From exploring the bustling capital city of Lima to hiking through the Andes Mountains and exploring the lush, tropical rainforest of the Amazon, Peru is a place where you can immerse yourself in its diverse culture and history. Here, you can witness the Inca civilisation’s vibrant culture and history while enjoying some of the most delicious food in the world. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Peru has something to offer every type of traveller.
The official currency in Peru is the Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN).
Peruvian banknotes are not only practical and functional, but they also showcase the nation’s rich cultural history. Every note in the series measures 140 x 65 mm and features a portrait of a distinguished historical figure on its obverse. The 2021 release marked the introduction of four new denominations to the series, with the S/10 and S/100 notes coming first, followed by the S/20 and S/50 in July 2022. While each note presents a unique portrait of a prominent figure, they are also adorned by colourful depictions of flora and fauna, some of which can only be found in Peru. The upcoming S/200 note will feature Tilsa Tsuchiya, a 20th-century Peruvian artist who has won the esteemed Teknoquimica Prize for painting, which regarded her as one of the most prominent representatives of Peruvian painting.
As for Peruvian coins, they are a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage. The design on the obverse showcases the coat of arms of Peru along with the text “Central Reserve Bank of Peru”. On the reverse side of the coin, you’ll find the denomination of the coin. What sets the bimetallic S/2 and S/5 coins apart are the hummingbird and condor figures intricately woven into their design. These figures are inspired by the Nazca Lines, one of the most stunning archaeological sites in the world. The combination of classic and modern designs on Peruvian coins makes them a fascinating piece of currency.
Peru’s economy is an emerging mixed economy that relies heavily on foreign trade. It is classified as an upper-middle-income economy by the World Bank, and its GDP ranks 47th in the world. Despite economic volatility due to its dependence on commodity exports, Peru experienced a 6.3% GDP growth rate in 2012. The government historically has had minimal involvement in the public sector, leading to conflicts over the extraction of commodities and their environmental and social impacts.
The economic and monetary crisis that hit Peru during the 1929 world crisis called for immediate action; thus, the Banco de Reserva del Perú was created in 1922 and was reformed as Banco Central de Reserva del Perú (BCRP) in 1931 to control the country’s economy and finances. However, the economy continued to face challenges, including hyperinflation, throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.
In 1990, the Peruvian government decided to discard the legal currency of the time, the sol de oro, in a bid to stabilise the currency, which was suffering from hyperinflation. A new monetary unit, the Peruvian sol, was introduced. At the time, one new sol was valued at one million intis or a billion old Peruvian soles. The official launch of the nuevo sol as the new legal tender in Peru took place in July 1991, during the first year of the presidency of Alberto Fujimori.
Fujimori’s government implemented a program dedicated to stabilizing the economy, marking an end to the period of hyperinflation and setting a solid foundation to drive future growth. Under his plan, price stabilisation and the restoration of market confidence in the national currency were of paramount importance.
As part of the ongoing efforts to modernize the currency and keep up with the changing times, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru issued a new series of coinage with updated designs in 2010. During this transition, the bank also issued a limited edition of ten million monetary units that had a value of one sol. Today, the nuevo sol continues as the official money in Peru, and it plays an essential role in driving the country’s economy forward.
If you’re travelling to Peru, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Peruvian nuevo soles (PEN).
When travelling to Peru, it is always a smart idea to convert your Australian dollars to Peruvian nuevo soles in Australia. By converting your currency before leaving, you are ensuring a much smoother trip. Not only does it eliminate the uncertainty of how much travel money you will have while abroad, but you can access those funds right away.
Any amounts exceeding US$ 10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies must be declared upon entry or exit from Peru. Bringing or taking out of the country any amount exceeding US$ 30,000 or its equivalent in other currencies is strictly prohibited.
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Tipping is not mandatory in Peru; it is usually reserved for exceptional service. However, if you want to show appreciation for good service, then a small tip is appreciated. So to help you out, here are some average tipping guidelines in Peru:
Trekking staff: Your trek’s staff is crucial and usually underpaid. We suggest tipping each hiker around 150 soles (AUD $60), depending on the number of staff. For multi-day treks, 35-40 soles (AUD $14-16) per day is appropriate. The guide will divide the tips evenly among the staff at the end.
