When visiting a new country, one of the things I’m the most curious about is, how much is this all going to cost? Whether it’s visiting Europe and realizing that the pound-dollar exchange rate doesn’t work in your favor or it’s going to Vietnam and realizing you are now a millionaire (1USD=22296.54 Vietnam dong), knowing the cost of common activities like taxi rides and eating out at restaurants can help you budget for your trip. To help you gain a better understanding of what the Peruvian cost landscape looks like, here is a snapshot of expenses from my trip to Peru in January 2016.
What I Learned
Traveling in Peru is definitely affordable, from the cheap yet filling empanadas to the low-priced taxis (especially compared to taxis in the States). I think that traveling in South America is still very friendly for budget travelers and a great option if you’re trying to ball on a budget. The low cost of living is one of the reasons that I chose to travel here as a poor graduate student!
Cost of Living in Peru
Currency exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.49 soles
108.19 soles (31USD) for two twin beds at an Airbnb in Arequipa in a multi-story apartment complex with a view of the Misti Volcano
157.05 soles (45USD) for a double bed in Airbnb in Lima
46.67 soles (15USD) for risotto at a touristy waterfront restaurant called Mangos at Lima
3 soles (0.86USD) for one chicken and vegetable empanada in Arequipa
15 soles (4.30USD) for ceviche, calamari, and arroz con mariscos combination platter at Al Toke Pez in Lima
3 soles (0.86USD) for a typical 16.9 oz water bottle in Lima
45USD for sandboarding in Huacachina
635USD for 4 day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu
60USD for a Peruvian cooking class in Lima
50 soles (14.32USD) for 60 minute surfing lesson including gear in Lima
3 soles (0.86USD) for museum entrance fee in Cusco
10 soles (2.87USD) for a mixed drink in Cusco
9 soles (2.58USD) for a beer in Lima
50 soles (14USD) for 1hr/16km taxi ride from bus station to airport in Lima
8 soles (2.29USD) for a ten minute taxi ride from Huacachina to Ica
69.15 soles (19.82USD) for Cruz del Sur 5 hour bus ride from Lima to Ica
5 soles (1.43USD) for a magnet of Cusco
24 soles (10.47USD) for three pairs of socks with alpacas in Cusco
Tips for Traveling Affordably in Peru
To save money, you can eat at small restaurants that will serve an entree, main dish, dessert, and juice for as little as 5USD. You can recognize these places by seeing the word MENU written at the entrance. While street vendors and their low prices may be tempting, food poisoning is a very real thing and I would caution against it (or at least stock up on Cipro and Immodium).
You can save on buying bottled water by boiling water at your accommodation. Drinking water is strongly recommended against in Peru and so you can save yourself quite a few soles by doing this.
There is generally no cover to get into bars or clubs in Peru! Most of the clubs/bars that we visited were casual and some even offered free drink tickets to entice us into the venue. Granted, this may change as you venture into more touristy areas.
There is generally no tipping in Peruvian restaurants, hotels, or taxis. However, some upscale, touristy restaurants may expect you to leave a tip.
Like most places, in Peru the largest expenses you’ll likely incur is from accommodation and transportation. By planning ahead, you can budget for that and even save money by booking rooms and flights early. I highly recommend Peru if you want to see beautiful sites, try Latin American food, and are looking for an adventure, all without breaking the bank.