If you visit Paraguay you will use the guarani, which is their official currency. The plural for the guarani is guaranies so this is fairly easy to remember. You can find out more about the currency (and indeed the country itself) below.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The subunit for this particular currency is the centimo; however in reality you won’t see this in use anymore. Inflation put paid to its validity some time ago. Instead all the coins and banknotes are denominated in the guarani.
The coins are few in number, and you can only use the 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 guarani coins. There are more banknotes available than coins, and these are the 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 guarani notes.
You will usually see prices represented by the letter G for the currency itself; however the letter usually has a forward slash running through it.
From past to present – the history of the Paraguayan guarani
The guarani was brought into use in 1944. Before this the country used the Paraguayan peso for a long time – ever since 1856 in fact. A new law was introduced in 1943 that led to this eventual change. It was really a way of devaluing the old currency, since one of the new guaranies was then worth 100 of the old pesos.
How to get hold of the Paraguayan guarani
This is one of those currencies you won’t easily be able to get hold of until you get to Paraguay itself. Most bureaux de change will only stock the more commonly-used currencies around today.
Don’t despair though because you can buy traveller’s cheques before you go to take with you. Make sure you keep the original receipt for your traveller’s cheques, as some outlets in Paraguay may ask to see it before they exchange them for you. This isn’t anything to worry about – it’s just a quirk that sometimes happens out there.
You should be able to take money out at cash machines as well, although not all areas have them. It is best not to rely on this solely as a means of getting cash. Make sure you have those traveller’s cheques handy. It is usually a good idea to have some cash on you at all times, since this will be a prominent method of payment for many people. You also have the option to take some US dollars with you to Paraguay and to exchange these for the local currency.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Paraguayan guarani
This is fairly easy providing you have access to a good quality currency converter, either online or via an app on your smart phone. The best way to locate this less-often searched for currency is to use the official ISO code, which is PYG. This should bring up the currency quickly and easily; if it doesn’t the chances are the converter you are using does not have it as an option. You may then have to look for a more advanced one to use instead. Furthermore it is best to use a converter that updates the stats as often as possible. Updating only once a day can produce information that is out of date, especially if the markets are fluctuating a lot.
As is usually the case with foreign countries, there is an embassy for Paraguay in London. The website that is available for the embassy is a good source of information about the country and about their visa requirements. Make it your first stop for some useful information. You can find it at http://www.paraguayembassy.co.uk/.
Travelling safely with the Paraguayan guarani
Paraguay is not that popular a place for people from the UK to visit, but if you are one of those who is interested in going, it is wise to be aware of the latest travel information regarding the country. The vast majority of people who visit the country don’t have any problems when going there, but it is wise to know what you need to be aware of.
For example the usual rules regarding your own safety and the security of your belongings should always apply. In this case you should restrict the amount of cash you have on you and always keep a separate note of any traveller’s cheques you have with you too, in case they are stolen. Ideally you should stay in a hotel that offers a safe in your room. This should be where you put your passport as well as excess cash and other valuables you don’t need to carry with you. Many trips to foreign countries are made safer if you don’t present yourself as a temptation as far as pickpockets and casual thieves are concerned. Make sure you keep your jewellery to a minimum, not to mention anything else of this ilk that would make you stand out.
For the most part you should also avoid walking around in Paraguay after sundown. This holds true regardless of whether you are alone or with someone else.
Where to spend your guaranies in Paraguay – and what to spend them on
You are probably familiar with where South America is on a map. If you locate it you will find Paraguay just south of the centre of that land mass. As such it shares its borders with a number of other countries. These are Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia.
The capital of Paraguay is Asuncion, which lies very close to the border with Argentina. This is a very modern city in many respects, although it was originally founded in the 1530s. There are many tourist attractions within the city that people tend to like seeing. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the National Pantheon of Heroes. This is a national monument and it is a building with a stunning façade. There are a number of flags flying in front of it and it stands as a monument to those in Paraguay who gave their lives in any war.
If you would like to explore the downtown part of the city you can do so by heading for Calle Palma. This is a great street to head for if you would like to shop for some souvenirs to take home with you.
Of course the country has far more to offer than the attractions in its capital city. A good example is the Itaipu Dam. This is an impressive dam that controls the Parana River. There is a power plant here and you can actually see parts of it if you visit. However the most notable activity you can do is to walk along the dam itself. You may not have been close enough to a dam before to be able to do this, and looking over each side is quite an experience.
Another location you may be intrigued to visit takes you back into the past. La Santisima Trinidad de Parana is part of a Jesuit Reductions in the country. It has been formally recognised by UNESCO as an official World Heritage Site. This status includes other locations as well, including Jesus de Tavarangue. The buildings here were created some 300 years ago, offering a place where people could live outside of traditional life in the country.
If you’d rather get your culture fix in a different way, let’s head back to Asuncion to explore the Museo del Barro. If you like your art in various different forms this is the place to be. It has a wide selection of paintings from modern times as well as crafts and other artwork dating from longer ago. It is well worth a look if you happen to be in the capital with some time on your hands.
If you are in the Presidente Franco District of Paraguay, why not think about heading for the Municipal Park Monday? That’s not the day of the week you should visit – it’s actually the name of the park itself. Its undoubted highlight is a waterfall by the name of Saltos del Monday. It has some terrific viewing points you can walk to and if you happen to prefer camping to staying in hotel rooms this is an option for the park as well. As you can see, while hotel rooms are many and varied there are opportunities to get closer to nature as well.
South America has a variety of countries that all offer something different for the eager traveller. Paraguay is no different in this respect. Indeed you may find it offers a more engaging holiday if you prefer going off the beaten track. Of course you have to pay attention to the latest travel advice and to the information given regarding safety. However although crime does take place here, if you are sensible you should be fine.
Paraguay has its share of natural features as well as reminders of the past and modern shopping centres too. It seems to tick all the boxes you could want ticked, even though its landlocked position means it has no coastal areas to explore. As you will see when you arrive though, this is hardly a downside.