The In Country Experience – Peru

To continue with our series of travel tips for specific destinations, Peru is next on the list.  A few team members just returned from a fantastic trip to Peru.  Here are tips from the field:


  • The only ATMs we found at Lima Jorge Chavez airport are from Globalnet.  While completely OK to use, they charge 14.50 soles to withdraw cash.  That’s over $5!  The cab fare to the city center can run you anywhere from 35 to 50 soles.  You may also have success paying in Dollars but I wouldn’t rely on it.  If you need cash for a cab bring some soles with you.  More on taxis later.  Either way there are plenty of ATMs outside the airport in the city center to withdraw cash later.
  • There is an option to withdraw Dollars with most ATMs – make sure you select soles!


  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!  Cab drivers see you as a tourist and most will try to rip you off.  They can either be hailed on a street or requested by phone for pick-up.  Either way negotiate BEFORE getting in a cab.  A ride to an adjacent neighborhood should be no more than 10 soles.  Obviously a longer ride will cost more.  Use common sense here.
  • Many hotels have a fleet of their own taxi’s that always charge more.  They are readily available and cleaner and more reliable but you will be paying a premium.  We did find some success negotiating with them too.  It doesn’t hurt to try.

American Express Acceptance

  • We didn’t run into any major issues in Peru with acceptance of Amex cards.  The only issue we ran into is with Amex cards with a smartchip.  For one reason or another the chip wasn’t readable.  It wasn’t a major issue – just have the merchant swipe the card instead.  In case you didn’t realize, we at The Flight Deal prefer the AMEX Platinum for its lack of a foreign transaction fee and it doesn’t employ Dynamic Currency Conversion like Visa and Mastercard.


  • Likely you’re going to be shopping for something made with local flair.  Something made of Alpaca is high on everyone’s shopping list.  There are many articles on the Internet regarding real vs fakes so we’ll let you research there.  Our main takeaway was that it costs less for souvenirs in Cusco than in Aquas Calientes.  The market in Aquas Calientes by the train station is HUGE and you would think that fosters competitive pricing.  This is not the case. Unless you find something truly unique there I would buy in Cusco instead.  As with the taxis, NEGOTIATE!  It’s easy to cut half off the ask and bargain from there.  Think of a price you want and work towards that.  If not, walk away.  There’s no harm in doing that.  They will even likely chase you back and agree to your price.


  • Traffic was never TOO bad.  Expect some when traveling to the airport – I would give an hour of travel time in Lima to and from the city center.


  • Lima neighborhoods like Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro feel very safe.  It feels less so when traveling to the city center – I would use caution there with pick-pockets.  Also of note, should you happen to spot some illicit activity – say the illegal peddling of puppies – I would not snap pictures like a tourist.  Just sayin’.  Cusco and Aguas Calientes feel very safe, even at night.

Machu Picchu

  • Bring sunscreen
  • Bring bug repellant
  • Bring handi-wipes
  • If you hike Wayna Picchu I would opt for the earlier 7am entrance.  The city is gorgeous on the morning when it feels a bit desolate, and with the lifting clouds making way for the rising sun.  Gloves may be helpful for the hike when grabbing the cable along portions of the trail.
  • Pack plenty of water, trail mix and your favorite protein bars.
Machu Picchu, Peru (c) 2013, The Flight Deal

Machu Picchu, Peru (c) 2013, The Flight Deal

There you have it.  The food is our favorite in South America and pictures of Machu Picchu really don’t do it justice.  Go experience it for yourself!


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