Passports and Visas
Citizens of Western Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, Oceania, 8 Asian countries (Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Brunei), Israel and South Africa do not need a visa to come to Peru. When they show their passports, visitors from these countries receive an authorization to stay in the country for 60 to 90 days. Citizens of other countries may enter Peru without a visa if they are traveling on a tourist program. No special vaccinations are required (see Health and Vaccinations).
Airport Taxes and Customs
There is a US$6.05 security tax for all domestic flights and a US$30.25 airport tax payable when leaving the country. New items, whether for personal use or gifts, must not exceed US$300.
Health and Vaccinations
"Soroche" is an altitude sickness that causes dizziness, headache and eventually vomiting, due to the lower oxygen levels at altitudes of 2,800 or 3,000 meters. Drugstores sell some tablets that can prevent or relieve the symptoms. When traveling to the highlands, it is recommended to drink plenty of sweetened liquid, rest for at least 3 or 4 hours upon arrival, eat sparingly and go to bed early, so as to feel as good as the natives the next day. It is advisable to visit cities with a lower altitude first and gradually climb to higher altitudes. A smallpox vaccination certificate is not required for entering Peru. A yellow fever vaccine is recommended for traveling to the jungle. If you want to travel from Peru to Brazil, a Yellow Fever vaccination is obligatory. Still, inquire of your family doctor or of a tropical institute before your trip.
Clothing and What to Bring
In the Highlands during the winter, the temperature varies considerably between the day and the night as well as between the shade and the sun. Therefore, light clothing is desirable when the sun is shining, but it is advisable to have something warm to put on quickly when necessary. Shoes should be sturdy but not too heavy (tennis shoes or hiking boots). Sunglasses and sun screen lotion are a must.
In the Amazon region and northern coast, it is advisable to wear loose light cotton clothes, because it is very hot. Avoid synthetic clothes that can cause allergies. Sunny days can get to be very bright; therefore people with sensitive skin should protect themselves with long sleeves and a hat. Despite the heat, open sandals should be avoided. Creams, sun glasses and mosquito repellents are necessary (Vitamin B tablets are very effective).
During the Lima winter the temperature never drops below 13º or 14ºC (56ºF), but it is the humidity factor that makes people feel cold. A woolen pullover is necessary, as well as a jacket. Packing too many clothes makes traveling uncomfortable. Warm clothing is widely available in Peru, particularly pullovers, parkas and jackets made of alpaca wool (as well as lambs' wool and cotton) of an excellent quality and attractive designs. Indian craft markets and modern stores carry them at very competitive prices.
Currency, Banks, Credit Cards
The Nuevo Sol (New Sol) is the national currency its symbol (S/.), 10 Nuevo Soles = 3.12 US$ (as of April 2007) - must not be confused with the U.S. Dollar sign ($). Many private establishments and individuals accept payment in U.S. Dollars for regular transactions. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency entering the country. It is better to bring U.S. Dollars because they are easy to exchange, either at the airport, in the main banks in the city or in currency exchange houses. On their return, visitors can change their surplus Soles back into Dollars at the bank in the airport. The banks are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 or 10 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00PM. Some of them open on Saturdays until midday. These times vary during the summer months. International credit cards can be used to draw money without any problem. ATMs are everywhere in Lima as well as in department capitals. Credit cards are welcome in most restaurants, hotels and major shops. American Express, VISA, Diners and Mastercard are widely accepted.
Taxes and Tips
Most restaurant and bar bills include a 10% gratuity and 19% VAT. It is customary to add an extra 10% if the service has been satisfactory. Taxi drivers do not expect tips but hotel and airport porters, barbers, hair stylists, and cloakroom attendants do.
The time difference between the USA and Peru is according to the Eastern US time 0, for the Central part of the USA is 1 hour, for the Mountain area in the USA is 2 and the Pacific Time difference with Peru is 3 hours. When it is midday in Europe it is 6 a.m. in Peru. The local time coincides with the Eastern Standard Time in the United States.
To call abroad, visitors must dial 00 the country code the city code the telephone number.
Electricity and Voltage
The widely used electricity is 220 volts, 60 cycles, although 110 volts may be found in some big hotels in Lima.
The major newspapers are "El Comercio", the most respectable national newspaper, "La República" and "Perú 21". "Gestión" specializes in economic affairs.
Transportation and Getting Around in Peru
The Pan-American Highway (which joins all the towns on the coast) is in good condition, as are the most important highways that lead to the northern, central and southern highlands (Cajamarca, Huaraz, Huancayo, Ayacucho, Abancay, Cusco, etc.). Nevertheless, in parts of the Andes, the roads are built under very difficult geographical conditions and are not paved. Between December and March, seasonal events (rain, mudflows) can suddenly affect the state of the roads.
The best way to travel in the city is by taxi. Taxi fares are very reasonable and there are no taxi meters. Before taking a cab, agree on the price with the driver. Some taxi companies provide a modern and efficient service.
The main inter-province buses are equipped with all the modern amenities (air conditioning, bar, sleep coach, on board restaurant and so on). The most important companies are Oltursa and Cruz del Sur.
The Lima-La Oroya-Huancayo train, the highest railway in the world (4,800 meters) has currently been suspended. The Southern railway serves Arequipa Juliaca Cusco and Cusco Machu Picchu-La Convención.
Shops usually open from 9:30 or 10:00AM to 1:00PM. and from 4:00 to 8:00PM. Many stores work straight through the day. Supermarkets open every day of the week, including Sundays, closing at 10:00 or 11:00PM. Consulates are only open to the public in the mornings.