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Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.
The Ciudad de Asunción is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora,Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San Antonio, Limpio,Capiatá and Villa Elisa, which are part of the Central Department. The Asunción metropolitan area has more than 2 million inhabitants. The Municipality of Asunción is listed on the Asunción Stock Exchange, as BVPASA: MUA, a unique feature of any city.
It is the home of the national government, principal port, and the chief industrial and cultural centre of the country.
|POPULATION :||• City 525,294|
• Metro 2,198,662
|FOUNDED :||August 15, 1537|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone PYT (UTC–4)|
• Summer (DST) PYST (UTC–3)
|LANGUAGE :||Spanish (official), Guarani (official)|
|AREA :||• City 117 km2 (45.2 sq mi)|
• Metro 1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||43 m (141 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||25°16′S 57°38′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.40%|
• Female: 49.60%
|AREA CODE :||21|
|POSTAL CODE :||1001-1925|
|DIALING CODE :||(+595) 21|
The Asunción metropolitan area is home to 2.2 million of Paraguay's 6.6 million inhabitants. It is a demographically young city with 65% of its residents under the age of 30. Few people speak English outside of hotels and tour operators so without at least some basic Spanish it might be hard to get by. The city centre (microcentro) closes from Saturday afternoon to all Sunday and the city may appear fairly deserted, but the bustle is in the neightbourhoods of Villa Morra and Carmelitas where the main shopping centers, department stores, boutiques, as well as cafés, fast food, restaurants and cinemas are located, and they don't close on weekends.
Many former grand buildings in the microcentro used to suffer from great decay, but the government started restoration works due to Paraguay's Bicentennial Celebrations in 2011, and nowadays the city has recovered a lot of its past splendour. At night, you can take a taxi ride and enjoy it fully illuminated. There are many bars, pubs, and restaurants in this area, as well as the new riverside promenade (costanera).
- Senatur (National Tourism Board), Palma 468, , toll-free: 0800 113030, fax: . The main national tourist information office. Additional information booth at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.
- Dirección de Cultura y Turismo (Municipal Tourism Board), Ayolas 129, Centro Cultural Manzana de la Rivera, . The local tourist office. Additional information booth at Bus Terminal and Costanera (riverside promenade).
Asunción is one of the oldest cities in South America and the longest continually inhabited area in the Rio de la Plata Basin; for this reason that it is known as "Mother of Cities". It was from Asunción that the colonial expeditions departed to found other cities, including the second foundation of Buenos Aires and of other important cities such as Villarrica, Corrientes,Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
The site of the city may have been first visited by Spanish conqueror Juan de Ayolas, on his way north, up the Paraguay River, looking for a passage to the mines of Alto Perú (present-day Bolivia). Later, Juan de Salazar y Espinosa and Gonzalo de Mendoza, relative of Pedro de Mendoza, were sent in search of Ayolas, but were unable to find him. On his way up and then down the river, de Salazar stopped briefly at a bay in the left bank to resupply his ships. He found the natives friendly, and decided to found a fort there, in August, 1537. He named it Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción.
In 1542, natives destroyed Buenos Aires, and the Spaniards fled to Asunción. Thus, the city became the center of a large Spanish colonial province comprising part of Brazil, present-day Paraguay and northeastern Argentina: the Giant Province of the Indies. In 1603 Asunción was the seat of the First Synod of Asunción, which set guidelines for the evangelization of the natives in their lingua franca, Guaraní.
In 1731, an uprising under José de Antequera y Castro was one of the first rebellions against Spanish colonial rule. The uprising failed, but it was the first sign of the independent spirit that was growing among the criollos, mestizos and natives of Paraguay. The event influenced the independence of Paraguay, which then materialised in 1811. The secret reunions between the independence leaders to plan an ambush against the Spanish Governor in Paraguay Bernardo de Velasco were held at the home of Juana María de Lara, in downtown Asunción. On the night of May 14 and May 15 the rebels succeeded and were able to force governor Velasco to surrender. Today, Lara's home is known as Casa de la Independencia (House of the Independence) and serves as a museum and historical building.
