Unlike Thailand where I made it rain on stuff like motorbike rentals, snorkeling trips, platefuls of Thai goodness and other more infamous and questionable pursuits – like…ahhh…that second beer with dinner, I had to be a bit budget conscious in Peru.
Places like Cusco, Arequipa and the obligatory trip to Machu Picchu are hardly budget friendly and if it weren’t for the strong US dollar, things would have been slightly more spendy. Still, I managed to hit all the highlights and looked at piles of really really old Incan rocks (spoiler alert they were insanely good at carving and stacking things) for very long periods of time- all on a budget of about $33 USD per day.
Is the country doable on a backpacker budget? Absolutely. But you’ll likely be picking and choosing your adventures from time to time. Here’s a link on how to do Peru on the cheap.
So here ya go: the following is a register of how I resolved to disburse my coinage.
Date of Travel: March/April 2016
Total Spent: $1495 USD
Total Days: 38
Average Cost per Day: $32.26
Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 3.3 Peruvian Soles
Food: $420.47 | PEN 1,387.55
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
– Charles M. Schultz
You just like, gotta eat man. Most hotels/hostels include bread, jam, yogurt and coffee in the morning so a simple breakfast is typically covered. Él Menu should dominate lunches for anyone wanting to fill their stomach on the cheap. Personally I treated myself to a nice dinner most nights because I’m a delusional and narcissistic millennial who thinks the world owes them everything. Of course anyone with access to a kitchen and a local farmers market could make themselves some great meals for less than a few dollars. South America has enough fried food to give even an Olympic athlete a coronary; and while Peru has it’s fair share as well there are also some seriously good eats. Buen provecho mi amigo.
Accommodation: $325.43 | PEN 1,073.91
Hotels/hostels/hospedajes are ubiquitous in Peru. Which is great because that means they’re cheap. Surprisingly I crashed in some great places at truly budget prices, typically sharing a private room with a friend. Places off the gringo trail are seriously cheap and finding double rooms for less than $12 USD per night is common. Tourist hotspots like Cusco and Arequipa are noticeably more expensive, but still well within the happy budget range. A friendly tip – pay at the hotel and save a few dollars per night. Online prices include tax and are generally more expensive.
Transportation: $157.95 | PEN 521.26
What? There are roads that lead places in Peru. Crazy I know! But wait, there’s more. There are also buses that travel and transport passengers along said roads. While they may not be entirely in the Ecuador or Bolivia price range, transportation is still generally cheap and very comfortable. But be careful, prices quoted through travel agents or online can cost as much as they’re North American or European counterparts. Once you start shopping around however prices drop significantly. There’s various levels of service/comfort/safety all at different price points that each person needs to decide for themselves. I typically took the middle/upper tier of buses and always felt safe and comfortable.
Flights are often a good deal. Definitely give them a go if your short on time. Or, you know, you just want to avoid the 21 marathon hour bus ride from Lima to Cusco.
Ridiculously expensive and most people who take them have already dropped thousands on their holiday. Buses and planes my friend buses and planes.
Entertainment: $156.91 | PEN 517.80
Tours and hikes are pretty cheap – until you get to Machu Picchu. The basic entrance ticket is $42 USD. And that’s just to get in. Other archeological sites have their own fees as well. So, if you’re hanging around Cusco for any length of time things are going to get spendy. In other parts of the country however things are muy bueno and definitely fit within a backpacker budget.
Beer: $84.22 | PEN 278
Good beer at college frat party prices? Peru has got you covered. Nothing like downing a few with college kids in the park. Spice things up and give Cusceña Negra a go.
Misc.: $57.03 | PEN 188.19
Like the junk drawer at your work desk an eclectic mix of random stuff I bought along the way. Let’s move along.
ATM Fees: $24.92 | PEN 82.23
You can use Banco de la Nacion and cut down on ATM fees, otherwise you’re stuck paying a $4-5 fee, in addition to any costs imposed by your home bank. Lames.
As always heres a day-by-day breakdown for the true data nerds out there. As you can see, days 18 and 22 got expensive due to Inca entrance tickets, Machu Picchu and possibly beer.