The adventure of Machu Picchu is not going to the ancient ruins, it’s getting the tickets to go there. As a perennial procrastinator, I did not purchase tickets ahead of time. This was a bold move because admission is capped to 2,500 people per day. While I was waiting in the lounge in Lima, I had a mild panic attack when I read this. Imagine going all the way to Cusco only to find out that Walley World was closed.
I tried to go to the government’s website to buy the tickets, but Adobe Flash would not load. When it finally did, all my credit cards were declined. The good news was that the quota was far from being reached. As such, I decided to wait until I arrived in Cusco to purchase the tickets.
I stayed at the Palacio del Inca, a Luxury Collection Hotel, which is right in the city center. The front desk said that the ticket office was only one block away near the Palacio de Justicia. I walked in that direction and could not find it. I asked a local who told me to go back towards the hotel. Still lost, I took out Google Maps which sent me in the wrong direction. Annoyed, I went back to the hotel to ask the concierge. They said they could sell me the tickets there for a ten dollar premium. Besides not wanting to pay more than the actual retail price, I wanted to locate the ticket office out of curiosity. The woman said it was right down the street.
Determined to find it, I went out of the hotel, made a right down the alley, and a left on the first street as I had been instructed. I found myself once again at the Palacio. Feeling foolish, I asked another guy where it was. He pointed back towards my hotel. Wouldn’t you know it, the ticket office is less than a block from the hotel and is connected to an architectural ruins site.
I went in, passport in hand, and bought two tickets for noon access for $97. But this would not be the end of the adventure.
Next, I had to purchase tickets for the train to take me to Machu Picchu. There are two choices, PeruRail or Inca. Inca was sold out so I went with Peru. There are three available lines on Peru: Expedition, Vistadome, and Hiram Bingham which is named after the man who re-discovered Machu Picchu.
Expedition, the cheapest was sold out. I ended up booking Vistadome which cost $80 per/pax on the way up and $100 per/pax on the way down. The $500 Hiram Bingham option may be the way to get there in luxury, but for that price, I don’t need to ride in style. Of course, making the reservation online does not mean that you have tickets for the train. It just means that the tickets are on hold. The next step is to find the ticket office which is located in Plaza de Armas. Bring your passport, confirmation email, and booking credit card when you go. Alternatively, you can just book the tickets in person and spare yourself the hassle.
Taxi to Poroy
Train tickets in hand, entrance tickets in hand, it was time to go to sleep as my train was leaving bright and early at 7:35AM. Still, there was one more thing to plan before going– the taxi to Poroy, a town outside of Cusco. The hotel wanted $22 to arrange a taxi, otherwise I could get one off of the street in the morning.
At 6AM I headed back to Plaza de Armas and negotiated for a ride to Poroy. The driver wanted 30 Peruvian soles but we agreed on 20 (~$6.10 USD). It takes 30 minutes to get there with no traffic.
Bus to the Summit
The final cost would be for the bus up to Machu Picchu which is $25 per/pax which can be bought upon arriving at the town outside of Machu Picchu.
Buying and getting to Machu Picchu is not the simplest thing to do, nor is it the cheapest. If you don’t want the hassle, you’ll have to pay the hotel or a ticket broker to do the leg work for you. Hopefully, this guide makes it easy enough that you will not have to do that.