Backpacking Paraguay – A Budget Travel Guide


Known as the heart of America and the land of waters, Paraguay is a small landlocked country in South America that’s often overlooked by travelers in favor of its bigger, more popular neighbors Brazil and Argentina. But it has a lot to offer! 

Nature lovers, hikers, budget travelers, and those who want to avoid tourist crowds will all appreciate Paraguay’s beautiful landscape and friendly people. You’ll find all the tips you need to plan your trip in this guide, written by a local. From when to go, how to get around, and the best sights to see in Paraguay – it’s all here!


Also See Our Paraguay Travel Guides (Listed A-Z) – Each guide will open in a new window

Areguá | Asunción | Itauguá | Paraguarí | San Bernardino | Trinidad


INTRODUCTION | Backpacking Paraguay

  • Currency: Paraguayan Guaraní
  • Capital city: Asunción
  • Population: 7 Million 
  • Main religion: Roman Catholic
  • Main languages: Spanish and Guaraní (Paraguay is one of just a handful of official bilingual countries)
  • Telephone code: +595
  • Time: GMT -3
  • Emergency numbers: 911 (Police 912 | Ambulance 141 | Fire 132)

You’ll love Paraguay if… 

  • You enjoy hiking. There are plenty of trails and places to hike around in Paraguay, so bring your hiking boots. Hills, rivers, and plenty of wildlife make Paraguay a great place to explore on foot.
  • You like hanging with the locals. Paraguayans are super friendly, especially to foreigners. They love to share their food, language, and tereré. If you like making friends, you’ll feel right at home in Paraguay!
  • You avoid trendy overcrowded tourist destinations. Greek islands and Italian churches make for great TikTok videos, but the reality is that trendy destinations are usually packed with tourists. You might not see Paraguay all over your Instagram feed, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a beautiful photo-worthy country. What it does mean is that you won’t find tons of tourists blocking your perfect camera angle.

WHEN TO GO | The Best Time to Visit Paraguay

When planning to visit Paraguay, keep in mind that the weather varies throughout the year. The best time to visit depends on what kind of activities you’re planning.

While rain showers can be unpredictable, the weather in Paraguay is ideal during autumn and spring, from March to May and from August to October respectively. During these times the weather is mostly warm, but not as extreme as in January and February. There will also be fewer domestic tourists at the riverside beaches in Encarnación and Carmen del Paraná. 

Autumn (March through May) is a perfect time to visit Iguazu Falls at the Triple Frontera of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, as the river and falls usually have more water due to the summer rains. It’s also a nice time to visit the Pantanal, located in the northern region of Paraguay known as the Chaco, and see the variety of wetland wildlife.

If you choose to go in the winter months of June or July and it’s a bit cold out – take the opportunity to try some of Paraguay’s amazing food. Hot cocido with chipa or mbeju are the ideal comfort food on a chilly day. Ask the locals to teach you how to make chipa asador, a version of chipa that’s cooked by roasting it over a fire. When the sun comes out, you can explore the cities of Asunción and Ciudad del Este, or head to the Jesuit Mission ruins.

If you go to Paraguay in the summer, be prepared for hot humid days and sudden rain showers. Visit the Paraná River in Encarnación and Carmen del Paraná for a break from the heat and a dip in the river. San Bernardino is another nice place to visit during the summertime. You can take a stand-up paddle board out on the Ypacaraí lake or go on a bike ride around town.


VISAS | Do I Need a Visa for Paraguay?

Most travelers can enter Paraguay visa-free, or by getting a visa on arrival, and stay for a maximum of 90 days. This includes travelers from the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and all European Union countries. 

Travelers from most of Africa and Asia require a visa before arriving in Paraguay. 

Visa Extensions

Visas can be extended once, by the same amount of days that was initially granted when entering Paraguay. This can be done at the migration office in Asunción. Instructions can be found on the Paraguayan.gov website.

Border Runs 

There are reports of border runs being possible for Paraguay although official information is thin on the ground. However, most nationalities can only stay in Paraguay for a maximum of 180 days per year. In general, border runs aren’t necessary when you can extend your visa in Asunción. 

Penalty for Overstaying Your Visa

The penalty for overstaying your visa is around 250,000G ($35USD). You may also be required to pay around 350,000G ($48USD) which is the cost of the visa extension. 


HEALTH | Vaccines and Malaria Tablets for Paraguay 

Do I Need Vaccines to Travel to Paraguay?

