Peru Nuevo Sol - PEN
The nuevo sol is the currency used in Peru, although it is usually referred to just by the latter word sol. The plural for the currency is nuevos soles and it is decimal in nature, so it is divided into 100 centimos.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
As you might expect there are coins available in centimos as well as in nuevos soles. Of the five coins available that are marked as centimos, only three of these are really in use now. These are the 10, 20 and 50 centimos coins. You may come across 1 and 5 centimos coins but it is quite rare. You will also find coins denominated in nuevos soles and these are the 1, 2 and 5 coins.
Just one banknote isn’t often used now, and that is the 200 note. You will use the 10, 20, 50 and 100 nuevos soles notes whenever you go to Peru.
From past to present – the history of the nuevo sol
The nuevo sol is actually quite a new currency. The word nuevo means new, and indeed this is a new version of the original currency Peru had from 1863 for more than a decade. This was the sol, and it stayed in use right up until 1985. At this point the currency was replaced due to hyperinflation, and its replacement was a currency called the inti. The name is the same as that of an Inca sun god, but if the Peruvians were hoping for any good fortune by naming it as such, they were wrong.
As a consequence the inti stayed in use until 1991 before the nuevo sol was brought in to replace it. Fortunately this seems to have done the trick as it has been used ever since.
How to get hold of Peruvian nuevos soles
While you can get some of the currency prior to leaving home, it is easy to get abroad once you arrive in Peru. Indeed most people agree the exchange rates are actually preferable once you are in Peru as opposed to the home rates.
You will find money changers at the airport as well as in many towns and cities. Aguas Calientes is not known for its huge number of cash machines though, so bear this in mind. Always use official changers and never be tempted to go to an individual, even if they try to persuade you with better rates. Be alert for fake banknotes as well.
It is a good idea to take more than one bank card or credit card with you as you may find some cash machines don’t take your cards. The last thing you want is to only have one option and to be unable to get cash when you need it. You can use these cards to make payment for goods and services as well, but don’t let them out of your sight when you pay.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and Peruvian nuevos soles
It is easy to find out the general exchange rate at the present time. You can do this simply by using a currency converter. There are lots of them online or alternatively you can use an app on your phone. Just be aware that the rate you are offered when changing currency will vary according to the level of commission and/or interest rates applied to the transaction.
You can check out the official website for the Peruvian Embassy in the UK at http://www.peruembassy-uk.com/ if you want to get some insight into the country before you go.
Travelling safely with Peruvian nuevos soles
Peru isn’t a hugely popular country to visit compared to many others around the world. According to the UK government website some 56,000 people from the UK go there every year. The majority of these trips pass without incident but it is good to know what you should be aware of.
For example good common sense should always be applied with regard to staying safe. Don’t travel alone if you can help it and particularly not in areas known for problems, or at night. Furthermore don’t carry any valuables unless you really have to, and then keep them to a minimum. Muggings do go on so it makes sense to minimise your appeal as a potential target as much as you possibly can.
The same applies with theft. Keep your cash separated into different areas and pockets. Be alert if you get money out of a cash machine and use one inside a bank if you possibly can. If you have to use one outside, make sure you are not being watched and that no one is hovering around you or trying to see your PIN.
Where to spend your nuevos soles in Peru – and what to spend them on
Peru can be found in South America, on the western side of the land mass. It shares borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. It has Lima as its capital and this is worth a visit if you have the time. The city has a significant amount of history to share so you will find signs of times in centuries gone by here. Indeed the Historic Centre of Lima is a World Heritage Site as recognised by UNESCO.
The city can be quite overwhelming to visit and explore, but there are many parks that are welcoming when you need them. Look out for the Park of the Reserve, which has some amazing fountain displays on show, and other parks such as the Park of the Exposition. The city also has its fair share of museums, some of which provide more information and insight about the history of the country and the city itself.
Tourism is a fast-growing area in Peru, and there are many ways to spend those soles if you have the time. The prevalence of ancient and historic sites in the country means lots of people visit just to see these. Among them are the famous Machu Picchu, the location of an ancient civilisation. This was created around the mid-1400s and was recognised in the 1980s as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is restricted to tourists in some areas, simply to try to preserve the site from ruin owing to the ever-increasing footfall of people to the area.
The Nazca Lines are also in Peru, a series of lines and images that can only be seen properly from the air. Some of these figures are hundreds of feet across and cannot be properly appreciated from the ground. However you should think twice before considering getting a plane to fly over them. The safety record of flights in this part of Peru is not good.
Of course there is also the Inca Trail, which some people like to walk. There are actually three trails you can choose from, only one of which is low enough not to warrant getting altitude sickness! While such trails are tempting to walk, it is imperative to make sure you are capable not only of walking the distance required, but to ensure you can do so in the conditions you will experience there. You must also book in advance to get onto the trail, since it is extensively managed to ensure it is not eroded or damaged in any way.
You may want to combine a trip to see some of the ancient sights of Peru with a few days on a nice beach somewhere as well. Peru does have some spectacular beaches, such as the one at Los Organos. This is a generously sized beach that is just one of many tourist friendly beaches in this part of Peru. Look out for the ever-popular Punta Veleros as well.
If you are in Lima you should head for Miraflores, which isn’t too far away. There are several beaches here and some are ideal for those who love surfing as well as catching the rays. Chorillos is quite close to Lima as well, and offers plenty of facilities for you to enjoy aside from the beach itself. If you’d prefer something a little quieter and more laid-back, the Punta Sal beach a few miles north of Mancora could be a better bet.
As you can see Peru offers some stunning possibilities for an unusual holiday that is a little different from anything you may have done before. You can enjoy a great beach holiday if you wish, but you can also enjoy exploring the ancient sights the country has to share with you. Just make sure you consider which sights you want to see, as you may need to arrange everything well in advance to ensure you can do everything you want to.
Aside from that, there is always lots to see and do in Peru, regardless of the particular area you may be going to. If you plan ahead you may be in for an amazing holiday next time you go abroad.