This is part 5 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.
- Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
- How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
- How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
- What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
- How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
- How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
- Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
- Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
- Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
- How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
- Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
- Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
- Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
- Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
- You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, visiting Machu Picchu is made quite expensive by non-local tourist-only pricing. On average, you’d expect to spend about US$150-200 per person on tickets, just to get you from your base in Cusco or Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu and back.
Tickets [in the order of priority] (1 US$ = 2.676 Peruvian Soles as of 6/6/12):
|Category||Price Range||Where/How to Buy|
|(1) Machu Picchu (MP) 1-day Admission (non-refundable, non-changeable)||
|(2) Train Tickets to/from MP (the earlier you decide on your dates, the cheaper; changeable 48 hours prior to travel dates)||~US$100 round-trip for Expedition (cheapest class)
||https://www.perurail.com/en (site can be down from time to time!)
|(3) Bus to/from MP||US$17 (round trip per person)||Bus station at Aguas Calientes before getting on the bus|
Machu Picchu Admissions:
- US (Chase) Credit Card Issues: the official website requires a VISA card with the “Verified by Visa” feature. I still remember successfully going through this procedure a few years ago when shopping online with various Chase VISA cards. However, Chase recently implemented its own security measures and stopped using the “Verified by Visa” feature. I got on the phone with Chase security department MANY times to try pushing the payment through, but had to give up. Emailing/calling the official ticket office in Cusco did not help, either. Finally, I decided to just try our luck by buying the tickets on the day we arrived in Cusco.
- Official Ticket Office in Cusco: Direccion Regional de Cultura Cusco, located at Ave. de la Cultura No. 238, Condomio Huascar, Wanchaq, Cusco, Peru. Office is open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8am-12pm. Visa & cash (soles) accepted (I used Chase Sapphire Preferred to avoid paying foreign transaction fees).
- Local Tour Agencies/Hotels: you can also ask your hotel in Cusco or Sacred Valley for help with purchasing your tickets to Machu Picchu. The tickets will have added service fees, and you may only be able to pay with cash.
- Aguas Calientes (Main Square, Plaza de Aguas Calientes): I don’t recommend doing this, as you will waste your valuable time and run the risk of being sold out for the day (unless you stay overnight in Aguas Calientes, which is again something I don’t recommend). If you have to do this, EXACT cash (soles) is expected, and the office is open every day from 5:30am-9pm.
- Quirky Official Website: if you would like to try booking your tickets online,
- Select English by clicking on the “English” icon
- Under “Lugar a Visitar,” select Machu Picchu
- Under “Seleccione la Ruta,” select Machu Picchu (or other combos you’d like)
- Choose your date of visit, and “Availability” shows how many of the 2,500 tickets are still available
- Highlight “Adulto” and choose how many tickets you want to buy
- Click on Step 2 to enter personal information for all visitors – there is no “USA” or “United States” option, you have to select “Estados Unidos”
- Click on Step 3, check “agree” box, and click on “Reserve Generating”
- Use that reservation code to proceed to “PAYMENTS” tab (reservations are valid for 4 hours)
- IF payment succeeds, you can click on “CHECK-IN” tab to print your tickets
- “QUERIES” tab shows you ticket availability information
Train Tickets to/from Machu Picchu on Peru Rail:
- US (Chase) Credit Card Issues (Again!): the official website is relatively intuitive and self-explanatory, but also requires a VISA card with the “Verified by Visa” feature. Chase security department again tried MANY times to help with the purchase, but to no avail. Two days after my last attempt on the website, I received an email from a real person at Peru Rail, offering to help with my ticket purchase. The exact amount for the three of us (round-trip between Ollantaytambo and MP) was US$246 ($82 a piece) – strangely about $8 cheaper per person than the original website quote. I had to email a signed copy of a purchase order form, a scanned copy of TravelWhimsy‘s Chase Sapphire Preferred card and driver license. The purchase was completed a few days after I emailed back all the required documents; tickets in PDF format were emailed back to us. [Many of you might cringe at the idea of emailing sensitive documents; there are other options.]
- 24-hour Ticket Booth at Lima Airport Domestic Terminal: before your flight from Lima to Cusco, you can stop by the airport stall to buy your train tickets.
- Autowagon: this new service starts right at the Starwood resort, Tambo del Inka, in Urubamba (2-2.5 hours each way). One morning train leaves for MP around 8am, and one evening train returns from MP around 6pm [subject to change]. Round trip tickets cost around US$130-140 per person. [We stayed at the resort, but the schedule was different in May and had a return train leaving MP at 3pm, too early for us.]
- Monopoly: I saw 2 other rail companies at Ollantaytambo, but was told that they only had very limited services and similarly high fares. There is no other way for you to get to Machu Picchu (unless you hike/walk), so you have to shell out the big bucks for the 1.5-hour 40-mile train ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu.
Bus Tickets to/from Machu Picchu:
- No Advance Purchase Needed: these mini-buses start around 5:20am from Aguas Calientes, and the last bus leaves MP at around 5:30pm. If you stay in Aguas Calientes the night before, you can buy tickets in advance to avoid the morning crowds.
- You Can Walk: walking the bus route/trail is free, but could take ~2 hours up and ~1 hour down. I don’t recommend doing this, as you would be too tired to enjoy MP and the hikes within the sites/ruins.
If you are interested in hiking the 4-day 3-night Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu, you can only do so with a licensed tour company and expect to spend about US$525-$585 per person, including transportation back from Machu Picchu to Cusco. (The 2012 summer season is fully booked as of this writing, but you can still reserve your spots for the months of October, November, December 2012.)
Let me know what you think! I respond to all comments.