I just got back from a fantastic trip to Peru with my wife and some good friends. If you’re thinking of going to Peru, we highly recommend it! But do you know how much Peru costs?
Researching before the trip resulted in fewer accurate & updated prices than we wanted. So here’s our numbers on what you can expect your trip to Machu Picchu and Peru to cost, accurate as of September 14, 2019.
Have you come to this blog post and truly just want to know some ballpark prices, with zero additional context? I can do that:
a decent meal: ~$15/person
Machu Picchu tour guide: ~$25/person
private driver + English tour guide: ~$85/person/day
original 4″x6″ artwork: ~$9
Uber for taxis: ~$4/ride
I hope you want to learn more than these rough prices, though, since the context is important!
Some notes about our trip:
- Travelled early September 2019
- 4 adults
- This was not a gap year / typical “backpacking” trip
- We stayed at fairly nice hotels, and ate at generally nicer restaurants
- 1 person spoke fluent Spanish, 1 person knew some Spanish, and 2 of us (my wife and I) know a little Duolingo (in other words – nothing)
- All prices in Peruvian Soles prefixed with PEN below
- You’ll also see them prefixed with S/. in Peru
- All prices in US dollars prefixed with a $ below
- Paying with USD is generally accepted for some traveler services, but Soles are always accepted
Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes
Visiting Machu Picchu probably means you’ll stop in the town of Aguas Calientes (AC).
The bus between AC and the front door of Machu Picchu costs $24 for a roundtrip ticket. You can also get one-way tickets at a lower cost.
Hiring a tour guide for Machu Picchu is not necessary, unlike what’s mentioned here. However, our group really enjoyed having one for a day. After getting off the bus at the top, we found an officially-trained tour guide; they all have a particular uniform and a badge.
No planning was necessary – there are plenty of English-speaking tour guides available, and they will seek you out!
The tour guide price does not seem to be fixed. That means get your negotiating skills ready. The tour guide we ended up going with, Freddy, initially offered two prices:
- $20 per person if the 4 of us joined a 6 to 8 person group
- $30 per person if it’s just us 4
Before landing in Peru, we had read a private tour should be around $50 for two people. The $30/person offer resulted in us talking amongst ourselves, clearly looking & acting unsure. After a couple seconds of that, he came down to $25/person, and we took that.
Massage in Aguas Calientes
Many places offer massages in AC, and my wife and I thought that sounded great after a day of hiking Machu Picchu. We looked around at a few places, and picked one that was PEN140 (~$45) for two people. Lower prices were available, including under PEN100 for two people. However, we thought we’d pay a little more, hoping that would result in a better experience.
After having the massage, we think any of the places would have been about the same. The massage was comparable to a low-cost massage in the USA, but we doubted everything on the massage table was changed / cleaned between massages. At a minimum, our pillow definitely looked less-than-spotless.
Sacred Valley, from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
We only had two days in the Sacred Valley, so we wanted a tour guide to take us to a number of places. We decided on Peru Trek 4 Good (check out their TripAdvisor reviews), and we were very glad we did. Although the name is a little strange, and their official website doesn’t look too professional, the experience was excellent.
Yure, the owner of the company, setup our trip over email before we arrived in Peru. We paid everything upfront on a website using our credit card. Our tour guide, Virgilio, took us all over for two days, and we honestly felt a little like family by the end of the tour.
A private, 1.5 day tour for the four of us cost $490 ($440 quoted price, plus additional fees when purchasing online), plus a tip. This was nearly the lowest price we were quoted. The first day was 8am – 2pm, the second 9am – 5pm, and day two included dropping us off in Ollantaytambo.
In Ollantaytambo, we went to see the ruins overlooking the town. We hired a guide at the ruins, and it cost $45 for the four of us, including tip. The tour was roughly 2 hours, and overall we thought it was worth it.
Original Art in Pisac
We stopped in the Pisac market on Sunday. We read it was the best day of the week to visit. Now that we’ve visited, we think the day of the week doesn’t matter; it’s roughly the same as markets we saw in Aguas Calientes and Cusco.
However, we found one painter – Germain Ninantay (no website, unfortunately!) – creating lovely artwork right there in the market. We picked up a 4″x6″ original for roughly PEN25 (~$9). Our friends wanted a much bigger, fairly wide painting, initially quoted at PEN700, but was negotiated down to PEN400 (~$133). Alas, my friends found out it wouldn’t fit in their luggage, so they opted for a smaller one for ~PEN200 (~$67).
We tried to arrange most of our transportation to or from airports and train stations ahead of time. Most hotels will help you arrange a ride before you arrive – contact them via email, which helps break down language barriers since both ends can use Google Translate or ask a friend to translate 😊
The way we did it, we never had to haggle with a single person over transportation cost. The price was explicit ahead of time, and nobody ever tried to bump up the price when we arrived at our destination.
Once we were in a city or town, we used Uber to get around. Funny enough, an actual taxi cab showed up as our Uber vehicle! All of our drivers were friendly, and the experience was just like using Uber or Lyft in the USA or any other country. Getting rides from your phone like this is one of those times when I truly feel like I’m living in the future.
You’ll see the price in the Uber app, but we typically got 5 to 10 minute rides for around PEN12 ($4), depending on time of day and demand.
We were told Uber drivers are not allowed to pickup from the Lima airport, so we went with Green Taxi, which was recommended on some blog posts.
The cost from the Lima Airport to Miraflores was a fixed PEN60 ($20) from Green Taxi or other taxi companies in the airport, so pick whichever seems nicest to you. We sort of regretted choosing Green Taxi because one of the people for them in the airport was pretty frustrating, but our driver was lovely, so overall we were happy with them.
We didn’t book a round-trip back to the airport, but we asked our driver on the way to Miraflores if he could pick us up for our return flight. Speaking Spanish definitely helped! We did have to remind the driver that we should get a 10% off discount because we were getting the roundtrip with the same driver, and he agreed.
Another likely benefit of using an official taxi service at the Lima Airport: a quick trip through vehicle security at the airport. There’s some sort of security checkpoint, but our taxi cab went through it very quickly, and let us be picked up and dropped off very close to the terminal.
We had some lovely meals, and were quite happy with their reasonable prices.
An entree at a lower-priced spot might be PEN12 ($4), and even mid-tier restaurants will likely have some decent options around PEN18 ($6). Non-alcoholic drinks are around PEN5 (~$2), and an alcohol beverage about PEN12 (~$4). A decent meal for $15 or less is very attainable.
Get a nice meal for around PEN75 ($25) per person, including a non-alcoholic drink.
One example: at Mango’s on our last night in Lima, my wife and I paid $48 total for two entrees, a bottle of water, and a Pisco sour.
“Free Pisco sours!”
You’ll be offered “free Pisco sours!” in touristy areas. As long as you order a main course, they typically are indeed free, although they’re usually smaller versions of a full-priced drink. But this might be perfect, because if you’re drinking at elevations between 6,000 to 11,000 feet, a little alcohol goes a long way.
Coming soon: how Pisco sours (and other, non-alcoholic beverages) might impact your vacationing at Peru’s high altitudes!
Have questions about any of our other costs? Leave a comment!