you?
iporã avei = good as well
In Paraguay Vos is used instead of Tu. There is a slight change in conjugation but not big enough that you won't be understood using Tu. This Vos is NOT the same as Vosotros. Stems do not change in verbs when using "vos", and the ending is always stressed. For example "tienes" changes to "tenés", "puedes" changes to "podés", "vienes" changes to "venís" etc.
In the northern, and eastern parts of Paraguay, Portuguese is spoken widely. In some places, Nueva Esperanza (80% portuguese speaking), Katuetè (60%) the majority speak Portuguese, almost always the result of Paraguayan born, or first generation Brazilian immigrants. There are many cases of Paraguayans, who were born during the era of Brazilian immigration who speak only Portuguese at home, although also fluent Guarani, but very little or no Spanish.
There are also a number of Mennonite communities throughout Paraguay which speak Low German and regular High German.
City Center (centro)-
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Asuncion
Cabildo- Cultural Center in the old colonial legislative building near the bay area. www.cabildoccr.gov.py
Casa de la independencia- landmark of the Paraguayan Independence. This is where national heroes gathered to plot against Spanish colonialists in 1811. They marched from here to the Cathedral on Independence Day. www.casadelaindependencia.org.py
Panteon de los Heroes- national memorial site for paraguayan heroes.
Palacio de Lopez- house the Paraguayan government. Very well lit at night.
Estacion Central del Ferrocarril-Paraguay was the first country in South America to have a vapor train. It now houses a museum, but more impressive is the building itself and old wagons. You may be lucky to catch a ride on Sundays to neighbor city of Aregua. This is a tourist ride, the train no longer operates regularly.
Teatro Municipal- recently renovated, check for regular shows. Nice cafe inside, you can eat there even if you don't catch a performance.
Manzana de la Rivera- cultural center in an old colonial house. Has a nice outdoor cafe overlooking the Palacio de Lopez
Iglesia de la Encarnación- church with a big pipe organ (the only on in Paraguay). Currently in very poor conditions. Served as a hospital during Guerra del Chaco (1932-1935).
Mburuvicha Roga- the chief's house in guarani, where the presidential family lives.
Centro Cultural de Artes Visuales Museo del Barro- a very good example of paraguayan art, dating from pre colonial ceramics and textiles until very avant garde contemporary art. More info at: www.museodelbarro.org
Capellania del Migrante- Seminario Metropolitano de Asuncion- very beautiful brick church within a huge lively park where you can see paraguayans play soccer, tennis and jog.
Sunday flea market- along calle Palma, several old men set up their tables selling trinkets, photographs and books. from early morning until noon aproximately.
There is a well in the city of Santani (San Pedro) that does not go dry. The town's museum also contains a large snakeskin.
Crucero del Paraguay: luxury wooden boat sailing from Asuncion ports to the Pantanal and Chaco area. More info at: www.cruceroparaguay.info
Walk through the historic Asuncion city center- many former grand buildings are suffering from great decay, but if you look past grafitti walls, you can imagine Asuncion's past splendour. At nights, you can take a cab ride and enjoy it fully illuminated. There are many bars, restaurantes in this area.
Spend the day or enjoy a picnic at Ñu Guazu- Asuncion's biggest park. Full of ponds, and people playing sports.
Visit the Jardin Botanico- very peaceful place, filled with trees and nice paths. Find a nice shady spot and enjoy a picnic lunch. Inside the park you can visit Madame Lynchs house, very beautiful example of Paraguayan Colonial architecture.
Paraguay Safari and Paraguay Nature: Safaris expeditions in Paraguay for people who want to know and live a wildlife experience. Trained guides in the biology area, with knowledge of the fauna and flora contained in each ecoregion of the country. 
Located in the hearth of South America, Paraguay combines differents kinds of ecorregions like Dry and Humid Chaco, Cerrado Forest, Atlantic Forest and Pantanal
Watch a soccer match at one of Asuncion's stadiums. The classic rivals are Cerro Porteno and Olimpia.
Eat a streetside “lomito”- these vendors are located throughout the city, with high concentrations near Casa Rica and the Ñu Guazu. It is a sandwich, with mayo, veggies, cheese and a fried egg. You can choose between beef or chicken. Some also offer lomito arabe (shawarma), hamburgers and chorizo. It is a popular hang out place at nights and after a night of heavy drinking.
