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How expensive is Argentina

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Currency PESO: Meals Budget: US$4-10 - Mid-range: US$10-20 - Top-end: US$20 and upwards - Lodging Budget: US$20-30 - Mid-range: US$30-40 - Top-end: US$40 and upwards.

Until recently, Argentina was an expensive country to visit - so expensive that Argentines were in the habit of taking their holidays in 'cheap' countries, like the USA. The economic policy that pegged the peso one-to-one to the US dollar kept prices high but inflation under control. The recent devaluation of the peso means that all bets are off. At present, the peso has shrunk to about half the value of the US dollar, and it's anyone's guess as to how much further it may drop when banking restrictions are eased. This could translate to bargains for budget travelers, but that's only if inflation remains in check. Right now, the government is urging businesses not to raise their prices, as rampant inflation would plunge the already fragile economy into chaos. In the 1970s and '80s, inflation consistently exceeded 100% per year and was often much higher, reaching an astounding 5000% in 1989. Given Argentina's history of economic instability, savvy travelers should keep a watch on the exchange markets and on economic events. US dollars are no longer accepted officially, but there's such a run on dollars at the moment that many shopkeepers would be glad to take them. You'll get a better rate at an official cambio, but be prepared to wait in line for several hours. Not surprisingly, there's a thriving black market in currency exchange, mostly for US dollars but also for Euros. Avoid the black market - not only is it illegal, but you might end up with counterfeit pesos.

Travelers should bring some of their own currency and change it into pesos little by little. ATM withdrawals that reflect the current exchange rate are the best way to keep up with the fluctuating value of the peso. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards, but don't rely on them - some travelers have reported problems getting vendors to accept credit cards these days. The same goes for traveler's checks. Tipping around 10% is customary in restaurants. Bargaining is uncommon, except in the artisan markets of the Andean northwest.


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