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Is Peru Safe?

Peru is generally safe for travelers, but caution is advised in certain areas. Petty crime like pickpocketing and bag snatching is common in major cities and tourist hotspots. Violent crime rates are low, but incidents do occur, especially in remote areas. Domestic protests can disrupt travel plans, so monitoring local news is recommended. Taking basic precautions like using authorized transportation and avoiding isolated areas after dark can mitigate risks.

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Safety & Security

Peru is generally considered safe for travelers, but it's important to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is common in crowded areas and on public transportation, especially in major cities like Lima and Cusco. Violent crime targeting tourists is relatively rare, but it does occur, so it's advisable to avoid isolated areas, especially at night.

  • Robbery is a concern, particularly in remote areas and on hiking trails. Travelers should avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash or valuables and be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs.

  • Scams targeting tourists are prevalent, such as taxi scams, fake tour guides, and overcharging for goods or services. It's recommended to use reputable tour companies and negotiate prices beforehand.

  • Civil unrest and political tension can occur, especially around elections or during protests. Travelers should monitor local news and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings.

While terrorism is not a significant threat in Peru, there is a risk of criminal activity by remnants of the Shining Path guerilla group in remote areas of the Andes and Amazon regions. Travelers should exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities in these areas.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Peru should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has decent medical facilities in major cities, rural areas may lack adequate healthcare services.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever (required for certain areas). Consult a travel health professional for personalized recommendations.

  • Altitude Sickness: Many popular destinations in Peru, like Cusco and Machu Picchu, are located at high altitudes. Acclimatize gradually, stay hydrated, and consider medication if susceptible to altitude sickness.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Malaria, Zika, dengue, and other mosquito-borne illnesses are present in certain regions. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves/pants, and consider antimalarial medication if visiting high-risk areas.

  • Food and Water Safety: Avoid tap water and ice cubes made from untreated water. Only consume thoroughly cooked foods from reputable establishments to prevent traveler's diarrhea and other foodborne illnesses.

  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Lima experience high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions. Carry necessary medications and limit outdoor activities during peak pollution periods.

Natural Disasters

Peru is located in a seismically active region, making earthquakes a potential natural hazard for travelers. The country lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates meet and move, causing frequent seismic activity. While most earthquakes are minor, larger ones can occur and pose risks.

  • Earthquakes: Peru experiences frequent earthquakes due to its location along the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. Major quakes have struck in the past, causing damage and casualties. Travelers should familiarize themselves with safety procedures in case of an earthquake.

  • Volcanic Activity: Peru has several active volcanoes, including Ubinas and Sabancaya. Eruptions can disrupt air travel and pose health risks from ash and gases. Monitoring alerts and heeding official warnings are advisable when visiting volcanic areas.

  • Flooding and Landslides: Heavy rainfall during the wet season (December to March) can trigger floods and landslides, particularly in mountainous regions. These events can disrupt transportation and damage infrastructure.

  • El Niño Phenomenon: The periodic El Niño weather pattern can bring heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides to coastal areas of Peru. Travelers should stay informed about weather advisories during El Niño years.

While natural disasters cannot be entirely avoided, being prepared and following official guidance can help mitigate risks when traveling in Peru.


Transportation in Peru is generally safe but requires caution. Public transportation options like buses and taxis are widely available but can vary in safety standards. Authorized taxis from official companies are recommended over unmarked cabs to avoid scams. Road conditions range from well-maintained highways to poorly paved rural roads, so driving defensively is advised, especially at night.

  • Long-distance buses are a common mode of travel, with reputable companies offering safe and comfortable services. However, robberies on remote routes have occurred, so remain vigilant.

  • In major cities like Lima, traffic congestion and aggressive driving can be challenging. Using metro systems like the Metropolitano can be a safer alternative.

  • For travel to remote areas, hiring a private driver or joining a guided tour is advisable for increased safety and reliable transportation.

