Before I started my year long backpacking trip through South America what I researched the most was costs of what it is was like to backpack through each country. I spent around 35 days total in Peru (although I do wish I spent more time) and have recorded some of the prices and broke them down for to give yourself an idea of what you should expect to pay!
35 Days traveling Peru = $1,200 USD
Cities Visited = 6
Bus Costs: Bus prices will vary upon every city, every bus company and time of when you buy your ticket. The best advice I can give is go to different agencies that are usually in the main touristy part of each town (usually around an area called Plaza de Armas) and ask for prices and most importantly times of when buses leave. Then head to the bus terminal by public bus, taxi or walk an hour or two before they depart. You will find an endless amount of tour agencies all trying to fill in last minute seats. Many of times we pre bought bus tickets and regretted it by seeing them half the price once we arrived. If you do want to buy with an agency always barter and if anyone says free wifi for the whole bus ride... liar!
Hostel Costs: My method for finding hostels to stay in was to go the two sites Booking and Hostelworld. From there I would filter the sorting from cheapest to most expensive and pick the best reviewed cheapest accommodations. The most we ever spent for a hostel or shared room between three people was $11 each! Sometimes it was cheaper to get our own private room than a shared hostel room which was great since you need that balance when traveling for a long time!
Tours: Peru is the country of tours and we took full advantage of that. I have links to all of the Youtube Videos I created for each tour with prices! Check them out to get the full experience.
Booze Costs: Ah sweet, sweet Pisco Sours. When going out to drink it was usually Pisco Sour mixes we bought or made at the hostels or beer. I would estimate beer ranges from $2-3 for a cheap beer but if you head to breweries in Lima or Arequipa or fancier bars in Cusco expect to pay around $4-$7 per nice beer or cocktail. Once we figured out the recipe for a traditional Pisco Sour it became so much fun to learnt make on our own!
Recipe link here!
Street Food: When you are looking for food on the go don't be shy from the street food that is served all over Peru in every town or city. The food can range from unknown meat with rice and salad, potatoes, empanadas, bread stuffed with anything you can imagine, soups, deserts you name it. My favorite go to was empanadas and they usually have Carne (beef), Pollo, (chicken) or vegetariano (vegetarian). The price usually usually varies between 1-3 soles which is .30-$1 USD! Sometimes for lunch or dinner we would just go to 2-3 different street vendors and call that gourmet. You might get sick once or twice (I never did from the street food only once in Peru from a fried fish at a restaurant in Paracas!) so put your fear aside and embrace it. You tastebuds won't regret it.
Breakfasts: When looking online at hostels or at tour packages you will notice many of them offer free continental breakfasts! Don't be surprised when bread becomes a daily staple to you. At most places it was usually just coffee, jam, butter and bread but a few hostels would offer more! Sometimes we would have eggs, tea, yogurt, or even fruit! If you are worried of getting over that type of breakfast fast head to the local market the day prior and pick up some tomatoes, eggs, avocados and fruit yourself to fancy it up a bit.
Lunch: The best choice to do in every city that has one is eat at the Central Market (mercado central) for lunch! Almost all of the places have a set menu called Menu Del Dia (Menu of the day) that range for from 5-12 soles if you are eating where the local eat (that is $2-$4!). Most of the meals will come with an entree of soup and from there you will have rice or beans with possibly a little salad and the main course of chicken, fish, beef or vegetarian option. Lunch is my favorite time of day to go out since it is way cheaper than going out to dinner and breakfast is usually free or small. Don't be surprised as well by how big the food portions are either! We would usually order two lunches and split it between three people.
Dinner: Dinner in Peru is more expensive than lunch but there are more varieties to your choices. Get ready for random pizza shops, rice and meat dishes, and really unhealthy choices. The best city to have dinner in Cusco because of the wide variety of different cuisines they serve. In Lima, eat seafood for every meal because they are known for having some of the best ceviche in the world and I can stand by that statement. Dinner can range from $6-$10 a person depending on if it is local mom and pop shop or a more western type restaurant.
Groceries: Cooking is the best option for travelers on a tight budget. I would say don't cook lunch as the cost of eating at the central market verse making your own dish will be around the same cost and just cook dinner. We always made rice, vegetables and sometimes our own soups and they were healthier then going out to eat which is good when fried food surrounds you! You can get four tomatoes for $1USD, the biggest avocados in your life for around .60 and rice for $3 that will last you more than three meals split between friends. Head to the market and get ready to barter if you want.
Atm Fees: For my travels I have the US Bank debit card ($2.50+3% of transaction fees everytime you pul out cash) and Wells Fargo debit card ($5 flat everytime you pull out cash) and my boyfriend has the Chase Debit Card ($5 flat overtime you pull out cash.) All three cards I would not recommend for traveling. Matt's parents will be visiting in June 2017 and they are bringing me a Capitol One Debit card I ordered because it has no foreign ATM fees! The fees add up very quickly and since most Peruvian banks give you a limit of pulling out 200-400 soles at a time you will have to do multiple transactions which is multiple fees coming your way.. I would recommend going to Scotiabank to pull out cash! They are the only bank I found that doesn't give an extra ATM fee for pulling out cash.
Have any tips or tricks you would like to share? Comment below and let me know!