Fragrances tend to be rather expensive in the Brazilian domestic market, which makes the airport’s duty-free stores a great place to pick up the latest perfume launches. Top-selling beauty lines at Galeão as of May 2011 included Paco Rabanne Lady Million (30ml), Dior Addict 2 Eau Fraîche (100ml), Be Givenchy (50ml) and Kenzo Pour Homme Fresh (50ml).
In contrast to perfumes, cigarettes are very cheap in Brazil so although the arrivals duty-free allowance is particularly generous (400 per traveller), you may decide to skip stocking up on your favourite brand and buy later downtown.
Spirits are another popular purchase in Brazilian duty-free, especially in arrivals as the personal allowance is yet again bountiful (12 bottles). Popular buys in this part of the world include Johnnie Walker Black, Green and Red Label whiskies, Absolut vodka, as well as Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot Champagnes.
A word on Customs procedure when arriving at Galeão, where as at many other South American airports, travellers have to press a button to gain access to the outside world and freedom. If the light turns green, which it invariably does for foreign travellers, you are free to pass through. If it turns red, your luggage will be searched.
Customs are mainly concerned with catching wealthy Brazilians (and there are a lot of them nowadays) entering the country, who have exceeded the $500 personal allowance. Nonetheless, taxfreetravel’s advice is always to stick within a country’s allowance• why take a risk of having a brush with the local authorities unnecessarily?
Back in departures, you will find a good selection of locally run gift and souvenir stores, but nothing of course to rival the shops and markets of Ipanema, Copacabana and the Avenida Atlântica in downtown Rio. If you’ve left it to the eleventh hour to pick up a gift, however, leather, suede, art, Brazilian music CDs and coffee are good choices.
A piece of local jewellery is another sound idea and we particularly like the designs of Sobral, a Rio-based designer, whose beautiful, highly colourful resin jewellery, accessories or homeware would make a stunning gift for a loved one. Check out the company’s US website, http://www.sobralusa.com/default.asp
, for more information on this award-winning Brazilian designer.
As Frank Sinatra memorably put it: “They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”, and what fantastic coffee it is. Make sure you grab a last-minute caffeine fix at Via Mundi Café before your flight leaves. Alternatively, head to Rei do Mate for a cup of refreshing mate tea, which is made from the dried leaves and twigs of the Yerba Mate tree, and drunk all over South America. Trust us, it tastes a lot better than it sounds!