After Paraguay became independent, there was significant change in Asunción. Under the presidency of Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia roads were built throughout the city and the streets were named. However, it was during the presidency of Carlos Antonio López that Asunción (and Paraguay) progressed, as the new president implemented new economic policies. More than 400 schools, metallurgic factories and the first railroad service in South America were built during the López presidency. After López died, his son Francisco Solano López became the new president and led the country through the disastrous Paraguayan War that lasted for five years. After the end of the armed conflict, Asunción was occupied by Brazilian troops until 1876.
Many historians have claimed that this war provoked a steady downfall of the city and country, since it massacred two thirds of the country's population. Progress slowed down greatly afterwards, and the economy remained stagnated.
After the Paraguayan War, Asunción began a slow recovery attempt. Towards the end of the 19th century and during the early years of the 20th century, a flow of immigrants from Europe and the Ottoman Empire came to the city. This led to a change in the appearance of the city as many new buildings were built and Asunción went through an era more prosperous than any since the war.
Asunción is just south of the Tropic of Capricorn so the climate is subtropical. That means hot weather especially in the South American summer (winter in the Northern Hemisphere). Between December and March the temperature can consistently climb over 38 °C / 100 °F and the humidity can be high and uncomfortable. Nevertheless the weather changes frequently from one week to another. When the sun shines you bake and it can be very dry when the rains hold off for just a few days. Rains are heavy and make the temperature drop precipitously. Then the clouds build and it becomes cold.
Climate data for Asunción
|Record high °C (°F)||40.8|
|Average high °C (°F)||33.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||28.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||22.8|
|Record low °C (°F)||12.4|
|Source : World Meteorological Organization|
Asunción is located between the parallels 25° 15' and 25° 20' of south latitude and between the meridians 57° 40' and 57° 30' of west longitude. The city sits on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the River Pilcomayo. The Paraguay River and the Bay of Asunción in the northwest separate the city from the Occidental Region of Paraguay and Argentina in the south part of the city. The rest of the city is surrounded by the Central Department.
With its location along the Paraguay River, the city offers many landscapes; it spreads out over gentle hills in a pattern of rectangular blocks. Places such as Cerro Lambaré, a hill located in Lambaré, offer a spectacular show in the springtime because of the blossoming lapacho trees in the area. Parks such as Parque Independencia and Parque Carlos Antonio López offer large areas of typical Paraguayan vegetation and are frequented by tourists. There are several small hills and slightly elevated areas throughout the city, including Cabará, Clavel, Tarumá, Cachinga, and Tacumbú, among others.
In terms of commerce, this sector has grown considerably in recent years stretching towards the suburbs where shopping malls and supermarkets have been built. Paraguay's only stock exchange, the BVPASA, is located here. The city itself is listed on it, as BVPASA:MUA.
In Asuncion, the most important companies, businesses and investment groups are headquartered. This city is the economic center of Paraguay, followed by Ciudad del Este and Encarnación.
