Travel opens the mind, we learn, we enjoy and at the end we go home with a lifetime of memories. Going to foreign countries is an exciting experience for everyone involved. But there are important issues to be addressed and it is important to have a good understanding of these issues before you embark on your vacation to Peru.
In this article we will be talking about money, in Peru the local currency is called the Nuevo Sol and it comes in both coins and notes, the coins are 5 centimos, 10 centimos, 20 centimos, 50 centimos then 1 sol, 2 soles, 5 soles, the notes come in 10 soles, 20 soles, 50 soles, 100 soles and 200 soles. The US dollar is also a legally accepted currency, and can be used in most major cities in Peru, but usually is reserved for expensive purchases and the US dollar hundred bill is generally only accepted in change houses.
When you wish to change your local currency you may do so in your hotel reception, but you will get a better rate in the change houses located in all the major tourist areas. British pounds are harder to change with many houses not wanting to deal with currency. Changing money on the street is not advised as many people will be watching and it is not safe, always check the exchange rate before changing money.
False money is also a problem in Peru with both Peruvian Soles and US dollars. It is not easy to detect a false note or coin and being a foreigner you may not be able to tell the difference, so take the time to check all your money when you receive it and if you feel something is wrong ask for the note to be changed. New notes were introduced in 2011 making them harder to forge. The new notes combine international security measures and are designed with figures from Peru’s rich cultural history.
Credit cards are very easy to use and are very handy when travelling in Peru, they are accepted in most places including hotels, restaurants, shops and most supermarkets, but you must have a pin and make sure you have your identification with you when paying with a credit card. If they take your card away for payment make sure you go with them to see what is happening with your card.
There are many ATM machines in Peru and cash can be obtained easily, once again check the money before you leave the bank. MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted cards with American Express also used in most places. When using you credit card at an ATM machine, always use the machines inside the bank or shop, never use the ATM machines on the street as there could be many people watching and this is not safe. Cards are accepted in hotels and higher end shops, but are not as widely accepted in local shops and smaller markets, so it is always a good idea to have some Soles for smaller purchases and tipping.
US dollars that are dirty or have tears or are ripped are not accepted in Peru, the Peruvian people do not want to be left with these notes, so be careful not to be caught with old notes in both Peruvian Soles or US dollars. If by chance you do get caught with a note that nobody will accept, take it the National Bank of Peru and ask for these notes to be changed.
For those on a tight budget, around 300 soles-which is around US dollars 90 a day-will provide an inexpensive hotel room, of around two stars, which will include a basic breakfast of fresh juice, bread, jam and coffee and if you are lucky cheese or ham, a lunch which normally is a set menu, dinner again a basic menu and entry into some sites.
A midrange budget from 300 to 500 soles will get you a nice room with a double bed in a mid-range hotel, a multi-course lunch at a good restaurant, and a group tour to one of the many local ruins.
A top end budget of more than 550 soles will get a great room at a very nice hotel, a tasty dinner at an upscale restaurant and a private city tour. If the budget is not an issue there are many beautiful high end restaurants to choose from. All of them come at a cost but are a fine dining experience that Peru is becoming famous for.
There are plenty of five star hotels to choose from, some located in beautiful Spanish colonial buildings, that a worth the money if you have it to spare. If you don’t have the budget for these hotels you are welcome to visit, the patios are wonderful and the architecture is photo worthy.
In recent years, the cost of tourism has increased, making Peru not as cheap a destination as in years gone by, but it is still great value for money and your money will go a long way in Peru.
As always be careful with your possessions as Peru is a third world country and there is a lot of poverty making petty theft common. Take only what you need each day and leave most valuables in the hotel, but most of all enjoy Peru and have an unforgettable holiday.