Peru is one of the most sought after options to travel in South America. The so-called Country of the Incas is recognized for its prevailing cultural expression, natural wonders, and historical attractions which fills it with countless adventures and mysteries for all ages and tastes.
From the lush Peruvian jungle to the towering Andean mountains and the spellbinding coastal side, the Peruvian lands are a whole new world. For those looking to indulge their desire for meeting new places and disconnect from routine, Peru is the best destination.
We are proud to say that our country offers different experiences for all types of travelers. Whether you’re looking to unwind your mind, look for spiritual guidance, exploring mountainous trails, or uncover the mysteries of Peru’s ancient civilizations, here you’ll find a new adventure in every corner.
Therefore, we came up with this section to teach you the basics for planning your trip to Peru from the US. We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about travel planning to our country and added useful information regarding safety, transport, entry requirements, and more!
Regardless of your nationality, Peru has developed a great tourism infrastructure. The famous Andean country receives over 4,4 million visitors per year, making it the 4th most visited country in South America. Likewise, crime in Peru has potentially decreased over the years though it is worth noting that as in every country, one must remain cautious and aware at all times.
Petty crimes are a widespread problem in Peru, which is why we recommend to keep vigilant of your belongings and to stay in the cities’ touristy areas where the affluence of travelers is larger and national security is more compliant.
Pick-pocketing and robberies are very common, be aware among crowds since thieves might create distractions to target you. However, we don’t mean to scare you off by pointing this out, but to show you the reality ahead when traveling abroad.
That doesn’t mean that it could happen to you or that you’re traveling to a highly unsafe country, on the contrary, these are just precautions. In case of any inconvenience, there are government agencies specialized in tourism willing to assist you with any eventuality, such as the Tourist Police.
The Tourist Police or Policía de Turismo in Spanish, is another wing of national security which provides assistance to foreign travelers, though it’s more likely to find them in larger cities rather than the most rural and remote areas of the country.
However, the US Embassy in Lima also offers assistance and guidance for crime victims. Remember to fill your report with local police and then contact your embassy if necessary. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
The easiest way to get to Peru from the US is by international flight, fares can range from 200 USD to 1,500 USD (one way). Likewise, direct flights are also possible from several cities in the US, such as Atlanta, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas fort-worth. In other cases, flights may have connections in Mexico, Colombia, or other countries in Latin America, as well as cities within the US.
There are many airlines that fly to Peru, among the most popular are: Avianca, LATAM, Canada Air, Jetblue, Copa Airlines, InterJet, Spirit Airlines, Aeromexico, and United airlines. They all have connections with the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima.
It is worth noting that there are 4 more international airports in Peru, though they have limited flight departures per week and for certain cities within South America. Therefore, Lima remains as the starting point for most travelers that wish to come to our country.
According to national airports, there are 26 cities that offer domestic flights services including the aforementioned international airports. The most popular are in Cusco, Arequipa, Juliaca, Iquitos, Jaén, Huaraz, and Piura.
Throughout all our years of service, we’ve come across the same question: Do US citizens need a visa for Peru? The answer is no, a tourist visa is not among the entry requirements for citizens of the North American country. However, what the immigration office does require is having at least a 6 month validity remaining in your passport along with two empty pages for the entry/exit stamp.
According to the US State Department, evidence of return or onward travel is required. Keep in mind that the length of your stay in Peru will be determined by the immigration officer upon entry and may vary from 30 to 183 days.
However, if you’re planning to stay longer than your stipulated time, you must request an extension through the Peruvian immigration office. If you overstay, some penalties will be applied.
Important Note: Due to the Coronavirus outbreak many countries have been forced to implement new safety protocols and requirements to ensure public health within their territories. For more information about the current conditions to enter Peru, please read this blog.
- Children traveling with both parents are only required to have a valid passport.
- Procedures are more complex when a child is traveling with one parent. However, no extra documentation is required if entering Peru as a tourist for less than 183 days.
- For Peruvian children with dual citizenship planning to stay longer than 183 days a Permiso Notarial de Viaje is required and must be issued from the Peruvian embassy in the US.
The local currency in Peru is called “Nuevo Soles.” Banknotes come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10. Whilst coins come in 5, 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20, and 0.10 units. It is worth mentioning that counterfeit money is a current problem in Peru, which is why we highly recommend to double-check the change you receive at all times.
Likewise, the 200 and 100 bills are hardly accepted. Therefore, it is preferable to carry small denomination bills during your trip.
US Dollars are widely accepted in large establishments as shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and others. However, don’t expect to pay with US dollars in small shops. We highly recommend having both currencies, leaving US Dollars as your backup money.
Exchanging money in Peru isn’t difficult at all since in the most touristy areas you’ll find several money exchange offices. You can also withdraw money from the ATMs though some fees may apply and the exchange rates may vary. For more information about the currency in Peru, make sure to read this informative guide.
If you’re wondering how to get around through South America’s 3rd-largest country, don’t worry, we got you covered! According to your needs, time, and the destinations you’d like to visit, there are different transport options.
