It may be obvious, but don't cave in and get a shoeshine from the very numerous and persistant shoeshine boys that patrol the Plaza de Armas. I was in Cusco the second week of February of 2010 and since Machu Picchu was not open (another example of my great luck and planning!) tourism had supposedly dropped by 90%. This made me a pretty obvioius target for everyone touting some great offer or another. The main problem with getting a shoeshine is that you are unable to walk away and escape when you are surrounded. The shine will last a LONG time and since you are a captive audience, the swams of people will gather around you the whole time ( massages, starving artists, kids asking for money, and people selling everything imaginable, etc.). The shoe shine isn't bad but the price went from 1 Sol to 10 Sol after he finished. And the next day I saw this same boy and he tried to scam me again by saying I gave him a "falso" 5 Sol coin. I had already learned this scam in China the hard way, (they say your money is fake and ask to to give them a different bill, then hand you back a counterfeit one). I mean 5 Sol isn't that much money but since he already got 9 Sol more from me that he was supposed to, I felt insulted... I told him we should go to one of the nearby policeman so he could report me. Of course he didn't want to- I'm sure he had a whole pocket full of fake 5 Sol pieces for the tourists!
This local travel agency 'organises' trips to Chivay and Maras. In fact what they do is take your money and simply give a cut to a local taxi driver, who can barely speak English. They do not provide proper tours that we could see.
The address is Portal Commercio 187.
Unique Suggestions: If you speak Spanish, you're better off trying to find a frindly taxi driver yourself. Shop around, there are plenty of agencies in Cuzco!
The going rate for a half day tour of the Maras Salinas and the round terraces of Moray was 100 soles pp in 2005.
Fun Alternatives: See above or try your hotel.
Can you believe it? Im peruvian, so I must know it all about this kind of things..but I went to Cuzco with a friend, and a guy offered us to drive all the way to the hotel..was ok, but in the way he started to offer taking us to the sacred valley, then to get us train tickets...completely tricked us, send his daughter..yeah, he called the daughter and she was in the car too, they bought us tickets 20$ more than original price, alleging they were all sold..yeah..we felt in the trap...
Unique Suggestions: so next time, go straight to the rail company and use regular tourist transportation..and well keep the taxi driver conversation just short...
When you land in Cusco you will notice men dressed in shirts and ties offering to carry your bags (they will usually be holding onto a trolley). When your bags come on the baggage carousel, they will take them off and then take you outside, usually to a taxi driver they know. You have to pay around US$2.
Unique Suggestions: They can sometimes be very pushy, so just make sure you have the approproate phrases in Spanish if this is something you do not wish to have.
There are a lot of hotels available in Cusco, some of which do not have hot water!! Others claim to have hot water which is really lukewarm and limited. When choosing a hotel, ask if hot water is available and if it is available 24/7. If hot water is not important to you, then no worries! :)