The Lost City of the Incas is one of the most touristy and crowded attractions in the world (averaging 2,500 people a day)! Getting your Machu Picchu tickets can be a real struggle. Thankfully, here at Cachi, we’ve taken care of almost all the thinking and planning for you. Below is a complete guide on how to buy your entrance tickets to Machu Picchu with 3 options to choose from, the cost associated, how to add Machu Picchu Mountain and/or Huayna Picchu, explain how to get refunds, and lastly we threw in a few tips on how to make this lengthy process a little bit easier. Keep in mind, this entire process is the “grassroots” way; it’s all the planning you’d need to do from start to finish. If you want, you can just click on this link right here and we’ll take care of all your booking options for you.
Heading into 2020, there are three ticket options for Machu Picchu:
Please note, you can’t do Machu Picchu Mountain & Huayna Picchu in the same day. We anticipate price changes depending on the time of entrance for 2020. This post will be updated once those become official.
Machu Picchu tickets cost as of 2019 is USD $46 for adults and USD $21 for children ages 8-17 and students that have an International Student Identification Card (ISIC). If you add Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain hikes, the cost raises to USD $60 for adults and USD $36 for children and students with an ISIC card.
For those who are not aware, Huayna Picchu is the mountain that is situated over the Machu Picchu ruins. This particular mountain is where the high priest and local virgins lived. The hike up can be very treacherous as it contains the Stairs of Death and the Temple of the Moon, which is one of the three temples that is located in Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Mountain, however, is the mountain situated opposite of Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu Mountain is the less popular of the two-day hikes at Machu Picchu. Nonetheless, many say that it is much more spectacular. Machu Picchu Mountain is higher in elevation than Huayna Picchu, so you get a better view of the ruins and the surrounding mountains. Both of these hikes contain a lot of exposure, it is not a good idea to do these if you are afraid of heights.
There are three ways that you can obtain a ticket to Machu Picchu: buying tickets in advance online, buying them in Cusco or Aguas Calientes, or using a tour operator and guide to gain entrance.
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How to Buy Machu Picchu Entrance Tickets Online
Buying Machu Picchu tickets online is the most labor-intensive of the three ways to secure your ticket. In December 2018, Peru unveiled a new Machu Picchu reservation site. Purchasing tickets can usually be done just a few days before your trip, depending on the season. Additionally, there are now nine hourly phases, compared to two previously, to enter Machu Picchu:
- Phase 1: admission from 6 am
- Phase 2: admission from 7 am
- Phase 3: admission from 8 am
- Phase 4: admission from 9 am
- Phase 5: admission from 10 am
- Phase 6: admission from 11 am
- Phase 7: admission from 12 pm
- Phase 8: admission from 1 pm
- Phase 9: admission from 2 pm
ProTip – If you’re going to Machu Picchu June through September, you’ll want to secure the tickets at least three months before the trip, or you won’t get to visit Machu Picchu. This is the high season and tickets sell out fast. If you plan to climb Huayna Picchu, you will have to book your ticket at least three months prior (for both high and low season).
Huayna Picchu is the most sought-after ticket as they only allow 400 people per day to enter the ruins. The morning is the most popular time to visit the ruins because of the fantastic views of the morning clouds dispersing once the sun rises. You also have to be 12 or older, as it can be a dangerous trek. You will hike trails next to massive cliffs and climb the Stairs of Death to get to the ruins.
Protip: if you are adding Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu as options you may want to have a second day to explore so you can take it all in.
Online Step by Step Process
- In order to secure your tickets, the first step in the process is going to the Peru Ministry of Culture government website.
- Next, you’ll want to determine if you’re attending Machu Picchu by itself, or if you’d like to add-on Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu’s entrance times are between 7-8 AM or 10-11 AM and Machu Picchu Mountain is between 7-8 AM or 9-10 AM. Keep in mind, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain only allow 400 people in per day. This is a change for Machu Picchu Mountain as of 2019. Previously, 800 people per day were allowed to hike Machu Picchu Mountain. It’s best to book well in advance to get the time slot that works best for you.
- First you must decide if you are a part of the general entrance (most foreigners), special entrance (Bolivians, Columbians, Ecaudorians, and Peruvians) or Cusqueños (Peruvian citizens born in Cusco). Cusqueño entrance is only permitted on Sundays.