|Neighborhood||Population (2002)||Neighborhood||Population (2002)||Neighborhood||Population (2002)|
|1. Itá Enramada||4845||24. Seminario||5070||47. Pinoza||6621|
|2. Santa Ana||5775||25. Vista Alegre||12,611||48. Jara||13,554|
|3. Bañado Santa Ana||8374||26. Panambí Retá||2386||49. Banco San Miguel||953|
|4. Roberto L. Pettit||20,201||27. Panambí Verá||2591||50. Tablada Nueva||6573|
|5. Republicano||8429||28. San Pablo||21,787||51. Virgen del Huerto||4809|
|6. Pirizal||4022||29. Terminal||4305||52. Virgen de la Asunción||9983|
|7. San Vicente||15,412||30. Hipódromo||8348||53. Bella Vista||6657|
|8. Bañado Tacumbú||10,958||31. Nazareth||7133||54. Santo Domingo||2591|
|9. Obrero||19,823||32. Villa Aurelia||9871||55. Cañada del Ybaray||3166|
|10. Tacumbú||13,366||33. Los Laureles||3517||56. Las Lomas (Carmelitas)||5604|
|11. Sajonia||14,873||34. Mariscal Estigarribia||7711||57. Madame Lynch||8589|
|12. Itá Pytá Punta||4225||35. San Cristóbal||6618||58. Salvador del Mundo||3883|
|13. San Antonio||9544||36. Herrera||5149||59. Ñu Guazú||1342|
|14. Dr. Francia||10,925||37. Santa María||4591||60. Mbocayaty||6512|
|15. La Encarnación||4928||38. Ytay||3054||61. Mburucuyá||8377|
|16. Catedral||3676||39. San Jorge||4844||62. Trinidad||4515|
|17. General Díaz||6068||40. Ycuá Satí||6687||63. Virgen de Fátima||6064|
|18. Pettirossi||11380||41. Manorá||1898||64. San Rafael||10,732|
|19. San Roque||6355||42. Villa Morra||4114||65. Botánico||9982|
|20. Ricardo Brugada(Chacarita)||10,455||43. Recoleta||10,230||66. Zeballos Cué||18,553|
|21. San Felipe||5679||44. Tembetary||3515||67. Loma Pytá||6231|
|22. Las Mercedes||4827||45. Mburicaó||7691||68. San Blas||3651|
|23. Ciudad Nueva||8584||46. General Caballero||8128||69. Santa Rosa||3546|
|24. Carlos A. López||?||70. Mariscal López||5025|
Internet places are everywhere and usually cost between 3,000 and 5,000 Gs. per hour. Connection speeds are usually good. If you're travelling with a laptop or Wi-Fi enabled phone, it's relatively easy to find open Wi-Fi signals. Many restaurants have free Wi-Fi.
- CyberKing (corner Oliva and 14 de Mayo). Open 24h - more or less. A good place for Internet and one of the only ones open late as well. 5.000 Gs/h with Skype.
Prices in Asuncion
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$0.80|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$5.90|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$15.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$35.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$1.30|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.10|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$4.95|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$9.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.14|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$1.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.90|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$56.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M.)||1||$33.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$64.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.45|
44 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
112 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
All flights arrive at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (IATA: ASU) located 17 km (11 mi) northeast of Asunción. It takes 30–45 minutes from the airport to the city centre using public transportation. Taxis, city buses, airport-to-hotel minibuses and car hire are available at the airport.
International flights are available to Buenos Aires with TAM Airlines and Aerolíneas Argentinas; Sao Paulowith TAM Airlines and GOL; Santiago with TAM Airlines; Santa Cruz with TAM Airlines and Amaszonas; Lima with Avianca; Montevideo with Amaszonas; Panama City with Copa Airlines; and Miami with American Airlines. There are no direct flights to Europe and you must have to change planes in São Paulo or Buenos Aires.
There are domestic flights to Ciudad del Este with TAM Airlines and Amaszonas Paraguay, and to Concepción, Vallemí, Fuerte Olimpo and Bahía Negra with Setam (Transporte Aéreo Militar)
A taxi to the city centre should cost about USD 30. Public bus stop is 200 mts. outside the airport terminal. City bus line 30 takes you into the city and the fare is inexpensive (USD 0,50), but beware that local buses are not prepared for carrying big pieces of luggage. Local buses run from 5AM to 10PM.
There are no trains in Paraguay. A tourist train to Areguá which departed on Sundays from Jardín Botánico station stopped service in 2010. The building next to Plaza Uruguaya once the main train station is now a museum and cultural events venue.
The bus terminal (Terminal de Omnibus) is about five km southeast of the city centre, so it is advisable to take a taxi or bus (buses number 8, 38, among many others) into town. The Avenida Fernando de la Mora in front of the bus terminal leads to the centre. All bus companies have ticket offices inside the terminal, and some long distance bus companies maintain offices around Plaza Uruguaya in the microcentro.
There are normally two types of bus services to the largest cities in Paraguay: común anddirecto. While the first are cheaper, they also stop in every town or bus stop along the way to pick up and drop off passengers and take longer time than the directo which run direct or with fewer or no stops to reach their destination in less time. Directo buses are less frequent having only a couple of services a day generally at midnight or early in the morning or late afternoon.