  • Yellow Fever vaccine is required if you arrive into Paraguay from Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, or Venezuela. 
  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid vaccines are all recommended but not required.  

Do I Need Malaria Tablets for Paraguay?

Malaria is not common in Paraguay so malaria tablets are not recommended. 

Other Health Issues in Paraguay

In recent years, there have been reported outbreaks of, Chikungunya, Chagas, Dengue, and Zika in Paraguay. These are all spread by insects, with Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya being spread by mosquitos – most commonly in urban areas. Your best defense against these diseases is to practice good bite avoidance. 


SAFETY | Is Paraguay Safe? 

Paraguay is a pretty safe place to travel, but you’ll have to take some basic precautions. If you’re aware of things to avoid and can identify potentially dangerous situations, it’s less likely you’ll have a bad experience.

Crime

The main incidents of crime in Paraguay are petty theft. Especially in the cities of Asunción and Ciudad del Este, mugging and pickpocketing are fairly common on the streets and in the buses. Keep your phone out of sight and out of reach on public transportation, and be wary of dark deserted streets. Also, local taxis and Uber drivers may try to overcharge you if they get the sense that you’re an inexperienced tourist. If you take precautions and keep a sharp eye out for trouble, you’ll be able to avoid getting robbed. 

Drug trafficking, smuggling, counterfeiting, and other crimes also occur in Paraguay, but they shouldn’t affect tourists.

Road Conditions 

The traffic in Asunción and Ciudad del Este is pretty hectic. Never assume you have the right of way, whether you’re walking or driving. Watch out for motorcyclists that like to zip between lanes and occasionally drive on the wrong side of the road. While driving in the big cities can be crazy, the rest of the country is pretty easy to drive around safely.

Another issue in Paraguay to be aware of is that the police in Paraguay are known to stop tourists to try and get money out of them however they can. They’ll usually let you go eventually if you stand your ground. You can tell them that you’ll need to call the embassy or ask them for a paper ticket that you’ll pay at the municipality and they’ll probably let you go. 

Food and Water

The food in Paraguay is delicious, with an abundance of amazing meat and fresh fruit. But nothing spoils your appetite like a case of traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning, so make sure you get food from a trustworthy source. 

The water in Paraguay is potable and safe for drinking in most of the country, but you should make sure it’s okay wherever you’re staying. Filtered and bottled water is always a safe choice, so go for those if you’re not sure or you have a sensitive stomach.

Be careful about where you choose to swim as well. Some lakes and rivers are contaminated and aren’t safe for swimming. You can ask the locals if you’re not sure.


TRAVEL INSURANCE | What Is the Best Travel Insurance for Paraguay?

This article contains affiliate links. Booking/buying through links you find on this site is a great way of supporting the work we do at no extra cost to you.

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance whenever you leave home. Things can and do go wrong when you travel. Travel insurance will protect you financially should you need treatment or help while abroad.

SafetyWing
Designed for Long-Term Travellers
  • Available worldwide
  • Rolling monthly subscription 
  • No return date required
  • Cover diving and motorcycle use
  • Check policy wording for full details 
World Nomads
Insurance Designed by Travellers for Travellers
  • World Nomads travel insurance policies offer coverage for more than 150 activities.
  • Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.
  • Check policy wording for full details 
True Traveller
Travel Insurance for Europeans
  • Only insures travellers from Europe
  • Cover for diving and motorcycle use
  • Additional activity packs available
  • Check policy wording for full details 

WHAT TO PACK | What Should I Pack for a Trip to Paraguay?

When preparing for a trip to Paraguay, there are a few essentials you should make room for in your suitcase. Make sure to pack the following:

  • Comfortable walking shoes. Outdoor activities, hikes, and exploring the city are much more enjoyable when your feet aren’t killing you. 
  • Strong bug spray. Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya are common in Paraguay, so bug spray is a must. Buy a bug spray that contains DEET for the ultimate protection.
  • Sun protection. Sunscreen is a must in Paraguay, so definitely add it to your packing list. Umbrellas, long sleeve shirts, and sunhats are also great for avoiding getting sunburned.

FLIGHTS | Airports and Airlines in Paraguay

Flying to Paraguay

Most international flights to Paraguay land at the Silvio Pettirossi Airport in Luque, which is close to the capital city, Asunción. There’s also the Guaraní International Airport in Minga Guazu, closer to Ciudad del Este. Popular airlines include Avianca, LATAM, Copa, and others. The best way to get a good deal on tickets is to plan ahead, be flexible with your dates, and keep checking for deals until you find a good price. 

