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Know Before You Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa for travel to Peru of up to 183 days. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Peru. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
Insider Tip: Always carry a copy of your passport on you (leave your original locked in your luggage). You may be required to show ID for credit card purchases.
There are no particular requirements for Peru, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and Zika is currently a risk in Peru. Check the latest information about Zika warnings. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
The quality of medical care in Lima is pretty high with 24-hour clinics and some doctors speaking English. You may, however, be required to pay cash for your services so familiarize yourself with your travel insurance process for making reimbursement claims. Altitude sickness can be a problem above 8,000 feet (2,500 meters), so inquire about altitude sickness pills before you arrive. They are often only available by prescription. With or without pills, be sure to stay hydrated.
Tap water in Peru is NOT safe to drink. If using your refillable water bottle, we recommend combining with a Steripen.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Peru. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Insider Tip: Don’t carry large amounts of cash, and put your wallet in your front pocket or hold your purse in the front when in crowded areas.
Insider Tip: Taxis in Peru don’t use meters so ALWAYS agree on the price in advance. Ask your hotel what a reasonable fare is between point A and point B so you know the going rate. Also, take a photo of your taxi vehicle number in case there are any issues. If there is no number, take a different taxi.
Most sockets use the US-style two-pronged (Type A) or European-style two-pronged (Type C). Power outages are not uncommon, especially outside of bigger cities, so a torch or flashlight is recommended.
The official national language is Spanish. Here are some common phrases to get you started:
Hello = Hola
Goodbye = Adios (formal) Chao/Ciao (informal)
Please = Por favor
Thank you = Gracias
Excuse Me = Perdón
Insider Tip: Peruvian Spanish has three regional dialects – Andean, Coastal and Amazonic (or mountain, coast and jungle).
The local currency is Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Peruvian Soles are divided into 100 centimos. Counterfeit bills are a problem so always exchange money at a casa de cambio (money exchange) or bank, never on the street. Taxi drivers and street vendors don’t often have a lot of change, so keep small bills on-hand and break larger ones whenever possible.
ATMs are plentiful, and Peru is a largely cash-based society, although credit cards are accepted at many hotels and restaurants. US dollars are accepted in some places and easily exchangeable, so it is advisable to carry some with you. Other currencies may be more difficult to exchange.
Insider Tip: Don’t accept torn or written-on bills as change; they will likely be rejected by vendors. If exchanging money, check each bill before you leave and ask to have any damaged ones replaced.
- Restaurants – At higher-end restaurants, 10% is standard; 15% for exceptional service. A 10% service charge is sometimes added, so check before tipping. At smaller restaurants, a tip isn’t generally expected, but a few Soles is always appreciated.
- Cabs – No tipping, but you can round up the change if you want.
- Hotels – Tip bellmen 3 Soles per bag, and housekeeping 1-3 Soles per day
Insider Tip: If using a credit card in a restaurant or shop, make sure they bring the machine to your table. If the server takes your card from you, either ask them to run it at the table or follow them. Credit card fraud is not uncommon.
When to go?
Weather in Peru can vary dramatically depending on where you are; it may be freezing in the mountains and roasting on the coast. June to September (winter) is high season overall as it’s the driest, so the mountains and jungle are best during these months. Lima gets very little rain year-round, but there is a dense fog (La Garua) that descends from about May to September, so January is a better bet for the coast. The jungle receives heavy rain from October to April, making it difficult to visit.
Peru is a beautiful mix of Spanish and native cultures, known for their fine arts and crafts, from wood carvings to textiles to jewelry. Food also plays a large part with ceviche (raw seafood marinated in lime and chili) as one of its signature dishes. Lima is particularly known for its culinary excellence.
Locals are not immune to tourists and it is very common for them to pose for you in colorful outfits, expecting a tip in exchange for a photo. Some even set up shop with baby goats, sheep and llamas to further tempt you. Be advised that if you do take a photo, they will expect some Soles in return. As with much of Latin America, Peruvians aren’t exactly punctual, so arriving 30 minutes past the arranged time is often expected, and an hour isn’t unheard of.
Insider Tip: Hora inglesa (English hour) is used to mean actual time, so if you’re meeting a tour guide and you don’t want him/her to be 30 minutes late, confirm the meeting time in hora inglesa.
What you pack will depend on which region you visit. Casual clothes and comfortable shoes are appropriate for Lima and the coastal region, although you’ll want something nicer for evening wear. Peruvians are generally conservative and don’t show a lot of skin, so shorts, tank tops and flip flops are best saved for beach areas, although Lima is more forgiving. In the jungle, lightweight long sleeved shirts and pants are best to protect from the sun and mosquitoes. You’ll also want a light jacket or poncho for the rain. In the mountains, including Machu Picchu, a sweater or jacket is a must; bring layers.
Insider Tip: Pick up some cold-weather necessities in Cusco—alpaca sweaters, gloves, ponchos and scarves are not only practical for the mountainous region, they also make great souvenirs.
Must-pack items countrywide:
- Comfortable shoes for city walking (closed-toe or sandals)
- Trail shoes or running shoes for the mountains and jungle
- “Going out” clothes for dining out in the city
- Mosquito repellant
- Sunglasses and hat
- Daypack for trekking
- Microfiber towel or sarong for beach-going
- Dry bags if taking electronics into the jungle
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds)
- Rehydration salts for possible altitude sickness or stomach issues
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- All prescriptions
- Flashlight/torch for possible power outages
- Tissues in case toilet paper is unavailable
Insider Tip: Consider a solar USB charger for walking the Inca trail if you use your phone’s camera or want some tunes to listen to on the way.
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