Currency & Exchange
Paraguay's currency is the guaraní, designated with a G in front of the amount. It comes in bills of 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 guaraníes, with coins of 100, 500, and 1,000 guaraníes. (The G50 coin and G1,000 bill are being withdrawn from circulation.) At this writing the exchange rate was 4,100 guaraníes to the U.S. dollar. Such exchange rates mean prices contain a lot of zeros. Banks and casas de cambio here change euros, Argentine pesos, and Brazilian reais in addition to U.S. dollars. It's practically impossible to change guaraníes outside Paraguay, so make sure you spend them or exchange them at the airport before leaving.
You'll find ATMs in the major cities, but rarely in smaller towns. Some machines on Infonet, the country's largest system, accept both Plus and Cirrus cards. Others, annoyingly, accept only one or the other. To be on the safe side, bring cards affiliated with both systems, and contact your bank about changing your password to four digits if you don't already use one—that's what will work here. The ATM at ABN Amro Bank in Asunción does take both, as does the machine just beyond the customs exit at Aeropuerto Internacional Silvio Pettirossi.
Most banks are open weekdays 8:45–3. Casas de cambio are open weekdays 8:30–1 and 2:30–6, Saturday 8:30–1. Public offices operate weekdays 7–1, and businesses are open around 7:30 or 8 until midday and then reopen from 3 to 6.
Paraguay is an inexpensive country in which to travel, although even the wildly fluctuating currency has gained in value against the dollar in recent years. Going to the theater can cost from G40,000 to G80,000 for special shows or featured artists. Movies are a bargain at G15,000. Nightlife ranges greatly in price; some of the best clubs charge upward of G8,000 for a cocktail.
Sample Prices: Cup of coffee, G2,000; bottle of beer, G4,000; soft drink, G3,000; bottle of wine, G35,000 (at a liquor store); sandwich, G15,000; crosstown taxi ride, G15,000; city bus ride, G1,000; museum entrance, G2,000–G5,000, though the majority of museums in the country are free.
The departure tax is $25 to international destinations, payable in U.S. dollars or in guaraníes (about G103,000), and $4 (G16,500) to domestic destinations. (TAM Airlines includes the tax in its ticket prices.) A 10% nonrefundable value-added tax, known as the IVA, is charged on all goods and services. It's included in the prices at bars and restaurants, but it's added to hotel bills. Watch for double-billing: IVA shouldn't be added to food-related bills charged to your room.
An appropriate tip in upscale restaurants is about 10% of the bill, more if the service is exceptionally good. In average places, round up the bill to the nearest G1,000. Round up taxi fares to the nearest G500.