When you are in a new city or country you’ll probably want to try out the night scene and see how the culture and vibe are. Lima has a multitude of bars/clubs that are open until 3:00 AM but some close earlier depending on the district you are at. However, you should be high on your guards and have a close eye on your booze because it is not uncommon for people to spike your drink and later rob you of your belongings.
Avoid having a lot of cash with you and only take the amount of money that you need for the day/trip. I highly recommend to split your money and carry it in different pockets. This has the advantage when you don’t have to open your purse or while searching for the right amount which can attract thieves. In the case that you are robbed you only lose a few Dollars or Soles instead of the majority of your cash.
Credit card fraud is rampant in Peru so always keep a close eye on your card. If you are in a small shop making purchases be wary if the shop assistant is taking too long to give you a receipt, there’s a good chance they are skimming your card. Be on top of your transactions and check your bank account while traveling and after arriving home.
Counterfeit money is pretty common so if you need to exchange money, only use reputable places such as banks or foreign exchanges. Avoid exchanging money on the streets as the risk of receiving counterfeit money increases as does being robbed for your dollars.
Lastly, ATM fraud is also quite common so avoid withdrawing money at night or from dodgy looking parts in the city.
For The Ladies
When you are out and about you’re going to get cat-called, whistled at and even get offensive comments directed your way even if you’re with your partner. It’s best to refrain from responding while in Lima as this may cause unnecessary fights or worse. Just do your best to ignore it and walk away as it’s the safest thing you can do.
Groping does happen while you are taking public transportation or on combis (mini-buses) as it can get quite crowded. If you are a victim you can let the driver or ticket seller know or you can cause a scene to embarrass the perpetrator in front of the other passengers, who will probably come to your defense.
Women should also be particularly careful if they are hitchhiking and/or being in isolated areas as malicious people might want to take advantage of you, even taxi drivers! If you are traveling out to more rural areas, dress more conservatively. Some female travelers wear a ring on their hand to show they are married to avoid any potential Peruvian casanovas.
Limit Phone Use
When you are in an area that you are not familiar with avoid being on the phone because it can instantly make you a target for pick-pocketers and thieves to follow you around, waiting for the right moment to act. Only look at your phone if you have to and best to do it in a safe place, like inside a restaurant or cafe.
Express kidnapping is when travelers are held against their will and forced to tour the city’s ATMs, extracting as much cash as the thugs can squeeze out of your account. This is rare but if you become a victim of Express kidnapping make sure to have a separate traveling account so that you won’t be left penniless.
It’s also a good way to make sure card skimmers can’t bankrupt you behind your back. In most cases, the victim is released quickly after the withdrawal limit is reached although some have been held for several days until the account is well and truly empty. Never fight back against your kidnappers because things can be replaced, but you can’t.
Avoid Showing Off
Foreigner tourists are looked upon as being enormously rich or wealthier which makes you an obvious target for criminals. So by already looking at your appearance and behavior, this can be crucial for becoming a victim or not. Most crimes against tourists include cheating you out of your money, pick-pocketing, theft, and robbery. You should try to dress modestly and avoid showing off even if you are in areas that are much better protected by the police because criminals go where the wealth is.
Mode of Transportation
The city of Lima has a multitude of forms of transportation as there are over 10 million people residing in the city. The best way for foreigners to get around is by using ridesharing apps Uber/Beat or a genuine taxi service that hotels/hostels offer. If you want to live life like a local you can take the Metropolitano which is the cities public transportation system just be wary to the areas you are visiting and avoid being out late at night outside of the San Isidro, Miraflores, and Barrancos area because they can be dangerous are less used to having foreigners.
There is an app called Moovit that will help you wonders on how to navigate around the city if you feel like taking public transportation.
This applies anywhere you go but make sure you don’t store any valuables where it can be easily accessed. It’s best to have a small lock for each compartment so that no one can easily open it or better yet wear your backpack to the front so that it remains in your view the whole time.
Drugs & Illegal Substances
Drug possession and drug trafficking are illegal and can be punished with very long prison sentences. Anyone found with cocaine or other drugs will face immediate arrest and imprisonment for up to 25 years. Keep in mind that prisons here don’t meet international standards and most are extremely overcrowded with terrible hygienic conditions and low quality of food. Make sure to keep in mind the following:
- Keep your hands off any kind of drug.
- Don’t socialize with people consuming or selling drugs.
- Have a watchful eye on your luggage and bags, so nobody can hide drugs in them.
- Don’t do any favors or try to make a quick buck by taking a package or something similar with you overseas. There might be drugs hidden inside.
Avoid These Neighborhoods
The recommended areas that foreigners should book their hotel or stay is in the San Isidro, Miraflores, and Barrancos area as these are more heavily patrolled with Police and Vigilantes. However, you should always be on your guard as thieves know this is where tourists and wealthier people live. If you are commuting or passing by it’s ok to be in the following districts: San Miguel, Magdalena del Mar, Lince, Jesus Maria, Surco, San Borja, and Surquillo as these borders the wealthier districts and have a fair amount of vigilantes. You should avoid being in Callao, Los Olivos, San Martin De Porres, La Victoria and Ate as poverty and crime are much more rampant in these districts. Hoodmaps may come in handy when you are traveling.
Research, Research, Research
This is an obvious tip but make sure to fully do your research before you get here! If you have questions about something google it as chances are you will find an article that will have your answer! You can take a look at the Lima, Peru – Travel Guide for 2020 we wrote or the 12 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Lima, Peru in 2020