Peru government launched a new website in December 2018 with new rules for booking tickets. Tickets for entry to Machu Picchu in 2019 are now offered by the hour. Follow this link to see the full story.  

(updated Dec 10, 2018)

Half day entry tickets to Machu Picchu will no longer be offered in 2019. 

Want More Time to Explore Machu Picchu Ruins? 

The latest change to entry tickets to Machu Picchu limits each ticket holder to one entry. Unless you buy tickets to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain.  These hikes are offered at 2 different times during morning shift and allow you to enter twice. The additional cost to include these tickets are 48/s. (about $16 USD pp).  Even if you don't do the hikes you can enter twice with these tickets. Huayna Picchu tickets typically sell out several weeks if not months in advance.  But MP Mountain tickets are often available. This is the best strategy to gain more time to explore the ruins on your own.

What is the biggest obstacle to getting in to Machu Picchu?

It's not what you would think. The biggest obstacle to reaching the main entry at Machu Picchu is waiting to board the shuttle buses in Aguas Calientes. The wait time can be 1-2 hours during the busy season from April through October. People are getting in line as early as 3 am. With the new half-day entry tickets, the number of visitors per day has more than doubled. (It went from 2500 per day to 3200 AM + 3200 PM. Not including hikers.) No one paid attention to how the extra visitors would be transported back and forth between Aguas Calientes and the main entry. The government has confirmed that they will not bring in new buses because of the environmental impact! For people who are buying tickets to do the early hikes at Huayna or MP Mountain, you should be prepared to get in line for shuttle buses at 4 am so you get to your hike in time. You don't have to buy roundtrip bus tickets. You can choose to buy 1 way bus tickets and take the bus up and walk back. (average 1-2 hours)

Note:

  • All Machu Picchu tickets are for 1 entry only.
  • If you leave the park, you may not be allowed to re-enter.

What you need to know:

  • There are no senior discounts for entry tickets
  • Hikers who enter from the Inca Trail will have access to the ruins after the hike or the next morning if they choose to stay in Aguas Calientes. This includes 2nd day of the easy 1-day hike.
  • Perurail has added few more morning trains from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo Station)
  • New rules state that guide service is required for the initial entry. (but is not enforced at this time)  For full details, follow this link.
  • 3267 is the maximum number of visitors allowed for each shift (increased from 2500 per day prior to July 1, 2017) As of Jan 1, 2019 this was changed to 5600 per day distributed in various amounts on the hour
  • There is no limit to the amount of time you spend inside the park. But once you leave the park you cannot re-enter unless you have tickets for one of the hikes and it is before 12N.

What you need to be prepared for:

  • The only restrooms are located outside the main entry. (Cost 2 soles pp)   
  • Tri-pods, backpacks, food and drinks have always been restricted, but not enforced. 
  • Check availability for trains before you buy your entry tickets
  • Allow additional time to board shuttle buses in Aguas Calientes. (the ride is 25 minutes each way)
  • In January 2019, the agents at the bus stops in Aguas Calientes asked people with later entry times to step out of line and wait until about 1H before the scheduled time on their tickets. The early buses are only for people who have early entry at 6AM or 7AM.

The reason for the changes are said to be to improve the experience of the visitor as well as to protect and preserve the treasure of the Peruvian people. And apparently once you are inside the effect of reduced congestion is noticeable.
However it seems to me that without more shuttle buses, the experience of getting to and from Machu Picchu main entry will be more frustrating. 

Click here to read our blog about the Truth about Overcrowding and the New Rules

Visitors now are limited to 1 entry per day and must follow marked routes.

To see up to date info on other changes in Machu Picchu: Follow this link to see the latest Machu Picchu News

I believe these changes will improve the logistics for the 1-day Machu Picchu Guided Tour beginning and ending in Cusco.  No more getting up at 3 am.  By purchasing afternoon tickets, the goal will be to spend the morning getting to Aguas Calientes where you have time for quick lunch then head up to the ruins for the afternoon.  And return to Cusco on the evening train.