Buying Machu Picchu Tickets

May 29 (Day 11)

There appears to be quite a bit of misleading, incorrect, or perhaps, just outdated information on the Internet regarding admission into the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, and the Peruvian floods of early 2010 definitely did not help in our search for accurate and up-to-date information.  For one thing, everyone wants to sell you a packaged tour (whether or not you are interested in the Inca Trail) and they'll promise you the world to get you to give them a non-refundable deposit. Secondly, finding official information on Machu Picchu in English is impossible, and to top things off, it seemed as though the status of the roads and railways leading up to Machu Picchu were changing on a weekly (if not daily) basis in the months leading up to our trip.  Even PeruRail, the railway operator to Machu Picchu) did not seem to know what it was trying to say as there was obvious conflicting information on its web site.  In fact, it was only after my second e-mail to the company that they corrected their information online.

Looking at our options for the Inca Trail trek was also discouraging as no one would provide a refundable deposit if the trek couldn't go ahead due to the Trail being closed.  The more I looked into our trekking options, the more disappointed I became as to how sketchy everything seemed to be.  Tour operators say they'll purchase your Trail permit upon receipt of your deposit, yet they won't send you a copy of that permit so you're left in the dark until it's time to show your permit to the authorities.  Combine that with their fine print stating that they have the right to alter the itinerary to their liking, and you're left with the feeling that you're just handing over your hard-earned money with absolutely no assurances that you'll get what you're expecting.  Heck, from what I could gather, the authorities were still offering hiking permits even after news broke that the Inca Trail was supposedly closed indefinitely to fix damage from the landslides, and the tour operators were definitely still more than willing to accept reservations (and deposits) even if they had no idea when Machu Picchu would re-open, let alone the Inca Trail.  Considering all of these uncertainties, we decided that it would be best to play it safe and skip the Inca Trail until we learned of its reopening and hope that there were still three of those limited number of trail permits available for us on dates that would fit our schedule.  And if they weren't, so be it.  It wouldn't be the end of the world.  

Surely enough, once news hit that the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu would re-open prior to our trip, those permits had already sold out. Our trip was a week too early.  But no worries, we were still heading to Machu Picchu and we didn't have 4 days of hiking on the Inca Trail ahead of us.

Admission tickets to Machu Picchu are apparently only good for three days (starting the day you purchase them) and according to PeruRail, tickets were limited and only available in Cusco.  We were informed by the hostel staff that the ticket office was only open from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays so off I went to buy the tickets.  So there I was at the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC) office just before 7am and noticed that the door was open so I asked the official working there if this is where I buy the Machu Picchu tickets.  He said yes but also asked me to leave the building as it wasn't open yet.  The ticket office opens at 8am, he said.  So with an hour to spare, I walked around the tourist district and checked out the market again, where I noticed that there were a lot more meat stalls today.  Perhaps, Peruvians eat more meat on Saturdays.

Anyways, I ran out of things to see and do (and photograph) as the city was just waking up so I headed back to the office and waited there until 8:00am.  There was no activity, which seemed odd, so I decided to wait a few minutes since nothing seemed to start on time in Peru but I quickly grew impatient, and walked into the office and found an employee.  She informed me that the office did not sell tickets, and the actual ticket office was down the street in another INC office.  She was unable to recall the street number of the building so I was on my own in figuring that out.  This leads to another point regarding South America.  Each block seems to have a different street name even though it's the same street.  Once you hit an intersection, the street usually changes names.  If you're lucky enough, there's a tiny little street sign, 10-12 feet above street level, on the side of the corner building.  I was evidently on the right street (yet different name) at an office of the same department as the one where tickets to Machu Picchu are sold.  Nevertheless, I managed to find the right office, one block down the street, but to my surprise, there were no signs indicating that this was indeed the location of the Machu Picchu ticket office, nor any directions once inside to indicate which room it could be found.

Since I could never find the actual ticket prices to Machu Picchu in any of my online research, I thought I'd share it with those you who somehow managed to find this post.  So here they are, straight from the ticket office, for those of you interested in such things:

Note that PeruRail's information regarding the closure of the Aguas Calientes' ticket office was incorrect. It was in fact open and offered the same ticket prices as the Cusco office. PeruRail's statement that only a limited number of Machu Picchu entrance tickets are available was also incorrect. Luckily, I went to the bank machine beforehand as the ticket office only accepted Peruvian cash.  It should also be noted that the above prices are solely for admission to the site and do not include the train tickets, bus tickets (from Aguas Calientes to the site), and Inca Trail permits (if so one chooses to hike the trail) involved in a visit to Machu Picchu.

