We only exchanged our dollars in Lima, so my advice here may not be relevant in other areas of Peru. Although banks are probably the safest place to exchange money, the street exchangers give a better rate. Look for the official exchangers - in the San Isidro area, they were wearing tan vests, with an orange government seal printed on them. The vests may be different in other areas - check with your hotel staff.
Know what the current exchange rate is, and agree upfront before handing over any cash. Count your money before the exchanger walks away. Also, do not accept any bills that are ripped or look old. Many merchants will not accept them, making them effectively worthless.
I travel light to all my trips, that way I can stuff my luggage with my shopping finds. I always take a travel backpack(one that converts into a small packet when not in use) It helps me carry all of my finds and I can store them without looking too touristy. Before I leave to any trip, I look at weather.com. That way I bring clothes accordingly. I bring clothes that are conservative, and that don't say 'look at me I am a tourist!!' I also bring confortable walking shoes. In my toiletry I always have the usual, q-tips, cotton rounds for my face, sun block for the face, toothbrush, toothpaste, toner, moisturizer, noxema for cleaning the face,razor, parfum, under eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, make up, tums, vitamins, etc. And everything is in tiny containers. I usually bring my digital and 35mm.
Miraflores. Here you'll find...
Miraflores. Here you'll find sophisticated nightlife. If you need a respite from colonial Spanish and Inca heritage, go out to this area, and just enjoy and meet friendly Limenos and Limenas company. It's easy to strike up a conversation in the pubs here as a lot of locals who hang around Miraflores are learning English and they probably want to practice on you.
Delicious Peruvian food
Mmmmm. We loved eating here, and came back more than once to try different dishes. We relied on the waiters' advice for what to try, and it helped us work through the "food" section in the Lonely Planet phrasebook. There is an open outdoor area with about 4-5 tables right next to where they prepare some of the food, and a cosy indoor area too. The food is fresh, and you can see it being prepared right in front of you (if you order the right dish). Ceviche - raw fish marinaded in onions; Cuncha - mielie/corn kernels toasted; Saltado (beef and onon stir fry - those yummy onions again)
Dine by the wall
La Muralla restaurant adjoins La Muralla park, which contains the remains of the old city walls built in the 1600s to protect the city from pirates. After your meal, you can check out the walls, or stroll through the attractive park.
Hours: 9-9 I started with an appetizer, Papa Huacaina (sliced potatoes in a delicious sauce), followed by beef in rosemary sauce. Papa Huacaina is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes.