The plain truth about Ciudad del Este is that rarely do people visit here because of the city. The vast majority of people come into the city on a day shopping trip from Iguazu Falls. Yes, electronics in this town are cheap as this is one of the locations that many manufacturers send items that failed at some level of quality control. For some people that makes Ciudad del Este worth a visit. For others, they are popping into the city to be able to knock another country of their list of places they’ve “been”. The one time of year that it might be worth visiting the city for a reason beyond bragging rights and shopping is Carnival where for an entire month (split between February and March) the city comes alive with dance and music each and every weekend. This is also the jumping off point to see the very impressive Itaipu Dam.
Things to do in Ciudad del Este
- Shopping: Most people come to the markets for a day trip from Puerto Iguazu just to get a day in shopping. The shopping is amazing but watch your bags on the busy streets and within the market areas as theft is quite common.
- Itaipu Dam: This dam might be the most impressive in South America and is worth a visit. It’s possible to come here via Puerto Iguazu on a tour but is much more enjoyable if you have the time to visit via Ciudad del Este. To get there you can jump on any Hernandarias bus (which leave about every 20 minutes) and ask the driver to let you off at the dam entrance. You could also hire a taxi to get your there (it would cost about 5US$). There are free tours of the dam basically every 2 hours.
Where to Eat
Most travellers head right to the Arco Iris supermarket not for groceries but because of the many stalls selling cheap food. There are a couple food stalls selling food for as little as 3us$ a kilo (yes, you read that right). Many of the travellers I talked to also ate at the Hotel Austria, but for me the price of about 8-10US$ for a meal just seemed steep in comparison to competitors.
Where to Stay
Right next to the main bus terminal there is a place called Hotel Tia Nancy, I stopped in there since it was listed as the cheapest in town. After checking it out I decided I thought I could do better for the price (11US$ for a single room). In the end, I really couldn’t do cheaper but decided to stay at CDE Backpackers since there was a nice crowd of travellers there (I paid 14US$ for a private room). Warning: if you’re here during carnival you’ll need to book your room well in advance and prices go way up.
Getting out of Town
If you travelling overland there are a number of destinations served regularly. There is also an airport that flies to Asuncion a number of times a day. To get to Puerto Iguazu it’s best to hire a taxi to the border cross, and then take a shuttle bus to Puerto Iguazu. The bus terminal is on the outskirts of town and you’ll want a taxi or city bus to get there. Below I’ve listed possible destinations:
- Asuncion: 5 hours (10US$)
- Encarnacion: 5 hours (8US$)
- Concepcion: 9-10 hours (15US$)
- Buenos Aires: 20 hours (leave once or twice a day; 45US$)
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