Flying Within Paraguay

You can travel by air between the cities of Asunción, Encarnación, Ciudad del Este, and Pedro Juan Caballero, but it’s not the cheapest option for traveling within Paraguay. Paraguay is a small country and you can easily travel by car or bus to different cities.


LANGUAGE | Spanish and Guaraní

Paraguay is a paradise for polyglots, with two official languages, Spanish and the indigenous language Guaraní. Most people in Paraguay are bilingual and speak ‘jopará’, a mix of both languages. 

Some parts of the country are primarily Guaraní speaking and Spanish won’t help you much. English is sometimes taught in schools, but most people don’t learn it well, and you shouldn’t expect the locals to speak much English.

Paraguayans are delighted when visitors learn a few phrases in Guaraní. Here are a few to learn before your trip.

  • Mba’éichapa is a common greeting in Paraguay. It’s a question used to ask “how are you?”
  • Tranquilopa is how most people respond to “mba’éichapa.” It means everything’s chill.
  • Che réra means “my name is.” You can use this phrase to introduce yourself.
  • Che vare’a is Guaraní for “I’m hungry.” If you tell a local you’re hungry in Guaraní, it won’t be long until they’re inviting you to try empanadas or Paraguayan tortillas. Yum!
  • Ja’umina means bring the beer! Okay, maybe not literally, but it means let’s drink. 

That should be enough to get you started and help you make friends with the locals. Make sure you ask them to teach you plenty of words and phrases in Guaraní during your trip.

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COMMUNICATION | Phone and Internet in Paraguay

You can buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card easily in Paraguay. Just look for a storefront or kiosk that says Claro, Tigo, or Personal. When you run out of internet or minutes, you can reload at a pharmacy or despensa, small stores people usually run out of their homes. Service and internet can be spotty depending on the area, but it’s generally good close to and in the cities. 

WiFi is available in the big cities, Asunción and Ciudad del Este, and in the surrounding cities. Most hostels and Airbnb will have free WiFi, just make sure you check before you book if the internet is a must. A standard WiFi plan is usually 120 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed. 


 BUDGET | How Much Does It Cost to Backpack Paraguay?

It’s relatively inexpensive to travel and backpack in Paraguay. You can get by with a budget of $40-$60USD per day for food, accommodations, and local transportation. If you want to travel further or do certain activities, you’ll have to add that to your trip budget as well. 

Exchange Rate approx. $1USD = 7,000Gs

Cost of Accommodation in Paraguay

You can stay in a hostel or rent a private room on Airbnb starting at $10USD a night. There are many places you can camp as well, some are free and others charge a fee. 

If you’re planning on visiting the Chaco in the north of Paraguay, you should stay in a hotel or rental house, as the wildlife can make camping on your own dangerous. There aren’t as many options in this part of the country, so you may have to pay more for accommodation.

Cost of Food in Paraguay

You can find plenty of inexpensive food options in Paraguay. A meal at a cheap restaurant costs less than $5USD. You can get empanadas to enjoy with your tereré for around 50 cents each. 

If you prefer to cook, ingredients are pretty inexpensive as well. A dozen eggs cost around $2USD, a whole chicken is about $2USD a kilogram, and beef ribs are less than $5USD a pound. Produce is cheap as well, so if you’re on a tight budget, plan to cook instead of eating out and your budget will go far.

Cost of Beer in Paraguay

You can get a liter of beer at the store for as cheap as $1USD, and a half liter for about $1.50USD at a restaurant. If you have a more refined taste, you can get a local craft beer for around $2USD. Or just try your luck by saying “Ja’umina!” to a local with a beer in hand. Maybe they’ll give you one of theirs!

Cost of Activities in Paraguay

Itaipu Dam

  • Paraguay side – Free
  • Brazil side – Tours from 48-160 reales ($9-31USD)

Jesuit Missions Ruins in Trinidad and Tavarangue – 25,000 guaraníes

Saltos del Monday

  • Adults – $12USD
  • Children aged 5-12 – $6USD
  • Children under 5 – Free

Eco Adventure at the Mbatoví Reserve (Ziplining, rappelling, hanging bridges) – $35USD

Tacuary Beach in Carmen del Paraná – Free


TRANSPORT | Getting Around Paraguay

In Paraguay, the cheapest way to travel is by bus. There are lots of buses that will take you all over the country, but it’s hard to figure out which buses to take to get where you want to go. They don’t have maps or an app to know the routes, so you have to figure it out on your own. 