- Encarnación, común: 7–8 hours, several daily, 50,000 Gs; also directo: 5 hours, 75.000 Gs
- Ciudad del Este, several daily, 5–7 hours, 40,000 - 70,000gs
- Concepción, about 6 hours, several daily, 60'000 Gs
- Cities in the Chaco: Loma Plata, Filadelfia, Neuland, Mariscal Estigarriba, about 8 hours, 1 to 2 services daily to each destination, 90,000 Gs (NASA, Golondrina).
International buses depart from the bus terminal to several destinations in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile.
- Buenos Aires, ca. 17h, several daily, 45 US$ (Crucero del Norte, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Chevallier)
- Santa Cruz, $40, 21 hours.
The bus to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, is not recommended: it is extremely slow (the Transchaco Highway is only paved as far as the Bolivian border), buses generally travel only at night - meaning that you miss out on any views of the Chaco, and roadblocks on the Bolivian side of the border are common and can easily cause your journey time to double. Most of the buses making this journey (at least 21 hours) do not have toilets on board. Flights to Santa Cruz are nowadays only marginally more expensive than the bus if booked in advance.
All the other buses are extremely good. It's wise to spend extra to get the better service (the 70,000 Gs. bus to Ciudad del Este takes two to three hours less than the 40,000 Gs. services, for example). Food and drink is often served on the more expensive long-distance services, and almost all will stop en route to let someone on selling chipa and cocido.
Driving a car yourself is an excellent way to explore the city sights as some of them are located off themicrocentro. It's recommended using a GPS when renting a car since the city streets and avenues lack good signaling and finding your way around can be challenging. Traffic in Asunción can be quite chaotic specially early in the morning, at noon, and from 5PM to 8PM during rush hours. However, it gets much better once outside of the city. Highways to places nearby are in good condition. The car rental companies can also provide drivers.
Parking in the city is abundant and is properly signalized on every block. Streets are wide enough to park next to both sidewalks. Parking in the microcentro streets cost USD 0,50 per hour but only in the mornings, from 8AM to 1PM, and only on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays parking is free. A special situation is that when you park your car, poor people (men and women, young and old) will approach you and offer you to "look after" the car when you leave it parked, expecting you give them a small amount of money (no more than USD 2) when you return to your car. This is a common situation throughout the city specially around major sights (including city parks) and restaurants. It could be annoying at first, but locals are accustomed to this situation and it will be better for you to accept the offer and, by doing so, avoid any kind of trouble.
The port is at the riverside end of Montevideo just after Paraguayo Independiente.
- "Cacique II" leaves Concepción to Asunción on Sundays between 6-7AM 22 hours, 55,000 Gs. Returns to Concepción on Wednesday morning. Bring warm clothes and your own food. A cheap meal might be bought on board but don't count on it.
- Travelers can occasionally book passage on cargo boats doing the trip to Concepción and even further up the Rio Paraguay.
Transportation - Get Around
The historic centre of Asunción is small enough to be explored by foot. However, some of the attractions, such as the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden) are a bit outside. In addition to the city's historical core - which is essentially between the streets Colón and Antequera - the Carmelitas area has become a hub for retail and entertainment, containing several large shopping centres and North American-style bars and restaurants. East-west street names change at Independencia Nacional, and North-South ones at Avenida Mariscal López.
Buses are ubiquitous, cheap and an experience in themselves (be careful while exiting, since many only slow down, rather than stop completely for the passengers to get off). They go more or less everywhere in the city - destinations are displayed on boards on the front window, if in doubt just shout your intended destination at the driver when he stops and he'll tell you yes or no. There are sometimes a few different versions of each bus number - 16, 16.1, 16.2 etc. which often have completely different routes from each other, so watch out not to accidentally get on the wrong one. There aren't many official bus stops in Asunción, you can just stick your arm out and flag down a bus pretty much anywhere. You need a knowledge of Spanish to ask your way along. As of January 2013, the fare is Gs. 2.000 (USD 0.52).
