Essential tips for travellers to Peru

Etiquette

Given Peru’s rich historical and ethnic heritage, its culture is diverse and varies slightly from region to region. Peruvians are generally polite and friendly, and strong friendships often go a long way in opening doors and securing opportunities in the business world. Standard business attire is the same as in the US or Europe. Customary greetings are one kiss on the cheek between women and between men and women. Men greet each other with a handshake COMMUNICATIONS: SIM cards can be purchased at airports or at a variety of retail outlets. Local and international data plans are available. Internet coverage extends to most of the country. A growing number of establishments and businesses are beginning to offer wireless internet on their premises.

Transport

With more than 9m people in Lima, traffic is an issue, especially during rush hours between 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm. Expansion of the existing metro and integrated bus system is expected to help reduce this load. In Lima and other urban centres the most common means of transportation is taxis, the majority of which are informal. Metered taxis are rare and fares must be agreed upon beforehand. A standard fare from the airport to the more touristic districts is around 50 soles ($17). Hotels normally provide taxi services, though at higher prices than informal taxis. Apps such as Uber and EasyTaxi work well in Lima. For travelling in the country, the most common mode is by bus, a method used by more than 80m people annually for distances varying from three hours between Lima and Paracas, to 24 hours from Lima to Cusco. There are 19 airports of significant size, 12 of them with international connections. The airports of Lima, Arequipa and Cusco handle most of the 8m-passenger annual airport traffic. The most common domestic route is Lima-Cusco, with 15 daily flights, as Cusco’s airport is close to Macchu Pichu.

Language

Though Spanish is the official language, Peru is considered a multi-lingual nation, with a number of indigenous languages spoken across the country. The most common ones, Quechua and Aymara, are predominantly spoken in the highlands and jungle regions. English is spoken mainly in touristic destinations such as Cusco and Lima, but knowing some Spanish will make your stay more pleasant.

Business Hours

Office hours are generally from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. A number of businesses, including banks and currency exchange agencies, are open for part or all of Saturday. A lunch break is common for small shops or family businesses.

Currency

The sol (PEN) is the official currency of Peru, and is available in 10-, 20-, 50-, 100- and 200-note denominations. There are also 1-, 2- and 5-sole coins and 10-, 20- and 50-cents coin. US dollars are widely accepted across Peru. Both official and unofficial currency exchange agencies are common, especially in touristic areas. It is also not uncommon to find informal cambistas, or street currency exchangers. To avoid counterfeit bills, formal outlets are preferable. ATMs are available predominantly in urban centres and accept most major international cards. It is possible to withdraw soles or US dollars, though exchange rates are often less favourable. Credit cards are widely accepted. At the time of writing, the exchange rate was $1:PEN3.37, €1:PEN3.58 and £1:PEN5.07.

Visa Requirements

Citizens from most countries in Europe and the Americas do not require a visa to enter Peru. Tourist stamps are issued upon arrival at airports or land borders, for a 30-, 90-, or if requested, a 183-day period. Extensions are available only for certain countries, and overstays will result in $1-perday fines. Visitors are also given an Andean immigration card (tarjeta Andina de migración), which is stamped upon arrival and exit from the country.

Electricity

The electrical current is 220 V, 60 Hz AC, often with dual-voltage outlets accepting both European and US-style round- and flat-pronged plugs. Adapters are available in cities around Peru.

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