Tips and tricks to pay less in Peru
In Peru, as everywhere else, as a traveler you can easily pay a high price. Tourism serves to drive the economy, but if you prefer to leave the role of cow to others, here are 10 tips to follow during your next trip to Peru that will save you money :
1. Learn about the local currency. It seems obvious, but it is far from being for all travelers. Yet this is the only way to assess whether the price displayed is honest, but also how far you can bargain. Also, we must know that in Peru, we can negotiate, but only to a certain extent. Generally, we save only a few soles.
2. Take care of your money. Avoid showing all your tickets when you pay. Do not withdraw a lot of money at a time, and keep it at different places on you. Better to avoid pickpockets. When you change your money, choose forex dealers rather than banks. In Lima, for example, you will find them on Larco Street in Miraflores, mainly next to the banks, with a blue vest. They can be found elsewhere in yellow too. Only change money in safe areas.
3. Set the price in advance. Taxis are the perfect example because they do not have a meter. Do not hesitate to lower a few soles (2-3 soles- plus it will be difficult depending on the distance) when the driver offers a price. Do not hesitate to ask a Peruvian for a price estimate before stopping a taxi.
Also valid for hostels: arriving at a train station or a terminus, several hostel representatives come to approach you. This will be an opportunity to negotiate. You have to be sure to set the price and the inclusion of breakfast in advance and very clearly.
4. Use public transit. Buses and combis are really cheap in Peru. Generally, stops are not indicated, ask somebody to know your route. Moreover, in Lima, there is the Metropolitano, which is a fast bus system and that takes you easily between Barranco, Miraflores and the historic center for only a few soles. Watch your pockets, pickpockets are fast!
5. Eat far from the tourists. It is better to focus on the menus of the day in local restaurants and markets that offer good portions at low prices (starter, main course and drink, from 5 to 10 soles depending on the city).
6. Sleep for free in Couchsurfing. That’s right, Couchsurfing is a nice way to get in touch with locals and as a bonus, to have a free night. On the other hand, be careful and look carefully at the comments left by the couchsurfers. Ladies, know that in Peru, male-female relationships are quite “conservative” and it is not at all common for a woman to travel alone or go to sleep with a man. Make sure there is no misunderstanding.
7. Drink strategically. Yes I know, it’s hard to resist a good little pisco sour, but alcohol consumption usually hurts the wallet. Some “in” bars offer the same prices as in France and if you like to party, you’ll soon realize that alcohol takes up a large part of the budget of a trip to Peru. If you are more of a cocktail-type, keep in mind the 2 × 1 promotions that many bars offer, otherwise the local bars offer large bottles (620ml) of Pilsen / Cusqueña for 8 to 10 soles. In Cusco, several bars even offer free consumption to attract you, enjoy!
8. Take the less known bus companies. When doing research, we almost always fall on Cruz del Sur. It is true that it is a very good company, but also the most expensive. Others also offer very comfortable seats and much more affordable prices (ex: Civa, Tepsa, Ormeño, Soyuz, Movil Tours).
9. Avoid booking your tours in advance. Booking in advance is expensive. Either because we find intermediaries or simply because the prices posted online are higher. By going directly to the site, you can compare the towers and choose the one that suits you best. Warning: the exception is the Inca Trail trek. It is very important to book it for several months in advance because the quotas are filling up quickly!
10. Do not take a ride if you can do it solo! It is possible to do a lot of visits, excursions and solo treks. Ask the locals or your hostel to get the most information, move Colectivo or combi that will cost you a few soles, bring a lunch bought at the market and voila! If you want to take a guided tour, nothing prevents you from taking a guide on site, whose services will cost you much less than a full tour. Not to mention that you can organize the day at your own pace.
There are also several free sites, such as Naupa Iglesia or Pinkulyluna in Ollantaytambo. For paying churches (such as Cusco Cathedral), wait for mass time, you can enter for free.
The little extras: learn the local language, it’s the key to success! People are always more open to discuss and necessarily negotiate when you make efforts to speak Spanish. Same for Quechua in the Andes. Also, your contact will be much less likely to want to rip you off if you take the time to interact with him (ex: a taxi, a merchant). And then, it’s a matter of respect for the locals after all.