Peru offers an incredible amount to see and do both for international travelers and for people moving to the country. Whether you’re seeing the world-famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the capital city of Lima, with its 16th-century Spanish colonial architecture, or the port city Iquitos next to the Amazon Rainforest- you’ll make memories that last a lifetime.
Of course, before you travel or expatriate, it’s worth reading up on the local language, customs and other useful tips. Among other things, you’ll need to know at least some basic Spanish to make your way around, although English is more commonly spoken in major cities such as Lima and Cusco, especially in the tourist areas.
Also, you’ll need to know what voltage electricity they use here to charge your digital devices, tipping customs, water safety and more! With this in mind, here are 8 tips to bear in mind ahead of your trip or relocation.
As we write above, you’ll find English more or less frequently spoken depending on where you go in Peru. That said, it’s always good to be able to express yourself in the local language as a sign of respect and, particularly if you’re moving to Peru, it’s essential. Here are a few basic words and phrases to start with:
Fortunately, Peru allows visitors from many English-speaking parts of the world, including the USA, Great Britain and Australia, to enter without a visa. That said, it’s worth double-checking in advance, and also seeing how long you’re eligible to stay for. You can confirm online with a visa service such as Byevisa. Also, if you’re emigrating to Peru, the visa requirements may well be different depending on where you’re moving from.
In many respects, the amenities you’ll enjoy in Peru are equal to those you’ll experience in most English-speaking parts of the world. That said, whilst you’re in this South American nation, it’s important to drink bottled water.
This includes when you brush your teeth and, if you want ice in your drink, the ice should be made from purified water. If you’re a tourist staying in a hotel, most hotels will provide you with bottled water and, if you run out, you can always ask for more.
This compares to only 120 volts in the USA. What this means is that, when you charge your electronic devices, they’re likely to charge significantly faster and, when you touch them, you may notice that they’re hot. If you find that your smartphone, laptop or camera is too hot while it’s charging, it may be worthwhile buying an adaptor to protect the device. Also, it’s worth unplugging your device as soon as it’s fully charged.
Meanwhile, if you’re coming from the United States, you’ll see that Peru uses the same double-pronged outlets that you’re used to. If you’re visiting or moving here from another English-speaking part of the world, such as the United Kingdom or Australia, you’ll need an adaptor to charge and use your electronics here.
If you’re from an English-speaking country, particularly the USA, you’ll be used to tipping around 15-20% after eating at a restaurant or paying for some other services. As you may know, in some countries tipping is frowned upon, such as in Japan. Peru isn’t one of these countries. Here it’s acceptable (and welcome) to tip, typically around 10% although feel free to add more if you’re very happy with the service.
While you’re in Peru you may see people in traditional dress, either in rural areas or the tourist spots of major cities. Before you photograph anyone, be sure to obtain their permission first. This is because, on the one hand, it’s basic politeness. On the other hand, and more practically, many people make a living from charging for photos, so by asking for permission and paying, you’re ensuring their livelihood.
Two of the most famous spots in Peru, Macchu Picchu and Cusco, are respectively at 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) and 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) above sea level. If you’re not used to being at these heights, you may suffer from altitude sickness as the air is thinner. So be sure to stock up on medicine at your pharmacy or opt for a natural remedy you will find throughout the Andean region: coca tea.
In addition, if you’re planning to visit the parts of Peru around the Amazon Rainforest, such as Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, it’s worth obtaining both anti-malarial medicine as well as vaccinations against yellow fever and typhoid.
Inhabitants of the region traditionally use coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness, either by chewing it or making tea from it. While you’re here, be sure to try it, as it’s a Peruvian custom! You might find it’s a new beverage you like. Alternatives also include Andean mint tea to help you relax in the evenings.
Cover photo: A.Davey/Flickr
We help you find yourself in Peru. Since 2003, we have led the way as an authoritative and reliable English-language resource for those interested in traveling, living, working, and investing in Peru. We are a team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about delivering reliable and unbiased content and providing amazing experiences for people visiting Peru.