Tucked away in the middle of South America lies Paraguay, a varied country that receives much less attention than its flashier neighbors Brazil and Argentina and the also landlocked Bolivia. With hot, semi-arid lowlands dominating most of the western portion of the country, subtropical forest and grassy savannas make up the majority of the eastern side. It proudly carries the nickname “Corazón de America,” or “Heart of America.”

Travel to Paraguay can be surprisingly affordable, and–even better–free of stress. For the absolute best experience, I suggest you take a no-nonsense approach to your trip. Pack light, eat casually, and stay in hostels. This style of travel is always a good bet when you want to focus on the local culture, and especially so in Paraguay where there’s zero need for stuffiness or formality. Here’s a list of recommended hostels you’ll want to check out for your trip to Paraguay:

Asuncion, Paraguay

Asunción [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, Felipe Antonio]

El Nomada Hostel, Asunción

Weather permitting, you’ll definitely want to spend a few hours reading your guide book at this property’s backyard lounge area, complete with swimming pool. Despite its central location, the property is surprisingly peaceful and makes for an excellent respite from the noise. If you’re traveling solo, you’ll have opportunities to make friends with other travelers at a nighttime BBQ or over a game of ping pong. The owners’ cat wanders around the property, giving it a definite “home away from home” feel. Breakfast includes cold and hot offerings, though you’ll have a hard time resisting the smiley face pancakes.

Karana Hostel, Encarnación

The vibe at Karana Hostel matches that of the entire town of Encarnación–quiet, low key, and peaceful. The complimentary breakfast is basic, but you can always opt to take advantage of the well-equipped kitchen if you’re looking for something more robust. The property is simple and clean, and you’ll especially appreciate the (genuinely) hot showers if you’re visiting in the rainy months. Rooms are outfitted with generously sized closets that have locks, so you can rest easy leaving behind your belongings while you go out to explore the ruins or other local attractions. Check out the hanging garden that features a collection of soda bottles that have been up-cycled into flower planters while you’re there.

Jesuit Ruins, Paraguay [Photo Credit: Public Domain, PattyP]

Jesuit Ruins, Paraguay [Photo Credit: Public Domain, PattyP]

Casa Alta Hostel, Ciudad del Este

The lush green courtyard at Casa Alta Hostel is the perfect place to spend an evening or two while passing through Paraguay’s Ciudad del Este. It features a beautiful swimming pool and an outdoor BBQ that just begs to be used. I recommend you make the 20-minute trek into town, buy some supplies, and spend the night chatting up the owners and fellow travelers as you prepare a home cooked meal. If it’s raining, you can always take advantage of the upstairs BBQ and mixed indoor/outdoor space or even relax in the TV room.

Paraguayans are uniquely proud of their indigenous culture, Guaraní, including the language of the same name. More than 90% of the population speaks both official languages of the country, Spanish and Guaraní, so you have a good chance of picking up a few essential words and popular phrases while you’re there. If you’re eager to get your Spanish ready for the journey, contact us at Spanish Trainers and we’ll set you up with private or small group classes.