  • Domestic flights are generally safe for travel between major cities, but be cautious of small, unregulated air operators in remote regions.

Overall, exercising common sense, using authorized transportation providers, and being aware of your surroundings will help ensure a safe travel experience in Peru.

Cultural Norms

Peru is a country rich in cultural diversity, with a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences. As a traveler, it's essential to respect the local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: Peruvians value politeness and formality. Greet people with a handshake and use formal titles (Señor/Señora) until invited to use first names.

  • Dress Code: While casual attire is generally acceptable in cities, it's advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Avoid revealing clothing.

  • Photography: Be respectful when taking photographs of locals, especially in indigenous communities. Always ask for permission before photographing individuals.

  • Indigenous Communities: If visiting indigenous communities, be mindful of their customs and traditions. Respect their way of life and avoid intrusive behavior.

  • Religious Celebrations: Peru has a strong Catholic influence, and religious celebrations are widely observed. Respect these events and avoid disruptive behavior during processions or ceremonies.

  • Language: While Spanish is the predominant language, many indigenous languages are spoken in rural areas. Learning a few basic phrases in Spanish or the local language can go a long way in showing respect.

  • Haggling: In markets and with street vendors, haggling is expected and considered part of the cultural experience. However, be respectful and avoid excessive bargaining.

By embracing and respecting the rich cultural tapestry of Peru, travelers can have a more authentic and rewarding experience while fostering positive relationships with the local communities.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Peru are generally available in major cities and tourist areas, but can be limited or unreliable in remote regions. The quality and response times may vary depending on the location and available resources.

  • Tourist Police (Policia de Turismo) are specially trained officers who assist travelers and speak multiple languages. They are present in popular tourist destinations and can provide assistance in case of emergencies or incidents.

  • Private ambulance services are often recommended for medical emergencies, as they tend to be more reliable and better equipped than public ambulances. However, they can be expensive, and travelers should ensure their travel insurance covers such costs.

  • Fire departments are available in most cities, but their response times and capabilities may be limited, especially in rural areas.

  • Embassies and consulates can provide assistance to their citizens in case of emergencies, lost documents, or legal issues. Travelers should familiarize themselves with the contact information and services offered by their respective embassies or consulates.

It's advisable for travelers to research and have contact information for reliable emergency services, hospitals, and their embassy or consulate before their trip to Peru.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Peru safe for tourists?

Peru is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised in some areas. Major cities like Lima and Cusco have higher crime rates, so remain vigilant and avoid isolated areas at night. Petty theft is common, so keep valuables secure. Follow local advice and travel with reputable tour companies.

Is Peru safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Peru. While many areas are safe, harassment and opportunistic crimes can occur. Avoid walking alone at night, dress conservatively, and be aware of your surroundings. Consider joining group tours or staying in well-reviewed accommodations.

Is Peru safe for families?

Peru is a family-friendly destination with plenty of cultural and outdoor activities. However, be mindful of altitude sickness in high-elevation areas like Cusco. Ensure children have proper vaccinations and access to clean drinking water. Family-friendly accommodations and tours are widely available.

Is Peru LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Peru, but societal attitudes can be conservative outside major cities. Public displays of affection may draw unwanted attention. While the LGBTQ+ community is gradually gaining acceptance, exercise discretion and research local laws and customs.

Do you need a visa to go to Peru?

Citizens of many Western countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for tourist stays up to 183 days. However, a valid passport with at least six months' validity is mandatory. Check with Peruvian authorities for specific visa requirements based on your nationality and purpose of travel.

Can you drink tap water in Peru?

Tap water is not safe to drink in Peru. Stick to bottled or purified water, even for brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes and raw fruits/vegetables washed in tap water. Boiling water or using a reliable purification method is recommended for extended stays.

What is the currency in Peru?

The official currency in Peru is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). US dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas, but it's advisable to carry some local currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most establishments, but cash may be required for smaller purchases.

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