Don Vito is paraguayan fast food at its best. Home of the paraguayan empanada, they have been in business for over 30 years. The original spot is just behind the Iglesia de san Jose, and if you are lucky enough to be in paraguay around may-June, you can order a pastel mandi'o, which is make of mandioca and beef. Best enjoyed with a cold pulp, a paraguayan soft drink made with natural fruit juice.
Mercado 4 walk past yuyeras, fake dvd street vendors, and paraguayans sharing terere. Great place to eat, from street stalls selling typical paraguayan food and deserts to good cheap Chinese places. Most paraguayans still shop at local produce markets, but you can buy everything at great prices.
Try the stuffed chorizo with garlic roasted in honey, also rabbit meat with the black bean sauce.
The currency is the guarani (PYG). As of May 2015, the current exchange rate is 5,082 Guaranies for 1 US Dollar, and 5,595 Guaranies for €1. Always check the exchange rate quotations on the internet or several major newspapers before exchanging money.
Prices in Paraguay are very low and a budget traveller will be able to get by on as little as £8/$12 a day and even less if camping. A clean, single hotel room out of Asuncion should not cost more than US$8.
Paraguay has a very rich and diverse craftmanship, everything from silver filigree (Luque) to cotton fine lace in the form of Ñanduti (Itaugua) is available. Also leather goods with local “repujado” embellishments (Atyra) and ao poi, encaje yu embroidery. Clay ceramic (Ita) and weavery is also very popular, cheap and beatiful. Leather soccer balls are sold and hand made in the town of Quindy.
Paraguayan food is one of the most diverse in south American region. Paraguayans commonly enjoy typical food several times a week all year round. You'll find much of the standard South American cuisine here with some Brazilian influence as well.
Also highly popular are empanadas (meat/egg stuffed in a pastry and baked) and milanesa (breaded and fried chicken/beef/fish) - these are considered fast food, and are also found in other countries in the region. If you order a hamburger at a restaurant, expect it to come topped with a fried egg.
Asado (BBQ) is great, and prices are quite reasonable - 20000 Guaranis ($4.00 US) will get you an all-you-can-eat buffet at many nice places. 5000 Guarani is enough to pay for a hamburger.
Paraguayan food isn't particularly spicy, so those who can't tolerate spices won't have problems here.
There is a lot of traditional food. Chipa-a bread baked in an outdoor oven or "tatacua", usually made out of mandioca (manioc) flour. Mandioca is often substituted for potatoes. Sopa Paraguaya is a form of corn bread are two of the most well known. Sopa means soup, so it is very interesting to be actually eating a solid soup, probably the only one in the world. Mandioca, or Mandi´o in Guarani (It is similar to a potato, and is normally eaten boiled but can be fried). It is eaten almost everyday by Paraguayans, and many have it growing on their land. Tortillas in Paraguay are different than in other places in Latin America. It is more like a fried dough (made with Paraguayan cheese). Try Sopa So'o if you get the chance--it is Paraguayan cornbread with bits of pieces of meat often marinated with garlic and lime. Mbeju is a mandioca starch and paraguayan cheese based flatbread.
Lido Bar- Paraguayan institution. Sit at the bar and talk to lady waitresses who have been working there for the past decades.
Bolsi- similar to the Lido, but with a more “international” vibe.
Fiambrería La Alemana- Paraguays biggest german charcuterie. Past the front sales spot is a bar where local taxi drivers and alike come to eat a snack. Incredibly hygienic. Check opening hours.
Ña Eustaquia- traditional Paraguayan food.
La Vienesa- with many stores located in Asuncion. Traditional french style coffee-bakery and patisserie with a small but cozy neighbourhood restaurant.
Lomitos El Gordo - Family restaurant located in San Lorenzo run by paraguayan personality Gregorio Rojas
Tierra Colorada- arguably the best chef in Paraguay, Rodolfo Angenscheidt, has open his own restaurant a little over a year ago. The best local ingredients cooked under culinary perfection.
Un toro y siete vacas- Traditional paraguayan asado.
