There are not many large cities and if you use some common sense and street smarts, you are unlikely to run into any trouble. The police are known to be corrupt, and if you are pulled over for any reason, you will almost certainly be expected to pay a bribe. In Asuncion most cops are not corrupt. In the cities crime is common, though not as rampant as in other cities such as Rio de Janeiro, SÃ£o Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Ciudad del Este is a center for illicit activities, such as money laundering and counterfeiting, but that should not affect your travels. That said, you will want to keep an eye on your bags and wallet here, as you would do in any other large city. Generally, as long as you aren't involved in drug smuggling inadvertently or otherwise, and are alert to pickpockets, you should be safe most of the time.
Legal system based on Argentine codes, Roman law, and French codes; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court of Justice
Hospitals in Paraguay range from decent to unsanitary and unequipped. If you get desperately ill, try to get to the best hospital even if it takes a bit longer - you may not find surgical gloves in the worst of them. There are many stray dogs running the streets - avoid them. They usually won't bother you. You may pick up a foot flea known locally as pique Tunga penetrans, these will usually collect around your toes. They will lay eggs in your feet if not taken care of - the best way to get rid of them is to pierce the site with a stitching needle and pour hydrogen peroxide over the area, then dig the bug out. If you have picked one up, you may notice itching or tenderness in your feet .
Both Spanish and GuaranÃ are official. Most people in Paraguay speak Spanish and use of English is very limited. Outside of Asuncion and big cities Guarani is all you will hear. Due to the extensive use of Guarani, even those who have managed to learn Spanish do not always speak it very well.
In Paraguay, Guarani is almost always spoken as a mix of Guarani and Spanish, known as Jopara, meaning "mixed" in Guarani. The number system in Guarani is rarely used, and is almost always replaced with the Spanish number system.
Some basic greetings in Guarani include:
Mba'eichapa? = How are you?
IporÃ£ = Good
ha nde? = and you?
iporÃ£ avei = good as well
In Paraguay Vos is used instead of Tu. There is a slight change in conjugation but not big enough that you won't be understood using Tu. This Vos is NOT the same as Vosotros. Stems do not change in verbs when using "vos", and the ending is always stressed. For example "tienes" changes to "tenÃ©s", "puedes" changes to "podÃ©s", "vienes" changes to "venÃs" etc.
In the northern, and eastern parts of Paraguay, Portuguese is spoken widely. In some places, Nueva Esperanza 80% portuguese speaking, KatuetÃ¨ 60% the majority speak Portuguese, almost always the result of Paraguayan born, or first generation Brazilian immigrants. There are many cases of Paraguayans, who were born during the era of Brazilian immigration who speak only Portuguese at home, although also fluent Guarani, but very little or no Spanish.
There are also a number of Mennonite communities throughout Paraguay which speak Low German and regular High German.
It is always considered courteous for men to shake hands whenever they meet. In mixed company, or two women, it is common to shake hands and to give a kiss on each cheek. Also when meeting, people will ask not how you are, but if everything is all right, "Â¿todo bien?". The response to this is always, yes everything, and you, "si estoy bien y vos?" Even if you are having a terrible day, when someone asks such as an acquaintance in the street, one always responds with yes, everything.
Also when given food, you are obligated to both eat it, and to say that it is good, Â´rico` in Spanish. To say otherwise with a person you are not acquainted with can be considered forward and rude.