Some useful bus routes:
- Centre (Oliva) to Shopping del Sol: 28, 30
- Centre to Shopping Mariscal Lopez/Villa Morra: 18, 26, 28, 30.2 (from Oliva), 56 (from Haedo)
- Centre (Oliva) to the Botanical Gardens: 1, 13
- Centre (Oliva) to the Bus Termninal: 8, 36
- Centre (Haedo) to Mercado 4: 2, 21, 25, 27, 29, 133
- Centre (Oliva) to the airport: 30A
Taxis are also available and reasonably inexpensive. Many of the taxis are old, lumbering diesel Mercedes, which can be a fun throwback. A 30% surcharge is added on late at night (after around 10PM) and on Sundays. Tipping isn't expected. Make sure that drivers use the meter, or arrange a fare beforehand.
From the bus terminal walk up the stairs marked "SALIDA", then down the stairs into the car park. Ignore the taxi touts and catch a taxi from the rank. A taxi into the city centre during the day should cost around 40,000 Gs. From the airport taxis in front of the terminal charge a flat, non-negotiable rate of 100,000 Gs to the centre. It is possible to get a cheaper fare by walking up to the main road and taking a yellow cab from there, though you're unlikely to save any more than about 20,000 Gs.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
The cost of buying goods and services is cheap. This is only partly because Paraguay is a piracy and smuggling haven. Be aware that some goods may be cheaply made.
- Indigenous crafts and artisan work are available such as tooled leather, carved wood, pottery and a particularly Paraguayan lace based on a spider's web called "Ñanduti". Check out the artisan shops in Plaza de los Heroes. Most goods are in fact locally made.
- Shopping malls There are two main malls in Asuncion: Shopping del Sol on Aviadores del Chaco and Shopping Mariscal López on Avenida Mariscal Lopez, exist in the suburbs of Villa Mora and Carmelitas. Take buses 28 or 30 to reach them. Mall Excelsior on Chile, and the more basic Asuncion Supercentro on the western end of Oliva are both in the centre. These "Shoppings" are useful as places to eat on Sunday evenings, when many more central places are closed.
- Palma Street, Calle Palma. The main shopping street. Pretty much everything you can buy here, you can get cheaper in one of the parallel streets.
- Mercado 4, along Avenida Sivio Pettirossi. A chaotic market where you can buy just about anything very cheaply, it is particularly good for counterfeit clothing and pirated CDs and DVDs (of varying quality). Most Paraguayans still shop at local produce markets, but you can buy everything at great prices. Good street food and some foreign, mostly Chinese, restaurants.
Typical souvenirs from Asunción would include guampas/bombillas, T-shirts, traditional lace, or leather goods.
- American Express traveller's cheques can be changed at Banco de la Nacion Argentina (at Plaza de los Heroes). Above average exchange rate, 3 US$ commission. It will take a while though - time to experience the place which could be a sight in itself. BBVN supposedly does as well. Casa de Cambios don't. All banks close by 1:30PM. Also can be changed at Maxicambios [www] which are located in all main shopping-malls.
At lunch time there is no shortage of cheap restaurants to dine in or take away - you can't miss them. The places where you help yourself and pay by weight are usually very cheap and a decent option besides the slightly more expensive restaurants with their daily menu. At dinner time only very few eating places are still open and finding a good deal - especially if you are budget-conscious - is a lot harder.
Most shopping malls have decent food courts with a variety of restaurants, however, they are located away from the centre. Bigger supermarkets often have a cheap self-service restaurant inside.
Eat a streetside “lomito”- these vendors are located throughout the city, with high concentrations near Casa Rica and the Ñu Guazu. It is a sandwich, with mayo, veggies, cheese and a fried egg. You can choose between beef or chicken. Some also offer lomito arabe (shawarma), hamburgers and chorizo. It is a popular hang out place at nights and after a night of heavy drinking.
Don Vito is Paraguayan fast food at its best. Home of the Paraguayan empanada, they have been in business for over 30 years. The original spot is just behind the Iglesia de san Jose, and if you are lucky enough to be in Paraguay around May–June, you can order a pastel mandi'o, which is make of mandioca and beef. Best enjoyed with a cold pulp, a Paraguayan soft drink made with natural fruit juice.
