Have you thought of visiting Paraguay? If you have, you are part of the minority. Paraguay is one of the least visited countries in South America and to be honest, there are reasons why.
There is no amazing scenery. No great historical sites, large mountains or beaches. For me, it did have one major tourist attraction. There are not many tourists.
I had not planned on visiting Paraguay during my South American trip. As I made my way down the continent, I had got stuck in Ecuador during a month of riots. Eventually, I managed to escape the riots and curfews into Northern Peru.
After an amazing time in Peru, I planned to go into Bolivia. A near civil war situation and not wanting to have another Ecuador experience meant I had to change plans. I thought about visiting Paraguay.
Paraguay was on my radar as a maybe visit. With Bolivia, a no go zone Paraguay moved to the top of my list. I booked a cheap flight from Cusco Peru and made my way to Asuncion the Capital of Paraguay.
I arrived in Asuncion in late spring. The first thing that hit me as I left the airport was the heat. I had been in South America for six months and had experienced heat. None of that had prepared me for the heat in Paraguay.
Asuncion is a strange capital. Not a good strange or bad strange. Just strange. The first thing I noticed on my first walk around the city was that nobody was trying to sell me stuff on the street. That was a first on my south America trip.
Most South American cities keep their historical city centres in good shape. Asuncion not so much. The city centre has a lot of potentials, but even minor work such as upkeeping footpaths is almost non-existent.
Asuncion does have its charms. If you are travelling through South America and need someplace to slow down and chill out, it is a good option. As it remains largely untouched by mass tourism, the people are friendly, and crime is low.
Visiting Paraguay is also cheap. While it does not have as many bars and restaurants as other nearby countries, you will be able to find some nice places to eat and drink in Asuncion. Meat is king in Paraguay.
One of the nicest areas to walk in Asuncion is on the Playa de La Costanera. Opened in 2013 the artificial beach and walkway is a popular area locals go to walk when the sun is not so hot.
Unfortunately, the beach is not a good place to cool down from the sun. The Rio Parana here is polluted.
Other places worth seeing in Asuncion.
Market 4. This is the biggest and most popular market in the city. The market is approximately 3km from the centre, and you can find almost anything here.
Palacio de Lopez Presidental Palace is close to the centre. Although it is not possible to go inside it is worth taking a look from the outside.
Like all cities, Asuncion does have areas it is not advisable to enter. There is an area in between the centre and the beach that the much less fortunate have no choice but to live.
I am sure most of the people that live here are ok but locals advised me not to enter here.
I enjoyed my two-week stay in Asuncion. It allowed me time to relax and take a breather on my South American trip.
It was time to get off my hostel hammock and take to bus to Paraguay’s main tourist town Encarnación.
I enjoyed Asuncion, but for a capital city, it was a bit run down. Because of this, I did have not high expectations for Encarnación as I boarded the bus for the four-hour journey.
I was wrong. Encarnación is a well kept, clean town. It is the holiday destination for many local people.
Later that night as I walked around the town it became apparent that Encarnación is the place to visit for people with money in Paraguay.
The area near the lake takes is the entertainment zone and is full of high-end hotels and restaurants. At weekends teens drive up and down the strip showing off expensive and classic cars.
Nearby the strip is San Jose beach on the lake. The beach is an artificial beach. It is a pleasant place to relax. It is not a great place for swimming as you are only allowed to go out a certain distance and it is quite shallow.
The view from here is nice, and you can see across the lake to nearby Argentina.
Plaza de Armas near the shopping area is also an enjoyable area to chill out under a tree in the midday sun.
Encarnación is worth a stop if you are visiting Paraguay. It also might be a good place to consider if you are looking for a place to retire in South America.
My next destination before I crossed the border into Argentina was Ciudad del Este.
Ciudad del Este is located near the three frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. It is one of the biggest tax-free zones in the world.
The city is connected to Brazil by the friendship bridge. Thousands of Brazilians flood into Cuidad del Este every day in search of bargains.
Paraguay’s second city is famous for its electrical goods bargains. My own experience was that electrical items are cheaper in Europe. The city is still worth a visit if you are crossing the border into Brazil or Argentina.
Saftey in Paraguay
I can only speak about my own personal experience. I felt very safe during my month in Paraguay. I am sure the fact that few tourists visit here is a factor. I had no safety issues visiting Paraguay.
Travel in Paraguay
I used buses to travel in Paraguay. They were clean and efficient. The road network between the cities was good and light on traffic.
To check out my travels check out my blog
I used Busbud a lot during my South American trip.
Join me on my journey.
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