1. Bus Travel
For those looking for a unique experience through Peruvian lands, we highly recommend taking bus trips to the different attractions within your itinerary. However, it is worth mentioning that travel time and distance may be really long due to the extension of the country. Therefore, if you’re not willing to commit to +10 hour bus rides then this is not the option for you.
We’d like to highlight that bus travel is the cheapest alternative to get around Peru, even if you’re traveling with the most luxurious services. Also, traveling by bus is considered a more enriching travel experience for many travelers that visit our authentic country.
According to time-wise efficiency, bus rides through the coastal highway are faster than through the most mountainous routes. Bus conditions may vary according to the popularity of the destination, where the most battered buses are used on rural local routes.
2. Flights in Peru
If you’re on a tight schedule, then we recommend you take a domestic flight to the main destination within your itinerary. That way, you’ll have more time to enjoy the attractions you’d like to visit.
It is worth mentioning that plane tickets are significantly more expensive than any other transport option in Peru, especially during the high tourist season. However, if we talk about time efficiency, a flight from Lima to Cusco will take about 1.5 hours, whilst a direct bus ride could take up to 22 hours.
There are different airlines that offer internal flights in Peru, among the most popular are: LATAM, VivaAir, Avianca, and Star Peru.
3. Train Travel
For those who didn’t know, train travel is possible in Peru. However, the rail routes are limited to the main attractions of the Peruvian Andes, where the famous Belmond Andean Explorer connects Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco.
This transport option is considered one of the most luxurious alternatives to travel around the country, though speed-wise it is significantly slower than train rides in Europe. But, the whole point is to explore and appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Andean highlands.
We know how important it is to know about the transport options when planning a trip abroad, therefore, we’ve come up with an entire section dedicated to the best way to travel through Peru!
Ok, here’s the tricky part, the climate condition in Peru is totally different to the one in the northern hemisphere since the warmest months of the year take place between December and April, whilst in North America, those are the coldest.
However, the weather in our country varies according to its regions since Peru’s geographical features influence the climate conditions of the coast, mountains, and jungle. For example, the Andean region is marked by two stationary seasons, a dry winter and a rainy summer.
On the other hand, the coast has predominant arid weather, being Lima the exception though rain chances are nearly nill in this region. However, the jungle is characterized for having rainy tropical weather, being the rainiest months between January and April.
Yes, we are aware that planning a trip through Peru according to its weather conditions is quite confusing but one thing is certain, no matter during what time of the year you decide to come, Peru will always provide a great experience.
Most tourists prefer to travel during the “Dry Season,” which takes place between May and October. Some others prefer the Rainy Season since places aren’t overcrowded and fares are significantly lower. To help you make the right choice, we have prepared a whole blog about the weather in Peru.
Now that you know the basics about planning a trip through Peru from the US, here are some recommendations that you should keep in mind before venturing abroad.
1. Dealing with Altitude Sickness
Most of Peru’s main attractions are located over 2,500 meters above sea level, which is why some tourists (to not say all of them) tend to experience dizziness, tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath, these are the effects of Altitude Sickness.
This condition can cause mild to severe reactions and could be highly dangerous if left untreated. Even if you’ve lived on top of the Denali Mount or at sea level throughout your whole life, altitude sickness can affect you anytime. However, we don’t mean to scare you off but to make things clear and easy for you:
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Don’t commit to physically demanding activities in the first 2-3 days.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet.
- Drink Coca tea or chew Coca leaves.
Likewise, there are some medicines that help with altitude sickness like Diamox or Soroche Pills, which you can find in almost any drugstore in Peru. But, we do encourage you to find professional medical advice before taking any of these.
2. Learn a few Spanish words and phrases
We want to clarify that it is not necessary to know Spanish to visit Peru. Foreign tourism is our country’s main economic asset, which means that you won’t have any trouble finding someone who can speak or understand English.
However, it doesn’t mean that all Peruvians are English speakers. Therefore, we recommend you to know a few Spanish words and phrases that will surely help you get by when ordering food, asking for directions, or even getting a taxi ride.
3. Get a travel insurance
Most travelers think that travel insurance only covers medical issues abroad, but this is wrong. We highly recommend getting travel insurance for the following reasons: Coverage of trip cancellations, stolen documents or credit cards, baggage delay or loss, medical repatriation, and more according to your needs.
4. Reasons to hire a Peruvian travel agency
Planning a trip through Peru could be quite overwhelming without having the right information. Besides, taking care of the logistics involved in hotel reservations, tours, transport, and other services may get quite tedious.
However, you don’t need to go through this alone since a local travel agency can assist you throughout the process. Unlike international travel agencies that have profited and exploited the same tourist attractions over the years, a Peruvian tourism company knows even more of what’s advertised on the internet.
Therefore, if one of your goals is to travel off the beaten path then this is the way to start. Here in Viagens Machu Picchu, we care to provide an excellent experience through Peru, whilst still offering comfortable and exclusive options to our passengers. If you wish to learn more about our different travel experiences, make sure to check our Peru travel packages section.