With tickets in hand, it was back to the hostel for breakfast before enjoying our last full day in Cusco.


2011 UPDATE:

Something to keep in mind before you book your trip to Machu Picchu...

According to a July 27, 2011 Associated Press article:

"Hundreds of unticketed tourists have been turned away from Machu Picchu this week as Peru's famed Inca ruins reached capacity. Angry tourists blocked a bridge for two hours Monday in the town of Aguas Calientes at the entrance to the ruins. That impeded buses that ferry visitors to the hilltop archaeological site. Juan Julio Garcia is the regional tourism director in nearby Cuzco. He says some travel agencies have failed to inform visitors that they should get tickets in advance because of the daily load limit of 2,500 people. Authorities established the limit for Peru's main tourist attraction in 2005 as a conservation measure. In January, tickets became obtainable online. The site,, can be slow to access."

If you found this information helpful, please click on one of the interesting Google advertising links on this blog to help me out. Thanks.


  1. mike,
    I enjoyed several of your blogs from Peru. We are going to Machu Picchu at the end of August. In my quest to buy tickets for the ruins online, I have found multiple contradicting sites. Some say you can only purchase tickets online now. If you purchase online, your name, passport # and dates appear on the web site! Other sites state you can still buy tickets in Cusco and Aguas Calientes...very frustrating!

  2. Thanks for sharing this development Anonymous. One would expect that tickets would be available for purchase online nowadays but who knows.... hope it's not a scam. Like I mentioned in the post, there was a lot of contradicting information about the Inca Trail permits and the ruins so I understand your frustration.

    As you'll soon find out, almost every place in Peru wants your name and passport #... I just wonder what they use this information for..

    Anyways, hope you find my posts useful. All the best on your travels!

  3. Based on today's post at, it appears as though there is now a charge of $10 for one of the 400 daily tickets available to hike Wayna Picchu.

    Those tickets are apparently available for purchase up to 5 days in advance in Cusco.

    Just thought I'd share the latest information since those limited tickets were given away for free to those who lined up early at the Machu Picchu gate during my visit...

  4. Hello, Please can someone help me as soon as possible. My partner and I have been trying for months before our arrival to book machu pichu tickets on the official website and it will not accept our cards. We have been in Cusco now for two weeks and seem to have tried everywhere to buy tickets and they keep sending us somewhere else which we never find! we have walked the whole length of Av. de Cultura and have not found the official office to book tickets. We do not want to go through an agency as we have very very little money. Can anyone describe exactly where the official office is/ what it looks like? we plan to visit machu pichu in 10 days so are now getting very desperate! thanks for your help, jo

    1. Hi Jo,

      Thanks for dropping by. I sense your frustration. Peru could definitely make a tourist's experience much easier when it comes to purchasing tickets to Machu Picchu. I have added 3 photos in my blog post above that show the exterior of the building where I think I purchased our tickets back in 2010.

      I can't say that it was that building for sure but if memory serves me right, it was. I must have taken a photo of this building for a reason and considering it follows the sequence of my photo of our actual tickets and the ticket ofice, I am fairly confident that it was. If it is still open and is still like it was in 2010, you'll likely have to walk around inside the building and find the room that houses the ticket office.

      Hope that helps Jo. Best of luck!

    2. According to, you can contact their call center "at 51- 084582030. We will be happy to help you, and answer the questions.Hours of availability: Monday to Friday of 06:00 to 21:00hr.Write and Saturday of 07:00 to 13:00 hr us by email"

      The address at the bottom of the web site is:
      Ministerio de Cultura - Dirección Regional de Cultura Cusco
      Av. de la Cultura 238 Condominio Huascar Cusco - Perú

  5. Hiking the Inca Trail: Logistics and Tips:

  6. Salkantay trek is the alternative to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was recently named among the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.

  7. Hello,
    I like your post because I got lots of helpful information from this post. Thank you so much.
    la paz cultural tour operator


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