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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Enlightened Traveler:
Brazil, Mexico City - What Are You Waiting For?

If you believe the Wall St. Journal – and you should, so long as you avoid the editorial pages at all cost – two of the top tourist destinations right now are Mexico and Brazil.

Then, again, we've been saying that for years now.

Despite drug wars and scare inducing headlines, Mexico ranks 10th globally in tourism. Americans still make up the largest group of visitors. Tourism overall has picked up in Mexico and is expected to reach record levels in 2012.

Most of the drug-related violence has been concentrated in the North.

Not to be missed in Mexico City: murals by Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros
Mexico City remains one of the safer parts of the country. That's a good thing, as the seat of government is home to the kind of world-class cultural institutions, restaurants, and shopping that artful travelers appreciate.

Another plus: it's one of the less expensive major capitals and can be reached by plane from the U.S. in just a few hours.

Read our post from 2009 on what to do in fabulous Mexico City.

Brazil, too, has experienced an uptick in violence, although we've never felt unsafe in the parts of Rio de Janeiro that tourists prefer.

Rio's Santa Teresa hotel, its highly rated restaurant, and arty
surrounding neighborhood are hot, hot hot right now

If anything, Brazil is more secure and more enjoyable today than ever, thanks to a booming economy, rising standard of living, and government preparations for the Olympics in 2016 and World Cup in 2014.

Don't wait for those events to visit. Brazil is ready right now for its close-up.

There's so much to do in the planet's third largest democracy. The Wall St. Journal has just devoted its entire weekend edition to amazing Brazil. It's full of great, up-to-the-minute restaurant and shopping tips. Make sure to devour it before you plan your trip.

Read The Luxurist's Rio de Janeiro suggestions right here.