The official languages in Peru are Spanish and Quechua. English is widely spoken in the main travel destinations.
The official country’s name is Republic of Peru (RepÃºblica del PerÃº).
Peru is bordered by Colombia and Ecuador to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, Chile to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Peru uses Peru Time (PET) which is GMT-5. It does not observe daylight saving time.
Counting and Numbers
Dates in Peru, are written with the day first, then the month, then the year. Hence, 23/05/08 is the 23rd of May in the year 2008.
With written numbers, commas and decimal points are swapped from what you might be used to in the US. So, twenty Nuevo soles and thirty centimos is written S/ 20,30 and three thousand five hundred Nuevo soles is written S/ 3.500.
Peru uses the Metric system for measurements and Celsius for temperatures.
You can find a conversion tool here.
Electricity and plugs
The power supply in Peru is 220 V/ 60 Hz. If your device doesn’t accept 220 V and 60 Hz you need to use a voltage converter when traveling to Peru. In general, two types of outlets are used in Peru: plat blade plug and two round pins. If you devices have different plugs you’ll need a plug adapter when traveling to Peru. Transformers might be the best to use for low wattage appliances such as laptops, camcorders, cameras or battery chargers.
The official currency in Peru is Nuevo Sol (PEN). It’s divided into 100 Centimos. The symbol used is S/. Denominations include the frequent used coins:10, 20, 50 centimos, 1, 2, 5 nuevo soles; the less frequent used coins: 1, 5 centimos and the 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 nuevos soles banknotes.
Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.
Banks and ATMs
If you need to exchange money in Peru, your best bet is to avoid the banks at all costs, unless you want to spend the entire day queuing. The best alternate are “casas de cambio” (exchange offices), which are open all day until late at night and offer good rates. It’s legal to exchange money on the street and the rates are pretty much the same as those at the exchange offices but try to avoid this alternative.
The easiest currency to exchange is the US Dollar. Euros are also easy to exchange but things get complicated if you want to exchange other currencies.
All the major credit/debit cards are accepted — Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diner’s Club — but with a preference for Visa. There are ATMs in all the major cities. You can use your card to pay but commissions can be rather high (5-15%) so make sure to ask first before paying with your card.
Travelers cheques are accept only at exchange offices so don’t relay on paying with them. The rates aren’t much different than the ones offered for cash.
Using the telephone
The country code for Peru is 51. To call Peru from the U.S., you will first need to dial out of the U.S. and then into Peru – so that is 011 + 51 and then the phone number itself (using the local area code). To call a Peruvian number from within Peru, simply dial the local number as you have it. To call the U.S. from within Peru, dial 00 + 1 and then the area code and telephone number.
The public phones in Peru use both coins and phone cards. International calls start at S/.3.50 per minute.
Useful telephone numbers
Fire Brigade / Ambulance 116
Citizens of the following countries need a visa to enter Peru: all African nationals except South Africa; Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, United Arab Emirates, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria, Sri Lanka, People’s Republic of China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Cuba, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Serbia & Montenegro.
Citizens of Bangladesh, Cuba, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sri Lanka require authorization from the immigration in office in Lima in order to obtain a tourist visa.
The tourist visa is valid for up to 90 days. A valid passport, plane ticket out of Peru, 2 passport photos, 2 visa applications and proof of money are required to apply for a visa. The cost is US$12.