- Select the date and how many adults, students, or children. If you have a valid student ID you must start by including them as an adult. Then use the online chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org to provide proof before paying. The student will be changed from adult to student at the payment screen. Then select the availability button to move to the next step.
- The next screen you will select if you want Machu Picchu citadel entrance, Machu Picchu plus Huayna Picchu (Wayna Picchu) entrance, or Machu Picchu plus Machu Picchu Mountain entrance. Make sure to select if you want the early morning entrance or the afternoon entrance. This screen also shows the availability of each ticket option.
- The following screen, you will enter your passport information exactly as it is printed on your passport. If you do not, you will not be permitted entrance. After you hit next you will be taken to a screen to confirm your personal information.
- Confirm that you entered your information correctly. Check the confirmation button. You will then confirm that you read the terms and conditions and agree to them. Hit next and a pop-up will generate asking you for your contact address and email address. Enter this, complete the captcha, and hit generate.
- Click the payment option. Currently, only Visa credit card is accepted for online payment. However, MasterCard is coming soon. After selecting your payment a button is populated to confirm your credit card payment selection. After selecting pay, a pop-up overlay shows where you can enter your credit card information. Enter your credit card info, and select pay. You now have your ticket, and can print off each copy. You’ll have to print your ticket. There is no option for a mobile ticket.
- On the first screen you can now select the check-in tab, enter your reservation number to confirm that you have secured a ticket and your ticket will then be emailed to you.
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How to Buy Machu Picchu Tickets in Cusco
You can buy tickets in person for Machu Picchu in either Cusco or Aguas Calientes, which is easier if you are traveling in the shoulder season or low season (October through May). In high season, it may not be possible to buy in person as tickets sell out months in advance. In Cusco, this can be done at the Ministerio de Cultura (Ministry of Culture) which is open Monday through Saturday, 7 AM-8 PM. The Ministry of Culture office in Cusco is located at Casa Garcilaso on Calle Garcilaso, just before the Plaza Regocijo and near the Museo de Chocolate. In Aguas Calientes, tickets are situated in Direccion Regional de Cultura Aguas Calientes Office (Machu Picchu Cultural Centre), which is located at Av. Pachacutec (just off the main square) and is open from Monday through Sunday, 5 AM-10 PM. The location in Cusco accepts credit cards and cash, while the Aguas Calientes location only accepts cash payment. Both sites require your passport.
Utilizing a travel agency is the way we recommend you obtain your Machu Picchu tour ticket because it cuts out a lot of extra steps on your end. Securing tickets on your own is a very cumbersome process. The Peru Ministry of Culture website isn’t extremely user-friendly, which could leave room for mishaps while trying to book. Moreover, when you book your ticket on your own, not only are you responsible for obtaining your ticket, but you are also responsible for arranging transportation to Ollantaytambo, securing your Vistadome train ticket to Aguas Calientes, and receiving your ticket for the bus from Aguas Calientes to the base of Machu Picchu. Allowing a tour agency to organize these steps for you will make the process smooth and time-efficient.
In addition to needing a ticket for your entrance into Machu Picchu, you will also need to have an official tour guide during your time at the ruins. This is a new requirement as of 2018, and something to be mindful of. Booking with a tour guide will kill two birds with one stone, and you’ll be lined up with both your tickets and a guide.
It is challenging to obtain a refund for Machu Picchu in South America once you have purchased a ticket. The only way you will receive a full refund is if Machu Picchu is closed to the public for any reason. If you are wanting to change your trip dates or if something health-related comes up, it is possible to receive a small refund. Up to 72 hours before the date of entrance, 90% of the ticket is refunded, between 48 and 72 hours before, 80% is refunded, and between 24 and 48 hours before, only 75% is refunded. Otherwise, all sales are final!
In summary, obtaining tickets to Machu Picchu can be a very complicated process without a tour agency. By booking your adventure through Cachi Life, we secure your tickets, take care of the transportation, provide you with an English-speaking guide, and provide special care and attention to what YOU want to see in Machu Picchu. Here at Cachi Life, we do all the legwork for you, so you can focus on having a great trip!