Shopping in São Paulo is a big deal, as the city is Brazil's major luxury shopping destination. Visitors will find designer labels and haute couture to rival the best boutiques of New York or London, alongside small outdoor craft markets and everything in between.
If the travel budget allows, there's no better place to look for Brazilian fashion than São Paulo. Neighbourhoods such as Jardins, Rua Augusta or Alameda Lorena have many high-end fashion boutiques carrying local designer labels like Animale, Victor Dzenk, Ellus and Totem.
The city has a few worthwhile outdoor markets too, including the Saturday market Feira do Bixiga, which offers crafts, antiques, clothing and live music; and Feira Moderna, which is set in a flower garden with a relaxed cafe, and carries high-end local goods. The Museu de Arte hosts an antique fair every Sunday, and the predominantly Japanese neighbourhood of Liberdade has its own Saturday market.
There isn't a central shopping district in São Paulo, but stores tend to be clustered in groups: Rua 25 de Março has an abundance of market stalls, while Daslu is a posh department store catering to every whim, from free espresso and a sushi bar to designer labels.
There are also a few shopping malls in São Paulo, including Patio Higienópolis, Morumbi and Iguatemi. These tend toward upscale stores, with fine dining and expensive boutiques next to cinemas and food courts.
Popular souvenirs to buy in São Paulo include religious antiques, soapstone carvings, leather goods and gemstone jewellery carved into shapes like toucans, jaguars and other wild animals.
Shops in São Paulo accept credit cards with few exceptions. Sales tax is 18 percent, and there is no tax refund scheme for departing tourists in Brazil. High-end stores won't bargain but feel free to haggle at markets.
São Paulo's nightlife is a reflection of its cosmopolitan image. Its bars and clubs are spread out around the city, though you'll find clusters in neighbourhoods such as Vila Olímpia, where the clubs are popular with twentysomethings, while Vila Madalena is dotted with restaurants and bars that might appeal more to discerning revellers in their thirties. Because bars and clubs are so dispersed, it may be a good idea to stick to venues in one area, rather than running up large taxi bills getting caught in São Paulo's late-night traffic jams. It's also not advised to walk around the city at night.
Bars in São Paulo have their own system for payment. Instead of or in addition to the entry charge, there will be a drink minimum. You'll get a card that will record all your expenses for the night, and pay everything when you leave. Be careful not to lose this card, as the penalty is steep.
Live music in São Paulo is among the best in Brazil, with styles to suit every taste. The formal Teatro Municipal and the Sala São Paulo, where the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra performs, have good programmes of classical music, theatre and dance, with the former hosting regular Brazilian contemporary dance performances. For a more relaxed evening, head to Bourbon Street, a popular jazz club founded by BB King himself. Villa Country hosts Brazilian country music, while Armazém da Vila plays pagoda, which is a simpler form of samba.
If a night of dancing is preferred, São Paulo has many options for that too. Azucar has a reputation as the best Latin dance spot in the city, with meringue, salsa and mambo playing well into the wee hours. Bar Favela is also a popular option, and includes pop and hip hop music along with Latin dance. Blen Blen Brasil is another local favourite, with a more relaxed and eclectic feel, alternating between DJs and live bands. If you're unsure of your steps, you can go to the Buena Vista Club, which offers dance lessons in traditional Latin club styles such as the gafieira and the zouk.
São Paulo also has a few popular gay clubs such as Hot Hot, Bubu Lounge Disco and The Week. Visitors should be aware of local terms: the words boate or boite, which in Rio mean "nightclub", refer almost exclusively to sex clubs and strip bars in São Paulo.
São Paulo's party scene is a late one, with most Paulistas (locals) not going out until midnight. In fact, there's a saying in the city: 'when the sun comes up, you hardly notice'.
For more detailed info on events, we recommend checking out the Folha de São Paulo website, while Veja magazine also has a good entertainment guide that comes out on Sundays.