There is no question that Peru has a lot to offer: culture, style, history and some of the best food you will find on the planet. With that being said (especially about the food), why wouldn’t you want to travel here? This beautiful country is filled with many things to do such as breath-taking hikes, beach days, jungle excursions, nights out, mountain climbing, salsa dancing, desert exploring, and plenty more.
Of course, there are some things that might give you a bit of culture shock. This is completely normal and happens to all of us when traveling to different lands. Don’t worry, once you recognize these differences and immerse yourself in the Peruvian culture, it becomes a way of life and you start to embrace it. Here to get you started are our Peru travel tips – 10 things you should know before coming to Peru.
The toilet paper goes in the trash NOT the toilet. It might feel unsanitary and unpleasing, but you would rather remember to put it in the trash than have to clean up a mess after the toilet clogs and overfills. The reason behind this is because the pipes in Peru are very small so a lot of things are not able to pass through. That with a combo of bad pressure really just doesn’t help at all.
Flights are available throughout Peru, but the majority of flights fly in and out of Lima. International flights are limited and can be expensive due to the finite availability in South America. If you want to get around locally, the main transportation modes include: car, taxi, bus or combi. Combis are mini buses that transport tons of people for a cheap price. The best way to describe the combis is an organized mess. Biking is a great option if you can deal with biking alongside the crazy Peruvian drivers.
Life moves a bit slower here. If you are used to a fast-paced lifestyle with everything go-go-go, Peru will definitely be a change for you. Whether you are ordering food at a restaurant or you are working with other Peruvians, expect for things do be done at a slower pace. When you are in the big cities, life is relatively slow and when you get further into the jungle and more up north, things tend to be even slower.
When in Peru you will experience food like never before. They have a lot of seafood dishes, meat dishes, and influences from both Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Oh and vegetarians: rejoice there are plenty of vegetarian options. Don’t get scared if people tell you that all Peruvians eat is meat and fish. There is usually one vegetarian option on the menu, and if not, they know how to adjust their dishes to accommodate. Plus, there are a lot of great vegetarian and vegan restaurants around.
If you don’t know how to speak Spanish, that is okay. It will be very beneficial and welcoming if you do know the language, but in the big cities you can easily get by with just English. There are also a lot of people who want to learn English and will chat up with all travelers to practice. Just try your best with using your Spanish…you’re in Peru. It helps a lot if you look like you are trying to be a part of the culture instead of forcing them to adapt to you and your culture.
Always try to get a better price. Whatever they offer you, just halve the price and see what they say. If you don’t try to haggle prices, you will be taken advantage of. They spot foreigners and try to make as much money as they can on whatever you decide to buy. You can also ask other locals what is the customary price for the item or service you wish to pay for.
Again, you will find quite a range. You will find everything from shopping malls, to shops, to boutiques, to massive markets. Of course when you go to the bigger department stores and other stores in malls, prices will be considerably high. Especially since the malls will contain the big brand name stores. When you go to the massive markets where people are selling clothes, it will be noticeably cheaper. Depending on the seller, the quality will vary greatly. In Peru there is a mix of clothes – some they buy from the States and bring back to Peru, some are fake brand name clothing, and others they make themselves.
More often than not you will receive everything in a plastic bag. Literally everything. Even drinks can be served in a plastic bag!
There is a noticeable difference between the rich and the poor. You can especially notice this when you are in Lima. Some of the municipalities (districts) are for the rich, while others are for the poor. This is reflected in medical care, police surveillance, education, etc. in each municipality.
Medical services vary throughout Peru. There are higher-end hospitals and clinics, and there are lower-end hospitals and clinics. If you are in one of the bigger cities you will be able to find decent medical services with doctors that are able to speak English. There standards may not be to what you are used to, just be cautious and don’t be afraid to speak up. With that being said, the pharmacies will also provide you with anything you need. Although, it is always good to look up the drug online to make sure they are giving you the correct prescription and not a fake one. Peruvian pharmacies will always try to sell you the most expensive product. Check more than one pharmacy when in doubt.