FOREX Peru : Best Places to Exchange Foreign Currency Peru

Back for a quick update, busy with work.

When traveling abroad tourists always want to get the most bang for their buck.  When traveling in Peru it is important to know the do’s and dont’s of money exchange.  In Lima the airport has various atm’s and a money exchange on the lower floor just before you exit near the coffee stand.  It’s okay to change some dollars for soles here but the rate is usually a few points off the prime rate.

I normally change just outside the center of lima in one of the places the guys in the vests go to do their own changes.  I won’t tell where my spot is because I don’t want every gringo out of san anton showing their touron self there but I will suggest a few good alternatives that bring close to prime rates.

First, dont do it at any of the hotels or eateries as you will get screwed on the rate.

Rule #1 look for the guy in the neon yellow vest, normally sitting atop a bar stool on busy street corners.  The proper way to ask is, “quanto es el cambio por favor” or “quanto es el dolar” last extended stay was normally 2.85 but I was able to change for 2.92 at my un named establishment.  It was a little out of the way but a big safe place none the less.  Normally in Mira Flores one pays a higher rate somewhere in the 2.80 all the way down to 2.70 in the wee hours of the morning.

Rule #2 DOS, you guessed it don’t change your money at night on the street.  It is hard enough making sure you have gotten all of your bills let alone checking that they are legit in the dark street lights.  I rarely change large amounts at night but have in Mira Flores near the McDonalds but not too late.  It was around 11 PM local when I did it there a few times and needless to say I got screwed on the rate but if you are out for the party then you have no choice.

#3 always check around.  During the day time it is not uncommon to see several neon clad money changers on a street corner.  In plaza de armas try the guys in front of bembos.  There is also a reliable place a few doors down on the side of the pizza place but watch out as he tried to give me a fazool last time and I told hime to give me a new bill.  It was a fake 100 sole not you could tell because the foil wasnt glittery.  Be careful out there and its best to use the guys in the jackets they are most reliable.

Gamara: Check close to the food court near the main entrance by Pizza Hut.

Mira Flores:  ATM’s McDonalds Building by movie theater, Exchanger’s just outside

Ave Abancay:  Near the Judicial look for the lady singing on her karioke machine and ask around.  ATM’s and 2 good exchanges

Chabuka:  Here you will need to go back to Plaza De Armas and try Bembo for the ATM or the Bank down by the shops on the pedestrian mall.

Cusco : Plaza de Armas is the best place here plenty of ATM’s and you’ll want to go inside one of the shops around the square to exhange money look for Dollar Euro signs in yellow. If you can’t find one just ask someone. They are in most of the places in the square like the internet cafe’s.

Most Bank ATM’s will give out dollars or soles.  I always get dollars and change my money as needed.  There are usually plenty of neon vested fellows to help.  They should all have a calculator you can use if you need too.  Good luck and stay safe and smart.

Mahalo

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Los Organos Mancora Peru

Our recent visit to Los Organos in Mancora, Peru was quite a nice and peaceful trip to the laid back Tropical Paradise.

We stayed at the Costa Blanca de Vichayito, located just south of Mancora on the outer beach road.  There are hotels all the way out and if you took the bus you will most certainly be mobbed by the moto taxi drivers as soon as you get off of the bus.

These guys get paid if you stay there by the hotel you choose so you deffiantly shouldnt pay more than a few soles to have them take you around for a tour which we did so you can find the accomidation that suits your taste.  We paid s./15 for two moto taxis and we stopped at 5 different places before deciding on the end of the road approach.

We didnt like the places in town as they were very basic and a little on the more expensive side.  As you get out of the town it is nicer and much less expensive.  Most places have an all inclusive rate but usually includes 3 meals and normally excludes liquor.  In town rates ended up being more than double what we paid.

The Costa Blanca at Vichayito Los Organos Peru was the place that had it all.  Open air restaurant with lcd tv, 3 meals a day that were some of the best food the whole vacation, free dvd rental, right on the beach with semi private balcony overlooking the breaking surf.  They have a very nice and clean swimming pool, fooseball, and the best part is the Beach.

The beach is so beautiful that words just cant describe.  The water is warm and very clean.  The sand is light and very clean too.  This was the cleanest beach I saw on my trip.  The fishing boats are out at night and you can see abalone divers in the morning cleaning their catch right on the playa.

There is an abundance of sea life in the water as well.  We saw many seahorses, crabs, small squid, octopus, and several spinny puffer fish while walking along the beach.  There are Tons of sea shells too. There are vendors that walk by in the morning with seashell and art souvenirs but they dont bother you and are nice.  There are also horse back rides on the beach.  But as with anywhere don’t leave valuables unattended.

The rates were the most reasonable we found and of all the hotels to the south this was the best we found to our liking.  Under $50 per day for 2 adults and 3 kids with a queen size and a bunk bed oceanside with breakfast included.

