Peru is located on the western coast of South America. This beautiful country is a wonderful destination for vacationers looking for adventure, hiking, culture, & world class history! But visiting any country can come with some inherent issues. You must do some research on the area in order to understand the currency exchange rates, how to buy products and services, as well as get around the cities and rural areas safely and efficiently. If these things are understood before your trip, your adventure to Peru will be smoother, easier, and all around more fun! Here are some basic tips in these categories:
Currency Exchange in Peru
Peru has its own currency. Therefore you must exchange your American dollars for the Peruvian Nuevo Sol before traveling or upon arrival. The coins used within this country represent 1 Centimo, 5 Centimos, 10 Centimos, 20 Centimos and 50 Centimos. Other than that you will receive 2.74 Nuevo Sols for each American dollar when you exchange currency (roughly & based on current 2012 rates) We always recommend exchanging your money upon arrival either just outside the airport or at a local bank for the best rates. We advise staying away from street changers as they can often take advantage of tourists. Changing money at your home bank or at the airport can cost you hundreds of dollars in scammy exchange rates! Also, beware when in the capital city of Lima. There are lots of pick pockets and currency scams. Be sure to research the area you’re staying in well because turning the wrong corner can get you in a sticky and dangerous situation. It is also good to know that many vendors and other businesses will accept American Money in the capital.
Spending Money in Peru
When in Peru there are many ways to wisely spend your cash. Be sure to bring a currency converter on your phone or a simple conversion jotted down in a notebook. When buying souvenirs, tours, etc. locals might try to offer an overpriced service thinking you won’t catch the exchange rate difference. Get plenty of paper money & coins. Most credit cards will charge additional fees when making charges in foreign countries.
Bartering For Services in Peru
It’s sad to say, but many countries will raise the prices on items for tourists vs. locals and take advantage of the unsuspecting. This is why it is so important to negotiate the prices on the items that you want to purchase. In Peru, you can barter on souvenirs and pretty much anything accept for food, hotels, and tour services. When you’re bartering you want the best deal possible without ripping off the vendor. First, smile and have a good attitude. Second, start your first offer at half the price being asked for and go from there. Finally make a deal that both you and the vendor can live with. So many times we get caught up making a deal over something so silly as 1 dollar! Even though it might go a long way for a local in Peru, it’s still just a dollar to us. If you honestly think the deal is fair, don’t try and squeeze more pennies out of the merchant’s pocket. Remember, it’s not a competition, it’s a cooperative negotiation! That being said, a vendor will almost never sell you something if they aren’t making money on it—so don’t feel too bad if you think you’ve negotiated a screaming deal!
Local Transit in Peru
There are many ways to travel throughout Peru. You can go via taxi & bus within the city & cheap local buses will also take you throughout the country but beware, it’s a wild ride and if you go the cheap route you might not have a seat for hours! You’ll also need to speak a little Spanish to communicate with the driver and some drivers rule the road with less caution than we’re used to. Tourist coaches are a quicker, more comfortable, and safer way to go. Trains are limited but preferable for certain areas. Taking the train to Machu Picchu is your best bet unless you decide to hike the Inca Trail! And last but not least, the quickest way into Lima and on to Cusco and the highlands is via plane.
The above tips should help get you started and on the right track to a fun & relaxing adventure in Peru. If you don’t want to bother with all the planning on your own-join our travel club’s Peru Adventure this year! It’s perfect for solo travelers who need travel buddies. We’ll even pair you up with another member to save money if you want!