- Burger King, Palma between 14 de Mayo and 15 de Agosto. If you fancy something you know. Also open in the evening.
- Supermercado El Pais, Antequera and 25 de Mayo (on the east side of Plaza Uruguaya). open until 21:30, Sunday only until noon. Upstairs is the buffet, with various meats, pastas and salads available. Pay by weight, ½kg around 15,000Gs. It is not recommended to dine in the evening, shortly before they close.
- Restaurant Internacional, Fernando de la Mora (opposite the bus terminal). A good and not too expensive place. Sometimes with live music. Popular also with locals to hang out for a beer. Open in the evening.
- La Vida Verde, Palma 634. 9:00-14:00. Good Chinese-vegetarian food. Self-service. Very popular at noon. No more than US$5 per person.
- Na Eustaqia, 421 Palma, past Lido's and the hall of martyrs, near Burger King. Lower prices than Lido's, and quality food. Very busy for lunch, you may need to wait for a table. Main lunches cost 15,000 - 25,000 Gs. Great juice bar there too.
- Seoul, Chile, near the intersection with Oliva (Plaza de los Heroes) and opposite an Esso petrol station. Open for lunch and dinner (19:30). Wonderful Korean buffet, with lots of vegetarian options where you fill your plate and pay per kilo (40,000 Gs)
- Confiteria/Snack Bar/Restaurant Bolsi (corner Estrella and Alberdi). M-Su, also open in the evening. It has been there for decades, serving some more and some less traditional food to a mixed crowd of people.
- Lido Bar (Av. Palma, opposite Panteón del los Heroes). open daily till late. Established 1954 in the style of a contemporary American cafe-bar, Lido Bar has hardly changed since. All the usual Paraguayan foods, plus a wide selection of desserts. Very popular during peak times, particularly dinner. The Fish Soup (sopa pescado) is famous and recommended.
- Hacienda Las Palomas, Senador Long 1481 (corner Senador Long and Guido Spano), . Really good Mexican food (not "chips & salsa Tex-Mex"). The margaritas are particularly good, but the food is even better.
- Shangri-La, Aviadores del Chaco c/ San Martín (corner Aviadores del Chaco and San Martín), . Good Chinese food.
- Bar San Roque (Corner of 25 de Mayo and Tacuary. Green building.). Open all evening, earlier than many other places until late. A mix of traditional and fine cuisine. Excellent food and service in a very traditional feeling atmosphere. Really fantastic beer on tap, served in their chilled Oktoberfest steins.
For a traditional Paraguayan meal, visit "La Paraguayita." Don't miss a Brazilian steak house called a "churrasqueria."
- Acuarela, Mcal. López 4049 (near San Martin), .
Coffe & Drink
Unlike in most of the rest of Paraguay, tap water in Asunción is potable.
There are several locations of Café Havanna [www], a Starbucks-like Argentine coffee chain. One is just off the corner of Avenida Mcal. López and Avenida Rca. Argentina.
Sights & Landmarks
Asunción may not have many conventional tourist attractions, but if you are willing to be your own tour guide, Asunción can be an interesting place to visit.
Every July there is a trade fair with exhibition booths, food, music and liquor. This is a good way to learn about what goes on in the country, the exhibitors range from agricultural suppliers to liquor manufacturers. Keep an eye out for the many free samples of food, soap, drinks, etc.
- The National Congress. One of the more impressive new buildings in the city. It was built in 2002 with $20 million from the Republic of China (Taiwan) government. Paraguay is one of the few countries and also the only country in South America that recognizes Republic of China (Taiwan) as opposed to mainland China (People's Republic of China). Most striking is its mirrored façade, which reflects the nearby slums along the bank of the river. You can ask for a tour in English - and maybe get one. Be sure arrive there by 1PM you will be able to visit a small museum inside.
- Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Asunción. The national cathedral. Across the broad and picturesque plaza with fountains, but it is frequently closed, especially at midday siesta.
- Municipal Museum. *The Municipal Museum is modest, but has some tidbits about the old tram line from the 1880s and other civic history. Nearby is the Visual Arts Museum with temporary exhibits from national artists.