Tap water in Asuncion, and for sure Ciudad del Este, is NOT potable! Tap water in the rest of Paraguay should be treated to make it safe for drinking. There have been efforts by PLAN International to bring safe, potable water to communities in rural areas (if there is such water available, it is safe to drink). Ask before drinking water in rural areas however--many Paraguayans will claim their water is safe to drink even if it's not purified.
The national beverage in Paraguay is called terere and is made from the yerba mate plant. It is served cold in guampas, which can be made out of wood or of hollow bull horns, and is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla. The infusion is prepared by pouring dry yerba into the cup, then adding water: hot water version is known as mate (preferred in Argentina and Uruguay) while the cold water version is known as tereré and is a local favorite. Mate is usually enjoyed in the early mornings and late evenings especially during cold days in winter. Terere is enjoyed year-round, though not during lunch time and past sunset, as many recommend. Still, you can see every type of Paraguayan (from construction workers to business executives) carry their terere set during all times. Often, herbs are added to the tereré water (locally called 'remedios' or 'yuyos', which cure different ailments). For example, adding coconut to one's mate is supposed to help with headaches. The taste is best described as earthy, like a bitter green tea, and it will take getting used to before you can enjoy it. Drinking mate or tereré is most definitely one of the social customs of Paraguay. Shops will close around noon for a siesta and for a round of mate/tereré with friends. If you can get used to the taste and participate, locals will be appreciative. This drink is also found in other South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil and Chile.
Beer is widely available, as are many liquors. The local beer is Brahma or Pilsen.
Paraguayan hard liquor is similar to rum and is known locally as caña. It is made out of sugar cane.
Pulp is a very popular Paraguayan soft drink. You can buy it a supermarkets or order it in various restaurantes and bars. The original is Pulp Naranja, made with real orange juice.
Mosto helado is extracted from the sugar cane and very sweet,sometimes mixed with lime juice to make an 'aloja'. You can find street carts selling mosto near the centro area and in the countryside.
Good accommodation will certainly not be hard to find in major towns, and will seem reasonably cheap if the parameter is the dollar or the euro. The exception, however, is Ciudad del Este. In Ciuded del Este the cheapest accommodation is near the bus station with doubles for less than 10 euro, in an area that is also pleasant in the evening. Cheap accommodation is easy to find, but if you're after something of higher quality and have the money to back it up, then you'll have a better chance in the Argentinian Puerto Iguazu or the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu.
Although there are few Spanish language learning schools, as far as languages go however, there is a uniquely Paraguayan language called Guaraní. It is an indigenous language spoken widely outside of Asuncion. Most Paraguayans can speak both Spanish and Guaraní. The Guaraní that is spoken is not pure--instead is uses Spanish words as well (especially when the word in Guaraní is more complicated than the corresponding Spanish word). Classes to learn Guaraní are unheard of for foreigners (though in the big cities, students who speak Spanish as their first language can opt to learn Guaraní as a second language). There are books available in stores, though the best way to learn would be to speak to the locals.
As of September 2016, Duolingo offers a free Guaraní course: https://www.duolingo.com/course/gn/es/aprende-Guaran%C3%AD-(Jopar%C3%A1)-en-l%C3%ADnea . The only catch is that the course uses Spanish as the base language.
You can learn local artisanry such as ñanduti embroidery and ao poi at the Instituto Paraguayode Artesanía. Find out more at: www.artesania.gov.py
Most people who live in the rural areas of Paraguay are subsistence farmers. Other people who live in urban areas are marketeers. They sell fish, fruit and vegetables, and other products.
There are three large cities in Paraguay, and they are generally safer than equivalently-sized cities in many parts of the world, and much more so than Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, or São Paulo. As long as common sense is applied - bearing in mind that as a foreigner you may naturally attract attention - you are unlikely to run into trouble. Personal ID should be carried at all times (ID card/photocopy of passport). The police have a reputation for corruption, and if you are stopped for any reason, they will require ID, and may expect a discreet bribe before allowing you to move on. However, this is more common in rural areas. Women should apply the same policy for being out alone at night as they would in cities in their own country. Loud and/or drunken behaviour in the street is unacceptable and will attract the attention of the police.
Ciudad del Este, on Paraguay's eastern border with Brazil, is a shopping hub for people in the region. The city does have a name as a center for illicit activity such as smuggling, money laundering and counterfeiting, but this should not affect your travels. Be alert to pickpockets, and keep bags and wallets safe, as in any other large city. Do not take part, of course, in criminal activity on any level.
