Travel to Ciudad del Este
Ciudad del Este is about a five hour drive from Asuncion along Route 2 which turns into Route 7 at Coronel Oviedo. Navigating the crowded commercial sector of Ciudad del Este in a car is only for extremely patient and careful drivers. It is best to park in a guarded parking lot or hotel and explore this area on foot.
There are several companies with buses between Asuncion and Ciudad del Este. As with all long distance bus travel in Paraguay double floor (doble piso) buses are a nicer option. The best company is Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (www.nsa.com.py) with tickets costing between Gs. 50,000 and Gs.70,000. There are also several buses that run between Ciudad del Este and Encarnacion along Route 6 with prices between Gs. 45,000 and 60,000.
Ciudad del Este’s Aeropuerto Internacional Guarani is located approximately thirteen kilometers away in Minga Guazu on Route 7. TAM (the Brazilian airline, not the Paraguayan military one) has flights to Asuncion and Sao Paolo, Brazil, on a regular basis. The flight takes less than an hour. Taxis to the center of town run around Gs. 120,000. Tel: 0644 20884, 0644 20842
Downtown Ciudad del Este is very easy to get around on foot. In fact, in the commercial center, traveling by car is quite difficult and by motorcycle can be dangerous. During the day walking around is safe as long as you use common sense. Though they are relatively expensive (minimum fare is Gs. 20,000) taxis are your best bet after sundown. Points of interest outside the city such as the Itaipu Hydroelectric dam, Salto Monday waterfalls and Iguazu Falls are reachable by bus and taxi.
When navigating in Ciudad del Este there are a few key reference points to be aware of.
The Friendship Bridge (Puente de Amistad): This marks the border with Brazil and the end of Route 7.
Rotonda Oasis roundabout: This roundabout at the intersection of Route 7 and Avenida Pioneros del Este marks the end of the commercial sector. This is a major bus stop for local buses entering the city along Route 7 and buses coming from the bus terminal along Avenida Pioneros del Este.
Kilometro Siete: The intersection of Route 7 and the Supercarretera highway which leads north past the city of Hernandarias and the Itaipu Hydroelectric power plant all the way to the city of Saltos de Guaira. All long distance buses turn off Route 7 here to head to Ciudad del Este’s bus terminal.
Getting to the border by bus can be frustrating as traffic is often at a standstill in the commercial sector. Many find it is faster to walk from Rotonda Oasis down Avenida San Blas to the foot of the bridge than to go by bus. If you are arriving to Ciudad del Este by bus but wish to walk to the border you will need to get off your bus at Kilometro Siete just as it turns right towards the terminal. From here you can take any bus continuing on Route 7 towards downtown. Ask to be let off at Rotonda Oasis (there is a small bus terminal and an Esso Shop on the right-hand corner) and continue on foot from here. You may find it is faster to walk on the street than between the stalls but be on the lookout for motorcyclists and men with push carts. Once past immigration you can climb aboard buses headed to Puerto Iguazu or Foz do Iguazu (see Iguazu Falls).
From Ciudad del Este’s bus terminal the Linea 4 bus heads into town and towards the commercial district. The bus can be caught on the corner of Agustin Barboza and Antonio Garcete diagonally opposite the entrance to the bus station. The bus will run the length of General Bernardino Caballero (which turns into Avenida Pioneros del Este) until it intersects with Route 7 at Rotonda Oasis. Tel:
061 510 424, corner of Agustin Barboza and Antonio Garcete, Open 24 hours Activities
The Zona Franca Commercial Sector
The commercial heart of the city begins just inches from the border at the base of the Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad) and continues uphill along the parallel streets Avenida San Blas and Avenida Monsenor Rodriguez until they intersect with Pioneros del Este. Action is at its heaviest closest to the bridge. There are two main shopping options to choose from: street side stalls and multi-story shopping malls known as galerias. Goods sold on the street tend to be cheaper in both quality and price and vendors are open to bargaining. Galerias are by far a more comfortable, if less adventurous, option. Some are labyrinthine buildings with many small storefronts selling electronics and other goods while others are luxury affairs with specialty goods, food courts and central A/C.
Paseo San Blas
Though the majority of streets in the commercial sector are lined with stalls Paseo San Blas offers the most pleasant street shopping. The pedestrian walkway has the air of a middle-eastern bazaar with innumerable stalls selling traditional Paraguayan handicrafts as well as cheap clothes from China and Brazil. There are several large cement sculpted murals depicting Guarani culture on Paseo San Blas. Those with a knack for bargaining will enjoy shopping here but linger too long you’ll be swarmed with vendors and jostled by sacoleiros trying to squeeze past.
One of Ciudad del Este’s oldest and most established shopping galleries, Mona Lisa is worth a visit even if you aren’t shopping. This gallery specializes in luxury goods. They have everything from high end wines sold out of a dimly lit, temperature controlled wine cellar, to authentic Persian rugs. There is also a nice cafe and fancy restaurant. If you visit one shopping gallery in Ciudad del Este it should be this one for the sheer spectacle of it all. Tel: 061 500 645, large blue building on the corner of Monsenor Rodriguez and Carlos Antonio. Lopez, www.monalisa.com.py, Mon-Sat 7:30am-4:30pm Shopping del Este
You can’t shop any closer to the border than this new complex. From here you can also get a good view of Ciudad del Este’s shoreline and the maze of commerce heading uphill from the border. Tel: 061 503499, Across the street from Paraguayan immigration controls at the Friendship bridge, Mon-Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 8am-12pm Casa China
A nice galeria with a little of everything. Hard to miss with its enormous, almost cartoonish, red pagoda over the mirrored glass entrance. Tel: 061 500 335, Avenida San Blas 26 almost at Toledo,
www.casachina.net, Mon-Sat 7:30am-5pm, Sun 8am-12pm Lago de la Republica
Need a break from the commercial sector? Take a walk down to the man-made Lago de la Republica lake just southwest from the center of downtown’s residential district. A nice walking path surrounds the lake and there are several places to stop and watch the birdlife. In addition there are a number of restaurants located near the southernmost tip of the lake. From the intersection of Adriana Jara and Pioneros del Este continue downhill past the Supermercado Arcoiris and the local bus terminal on your right. The road will fork and the left-hand side continues downhill to the lake.
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