- Panteón de los Heroes. Houses the tomb of the unknown soldier along with other "heroes" from Paraguay's disastrous wars, as well as plaques for the heroes of the Chaco war. Changing of the guard occurs every other day.
- Cabildo. Cultural center in the old colonial legislative building near the bay area.
- Casa de la Independencia. Landmark of the Paraguayan Independence. This is where national heroes gathered to plot against Spanish colonialists in 1811. They marched from here to the Cathedral on Independence Day.
- Palacio de López. House the Paraguayan government. Very well lit at night.
- Estación Central del Ferrocarril. Paraguay was the first country in South America to have a vapor train. It now houses a museum, but more impressive is the building itself and old wagons. You may be lucky to catch a ride on Sundays to neighbor city of Aregua. This is a tourist ride, the train no longer operates regularly.
- Teatro Municipal. Recently renovated, check for regular shows. Nice cafe inside, you can eat there even if you don't catch a performance.
- Manzana de la Rivera. Cultural center in an old colonial house. Has a nice outdoor cafe overlooking the Palacio de López.
- Iglesia de la Encarnación. Church with a big pipe organ (the only one in Paraguay). Currently in very poor conditions. Served as a hospital during the Chaco War (1932-35).
- Mburuvicha Roga. The "chief's house" in Guarani, where the presidential family lives.
- Centro Cultural de Artes Visuales Museo del Barro. Paraguayan art, dating from pre colonial ceramics and textiles until very avant garde contemporary art.
- Capellania del Migrante- Seminario Metropolitano de Asunción. Very beautiful brick church within a huge lively park where you can see Paraguayans play soccer, tennis and jog.
- Backyard birds. Backyard birds in the city are interesting. There is the Great Kiskadee, Saffron Finch and Hornero. Kiskadee is like a yellow blue jay—aggressive and large. Saffron finch is similar to a yellow house finch, Hornero is much like American Robin without the red breast. It builds a unique nest about the size and shape of a football completely out of mud and resembles a Paraguayan oven or horno. Thus the name: "baker".
- Sunday flea market, along calle Palma. From early morning until noon approximately.. Several old men set up their tables selling trinkets, photographs and books.
Things to do
- Running, Parque Ñu Guazú. Lots of elite Asunceños work off the stresses of their days at Parque Ñu Guazú, located just outside Asunción in the city of Luque, on the way to the airport. There's a great paved 9K loop for jogging or walking.
- Ñu Guazu. Spend the day or enjoy a picnic at Ñu Guazu, Asunción's biggest park. Full of ponds, and people playing sports.
- Jardín Botánico. Visit the botanical garden - it's a very peaceful place filled with trees and nice paths. Find a nice shady spot and enjoy a picnic lunch. Inside the park you can visit Madame Lynchs house, very beautiful example of Paraguayan colonial architecture.
- Soccer. Watch a soccer match at one of Asunción's stadiums. The classic rivals are Cerro Porteno and Olimpia.
Bars and clubs
- Britannia Pub, Cerro Corá 851. Tu-F from 19:30, Sa-Su from 20:00. The number 1 hangout for English speaking foreigners, still outnumbered by locals however. Try their microbrewed Britannia Beer and the chicken platter.
- 904, Cerro Corá 904. Mon-Thu from 18:00,Fri from 17:00, Saturday from 19:00. A lot like Britallina: similar food, similar drinks, similar prices. Has a pool table, and occasionally puts on live-music shows.
- The Jack, Cerro Cora. Recently opened bar opposite Britannia. Was previously called 'Older'.
- Coyote, Sucre 1655 (corner San Martin Avenue). Dance club, fashionable but loud
- Hollywood Dance, Independencia Nacional and Teniente Fariña (One block away from Mall Excelsior). Fri and Sat from around midnight. Dance venue for mostly gay people. 20.000 Gs.
- Glam, Av. San Martin 1155 and Agustin Barrios (Next to Salemma Carmelitas Supermarket). Thu Fri Sat from midnight. One of the finest dance clubs in Asuncion
- Kandi, Av. Aviadores del Chaco (Two or three blocks from Sheraton Hotel and Shopping del Sol).