Paraguay's legal system is based on Argentine and French codes, and Roman law; judicial review of legislative acts takes place in the Supreme Court of Justice.
Piped drinking water from the national water company in Paraguay is not healthy, but fruit, vegetables, fish and meat are of very high quality. Care should naturally be taken to eat freshly-cooked food, and not to eat in clearly unhygienic establishments or from street vendors.
The two main threats to health are mosquitos and heat. Use insect repellent, as Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitos, is endemic to the region, and a serious illness. Hang a mosquito net over the bed at night if possible. Sunscreen and plenty of water are advised; it is also worth copying the wisdom of the regional habit of staying completely out of the sun from at least midday to 3pm. Paraguayans rise early (4-5am) to do most of the day's work before noon.
Stray dogs are not uncommon in some areas - these do not usually bother passers-by, but should nevertheless be avoided. Care should be taken when walking in sandals near loose dirt, as a tiny flea known locally as 'pique' (Tunga penetrans) may attach itself to the skin of the foot, especially around the toes. The insect lays eggs under the skin, and this causes tenderness and infection if not taken care of. The usual way to remove 'pique' is to pierce the site with a stitching needle, disinfect the area, and then twist the flea out. Avoid walking barefoot for this reason.
Hospital facilities in Paraguay range from very high international standards to the unsanitary and under-equipped. Visitors should always have medical insurance as for any journey, and in case of serious illness attend the best hospital available. When attending small local medical centres in the countryside, it is advisable to take hypodermic needles, surgical gloves with you. The national public hospital in Asuncion has long suffered from severe overcrowding and lack of funding. Private hospitals in Asuncion, Encarnacion, and Ciudad del Este offer a much higher standard of care, and are well within the budget of most foreign tourists.
It is considered courteous for men to shake hands whenever they meet. In mixed company among friends and peers, it is usual for men and women to give a light kiss on each cheek. Also when meeting, people will ask how you are ('Qué tal?', 'Como estás?', or perhaps 'Todo bien?'); the response to this is, as elsewhere in the world, that one is fine, 'Bien, gracias'.
Note that in Paraguayan Spanish, 'tu' is not used. The informal word for 'you' (singular, is 'vos'). The polite/formal word is 'usted'. In both informal and formal situations, 'you' plural is 'ustedes'.
It is polite to express gratitude for, and appreciation of, help, invitations, food etc. (When discussing food, the regional word for 'tasty' in Spanish is ´rico`.)
Due to the relatively small number of tourists and foreigners in Paraguay, local people, particularly outside the capital, may express curiosity about tourist visitors, and find their coloring, dress or manners a cause for comment or even gentle amusement. This is certainly not meant impolitely. Good manners are as important to Paraguayans as to any other society. Paraguayans, like Argentinians, have a lively sense of humor.
In the capital, visitors will almost always be able to operate using Spanish. Outside the capital, however, the country's other official language, Guarani, is far more frequent. Throughout Paraguay, people are generally delighted if foreigners take the trouble to speak some Guarani. It is often difficult to find people who speak English, but most Paraguayans are by nature kind and helpful, and will be happy to respond to polite attempts to communicate.
Paraguayan society is generally conservative: foreigners should observe local standards of manners, dress and behaviour to avoid causing offence.
Punctuality and Perception of Time
Paraguayans do not share the same sense of the importance of keeping to clock time as northern Europeans and North Americans conventionally do; they are closer in this regard to Mediterranean and other Latin American cultures. Visitors from outside Latin America may find it frustrating at first that schedules and timetables are not followed strictly, and perceive frequent 'lateness'. Flights and intercity buses may not run to schedule. For a Paraguayan to arrive late to a meeting is not uncommon, and should not be considered rude. In contrast, punctuality in foreign visitors is admired.
- Diplomatic representation in the US
- chief of mission: Ambassador James Spalding
chancery: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
FAX:  (202) 234-4508
telephone:  (202) 483-6960 through 6962
- Diplomatic representation from the US
- chief of mission: Ambassador Liliana Ayalde
embassy: 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Casilla Postal 402, Asuncion
mailing address: Unit 4711, APO AA 34036-0001
telephone:  (21) 213-715
FAX:  (21) 213-728