Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol (1 US$ = 2.65 NS / 1 € = 3.80 NS/, approximately, although rates may vary over the year). American dollars and Euros are widely accepted throughout the whole country, although we recommend that you carry small bills. Money can be changed at banks or casas de cambio (exchange houses).
Remember: No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in any way damaged or torn.
CREDIT CARDS & TRAVELLERS’ CHEQUES
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are all accepted and you can withdraw cash at ATMs in most of the country. There is often a 5-10% commission for credit card payments. Credit cards are not commonly accepted in smaller towns, so go prepared with cash.
Some banks and most exchange houses accept traveler’s checks (American Express, Visa and Citicorp), in exchange for Peruvian soles (at a lower rate than cash) or dollars if required in (with a 1-4% commission).
VISAS, PASSPORT & DOCUMENTS
No visa is necessary for most citizens. You must have a valid passport (valid for at least 3 months after the visit). On your entry into the country you must fill in an immigration form. This is a very important form that you will need in order to leave the country after your trip (staple it to your passport!!!).
We recommend you make 2 sets of photocopies of your documents before traveling, one left at home and the other one separate from the originals in your luggage (in case of loss). A travel insurance policy is indispensable. Ask your travel agent for information.
The general sales tax in Peru is 18%. This amount is normally included in the cost of most goods and services, although some hotels or restaurants may charge this on top of the bill. Airport taxes are US$5.00 for domestic flights and US$28.00 for international flights.
Due to the high altitude of Cusco (3300 meters /12000 feet) some visitors experience altitude problems (symptoms of altitude sickness, known in Peru as soroche, include tiredness, low blood pressure, upset stomach, headache, dehydration and agitated heartbeat). We recommend that you take the time to acclimatize before any physical exertion. During the first one or two days at altitude drink plenty of water, eat lightly and control your alcohol intake. People with heart problems should consult their physician before traveling.
Particularly at altitude, the tropical sun may not feel strong, but it can burn you very quickly. Ultra-violet light is very intense at high altitude: wear a wide-brimmed hat as well as sunglasses and use a high-factor (45+) sunscreen.
Vaccines are not required to enter Peru but those visiting the rainforest will need to carry a yellow fever vaccination certificate. If you plan to visit the rainforest, you should also consult your physician regarding malaria prophylaxis.
PRECAUTIONS & DIETS
The best way to enjoy a trip is to begin it rested and in good health. The most common health problem encountered while traveling is an upset stomach caused by unwashed or uncooked food. To avoid this risk, be careful when buying food from street vendors and stay away from unpeeled fruits and/or vegetables. Tap water should not be drunk anywhere unless it has been boiled or treated with iodine. Bottled water can be bought throughout Peru.
As in every other travel destination anywhere in the world, theft can be a problem. As in most countries, it is much more common in big cities than in the countryside. We recommend you always seek local information about potentially unsafe places and avoid them. Carry around only the amount of money you need at the time. We recommend that you change money in official exchange houses or banks rather than in the street, both to avoid theft and the possibility of receiving counterfeit bills.
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
Peru uses the metric system for all weights and measures. Below we provide a table to help you convert to the imperial system.
|To Convert:||Multiply by:|
|Centimeters to inches||0,4|
|Meters to feet||3,3|
|Kilometers to miles||0,6|
|Kilograms to pounds||2,2|
Peru uses 220 volts. Encantada Casa Boutique Spa provides both 110 and 220 volt outlets.
Most stores are open from 9.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. Monday-Saturday with a long lunch break between 1-4 p.m.
The historic center of Cusco, where many of its attractions are located, is small and easy to explore on foot. Taxis in Cusco are cheap and recommended when arriving by air, train or bus and especially when returning to your hotel at night.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Two of the major festival dates in Peru are Carnival, held during the weekend before Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week (Semana Santa), which ends on Easter Sunday. Carnival is celebrated in most of the Andean region, while Holy Week is celebrated throughout Peru. Another important festival is the Fiesta de la Cruz (Festival of the Cross) held on May 1st in much of the central and southern highlands and on the coast. In Cusco, the entire month of June is one huge fiesta, culminating with Inti Raymi on June 24th, one of Peru’s prime tourist attractions. Another national festival is All Saints’ Day (Todos los Santos) on November 1st, and on December 8th the Festival of the Immaculate Conception is marked (Inmaculada Concepción).
Apart from the festivals listed above, the main public holidays in Peru are: January 1st (New Year), January 6th (Epiphany), May 1st (Labor Day), July 28-29th (Independence Day / Fiestas Patrias) and December 24-25th (Christmas).
You can find internet cafes on most street corners in Cusco and they are very cheap to use. Our hotel offers a free Wi-Fi internet connection for guests.
For help organizing tours in and around Cusco, contact our travel agency Culturas Peru