Originally Posted by FriendlySkies
I'll be going down to GRU twice, during the first two weeks of June. Both trips are with twelve-hours stays, and I used some points to book a room at the airport Marriott, so I can dump my bags, rest, etc.
Somebody suggested that I visit the Sao Paulo zoo. Does anybody have any other recommendations for places to visit?
As far as general safety, any recommendations of places that I should not visit? Are most of the downtown areas "safe" to visit?
Transit wise, how much do cabs usually cost for trips from the airport to the city? Google Maps is telling me that a ride should take about 25 minutes from the Marriott to the Zoo...
You might want to look at this thread -
What can I see in 12 hours from GRU?
After you read through the above cited thread, let me comment about safety in Sao Paulo. I spend several weeks in Sao Paulo many times during the year and have done this for many years. I know Sao Paulo well.
Although I own a condo in Sao Paulo, I choose to not own a car. Instead, I prefer to use the metro or cabs to get around the city and, of course, I walk a lot while there.
In all the years I have visited Sao Paulo, I have never had an incident that I would consider as threatening. The only time I had something stolen from me was when I was on a very crowded Metro when someone reached into my pocket, without my knowledge at the time, and stole my cell phone.
Naturally, I was angry when I discovered the theft but I quickly realized such an event could happen in any city anywhere in the world.
I do not wander around late at night in bad areas where I am reasonably certain I would encounter a safety issue.
There will be others who tell you that Sao Paulo is dangerous and the U. S. State Department web site will warn you of the same thing (travel warnings). All I can do is report my personal experiences while in Sao Paulo.
It is too bad you will be in town only 12 hours. There are many things to see and do in Sao Paulo.
You asked about visiting the zoo. That is an interesting thing to do but to have only 12 hours to get from the airport hotel and visit the zoo and return to the hotel and airport to check in, go through security and immigration is asking for an unnecessarily stressful way to spend 12 hours.
In the thread I cited, I recommended a visit to the Banespa Bank building in Centro (downtown area). The thread I cited has a link to the building. Here is the citation - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altino_Arantes_Building
The spectacular view from the observation tower is the main reason to visit this building.
You said you would stay at the Marriott near the airport. In that case, you will have to use a metered taxi rather than the prepaid fixed price cabs you can catch at the airport. The fare in a metered cab can vary depending on traffic and the time of day. Do not be surprised if you have to spend close to R$100 each direction, although you might get lucky and find a taxi less costly.
In addition to the Banespa building, I would recommend, as an alternate, having the taxi drop you off at Avenida Paulista which is a very safe and busy street. There you will find lots of shops and office buildings and, of course, Sao Paulo's Museum of Art (MASP). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulista_Avenue
With your having so little time to visit the city, there is not much more I can recommend.