Colorful illustrated travel safety map with icons and warnings.

Cultural Etiquette


When in Peru, a simple handshake will suffice for first introductions, but once you’ve broken the ice, expect the friendly beso, a light kiss on the cheek. It’s the go-to among friends, and yes, even if you have a beard, the rule still applies.

Respect for Traditions

You’ll find Peruvians are fiercely proud of their heritage. Whether it’s a highland festival or a shamanic ritual in the Amazon, if you’re invited, remember to show reverence. A bit of clapping goes a long way, jeering does not.

Dress Codes

Peru is not a catwalk, but showing respect through your attire is key, especially when visiting religious or rural sites. Leave the tank tops for the beach and remember; nobody hikes Machu Picchu in stilettos – unless you fancy a sprained ankle as a souvenir.

Social Interactions

Conversation Topics

When chatting with locals, football and food are your safe bets. Politics? That’s a quagmire best avoided, unless you enjoy spirited debates with people you’ll never convince.

Public Displays of Affection

A peck here, a cuddle there – Peruvians aren’t shy about showing love. However, keep the full-on makeout sessions for the privacy of your accommodations, unless you want to provide free entertainment.

Invitations and Visits

If invited to a Peruvian home, punctuality is more of a suggestion than a rule. Arriving 15 to 30 minutes late is casually on time. And don’t forget a small gift – flowers or sweets show you’re classy and thoughtful.

Dining Do’s and Don’ts

Table Manners

Keep those elbows off the table and your hands in view. Also, remember that ceviche is a lunch dish – suggesting it for dinner is an amateur move.

Tipping Practices

Tipping is not a national sport in Peru, but 10% in a restaurant shows you’re not a scrooge. For tour guides and drivers, a few soles for their trouble will make their day.

Trying Local Foods

When offered something as exotic as cuy (guinea pig), don’t squirm. Be brave, take a bite, and if you don’t like it, a polite "It’s not for me, but thanks" suffices. And hey, it’s more interesting than another burger.

Sightseeing and Exploration

Respecting Sacred Sites

At places like Sacsayhuamán or Ollantaytambo, keep the "oohs" and "aahs" loud but the footprints light. Climbing on ancient walls for a selfie? That’s a definite no-no.

Photographing Locals

Before snapping a pic of a local, especially in traditional attire, asking permission is the golden rule. Some may ask for a tip; it’s your call, but don’t be that person who treats people like zoo animals.

Environmental Conservation

Littering is a cardinal sin in a country as beautiful as Peru. Always pack out what you pack in. Mother Nature thanks you, and so does Pachamama (the earth goddess), who’s got enough on her plate.

Transportation Tips

Using Public Transit

Buses and colectivos (shared taxis) are the lifeblood of Peruvian travel. They’re cheap, efficient, and a great way to meet locals. Just keep your wits about you and your bags within eyeshot.

Hailing Taxis

In the city, opt for app-based taxis over street hails. It’s safer, and you won’t need to perfect your Spanish haggling skills – though that can be half the fun if you’re feeling plucky.

Renting Vehicles

Thinking of renting a car? Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, remember that Peruvian traffic can be chaotic, and road signs are more like vague suggestions.

Safety and Security

Personal Belongings

Guard your gear like it’s the last slice of pizza at a party. Pickpocketing is an art form in any tourist hotspot, so keep your belongings close and your common sense closer.

Awareness of Surroundings

Stay alert and trust your gut. If a street looks dodgy, it probably is. And remember, no alleyway is worth exploring if it means risking your safety.

Emergency Contacts

Memorize or keep a note of emergency numbers. Police (105) and medical assistance (117) are your go-to contacts if you find yourself in a pickle.

Shopping and Bargaining

Local Markets

Bargaining is expected at markets, so channel your inner haggler. Start at half the asking price and meet somewhere in the middle – it’s about finding that sweet deal without leaving the vendor on bread and water.

Fair Pricing

While bargaining, keep it friendly and fair. Remember that the extra soles you’re haggling over might mean more to the vendor than to your travel budget.

Souvenir Selection

For souvenirs, think local and ethical. Mass-produced trinkets are a dime a dozen. Instead, opt for handcrafted goods – your purchase will have a story, and you’ll be supporting local artisans.

Health Precautions

Food and Water Safety

Stick with bottled water unless you’re keen on a close relationship with the porcelain throne. As for street food, your nose knows – if it smells good and the stall is busy, it’s probably safe to indulge.

Altitude Sickness

Cusco and other high-altitude spots will literally take your breath away. Take it slow, chew some coca leaves, and if you’re puffing like a steam train, a day of rest might be in order.

Vaccinations and Medications

Consult with your doctor for vaccinations before you go. As for the pharmacies in Peru, they can be more accommodating than a five-star hotel, but always check expiry dates on medicines.

Legal Considerations

Drug Laws

Drugs are a no-go. Peruvian jails are not the sort of "cultural experience" you want to brag about back home.

Preservation of Historical Sites

Don’t even think about pocketing a piece of Machu Picchu as a keepsake. Preserving history is cooler than any ill-gotten rock.

Wildlife Protection

Peru’s wildlife is not for sale. Avoid buying products made from exotic animals – it’s illegal and just plain wrong. Plus, you’ll avoid the side-eye from customs on your way home.