- Planta Alta, first floor, Caballero 294 (corner Mariscal Estigarribia). W-F 17:00 - 01:00, Sat 21:00 - 03:00. A lounge-style hangout for artistic types, often playing live jazz. Reasonably cheap drinks. 10,000 Gs.
- Paseo Carmelitas, . from morning till late. A gallery with lots of stores to do shopping during the day and an excellent selection of bars and restaurants to go during the night, probably the most popular place in Asuncion during the night. Selection of bars include the "Kilkenny Irish Pub" "Cover Singing Bar" "Kamastro Resto Arte & Bar" in between others.
- La Taberna Cafe or La Tabernita, CHILE 1179 between YGATIMI y JEJUI, , e-mail: [email protected]. 07:00-15:00 and 1830-late. A Cafe Bar with good atmosphere, good music, drinks and very friendly staff (if you like 70's, 80's, 90's Rock & Pop)
- Casa Clari, Ayolas c/Benjamin Constantin (inside Manzana de la Riviera). Really nice views of the López Palace. Good food/drink menu, but slightly pricier than other bars in the centre.
Things to know
Flies, ants and especially mosquitoes (but no large, creepy bugs) are everywhere. There are no screens, windows and doors are simply flung open for ventilation. Air conditioners do exist but most people depend on less expensive fans. Heaters do not exist, though on the chilliest days they would be welcomed. The soil is bright red and as many streets are unpaved dust becomes a problem. There are trees (some in the middle of roads!) for shade, but palm trees are planted everywhere. Dogs and farm animals of every description are all over the roads. There is no humane society to care for wild dogs and some are pitifully mangy. It is not uncommon to see pigs wallowing in a mud puddle in the middle of a road, chickens are everywhere, horses, donkeys and cows run loose and can be found in anyone's property.
It is brutally hot in Paraguay's summer. If you've ever wondered why Latin culture has a "siesta" where everything closes down at noon for a few hours, you'll soon know why if you spend time in Asunción during the summer. You'll also understand why people eat dinner so late and stay out partying all night: it's too hot during the day to enjoy being outside.
Safety in Asuncion
National police has a highly visible presence, some already decked out in riot gear as if an uprising would be forthcoming at any moment. Because the dictator in the 80's did not tolerate crime in any form crime is not prevalent. Although the perception of crime is that it runs high since the dictator's fall in 1989. Some houses are protected by twenty foot high walls topped by barbed wire and electric fence or razor wire, and those who can afford it, have a full-time guard on their grounds. Despite the locals' rather high perception of crime, Asunción is one of the safer capitals in South America and violent crime is very uncommon. Due to the low numbers of tourists in Paraguay in general, visitors are not likely to be specifically targeted by criminals. Key things to watch out for are petty thieves (watch your pockets on crowded buses) and taxi drivers trying to rip you off (make sure they use the meter). Pickpocketing is said to be prevalent in crowded downtown streets near expensive hotels.
Prostitution is rampant and obvious after dark on the main avenues in the outskirts and in small parts of the city center's oldest parts near the port. Transvestite prostitutes are common around many areas, and are best avoided as they are known to cause trouble occasionally. Female travelers should be aware that they will receive a lot of unwanted attention from Paraguayan males -this is mostly intended as innocent banter in the form of shouts or wolf whistles etc., but can sometimes be accompanied by touching, especially in clubs. This sort of attention is best just ignored. Liquor is easily available but not widely abused, there are a fair few street drunks in some parts of the city, but they are invariably harmless.
Be extremely careful when crossing streets in Asunción. Most drivers consider stop signs and traffic lights to be merely suggestions, even if police are nearby. Buses will stop for almost nothing, so be very careful.
The United States CDC recommends that all visitors to Asunción receive a typhoid vaccination prior to travel. Dengue fever is frequently a risk one takes when traveling to Asunción; unfortunately, no vaccine for this currently exists. To avoid insect-spread diseases, ensure that you use bug spray at all times of the day, without exception.
The "Chacarita" area by the river, next to the Palace is an extremely impoverished and dangerous part of the city, and is definitely not a place to go exploring.