Alright, it’s finally here! A cost breakdown of our entire 10 day trip to Peru. If you haven’t been keeping up or want to “go deep” on what exactly Margie and I did during our trip, you can pick a day below and read the travel log.
Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night
Day 4: Sites Around Cusco
Day 5: Chinchero Market and Saqsaywaman
Day 6: Traveling to Aguas Caliente
Day 7: Machu Picchu
Day 8: Ollantaytambo
Day 9: Flight back to Lima
Day 10: Lima, Miraflores
Day 11: More of Lima and the Flight Back Home
I found Peru to generally be a pretty affordable country to visit. We split our time between the capital, Lima, and the Sacred Valley. If you stay at only the most touristy places, you might end up paying American-level prices for things. But if you venture off the beaten path just a tiny bit, you can save a lot. We found the Sacred Valley to be cheaper than Lima, although the town of Aguas Caliente puts every other town to shame, as you’ll see.
Throughout this breakdown, I’ll be using US Dollars instead of soles to make this easier on you. I’ll be converting any prices paid in Peruvian soles using today’s currency exchange rate of 3.14 soles to the dollar.
Total Cost: $1,711.66
|2 Tickets||Retail Cost||Discount||Our Cost|
|Avianca Business Class, JFK-Lima||$2,250.34||60,000 United Miles||$83.73|
|Avianca Economy, Lima-Cusco||$368.89||Included in award||$0.00|
|Avianca Economy, Cusco-Lima||$368.89||20,000 United Miles||$0.00|
|United BusinessFirst, Lima-Newark||$2,250.34||60,000 United Miles||$83.73|
|Total Round Trip||$5,238.46||140,000 United Miles||$167.46|
Yes, that is the true cost of our two round trip business class tickets to Lima, and round trip from Lima to Cusco. The $167.46 is the cost of the various fees and taxes on our flights. We used 140,000 United miles, which we earned through credit card sign-on bonuses for United Airline cards and Chase Ink and Freedom cards, all of which have the annual fee waived for the first year, so we spent nothing for the miles themselves. The $5,238 retail price of the tickets was shown on United’s website.
Flying business class is so great, for so many reasons. We actually look forward to the flight! No, we don’t dread it. We anticipate it as any other fun part of the trip! You get to go to the airport lounge and get free food. You get to board before everyone else. You get the best meal on the airplane and “nannies” who attend to your every need. And, more often than not on international flights, your chair turns into a bed! This isn’t a frequent flyer blog. I’m just saying, if you want to do this, do your research and it won’t be much effort.
|Transport for 2||Cost||Miles Covered|
|Taxi – Lima Airport to Miraflores||$15.91||12 miles|
|Taxi – Miraflores to Lima Airport||$15.91||12 miles|
|Taxi – Cusco Airport to Inn||$6.36||4 miles|
|Taxi – Cusco Inn to Tambomachay||$7.95||8 miles|
|Collectivo – Cusco to Chinchero||$3.82||19 miles|
|Collectivo – Chinchero to Cusco||$3.82||19 miles|
|Collectivo – Cusco to Ollantaytambo||$6.36||38 miles|
|PeruRail – Round Trip to Aguas Caliente||$228.00||50 miles|
|Bus – Round Trip to Machu Picchu||$48.00||10 miles|
|Collectivo – Ollantaytambo to Cusco||$6.36||38 miles|
|Taxi – Cusco Center to Airport||$7.95||4 miles|
|Taxi – Lima Airport to Miraflores||$15.91||12 miles|
|Taxi – Miraflores to Museo Larco||$7.00||5 miles|
|Taxi – Museo Larco to Miraflores||$7.00||5 miles|
|Taxi – Miraflores to Lima||$15.91||12 miles|
|Avg Cost Per Mile||$1.59/mile|
I thought it would be fun to see how far we traveled on the ground, and the average cost per mile so I can eventually compare different countries.
Hmmm… Do any of those numbers seem out of place? Do you see what I mean when I said Machu Picchu is a huge moneymaker for Peru? Two round trip tickets from Ollantaytambo to the town near Machu Picchu were $228 by train, and those were about the cheapest tickets possible! And since there’s no roads to Aguas Caliente, the train is your only choice unless you want to hike it.
But, elsewhere in Peru, collectivos will get you around for almost nothing. The cost of a collectivo ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo for two people is just 16 cents per mile. Compare that to the price of PeruRail or bus up Machu Picchu, which top the list at $4.56 and $4.80 per mile respectively! If you can find a more expensive bus, I’d like to see it.
Read more about our experience with Peru’s favorite cheap transit option, collectivos, on our Day 5 travel log.
|Hotel||Nights||Cost Per Night||Total Cost|
|AirB&B, Miraflores, Lima||1 nt||$78.00||$78.00|
|AirB&B, Cusco||3 nts||$47.66||$143.00|
|Imperio Machu Picchu, Aguas Caliente||1 nt||$65.00||$65.00|
|Samanapaq, Ollantaytambo||2 nts||$68.00||$136.00|
|Hotel Runcu, Miraflores, Lima||2 nts||$80.83||$161.66|
We actually used a discount at the AirB&B in Cusco. I think it was a $25 off discount code. So there’s that. But actually, none of our accommodations were very expensive, averaging out at $64.85 a night. We didn’t even use any hotel points or free nights!