Tour guide: Your guide works tirelessly from morning till night. Along with the 150 soles (AUD $60) for the trekking staff, tipping 60-80 soles (AUD $24-32) per person for the tour operators is a fair tip.
Taxis/Mototaxis: You usually don’t tip public transportation or taxi drivers in Peru. Micros and combis cost between 1 and 2 soles depending on your stop. Taxis and mototaxis don’t have meters, so negotiate the fare beforehand. Although it’s not expected, giving 2-3 soles as a gesture of appreciation if the driver assists with your luggage is appreciated.
Restaurants/Bars: Restaurants and bars generally don’t include gratuity in the bill except for higher-end restaurants with a 10% service charge. The standard tip is 10%, but it can be more or less based on the service. While some places accept card payments, cash is preferred. Smaller local spots don’t expect tips, but leaving a few soles is a nice gesture.
Hotels: Tipping practices in Peruvian hotels vary depending on the type of hotel. Budget-friendly hotels and hostels typically don’t expect tips, while luxury hotels in bigger cities do. Nonetheless, it’s always appreciated to tip for excellent service. For chain hotels, it’s appropriate to tip around 3 soles (AUD $1) per day for housekeeping and AUD $1-3 per day for porters. It may not be much for you, but it will go a long way for them and make your stay more comfortable.
ATMs are the most convenient means to withdraw money in Peru, and they are available in most urban areas, although not found in small towns. Most ATMs in Peru accept only one type of credit/debit card and international money network, either Cirrus or PLUS. Among the various options, Visa and MasterCard ATM/Credit/Debit cards are the most widely accepted, with Visa/PLUS being the most commonly used.
For backpackers on a budget, it’s recommended to budget around 125-140 PEN (AUD $50-56) per day. This budget allows you to stay in a hostel dorm, which will save you a considerable amount of money compared to a private room. You can also indulge in a few meals from cheap local street stalls and cook some of your meals to further cut down on costs. With this budget, it’s important to limit your drinking expenses and use the bus to get around. However, you can still enjoy free or cheap activities such as hiking or relaxing on the beach without breaking your budget.
On a moderate budget of 410-430 PEN (AUD $163-171) per day, you can enjoy a comfortable experience while travelling in Peru. With this budget, you can stay in a private Airbnb room or mid-range hotel, dine out for all your meals, enjoy a few more drinks, and even take a taxi or two for convenience. Additionally, it allows for more paid activities, such as surfing or visiting the spectacular Machu Picchu.
When it comes to budgeting for a luxury trip, the question is not so much what you can do but what you can’t. With a daily budget of 750 PEN (AUD$ 298) or more, you can indulge in the finest hotels, dine at the most exclusive restaurants, and perhaps even hire a private tour guide. You’ll have the freedom to take domestic flights and embark on longer, multi-day treks, including the iconic journey to Machu Picchu. But if you dream of even grander experiences, the sky truly is the limit.
Peruvian nuevo sol
Central Reserve Bank of Peru
Céntimo = 1/100 of a Sol
10, 20, 50, 100, 200 nuevo soles
1, 5, 10, 20, 50 céntimos. 1, 2, 5 nuevo soles
This ancient Inca city is one of the most iconic sites in South America. Located high in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is considered by many to be one of the world’s most remarkable archaeological sites. It’s a must-see for any traveller to Peru and offers breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys below.
Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire, and today, it is a vibrant city filled with colonial buildings, cobblestone streets and stunning mountain scenery. Take some time to wander around Plaza de Armas, visit the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman or take a day trip out to the nearby Sacred Valley.
Peruvian food has grown in popularity over recent years, and it’s no wonder why! From ceviche to lomo saltado, Peru offers a wide variety of delicious dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. Be sure to try some traditional dishes such as cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak or papa rellena (stuffed potatoes).
This massive lake lies on the border between Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of 3,812 metres above sea level. Take a boat tour across Lake Titicaca to explore some of its islands, such as Taquile Island or Amantani Island, before heading back to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca for some delicious local cuisine!
Lima is Peru’s capital city and home to some incredible cultural attractions such as The Gold Museum, which houses an impressive collection of pre-Columbian artifacts from all over South America; The Larco Museum, which showcases thousands of years worth of art from ancient cultures; The San Francisco Monastery with its impressive library and much more!
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