I highly recommend Peru because it has a ton of history and great tourist infrastructure. If you’re interested in a trip there, this is what you should know before going! It’s not comprehensive but it will give you a place to start. Check out this tag to find more about Peru! Go to this tag to find more “Everything You Need to Know” posts!
Each metric is given an overall score between 1 and 10, and the ratings are briefly explained.
Go here if you are looking for: An in-depth introduction to South American life and the Incan culture that still very much influences Peruvian life
This explains the prevailing sort of experience you might have in this country.
Overall experience: 7.57/10
What your travel experience might revolve around.
Natural and landscape views: 7
- How beautiful and unique are the landscape and nature views?
- Peru is full of things to do, and landscapes only make up half the story. There is the Amazon rainforest to the north and nice mountain views along the countryside. These are views that can easily be found in other countries. The biggest natural view in Peru might be the Colca Canyon, which is vast and awe-inspiring, but the most beautiful sight might be Lake Titicaca near the southeast city of Puno, which where you can see gorgeous views of the water once you are actually on one of the lake’s islands.
Historical attractions: 10
- To what extent can you see physical evidence of the country’s culture?
- Peru is known most for Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel that is hidden away in the mountains and highlands. In addition to Machu Picchu, the Cusco area is littered with old ruins (the Sacred Valley) that you can still climb and touch. Many of them are in or around the cities, easily accessible.
City culture: 9
- How should you expect locals to react to you? How does it feel to be in the city?
- Because Peru attracts so many tourists, many locals are either used to dealing with foreigners or have built their entire livelihood around serving them.
- How unique is the local food and how available is food from home?
- Peru has several unique dishes, like ceviche (fish with lime and spices – I didn’t try it because I don’t like any of the ingredients) or causa (my favorite! Chicken salad, avocado, and rice). Their chicken and rice is made with green rice. Many of these are variations of foods we have at home, just made in a unique combination. Because of the high volume of tourists, foods from home are also pretty widely available.
- How much do souvenirs cost relative to everyday items and how representative are they of the local culture?
- The souvenirs have lots and lots of llamas on them and in general are of reasonable quality. However, you can often get the same stuff at similar quality in Bolivia at half or 75% of the price. The only catch is if you want merchandise that has PERU explicitly branded on it, which of course you can only get in Peru.
- How clean is everything, including trash along the streets, water, and food?
- In general, everything is clean, but you need to be careful about eating street food and drinking unbottled water. The city streets are relatively clean.
Tourism services: 8
- Are there people who specifically serve tourists outside private hotels and accommodation?
- In the cities, you can find lots of tour agencies that will match you with whatever experience you are looking for, including making it to Machu Picchu already having a guide. They are similarly priced and reliable, speak English, and are willing to give you information for free. Some cities like Lima have tourist information centers scattered around, where you can get the information you need from an impartial source.
[Recommended Read: How Much Time Should I Spend in Each City in Peru?]
- Are you going to freeze or sweat to death?
- In the winter, it gets cold but at a manageable level. There was no need to bundle up with all my clothes. The night temperatures can get pretty low, which is bad if you’re on an overnight bus with no blanket, as they are not heated.
Currency: Sol (singular), or soles (plural)
- What currency is used? (Not a rated category)
Cost: 7 (higher rating means lower cost)
- Overall, is this country expensive or not?
- Peru offers a wide range of options for everything, so you can get an expensive pampered experience or something more economical. The average cost of necessities like transportation, accommodation, and food is low.
Approximate time needed to visit the whole country: 2 weeks
- How much time do you need to devote here? (Not a rated category)
Speed of Wi-Fi: 6
- How fast is the Wi-Fi?
- Not going to be the fastest, but relatively reliable.
Accessibility of Wi-Fi: 6
- Can you connect to Wi-Fi when you need it?
- Lima offers free Wi-Fi in select areas of the city, and most times Wi-Fi is reliable in hostels. When you’re out in other cities, you might be out of luck. An alternative might to get a local SIM card and access data, which is reliable.
[Recommended Read: Nine Things to Know Before Getting to Peru]
Culture and Immersion: 6.5/10
Language: Spanish, some local dialects in the countryside
- What language do locals speak? (Not a rated category)
English level of the typical local: 3
- If you really needed help, how much could a typical local help?
- It’s relatively rare that you’ll find someone who speaks good English in a non-luxury tourist area, or if the attraction doesn’t provide English tours. Note that a good proportion (but not all) of locals who deal with and help tourists, like accommodation staff or tour agency representatives having working knowledge of English.
Approachability of locals if you can’t speak the language: 8
- If you can’t speak the local language, how willing are locals to patiently help you?
- If you can somehow get your point across, or there are pictures and symbols to help you, many people are happy to patiently answer your questions.
Signage for an English speaker: 10
- If you can’t read the local language, can you read the signs?
- Since Spanish uses the same letters as English, you should have no problem.
- If you buy something (especially at street markets), how much do you need to haggle? One means you need to haggle until the price drops over 99%; ten means no haggling necessary.
- You can haggle on many things, especially souvenirs and tours and sometimes even bus tickets, but if you don’t, the prices are not rip-offs.
[Recommended Read: Eight Things to Know About Money While Traveling Peru]
Intercity buses, trains, and planes: 7
- How easy is it to get from one city to another? How understandable is the system?
- Buses go to most places you want to go, but they may often go a little out of the way through smaller cities before letting you off at your final destination, but they will take you where you want to go. Bus companies will often have destinations and times written on their booths and most travel agencies will charge you only a tiny commission (if any at all) to order your tickets for you.
Taxi reliability: 6
- How many taxis are there? Are they to cheat you? How friendly are the drivers to foreigners, especially if you don’t speak the local language?
- Most don’t speak any English, but are willing to do their best to get you where you want to go. You have to make sure to set a price with them before getting into the car, and you should be fine.
Intra-city transportation: 3
- How easy is it to get where you want to go within the city?
- Public transportation exists in Lima, but not really in any other city. Anywhere else, you need to take a taxi or walk. Even in Lima, you might need to ask someone to show you how to use public transportation. It does have a more straightforward Metropolitano train system that is similar to a subway or commuter train that can take you longer distances.
- If you want to get some exercise, how easy it is to walk from place to place?
- For the most part, you can use a taxi for longer distances and walk the rest of the way. Peruvian cities are relatively small, so you won’t have to go far. You can stay healthy and get where you need to go for free!
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Did this help you plan your trip? What else do you want to know? Leave a comment below!