Peru is one the most exciting travel destinations in South America blending incredible historical and archeological sites with out of this world cuisine, verdant jungle, exotic flora and fauna, deserted beaches and an energetic cultural element.
Some people have an image of Peru as being a dangerous place and may avoid traveling there or to other South American destinations for fear of falling victim to crime. Peru has become much safer in recent years and is now a leading Latin American travel destination. Peruvians are usually very friendly and helpful towards visitors and you will often be asked lots of questions about your home country because they are genuinely interested in you. However, whenever you travel overseas there is always the chance that things can go wrong and put you in danger so here are some tips on staying safe and secure while traveling through Peru.
Peru is filled with little yellow death traps known as Ticos. They are little cars that are used as taxis quite often. If you value your life never step inside one. They collapse like a house of cards upon impact with another vehicle or object. Always stick to larger taxis when traveling about.
When you are traveling with your luggage make sure you get into a registered taxi booked through your hotel. In Peru just about anybody with a car can decide to become a tax driver. Most of the taxi drivers are just hard working average Joes, but there is the odd one who is out on the prowl to menace people and rob them.
Keep your jewelry and flashy objects to a minimum. It is not a super smart move to make yourself stick out as a gringo with money as you are likely to make yourself a target for possible robberies or even kidnapping.
Lima is surrounded by a number of shanty towns and slums, which should be avoided. Apart from a morbid curiosity about how the very poor live their lives, there is no reason to visit them.
If you are going to withdraw money from a bank you should do it during the day. It is also best to choose ATMs inside a bank where there are security guards. As soon as you have taken your money place it inside a money belt and do not let others see how much cash you have.
Avoid walking in unknown or dark places at night. And even if you don't know where you are going always try to look confident as this makes you look less vulnerable to possible thieves and thugs.
On buses traveling between cities make sure that you keep your valuables on your person. Definitely not under the bus and not even on the floor or above you. Keep important items right with you all the time. Occasionally buses are held up while en route. This normally happens on buses that stop in different and remote spots to pick up passengers. A good way to minimize the chance of highway hijacking is to travel on direct buses.
Never ever have anything to do with drugs in Peru. There are too many foreigners in jail in Peru who have been caught with drugs either in the country or trying to smuggle them out. If you are offered them in a bar or club politely and firmly decline the offer.
Finally use your common sense and gut instincts while traveling. If you have a bad feeling about something act upon it, as it is generally correct. Having said that thousands of people travel through Peru each year without incident, so do not become paranoid to the point of not experiencing some of the wonderful things that Peru has to offer the visitor.