Concepcion, Paraguay – Taking Laid Back to a Whole New Level

Concepcion, Paraguay, South America

The River

Concepcion, Paraguay: Taking Laid Back to a Whole New Level


Paraguay is one of those countries most people simply choose to skip past. Some travelers might find their feet stepping into the colonial streets of Asuncion or crossing the border near Iguazu Falls to get a fancy red stamp on their passports, but the truth is that few move beyond the scratching point of the country. Paraguay is like no other country in South America, however, it is almost like a wonderful blend of the entire continent. Culturally it is very similar to Bolivia, due to the presence of a large number of Guarani indigenous people, linguistically the Spanish spoken reflects the sounds of Argentinean Spanish, while geographically it resembles more of a mix of Brazil and Ecuador. In this country consisting a lot of cities ending in -cion there is one city that seems almost more Caribbean than anything: the riverside city of Concepcion.

Concepcion, Paraguay, South America, horse, taxi

Where else in the world can you take a horse taxi?

The dirt streets of this town glow in the rich colour of red, while they are bordered by perhaps the most perfect shade of green imaginable. But the similarities to the Caribbean go far beyond the dirt roads in this very land locked city. The town almost appears to be asleep even at the most lively times of day., perhaps due to the sweltering heat. However similar, though, this tired town is as distinctive as any in South America, and many may begin to wonder if they’ve actually stumbled into Southeast Asia when they see the hundreds of motos ripping around the streets packed with 2, 3, or 4 passengers. The casualty of cruising and the social nature of the people in Concepcion can be sensed by spotting two motos riding side by side while the passengers of the two vehicles all engage in casual conversation while speeding through the streets.

Concepcion, Paraguay, South America

Main Street

It seems that the favourite local pastime may in fact simply be standing along the roadside waving to friends who appear to cruise the streets meaninglessly. Locals draw their lawn chairs out to the sidewalks in front of their homes in the evening time. They sit, relaxed, and share a few beers which they tube in a plastic container to keep the temperature as cool as possible. Smiles stretch from their faces as they tell stories of their days. At the tiny local soccer stadium men pack the stands for even the most meaningless matches and shout instructions, criticisms and cheers at whoever may be playing the sport that consumes their every thought.

Concepcion, Paraguay, South America, pilsen

Beer… yum

What made Concepcion so special to me wasn’t the fancy architecture, the beautiful scenery or the wildlife that draws people to the rest of the continent. It was something completely different. It was a sense that the people truly cared for one and other. I’m from a small town where everyone knows each other. When driving your car or walking down the street it is almost impossible not to see someone you know and fall into conversation. And even though Concepcion is thousands of miles away, in the middle of Paraguay, it had a way of reminding me of home.

Concepcion, Paraguay, South America, building

A public building in Concepcion

I am fairly sure that for the week I spent in Concepcion I was the only tourist. And the truth is, the looks I received as I wandered the streets, photographed, and shopped at the local pharmacy told me that I was perhaps one of very few that wander through the dusty town at all. The beauty in places like this, though, isn’t the fact that you are treated specially, or looked at as you walked down the street. The beauty is the idea that you’ve found something special. I’m not sure that Concepcion will ever become a hot tourist destination, but for those who do make the trip to the town they are sure to feel sucked in by the casual nature of life in rural Paraguay.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Yeah, I am with Andi on this one….Paraguay is on the list….thanks for the post Brendan!!

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    • When you get there let me know I’ve got some secrets up my sleeve for you

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  2. Beautiful pictures! I guess I should have ventured past Ciudad del Este haha!

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    • Hahaha… Paraguay’s tourism moto is “we have cheap electronics. visit us after iguazu falls” haha

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  3. Lovely article. I’m from a HUGE city in India, Chennai, but a lot of people still know each other…word gets around. Paraguay is definitely a place I would love to visit.

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  4. Think it’s the combination of Spanish language and tropical culture which makes for the ultimate laidbackness.

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  5. This place really does look laid back, especially compared to some of the other crazy busy places in South America. It’s always good to visit places like this and have a cold beer and do not a lot though, in the midst of all the craziness!

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  6. Honestly we skipped Paraguay when we did South America. Maybe we shouldn’t have, you make it sound like the perfect place to take a vacation from traveling.

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    • Jillian, That’s exactly what it felt like…. I couldn’t have described it better myself. I have been traveling nearly 2 years and spent most of them under the watchful eye of other tourists which begin as they always as the same questions, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, for me it was nice to be able to enjoy somewhere on my own, away from it all.

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  7. I lived in Concepcion as for almost two years as a child. I have some great memories of it, for sure. From shopping the local market with live chickens hanging from the ceiling to swimming in the piranha ridden river. Glad you got to see such a unique place. i know i wouldn’t hesitate to revisit Concepcion, given the chance.

    P.S. When walking late at night make sure you are watching out for the open sewers, I found out the hard way.

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    • Thank you so much for taking me back! We lived in Concepcion for 3 years, Our oldest daughter was born in a tiny clinic there 14 years ago. It is good to know the atmosphere is still the same and that people continue to be the priority there! We were the ones in our lawn chairs on the sidewalk drinking terere shouting out to our friends on their motitos. 🙂 Concepcioneros are very kind and generous people and I will never forget our time thre.

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      • Love Concepcion Katie… it is one of the places that I always smile about when I look back on my life! I’ll have to make it back there someday, and so should you!

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  8. hey Brendan!

    i’m travelling South America right now and am heading from Asuncion to Conception in a couple of days. found your blog by searching the internet for a few more information about this little known und very untouristic area. sounds really nice and now i’m even more excited about getting there! although it’s quite a while since you’ve been there i’m sure it still is a very special place to visit.

    thanks for your hints on the blog,

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    • I hope it still is Kerstin.
      Personally, I loved Concepcion. Not much to do there though. I just sat out in the evening time and watch the scooters zip by well drinking a bottle of beer. Also, the horse carts are an awesome way to get around. Beats a taxi any day!
      Enjoy, and I’d love a report back to hear if it’s still as chill as it once was.

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  9. Thanks for talking that way of my birthtown…it seems that it never and will never change!! Hope in the near future receive or create more opportunities for young people in order not to push them out like was happen to me.

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  10. Enjoyed reading about your travels. My two youngest children have been my backpacker buddies since they were 7. My wife passed away many years ago, and the kids and I decided to start traveling all around. Paraguay is on our list this trip, and we plan to go to Concepcion and make our way overland to Bolivia. The kids are 15 and 16 now, and this trip we are spending a few months traveling through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. Oh…and a couple of weeks in the Antarctic on a small research boat in February – only 50 passengers.

    Paraguay gets so many good reviews from people who want to travel off the tourist routes…like ourselves.

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