If this is your first time in Lima, this post is for you. And if this is actually not your first time in Lima, this post is for you, too, since some things have changed rapidly during the last few years and it’s always good to learn some new tips.
First let’s take a look at a couple things that have not changed.
Peruvian Time! Peruvians, even those living in Lima, the capital city, have a peculiar way of defining “punctuality.” If someone invites you to have lunch at his/her place at 1pm and you arrive on time, odds are that you will find them getting ready to cook. Parties are not expected to start until at least two hours after the scheduled date. We are not having sociological or cultural debates on why Peruvians think this is nice, courteous and even normal, but the fact is that, excepting some very important business appointments, while in Lima you can relax, forget about the clock and arrive a little later than you normally would in your own country.
Partying means food. Yes, not only drinking and dancing. And “food” does not mean nibbling some entreés now and then. Especially if it is a real party at someone’s place, and VERY specially if it’s a party to welcome you or honor you. In addition, Peruvians are very proud of their food and do not waste any chance to serve it to foreign visitors, so eat wisely, expect lots of food and keep some room because when you think it’s over, more food will come.
Now, some new things for first-timers in Lima.
Book an airport pick-up directly with your hotel. Most good hotels will offer you this service at a little expensive but still reasonable rate. Safety is what matters and losing your belongings would surely be even more expensive and troublesome.
Keep a low-profile. Crime is a plague everywhere in the world, and tourists are an easy target. That means, don’t make too visible the fact that you are a tourist. Don’t look at your city map while on the street, don’t show your big, striking, very expensive camera to everyone, don’t wear those photographer-gear vests and of course don’t show off your cash and/or credit cards. Some common sense will avoid you troubles, not only in Lima but in many other cities.
Do not drink tap water directly. You can drink it after boiling it, though, or drink bottled water if you cannot boil water.
Money exchange. The US dollar is accepted in most of the businesses, restaurants and gas stations at the rate of the day. You can exchange them for local currency at the streets, but you may be deceived. Preferably change your dollars and euros in banks and exchange establishments; they do not charge a commission.
Credit cards. Most businesses accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express. About traveller checks, they have some limitations so ask first if they would be accepted.
Banks. Usually they work Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Saturday mornings until noon. And you will find ATMS almost everywhere.