The buses usually have a sign on the front that outlines their route, and you can ask the driver if the place you want to go is on their journey. Bus stops also aren’t always clearly marked, but if you spot a group of people waiting around, it’s probably a bus stop. 

Taxis are also available, but most people opt to use ride-share apps as they’re usually more affordable. Uber and Bolt are the most popular ones, and you can use them in and around the big cities. It’s more convenient than taking the bus but also more expensive.


WHERE TO GO | Places to Visit in Paraguay

For the waterfall chasers

Nothing can take your breath away quite like the majesty of cascading waterfalls. Water is one of Paraguay’s most abundant natural resources, and there are some awesome falls to visit and take pictures of, such as Saltos del Monday, Salto Cristal, and Nacunday Falls. You can even hop on over to Brazil or Argentina and see the incredible Iguazú Falls.

For hikers and adventurers

Paraguay has many places to hike and explore that are unspoiled, with hardly a person in sight. Paraguarí is a great spot to visit for some challenging hikes and breathtaking views. Cerro Tres Kandú is the highest point in Paraguay and has a spectacular view from the top. There’s also an abundance of wildlife for those that love to see animals in their natural habitat.

For those who hate tourist crowds

Paraguay isn’t super touristy, which comes with pros and cons. It may not have the same kind of infrastructure as other more touristy destinations, but the abundance of unspoiled natural beauty more than makes up for it. So if you hate the idea of spending your vacation on crowded beaches or historical sites packed to the brim with tourists, Paraguay can offer you a unique and off-the-beaten-track escape, with hardly a tourist in sight. 


THINGS TO DO | Top 10 Things to Do in Paraguay

1. Drink Tereré with the Locals

You won’t get far in Paraguay before spotting the national drink, tereré. Icy cold water is poured over Yerba maté with refreshing flavors like mint and lemon. It’s the best way to beat the heat and experience Paraguayan culture at its maximum expression.

2. Buy some Ñanduti as a souvenir

Ñanduti means spiderweb in Guaraní and is a special type of lacework done in Paraguay. You can get ñanduti earrings, keychains, and artwork all over Paraguay. There’s even a Ñanduti Festival every March in the town of Itauguá.

3. Hike the Trails of Paraguarí

Paraguarí is home to several small mountains where you can hike to the top and gaze over the city’s landscape. Cerro Hu is the most popular, with a steep climb and a gorgeous view from the top.

4. Relax by the River in Encarnación

Encarnación is a small city in the south of Paraguay situated along the bank of the Paraná River. Enjoy relaxing at the beach here, or head over to neighboring Carmen del Paraná to explore another beautiful beach.

5. Eat Paraguayan Asado

Paraguay is proud of i’s high-quality meat and barbecue, and asado as it’s called is a Paraguayan tradition. Don’t pass up the opportunity to try it!

6. Visit the Itaipu Dam

The Itaipu Dam is home to one of the world’s largest hydroelectric plants. You can take a tour to learn more about it and also watch a light show there at night.

7. Learn About Paraguay’s History at the Jesuit Missions Ruins 

These World Heritage Sites were established in 1609 and have been well-preserved down to this day. You can visit them in the Itapúa Department of Paraguay. If you enjoy learning about history and visiting historical sites, definitely add this to your itinerary.

8. Marvel at the Saltos del Monday

This impressive waterfall located in Presidente Franco is a must-see if you’re spending time near Ciudad del Este or the surrounding cities. Be prepared to get wet if you take the elevator down to the bottom!

9. Learn Guaraní from the Locals

Guaraní is a beautiful and unique language, and it’s a big part of Paraguayan culture. So take the time to learn some while you’re traveling around. Ask the locals to teach you some words and phrases.

10. Watch the Sunset at the Ypacaraí lake in San Bernardino

A vibrant sunset over the Ypacaraí Lake is a sight to see. The peaceful waters and natural beauty are calming and the perfect way to enjoy an evening in Paraguay.


Although often overlooked in favor of its neighbours, there is plenty to explore in Paraguay. Be sure to let us know your favorite Paraguayan spots in the comments! 

Haleigh Sparks bio pic
Haleigh Sparks

Haleigh is a freelance writer and traveler from California. Currently, she’s living in Paraguay (not to be confused with Uruguay) and traveling in South America. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her browsing flights, playing with her dog, or trying out a new recipe. Check out more of her work at her website

Find her on: Pinterest | LinkedIn

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