We liked the food and paid for serveral dinners here too.

Peru’s Obsession with Plastic Bags

The Most intriguing thing I have experienced in Peru was being handed my gaseosa ie my soft drink or soda in a clear plastic baggie knotted at the top.  During my travels I have found it very intriguing how Peruvian’s use plastic baggies for nearly everything.  They use them for nearly everything.  I suspect this is normal for most undeveloped countries as they are a cheap means of packaging.

I have to admit it is a little strange I have to say as I know they have styro foam containers at the chifa restaurants and at most of the pollo braserias for take out meals.  But when I go to the market for a meal to go they always pack my drink or beverage in a clear plastic baggie knotted at the top.  I have to say the only place I have actually drank them is from the Pizza Palace in Lima Center after walking home.

Its just different but for me I prefer a paper cup…..Usually I would prefer an ice chilled glass beer stein however!

An interesting note is that when I go to the market now I usually get the drink while I am waiting for my food but they usually put an extra bagged drink in with my order anyway…..bagged drinks hmmmmmmmmmm…..I thought this would be a funny post for tonight…

 

Cheers!

 

Cheapest Machu Pichu Tour

The cheapest way to get a guided tour of machu pichu is to get several prices from different tour operators.  I suggest you begin by inquiring at your hostel or hotel as most will try to push you on there tour which is usually more expensive.  Please remember that you can stay in Aguas Calientes overnight but beware of the alien mosquitos and bring plenty of deet.  Accomidation in Aguas Calientes is cheap to more expensive depending on what you find.  Once again check around before you decide which one is right for you.

After getting an idea of the cost at your hostel or hotel I suggest walking around the plaza de armas and inquiring at a few of the tour operators around the square.  I found the cheapest deal just past the McDonalds and it was a great deal.  You just have to check a few different places and then at each one just tell them what you have already been offered it is that simple and most speack english so dont worry.  Cusco is really laid back and dont be afraid to go after a bargain.

Chou

Cruz del sur VS. Excluciva CIVA

Exclusiva Civa wins this one hands down folks and fellow travellers.  All I have to say is you can take the bus between Lima and Mancora 16hrs. 2 ways.

Exclusiva aka Civa bus lines is my top rated means of travel in Peru.  They offer brand new mercedes motor coaches with plush leather seats with private area and 3 times the room of any other bus line in peru.  The tickets are only $10 usd more for this service compared to the nasty economy seating provided by cruz del sur aka curse del sur.  Civa gets my only 5 star bus line rating.

Cruz del Sur is the worst bus line I have ever taken and let me just say that the even tried to rip me off at the ticket counter.  I tried them once and will never go back.  I wouldnt have even tried had the Civa bus been booked solid.  I took the terrible ride from Mancora back to Lima a few months ago which you can read about in a previous post here at mochileros peru.  Cruz del sur gets a rating of Zero.  Terrible exprience I wish I could forget.

Cruz del Sur Sucks

cruz sucks

Cruz del Sur aka Curz del Sur Not Recommended!

I want to start off with saying I am completely disgusted with my entire experience with Cruz del Sur. Unless trouble is what you want on your journey I suggest that you try another bus line. While traveling through Peru with my Peruvian wife and our 3 kids we have taken many bus trips. Normally we try to get the best deal for the best service.

After a fun filled week in Vichayito Beac, Mancora, Peru we had to get home. We were unable to get seats on Civa Exclusiva and decided to try Cruz del Sur for the first and last time.

I have always compared the rates for Cruz del Sur and until now always chosen to take a more affordable bus line. They charge 12 soles that most of the other bus lines, and from the english website you get a feeling that it is a decent company. However, please do not be fooled with their advertising or shiney black buses.

Upon purchasing our tickets we were given a discount of 5 soles per ticket which was kind of strange. We chose 160 degree seating as they assured us that it was the best seating for the price. I am 6 feet tall and 220 lbs. Not chubby but athletic and the lady at the counter smiled and assured me that I would be happy with the accomidations.

The first problem we encountered was that the lady at the counter in Mancora said she did not have change. As we sat and waited for the bus to arrive several other would be passengers paid and we returned to the counter twice and were told that she still did not have change. I got the feeling that she was trying to steal 5 soles. As 2 other Cruz del Sur employees showed up for work I double checked my ticket which said 105 soles and then made certain the lady hear me tell my wife that if she didnt want to give us our change that I would be calling their corporate offices and filing a formal complaint.

Not the way you want to start a journey to say the least. The Cruz del Sur bus arrived 25 minutes late and we were rushed onto the bus. Once on the second floor I was utterly appalled to find that we were going to spend the next 23 hours smashed into tiny seats with little to no leg room. The Civa bus had already gone by 30 minutes before or I would have demanded a refund.

