*Travel guide and useful tips for visiting Peru the first time*
Yay. I got another country debut – and this time I finally set foot in the South America!
Peru is always on my travel bucket list and when I was in Los Angeles (yet again) last December, I figured I should visit Peru. What stopped me going there for the last couple of years because of two reasons: safety and high altitude sickness (in Cusco). For quite some time, I was told Peru was unsafe, and I could be kidnapped by drug lord the minute I walked out the airport. After I went, I have to say Peru (at least the city center and tourist areas) is safe and not a second I felt in danger. As for high altitude sickness (in Cusco) – hmm, people reacted differently to the altitude, but 99% turned out fine (or not so many tourist visits there?). Just be prepared about some remedies (there are lots of them on the Internet – drink cocoa tea, high altitude sickness pills, move slowly, breath slowly…. maybe I will talk about them more later) and don’t go further when it’s too rough.
Once I got out of the fabulous new Boeing 787 Dreamliner operating by the LATAM from Los Angeles to Lima (& my new business class seats were great!), my Peru adventure started!
No more pull-down plastic shade! The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner has a dimming effect that shut out sunlight – it is the result of an electrified gel sandwiched between two thin pieces of glass. It is a larger than usual windows as well!
I landed at 6 am in the morning and so the immigration line was not long and the process was smooth. Once I got out of the luggage claim I was greeted by my pickup guide and driver and they soon took me to my hotel at Miraflores District.
For the first few minutes, the city looks like any other Southeast Asian cities – chaotic traffic, dusty, and shabby houses. It was soon that I saw houses and cars painted with bold and vibrant color combinations that got me excited and intrigued. When the car entered the highway by the coast I finally got to see the city’s unique feature!
The Lima Coastline
As the capital city of Peru, Lima has a rather dramatic and unusual coastline that stretches along the Pacific Ocean. The city was built on the cliff and so the coastline is developed into two levels – while the city is on the “upper” level and a highway and a coastal park are built on the “lower” level. As we were driving along the highway, I saw runners jogging on the tracks by the sea and a big group of surfers already in the water – what a great way to start the day! Apart from the coastal park and surfer’s park, the rest of the coast a man-made stone beach with recreation parks, piers, and restaurants (Lima is known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas) along the way. There are more nice beaches on the south side of the city. Somehow, the local guide told me that she doesn’t appreciate the coastline as much as most people do (maybe because of the saltiness in the wind,), hopefully, she will.
Anyway, it is just different and I would definitely suggest all visitors have a morning jog along the coast and soak in the saltiness whenever in town. Once checked in to a small boutique hotel in Miraflores (luckily, they have a spare room in early in the morning), I couldn’t wait to get outside and exploring the city! Yay!
Something about… Peru
Peru is a country will profound Inca heritage and a history of Spanish colonization. Now, the economy is mainly depended on mining (gold, silver, and copper), agriculture (many, many kinds of sweet corn, quinoa, and coffee), fishing, and tourism. I repeat, Lima is known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas! The food scene in diverse, and there are many world class restaurants in the city of Lima (That’s another post about my experience😊). The Peruvians enjoy seafood (lots of #seafood), and they are really good at making it; Beef is not common in Peruvian dishes, while they are mainly fish and chicken, including some “unusual” ingredients such as guinea pigs, rabbits, quill, or sea urchin. Besides, Chinese and Japanese are quite common in Peru and these restaurants could be found anywhere in the city of Lima.
Some Useful tips!
I didn’t have any plan for my first day in Lima so I was just dealing with settling down. As it was my first time in Peru so everything looked new to me.
Safety and Accommodations
I supposed safety is a primary concern for many travelers. There had been a lot of discussions about traveling safety in the South America, but I think Lima is a generally safe. As I was walking in the city I saw security patrols and people (including taxi drivers) are generally friendly. The pedestrians are clean and nicely paved; I didn’t feel threatened walking back to the hotel after dinner. For accommodation, I would recommend staying in Miraflores. It is a classy and safe neighborhood to walk around anytime of the day, and traffic is less heavy. Avenida Larco is the main commercial street, there are plenty of handicraft and souvenir stores and cafes.
I didn’t exchange for Peruvian Soles at the airport while I was told the exchange rates were bad, and it’s east to do so in the main streets – just look for the red vest money exchangers. When I checked in the hotel the lady at the reception informed me that they are authorized money exchangers. Besides, their rates are better than exchanges rates (I compared for the next couple of days). Most shops, hotel, and restaurants accept credit card payments and so I only got a small amount of cash for taxis and small gift purchase – but be prepared for the sightseeing spots, for example, Machu Picchu’s ticket office does not accept credit card. Besides, ATM machines are also widely available. ~