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Asunción Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT -4.

Electricity

220 volts 50 Hz; plugs in use are round or rectangular and have two round pins.

Language

Both Spanish and indigenous Guarani are official languages. English is rarely heard or understood.

Travel Health

Paraguay has several health risks for visitors, especially those who intend touring the countryside and having contact with the local population. Typhoid vaccination is recommended for all except those who do not plan to eat outside of major restaurants and hotels, or cruise passengers, as diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travellers, and the most common cause of 'traveller's diarrhoea'. Visitors should not drink water unless it has been purified, and avoid any food that is not freshly prepared and well cooked. Be cautious of food and beverages from street vendors. A Yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for anyone arriving from an infected country, and recommended for all travellers.

Malaria is endemic to certain regions of Paraguay, namely the departments of Alto Paraná, Caaguazú, and Canendiyú. Dengue fever is always a concern with thousands of cases each year, especially in areas bordering Brazil. Insect protection measures are essential, and malaria prevention tablets recommended. Hospitals, pharmacies and medical facilities in Asuncion are adequate, but elsewhere in the country are unsanitary and under-equipped. In the event of serious illness, evacuation to a country with better facilities will be necessary, therefore travel health insurance is highly recommended. Doctors and hospitals usually expect payment in cash.

Tipping

The better restaurants are likely to add service charge or a suggested tip, but if not 10% is advised. For porters and other services small change is acceptable. Taxi drivers should not be tipped, but a price should be agreed upon before travel.

Safety Information

Most visits to Paraguay are trouble-free, but visitors should note that incidents of violent crime are on the increase, particularly street crime like pickpocketing and muggings in Asuncion, Ciudad del Este, and Pedro Juan Caballero. Visitors should take sensible precautions such as not carrying large amounts of cash, wearing visible jewellery or displaying valuables, particularly when walking the streets or using public transport. Those who travel around the country should note that there are often military and police document check points in operation, and public gatherings are typically peaceful but may occasionally turn violent.

Local Customs

Visitors should respect the fact that Paraguayans are a conservative people who value old-fashioned courtesies. As with neighbouring countries, locals enjoy a siesta over lunch when they snooze or drink maté (local tea) with friends.

Business

Those heading for business meetings in Paraguay would be well advised to hire an interpreter or have a working knowledge of Spanish; English is not widely spoken, even in the capital. Business appointments are formal and preferred in the mornings. Dress should be conservative, preferably lightweight business suits for men and the equivalent for women. Business hours are from 8am to 12pm and 2.30pm to 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 12pm on Saturday.

Communications

The international direct dialling code for Paraguay is +595, and the outgoing code is 002, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00244 for the United Kingdom). There is mobile GSM 1900 coverage in the main urban areas, with several network providers. The main Internet service provider is Planet, and there are some Internet cafes in Asuncion, Mc Donalds also offers Internet facilities.

Duty Free

Visitors to Paraguay may bring into the country amounts of tobacco products, alcohol and perfume deemed sufficient for personal use during their stay.

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