And they were still really nice. We even stayed in one of the greatest hotels ever, Samanapaq, seen here. If I had to pick one hotel to live in Alan Partridge-style, it might be this one. The breakfast was amazing. The laundry smelled wonderful.
|Food for Two||Cost|
|Bembos ice cream sundaes||$2.71|
|Dinner at Gaia in Cusco, with drinks||$14.33|
|Dessert at Pantistico in Cusco||$2.23|
|Lunch at Quinta Eulalia in Cusco||$22.29|
|Veggies at Chinchero Market||$1.59|
|Dinner at Andean Grill in Cusco||$24.52|
|Taquenas, guacamole and drinks at Takachaki||$7.96|
|Machu Picchu snacks||$13.38|
|Dinner at Pueblo Viejo||$26.43|
|Various bottled waters||$6.37|
|Pizza and sodas at Puka Rumi in Ollantaytambo||$16.56|
|Dinner at Uchucuta in Ollantaytambo||$24.52|
|Lunch at Bembos||$6.37|
|Pastries at La Mora||$9.24|
|Churros con chocolate at Manolos||$14.01|
|Ceviche lunch at Lar Mar||$45.91|
|Taiken Sushi dinner in Lima||$34.92|
|Breakfast every day||Free|
|Average Cost Per Day, Per Person||$13.67|
I was hoping to find excellent food on the cheap. It turns out, for most of the really great food, you still have to pay a good amount. There is very good cheap food, but if you start pushing it and try to be too cheap, at least for me, you start risking getting sick. During our first two nights in Cusco, we heard two different people vomiting in the inn’s bathroom. I did not want to become one of them.
So we stayed away from street food and generally picked places that our hosts recommended. That said, eating out lunch and dinner almost every day, getting snacks and dessert here and there, and drinking only bottled water still only yielded a cost of $13.67 per person per day. Considering how much delicious food was consumed, I am very happy with that number. And a lot of it is thanks to the omnipresent free hotel breakfast!
|Tickets for 2 people||Cost|
|Huaca Pucllana, Lima||$7.64|
|Boleto Turistico (access to 16 sites)||$82.80|
|Museo Larco, Lima||$19.10|
|Museo Pedro de Osma, Lima||$12.73|
|Templo de la Christo, Cusco||$6.37|
|Machu Picchu & Montana entry tickets||$90.44|
|Average Cost Per Day, Per Person||$11.27|
Once again, Machu Picchu is the category-buster. Of course, we paid probably an extra $15 total to hike up Montana, but simply entering Machu Picchu is a steep price. There are myriad ways to purchase tickets to Machu Picchu. I bought ours through the buggy official website before we left the States, but there are other websites where you can buy them, or you can them through your tour group, or buy them in Cusco, all of which methods are probably more expensive than through the buggy website.
The other big expense is that Boleto Turistico ticket, but that covers access to many sites and museums around Cusco. We used ours on three separate days to get into Tambomachay, Qenko, Puca Pukara, Saqsaywaman, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. The Boleto Turistico is the only ticket that gets you into these sites, so if you intend on visiting many Incan ruins, not only is it a good deal, it’s actually completely necessary.
|Medicine – Gaseovet||$11.00|
|Medicine – Salburex Inhaler at InkaFarma||$6.00|
|Laundry at Samanapaq||$23.00|
|Two scarves at Chinchero Market||$25.47|
One area I wasn’t hoping to save money in, because I didn’t want to use it at all, was medicine. Though neither of us got terribly sick, over the course of the trip I had to use ibuprofen, Immodium, sinus medicine, anti-gas pills, and an inhaler. Plus we got sunburned. We anticipated needing some of the meds so we brought some, but I had to buy a few things. Gaseovet is like the Latin American version of Gas-X, if you must know.
There was something about Lima on our last night that activated my wheezing. Usually only cat dander causes my ass-mar, but very rarely it can be triggered by something else in the environment. Maybe it was too humid or maybe the pollution got to me. It happens so rarely, I haven’t bothered to get an inhaler in the States for years. But luckily, you can get one in Peru without a prescription for very cheap. Thank you, socialized medicine!! I picked up a Salburex inhaler no questions asked for six bucks. I brought it home, so now I’m probably all set for inhaler for a few years.
One other thing we spent money on in Peru was laundry service at our hotel in Ollantaytambo. It was terribly beneficial to carry all our clothes in in backpacks. But we had to recycle clothes to last all ten days, and after all that hiking and being in smelly Cusco, paying to have laundry done was worth it. Marge also bought two scarves at Chinchero market. One for her mom, and one for herself. The scarf is the one souvenir we bought.
I calculated the total cost of our trip to be $1,712. Considering that some of that is food cost, which we would be incurring anyway, you could realistically subtract some of those. If we’ve been paying $300 on average for groceries lately, ten days is worth about $100 of groceries, meaning our trip actually cost $1,612 over what we would be spending in a normal ten days. You could even subtract our normal everyday transportation and heating costs we would’ve incurred had we been at home, but I don’t feel like calculating that, let’s just leave it there.
Peru would be an extraordinarily cheap place to visit, if you do two things: Use airline miles to pay for your flights, and don’t visit Machu Picchu. Our Machu Picchu visit cost $366 in total. There are ways around the expensive train and bus, but if you visit Machu Picchu, you’re at least in for the steep ticket price. There are other great Incan sites around Peru, but unfortunately, only one of them is a Wonder of the World.