Traveling in any foreign country can be a daunting experience for some. Peru is an extraordinary country that has a lot to offer tourists. Before travelling to Peru, you should prepare yourself in the best possible way, so here are our top 10 tips to help make your trip to Peru more enjoyable and safer.
There are 2 different currencies that are used in Peru; the Nuevo Sol (Sol) and the US Dollar. The Sol is accepted in all places and the US dollar is only accepted in major stores, supermarkets, gas stations and some hotels. It is best to always have Soles with you. You can exchange money with Cambistas (money exchange people on the street) or inCasa de Cambios (money exchange agencies). With the Cambistas, you will get a variety of exchange rates, so make sure you know what the daily exchange rate is before, as they might offer you a very low rate. You can sometimes negotiate their rates, especially if you are exchanging a lot of money. The Casa de Cambios normally give a more favorable rate and it is also safer to exchange inside an agency rather than in clear view on the streets.
Eat Peruvian Ceviche
Ceviche is a national dish in Peru and is very popular among the locals and tourists. The normal Peruvian ceviche recipe is fish marinated in fresh lime juice and seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of Peruvian chili (Aji). The fish is accompanied with sweet potato, corn, lettuce and an onion salsa. There are many places where you can eat ceviche, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to find. In some areas you will even find people opening up their house for people to come and eat, so that they can make some extra money.
Enjoy an ice cold Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru. Pisco is a Peruvian brandy, which is transparent and can be taken pure or in a cocktail, which is usually Pisco Sour. The drink is made with Pisco, fresh lime juice, angostura bitters, simple syrup and an egg white. The egg white part might not sound too nice to most people, but it is simply a delicious cocktail that you must try.
Use high SFP sunscreen
The sun in Peru is extremely strong and the UV rays are normally at the highest levels, so taking care of your skin should be a high priority. Buy a decent sunscreen with a sun factor protection of at least 30. There are a few brands available in pharmacies, supermarkets, and some small specialist shops, but the best brands available are Hawaiian Tropic and Eucerin and range from around US$15 – US$35.
Don’t drink water from the tap
Peru is still a developing country and is not able to deliver clean water to any homes, hotels, shops or other buildings. In fact, the water is full of bacteria, which if you don’t have a strong stomach, will likely leave you feeling very sick for your holiday in Peru. Bottled mineral water and bottled treated water is available in many places and is very cheap (625ml bottle from US30 cents), so it is certainly worth spending a bit of extra money. Your stomach will thank you for it!
Try to avoid eating from street vendors
Lima’s bustling streets are full of street vendors selling food and the smells can certainly get your saliva glands activated. You can find anything from Quails eggs to Anticuchos (typical Peruvian dish that consists of skewered pieces of beef heart marinated in Peruvian spices). There are a lot of street vendors that are hygienic, but there are many of them that are not hygienic. They normally don’t have access to clean water and also are handling money and food without washing their hands, so you can understand that bacteria can get onto your food very easily. If the adventurer side of you gets the better of you, then make sure you see how they are preparing the food before you decide to try it.
Try haggling for better prices
Some people might think that haggling is not an ethical thing to do, but in many places in Peru, it is expected that haggling will occur. The most common places that haggling occurs is in the many markets. Prices in markets and some shops are normally elevated for tourists, so you should always ask for a better price. It also gives you a chance to practice your Spanish. However, in the big retail stores you cannot normally reduce the prices unless they have a set discount.
Use insect repellent if you travel to the Amazon
The Peruvian Amazon is a paradise of wildlife and plants. It is also a place that is full of insects that bite, so it is very important to use a good quality insect repellent to help keep the nasty insects away from your skin. Malaria is very rare in the Peru Amazon, but if you want to take precautions then visit your doctor 1 month before your trip to Peru.
Save money and buy souvenirs in the local markets rather than shops
Local souvenir shops in the main cities normally raise their prices, especially in touristic areas. There are plenty of markets in most large Peruvian cities and here you can find bargains for your souvenirs.
Learn some Spanish
Peru’s native language is Spanish and the majority of people do not speak any English, so it is a good idea to learn some Spanish words and phrases to make things a little easier when traveling in Peru. Here is a good online Spanish language course to get you started.