Brazil is definitely no longer a budget destination. This made us actually shorten our stay here and with lots of guilty feelings we decided to skip certain destinations such as the Chapada Diamantina National Parc or the whole Minais Gerais region to spend more time in cheaper countries such as Peru or Bolivia.
One clear mistake was to follow the recommendation of several fellow travellers and several advices on the Lonely Planet ThornTree and go to the island of Fernando de Noronha east of Recife. This place is simply outrageously overpriced even though it is beautiful. This is turning into a spot for the Brazilian Jet Set … Including the flight – we spent 760 Euros per person for four days, that means almost 260 USD a day!!! And the only luxury we indulged ourselves was diving … Just one comment: do NOT go there!
Distances in Brazil are huge and travel costs can be painful. Busses cost 4 times more than for instance in Venezuela, with an average of 4 USD per hour. And since roads are in a really bad state, travel is slow and therefore bus rides extremely expensive. It is even cheaper to fly on certain routes such as Rio – Salvador. Travel expenses were almost 50% of our total budget in Brazil (Fernando de Noronha is a separate budget). That hurts!
And last but not least, accommodation is expensive as well. In Recife and Salvador, a simple, sometimes very simple but clean room with private bath costs a minimum of 60 Reals (30 USD), and in Rio you have almost no choice under 100 Reals (50 USD). Needless to say that beginning of September is off season and we were able to negotiate prices a bit and able to choose in which Pousada we wanted to go!
As a whole, Brazil turns out to be no longer the budget place it used to be. More and more Brazilian are able to afford more expensive vacations and this drives prices higher. Not talking about the strong evaluation of the Real which also mechanically makes prices much higher for foreigners.
70 USD a day for a budget vacation seems to be what you should plan (of course without Fernando de Noronha) if you want to travel around and do not feel like sleeping in dorms.