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 not available and overstays will result in fines. Visitors are also given an Andean Immigration Card (tarjeta Andina de migración), which is stamped upon arrival and exit from the country.
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 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 firm handshake.
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.
The nuevo 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 soles coins and 10, 20 and 50 cents coins. 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, 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 nuevos sol or US dollars, though exchange rates are often less favorable. Credit cards are widely accepted. At the time of writing, the exchange rate was $1:PEN2.91, €1:PEN3.67 and £1:PEN4.66.
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 longer lunch break is common for small shops or family businesses.
With more than 9m people in Lima, traffic is an issue especially during rush hours, between 7am9am 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 vast majority of which are informal. Metered taxis are extremely rare and fares must be agreed upon beforehand. To avoid overpaying, foreigners are encouraged to enquire about prices with locals or at hotel receptions. 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.
For travelling in the country, the most common method is by bus, a method used by more than 80m people annually for distances varying from 3 hours between Lima and Paracas, to 24 hours to Cusco. Tariffs are inexpensive. 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 it is the closest airport to Macchu Pichu. The average cost of a ticket from Lima to Cusco is around $150.
SIM cards can be purchased at airports or at a variety of retail outlets, and local, international and data plans are available. Internet coverage extends to most of the country. Though public internet booths remain common in the nation’s major urban centres and are generally inexpensive, a growing number of establishments and businesses are beginning to offer wireless internet on their premises.
The electrical current is 220 V, 60 Hz AC, often with dual-voltage outlets accepting both European and American-style round and flat pronged plugs.
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