Peru has food like no other country. It’s rich with a lot of seafood dishes, meat dishes, and influences from Chinese, Italy, Spanish and Japanese cuisines. It is considered the gastronomic capital of the Americas. Food price ranges depending on where you go for example a menu will cost you $4-5 where they serve you an appetizer, entree, and drink (free refills usually included). Upscale restaurants will set you back $10-$15 and they just serve you the entree.
If you’ve never been to a developing country be prepared to mostly use Soles the cash currency of Peru. Of course, you’ll probably be able to find places that accept Visa and Mastercard in major touristic areas but for some reason, you will come across establishments that advertise that they accept cards but in the end, they don’t so be sure to ask before purchasing anything. I also highly recommend to not restrict yourself to places that accept cards. You’ll end up missing out on authentic Peruvian experiences.
If you are from the US, Europe, the UK or Australia be warned that the driving and traffic here is crazy. It is, in fact, quite the opposite of what you are used to seeing. Here the driving is like the wild west where anything goes where cars are inches away from each other. Vehicles turn in front of other vehicles with no warning or turn signal. Rush hour traffic is loaded with cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles that you will usually hear honkings everywhere you go.
Voltage is Higher
The voltage here is 220 while in the US it is 120. So your phone will charge a lot faster, but you’ll also notice that it will heat up quite often while doing so. To be on the safe side, be sure to charge up your devices when you need to and unplug them when you’re done so you don’t create any unnecessary fire hazards.
No Visa Required
According to the U.S State Department website, you don’t need a visa to enter Peru as a US citizen. You just need a valid passport and evidence of onward or return travel, so no one-way tickets. You’re usually allowed to stay for 90 days at a time with a total of 183 days per calendar year. If you by chance overstay your visit don’t worry you won’t be in any trouble you’ll just have to pay a $1 fine for each day you overstay when you finally decide to leave the country.
Lima, year-round has a quite moderate temperature that usually stays above 65°F (18°C). Lima’s summer is from December through March and it is usually sunny all day every day so please make sure to bring sunscreen as the sun burns intensely! When summer is over, winter here is not bad as it’s usually covered with grey clouds. On rare occasions, there will be light rain drizzles but nothing compared to the downpours that you may be used to in the U.S or Europe.
Before you fly out to Lima make sure to book with Quickllama as they can drop you directly off at your home in Miraflores for just 20 soles ($7 USD). If you by chance did not reserve transportation don’t worry because after you collect your checked bags and start heading out there will be several taxi service desks that will vie for your business however they offer inflated prices. There is also another transportation service called Airport Express where they drop you off at Miraflores or San Isidro however they don’t offer door to door services.
Don’t Drink Tap Water
Unfortunately, Peru’s public water system has not caught up to modern standards of filtering water contamination, so avoid sipping tap water. Make sure that the ice in your drink was made with purified water and wash any fruit that you plan to eat. Luckily, most upscale hotels will leave you bottles of water in your room but also don’t be afraid to ask for additional bottles either since most hotels are happy to oblige. If you accidentally ingest a surmount of water be ready for at least a painful stomach ache!
Commuting around the city is simple as you have several options to choose from it all depends on where you’re going and the experience you want to have. There are 2 main car-sharing services, Uber and Beat that offer surprisingly low fares. When it comes to rush hour the price tends to go up but nothing compared to the U.S. On average fares will range around $2-10 and $10 is going to distances as far as 8 miles!
There is also the cities public bus/train transportation system, Metropolitano where each fare is 2.50 soles ($0.80 USD) that goes all the way north of Lima (Los Olivos) down to the south (Villa El Salvador). There are also the street buses, taxis, and combis which are vans filled with 6-15 passengers that drop you off in certain streets. It’s a good way to experience how the locals commute but if you are just visiting. You’re better off with ride-sharing and the cities public transportation system to get by.
Bathroom Etiquette & Tips
The plumbing system here has the same level of efficiencies as its public water system. Meaning that the toilet is only designed for human waste only. Do you see that miniature trash bin to the side? Well, that is where your toilet tissue will go after use. If you don’t follow this rule you might cause a massive clog and human waste backed up all the way to the toilet bowl! Let me give you some more tips.
In certain areas, you will have to pay to use the restroom! They will charge 0.50 cents in Soles where they hand you a small roll of toilet paper for your bum because they aren’t any in the stalls due to theft! In public restrooms, it’s the same case but it’s free so it’s best to carry toilet paper if you are going outside of the Miraflores, Barrancos, and San Isidro areas.
Price Haggling/Gringo Tax
If you are hailing a street taxi, shopping inside local food/flea markets or street vendors you can negotiate the pricing of the product/service. In Peru the informal market is huge and everyone works for themselves it is basically an open market where you can haggle the price! The only places where you can’t haggle are restaurants, museums, and retail stores in upscale/touristic areas.
As a tourist, vendors will generally start you at a much higher price. This is what we call the “Gringo Tax” where we hope that you’ll just pay and walk away because you’ll still find it cheap compared to the US or Europe so, don’t fall for it! In fact, it’s not uncommon to knock 50% or more of the quoted prices!
Where Foreigners should stay
The recommended districts that foreigners should stay is in the Miraflores, Barrancos or San Isidro areas as these are more upscale with more police/vigilantes patrolling the area. Each district has its own Pros/Cons but is much better and safer than the outside districts. Miraflores is more for first-timers as there are a lot of things to do and a lot of American/Peruvian restaurants to eat at.
Barrancos gives out that bohemian hipster vibe where the buildings are more colorful and architecturally stylish. San Isidro is more business casual where everything looks cleaner and more luxurious but doesn’t have many touristic attractions. I recommend staying near the ocean coast in Miraflores or Barrancos so you can enjoy the ocean view.
Hopefully, you have learned a lot from this list and are more prepared to visit this interesting city! If you still want to find out more you can take a look at the Lima Travel Guide I wrote where I recommend 4 activities you can do!