Conversion tips for temperature, distance and weight in South America

Become a metric guru with these helpful tips to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, kilometers to miles, and kilograms to pounds.
Fresh produce at South American markets are often sold by the kilo, not by the pound. Photo by GregRoadTrip/Flickr

Temperature, distance, and weight measurements in South America are different than those used in the United States and United Kingdom. Online resources can easily calculate metric conversions for you, but sometimes you’ll be without a smart phone or internet connection to do so. While traveling, the following conversion tips will come in handy on your trip.

Celsius to Fahrenheit: Feeling hot, hot, hot?

Lima, Peru, Peru For LessIt’s a gorgeous day in Lima, Peru’s capital city. What’s the temperature in Celsius?
Photo by Ana Castañeda Cano

From locals telling you the daily weather forecast to planning what to wear on a daily excursion, the topic of temperature comes up frequently while you travel. South America countries refer to temperature in Celsius: what does that mean for you?

Use this simple conversion to figure out a close approximation of Fahrenheit: multiply the Celsius temperature by 2 and then add 30.

( _ C x 2) + 30 =  ? F
(30 C x 2) + 30 = 90 F

Here’s a helpful temperature guide.



Simple Conversion

Unit Converter

Cold – scarf, gloves and a jacket

5 C

about 40 F

exact 41 F

Temperate -pants and short sleeves

20 C

about 70 F

exact 68 F

Hot – shorts, bathing suit and sunscreen

30 C

about 90 F

exact 86 F


Kilometers to Miles: Going for distance

Inca Trail, Peru, Peru For LessThe famous Inca Trail in Peru is mapped out in kilometers.
Photo by Olearly/Flickr

Trails and road signs in South America are marked in kilometers.  For travelers who “think in miles”, figuring out the distance of a long trek, for example, can be frustrating without a way to bridge the metric difference.

To calculate kilometers to miles in your head, consider the following:

For every 5 kilometers, substitute 3 miles
For every 8 kilometers, substitute 5 miles

Look for ways to use the divisors 3, 5, or 8 when making conversions.



You’re approaching KM 16 on a long trek.

8 km is about 5 mi

So, 16 km is about 10 mi.

Only 46 km until you reach your destination

5 km is about 3 mi

So, 46 km is a little more
than 27 mi

Click here to convert kilometers to miles and vice versa.

Kilograms to Pounds: Being weight conscious

Peruvian market, Peru, Peru For LessBuy fresh fruit and vegetables in South America by the kilo.
Photo by Worldwidegifts/Flickr

In South America, many travelers will visit a local market to purchase souvenirs and may buy something to eat. Here, vendor prices of fruits, vegetables, and grains are generally marked per kilo, not per pound. For an outing to the market, a visual representation of 1 kilo is helpful when determining how much of something you’d like to buy.

1 kg is about the weight of a 1-liter bottle of water
1 kg is about the weight of 1 pineapple
1 kg is about the weight of an average text book

To convert pounds to kilograms, subtract the first digit from the total number of pounds and divide by two.

55 pounds, subtract 5 (the first digit) from 55 (the total number of pounds)
This gives you 50. Divide by two to get 25 kg.
55 pounds = about 25 kilograms (exact amount 24.85 kg)

Click here to convert kilograms to pounds online.

Following the pilot’s instructions, you put your seat back and tray table in their full upright and locked position. The voice on the intercom chimes in again with the weather conditions – 30 degrees and clear blue skies. Rationalizing that 30 degrees Fahrenheit is way too cold for a summer day in a city so close to the Equator, you’re reminded that South American countries use a different metric system. But now that you know some helpful conversion tips you’re prepared to begin exploring South America!

Plan your own tour of South America.  Check out our travel specials and then chat with one of our expert travel advisors.