We had to get back to Lima for work and decided I would try to make the best of the ride as I spend 8 weeks living in the back of my compact Jeep Wrangler car camping in the Rocky Mountains and figured I could deal with not having ample room.

The 3rd problem we encountered was when the bus departed from the station and then we knew we were in for a long bumpy and very uncomfortable ride home. The bus looked brand new on the outside but had to be over 10 years old judging from the seat padding and overall condition of the inside. The ride was rough and so bumpy that 2 of our children and my Wife vomited from the constant shaking from side to side. I liked the experience to being lashed to the main sail of a small sail boat during a category 5 hurricane.

We kindly asked the attendant for some rubbing alcohol and motion sickness pills at the first stop to which he laughed and said there was no pharmacy. Then he moved on down the cabin to chat with the gringas onboard. A little while later we were served and the jerk attendant laughed and asked if I wanted all 5 of our meals as our kids were too sick to eat. The food was cold and mine looked like someone had chewed up some chicken and spit it out right on my plate. I did not eat this as I brought plenty of snacks on board.

Following a few old movies in english with spanish subtitles we tried to go to sleep. The seats are not full 160 degree seats and there is no foot room. The seats themselves are also a little smaller than most coach airline seats and very uncomfortable. I was very tired and fell asleap for 51 minutes until I was awakend by the bus swaying from side to side. For the next 4 hours I sat there with my eyes closed and half awake. I got up and went to the bathroom and it smelled like a chicken farm and there was urine all over the place.

We were served a muffin and a small sandwich for breakfast. We neared Lima and were stuck behind an traffic accident for about 45 minutes in the steep hills of Pasamayo where a truck had overturned. We got back on our way and passed the mega plaza in Comas before we hit grid locked traffic on the expressway. For the next 3 hours the driver sat in traffic moving less than 3 km. I undrestand traffic jams as I have encountered gridlock in NYC and LA but have no explanation for why the driver did not exit the expressway and get us moving. Instead he got into the far left hand land and just sat there.

We arrived 4 hours late and encountered another lazy employee at the baggage claim. One of my bags was the last one off the bus and I stood patiently awaiting the bag handler who was too busy staring at the wall to get my bag for me. I asked for it 8 times in spanish before another employee handed it to me. On the way out a Cruz del Sur employee bumped into my oldest step daughter knocking her to the ground and did not appologize or offer her a hand getting to her feet.

I have never before experiences such horror as this bus journey and I will never take Curz del Sur anywhere ever again. I plan to make it a point to inform all tourists visiting Peru about my terrible experience so that they will not make the same choose. Stay away from Cruz del Sur as you will regret it! I give them a rating of 0 Stars.

If you wish to debate my ratings I welcome you to post in comments.

Mancora Peru Where to eat

Mancora is a tourist destination and there are tons of choices when it comes to dining be it a light lunch to a feast for dinner. The Panamerican Highway runs right the main strip of Mancora, where you will find a plethora of tourist shops, banks, atm’s, boticas / pharmacies, and plenty of restaurants to choose from.

Along the Panamerican Highway you will find that most of the restaurants are a little pricey, but Menu can still be found for as little as 5 Soles. For those who are not familiar with the Peruvian version of “Menu” it means that you are given a choice of starters, usually cebiche or papa huancaina or maybe chicarron de pescado, followed by you main dish of choice and a drink, normally a fruit extract or personal gaseosa ie soda like Inca Kola.

Among the Restaurants along the Panamerican Highway that I would recommend are the Mare e Monte Restaurant and Polleria. The chicken is good and the locals love the place. We went on for Father’s Day at dinner time and the place was packed. Prices are decent and the food is good.

I recommend staying away from the Espada Restaurant as well as the one just to the North of it as well as we had a quite nasty lunch at this place. The Espada we did not try due to reading numerous poor reviews prior to our trip. Prices here were also really high.

My best deals on fresh fish and seafood were found on the pedestrian street that leads to the main part of Mancora Beach. I ate at 3 different open air restaurants along this street and enjoyed Menu at all 3. The fish is fresh and the price is great for travelers on a budget. Menu here ranges from $7 to $10. Cerveza and cold beer is S./4 soles for a 660 ml bottle on this street as opposed to right on the beach where S./6 beers are the norm.

Restaurants that I recommend here are the Restaurant Tumi and the Mochileros Larr. The Mochileros larr had great cebiche and super cold beer as well as friendly staff.

Be sure to check out the hand made jewlery shop across from the Restaurant Tumi where you can find custom made jewelry ranging from alpaca with authentic mexican torquoise to sterling silver.

Night time I suggest trying a sit down dinner at one of the eateries to the south end of the Panamerican Highway. The Beef House in Mancora has a nice selection of steaks and american style baked potatoe to boot. There are a few pizza places and other assorted places for dinner too.