Peru is a fan favorite among travelers for its food, hiking, and friendly people. It’s such a diverse country that offers hiking in the mountains, the Amazon rainforest, pristine coastline, sandboarding in a desert oasis, and the world’s second deepest canyon. Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most famous attractions and is one of many must-visit wonders near Cusco. Plus, the chaotic capital of Lima is one of the world’s best food cities for any budget. Here are the 10 most important things to know before visiting Peru!
1. There are two distinct seasons
The rainy (and warmer) season in Peru’s highlands is January-April and the dry season (cold) is June-September. The rainy season isn’t the ideal time to visit Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain because the chances of cloud cover are high. Also, multi-day treks in Huaraz may not be possible due to weather conditions during the wet season.
2. The “alpaca sweaters” sold at markets are not alpaca
I hate to break it to you, but the sweater you can buy at the market for 50 soles (S/) is made from llama and cotton. Nevertheless, they are stylish and will keep you warm at night. For a real alpaca sweater, you’ll have to pay S/400 at a brick-and-mortar store.
3. Caja Piura is the best ATM
Caja Piura has a low transaction fee and a high limit of S/700 per withdrawal. The spread on the exchange rate for dollars in Peru is very small, so if you’re American or coming from Ecuador, bringing dollars is a good idea.
4. Eat all the ceviche you can in Lima
Peruvian cuisine is fantastic and ceviche is the cream of the crop. But, as you move inland, the quality drops noticeably and you pay a lot more for good ceviche.
5. Don’t buy a SIM card at the airport
They sell SIM cards at the Lima airport for S/200, which is daylight robbery. You can buy one at an official store near Plaza de Armas for S/5 and Entel, Movistar, and Claro all have good coverage.
6. Airport taxi scams are common in Lima
I met a guy who paid S/250 for a taxi from the airport, which should’ve cost less than S/50. This happens even from the official taxi stands. Avoid the hassle and use the airport’s free wifi to order an Uber.
7. 10% is an acceptable amount to tip
10% is the standard for tipping your tour guide or waiter. Not all restaurants will allow you to put the tip on your credit card, so make sure to have small bills.
8. The tap water isn’t drinkable
Steer clear of tap water if you want to avoid illness when visiting Peru. Your best option is to buy a sterilizing pen to save money on buying bottled water and reduce plastic waste.
9. Get used to Peruvian time
You’ll need to be patient because Peruvians aren’t known for their punctuality. This is most prominent in the relaxed city of Arequipa.
10. Peruvians are very welcoming to foreigners
Of all the countries I’ve visited, Peru is where the people make you feel most at home. The people are warm and I had many instances of talking with someone for 10 minutes and feeling like we’ve been friends for years.