Bolivia is a country in central South America, with a varied terrain spanning Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert and Amazon Basin rainforest. Bolivia may well be rough round the edges, but it enchanted us in our visit nonetheless. It is a multi-ethnic country housing approximately 3 dozen different native groups so you can see how diverse their culture will be.
This post will be all about budget travel in Bolivia and how much do you need per day to travel and preferably enjoy Bolivia without breaking the bank. We aim to guide or help travelers or people who would like to visit and explore the amazing things that Bolivia can give them.
Is is safe/difficult to travel to Bolivia?
As a responsible traveler, it is a must to visit a doctor in your country to have vaccines. Routine vaccines like MMR vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, chickenpox vaccine, polio vaccine should be up to date before traveling. Bolivia’s rural areas lack proper sanitation so make sure to bring insect repellents.
Bolivians are calm and relaxed, but we recommend for you to be mindful and be careful when walking around at night. Personally, I found Bolivia a pretty safe country, one of the safest in South America.
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Best time to visit Bolivia
The best time to visit Bolivia is during the months of May to October. This is because the dry weather brings sapphire skies and less travel disruptions.
Keep in mind that this period is also the peak season for tourism, where attractions are busier and prices go up. Though majority of the festivals fall from February to April, this is not the best time for tourist. Carnivals and Easter fall on this months resulting heavy traffic and closed attractions.
If you are up for adventure including trekking and hiking, the best months for you June to July. In this months, days are shorter but usually sunny, and the skies are crystal clear.
Visa in Bolivia
Bolivia’s visa policy has three groups- 1,2, and 3. Those countries that belong to Group 1 may enter Bolivia without visa. For Group 2, these countries may have to secure a visa upon arrival. And for Group 3, they must apply for further authorization from a Bolivian Embassy.
Some countries including Philippines, New Zealand and Australia are in Group 1. United States of America and China belong to Group 2. Click this to see which group your country belongs to.
Cash and ATM in Bolivia
Up until 1963, the currency of Bolivia is Boliviano, and then it was changed to Bolivian Peso. But in 1986, it was changed back to Bolivian Boliviano (BOB) because of the New Economy Policy.
More or less, 1 USD = 7 BOB. There are many currency exchange outlets all over the Bolivia. However, you might find it hard to exchange your own country’s currency to BOB so it’s better to have your currency exchanged to USD first.
There are a lot of ATMs in the country and it is always near banks. Always keep that in mind so you will not have a hard time finding where to withdraw your money. Click here to know the exact exchange rate.
Internet in Bolivia
Nearly every corner of Bolivia has a cyber cafe and wi-fi is now standard in most mid-range and top-end hotels. Among cities in Bolivia, the two biggest cities, La Paz, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, are the ones with fastest connections and lowest prices for the Bolivian market.
You can find the cheapest Bolivia eSim with Airalo Bolivia eSim prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days and $16 USD with 2 GB data valid for 15 days. For $23 USD with 3 GB data and $36 USD with 5 GB data. (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%).
Rates run from B$4 to B$6 per hour. In remote areas, internet access is sometimes only possible via a cell phone signal. Consider buying a local chip/SIM with data especially if you are a tourist so you can have internet wherever you are in Bolivia. There is a small stores in the cities and also in small towns like Uyuni.
Food budget travel in Bolivia
Since Bolivia is relatively cheap, budget travelers will surely love to visit and explore Bolivia. If you’re a budget traveler and want the best deals, you can look for local food stalls or corner food shops that sells a meal for at least $2 to $3 it means 15-20 BOB. Most of the dishes are with meat and chicken, though.
So be prepared for that. As street food saltenas empanadas and bolivianas are served all over the country as cheap as half dollar. On an average, $10 a day is a good food budget travel in Bolivia. You can afford to go to local restaurants since is affordable.
Accommodation budget travel in Bolivia
One way to lessen your accommodation expenses is if you have to go to a certain place via bus or any transportation on a long-distance trip, it will be nice to hop on that ride at night so you can sleep while on the road. But if you plan to stay within the city, private hostel rooms will cost at least $10 to $15 a night.
The best value in the country are family-run hotels which are often called Hostals or Alojamientos. It may be a bit pricier than the usual hostel room for $50 and up but it will make you feel home and comfortable.
Tours/Entrance fees in Bolivia
If you want to visit attractions and/or join trips and tours around Bolivia, there are expensive and cheap ones. Depending on where you want to go or what experience you are looking for, you can go on Salt Flat tour in 1 day for $20-25 to $90 if you decide to explore the salar for a few days.
Other museums has no charge, as well as the churches. A 2 day Maragua Crater Trek costs $65 per person while a tour of the Potosi Mines costs $14 per person.
Local transportation in Bolivia
Bus is the main mode of transportation in Bolivia. There are buses for longer trips on terminals and some that are for shorter trips. They follow set routes, with the route numbers or letters usually marked on a placard behind the windshield. Their buses also differ on the way the seats recline. Shorter bus routes in Bolivia are serviced by minibuses, referred to locally as “micros”.
These buses generally travel along a predetermined route, leaving at any time when full and stopping whenever a passenger wants to get on or off. Prices are regulated and all routes cost the same; approximately Bs 1 ($0.15 US) one way. Local transportation in Bolivia can be one of the cheapest that you can find around the world.
Prior to today’s expansive bus network, camiones (flatbed trucks) were often the only way for travelers to venture off the beaten track. Camiones generally cost about half the bus fare. You’ll need time and a strong constitution, as travel can be excruciatingly slow and rough, depending on the cargo and number of passengers. A major plus is the raw experience, including the best views of the countryside.
Different types of travelers would have different type of daily costs. But for budget travelers $20-25 or so a day in Bolivia is already living the life. It already consist your accommodation, food, and transportation expenses. If you can go to a free entrance museums and churches, then that’s a way to lessen your budget and allot it to either food or the budget the next day.
If you want to have full information about Bolivia, read our full travel guide on a budget. For more related budget travel guides in South America, read our budget travel in Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama.
About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.