40 Things To Know Before Visiting Bolivia – Best Bolivia Travel Tips
This post will be all about Bolivia travel tips and all the cool facts about Bolivia and things to know before visiting Bolivia. From first-timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Bolivia and what awaits you from beautiful mountains, landscapes, cities to delicious food to try in Bolivia.
Bolivia is a country in central South America, with a varied terrain spanning Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert and Amazon Basin rainforest. Bolivia is a multi-ethnic country housing approximately 3 dozen different native groups so you can see how diverse their culture will be. Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries in South America to travel around.
WHERE TO STAY IN LA PAZ
You can stay in a private hostel room will cost at least $10 to $15 USD a night. The best value in the country is family-run hotels which are often called Hostals or Alojamientos. You can get for $30-50 USD a mid-budget accommodation in Bolivia. For $50 USD and up but it will make you feel at home and comfortable.
Bolivia Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Bolivia
1. IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO BOLIVIA?
If you are traveling from a Western country to Bolivia. If you will be vigilant and act accordingly and responsibly you will not have any problem, just use common sense. I found Bolivia totally safe and it is one of the safest in South America Bolivia. Bolivians are calm and relaxed, but we recommend that you be mindful and careful when walking around at night.
2. CASH IS THE KING AND ATM IN BOLIVIA
Cash is the King in Bolivia. Especially in local markets and public transportation, you will always have to use cash in Bolivia. The official currency is Bolivian Boliviano (BOB). More or less the exchange is $1 USD = 7 BOB. There are many currency exchange outlets all over 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.
3. 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, 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 needs a visa for Bolivia and is so expensive $160 USD. Click this to see which group your country belongs to.
4. 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 fewer travel disruptions. Keep in mind that this period is also the peak season for tourism, where attractions are busier and prices go up.
Most of the festivals are from February to April, this is not the best time for tourist. Carnivals and Easter fall on this month 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.
5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Bolivia we recommend always bringing a travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
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You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included
FACTS ABOUT BOLIVIA
6. LEARNING SPANISH OR SPEAKING ENGLISH IN BOLIVIA
Another learning opportunity in Bolivia is to learn Spanish. There are a lot of Spanish schools in Bolivia offering packages with different services. It will be hard to find Bolivian people even in most of the touristic areas that can manage to speak English. That’s why it will be really useful in our Bolivia travel tips to learn some basics in the Spanish language.
7. BOLIVIA IS SO CHEAP
Facts about Bolivia if you are thinking Central America and South America is cheap for traveling you are right. Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries in South America especially if we compare to Costa Rica and Colombia.
You will have to pay an entrance fee for Natural Parks, around $2-3 USD for a full meal in a local restaurant. Prices are so affordable in local markets in Bolivia.
8. ACCOMMODATION BUDGET TRAVEL IN BOLIVIA
In Bolivia private hostels room will cost at least $10-15 USD 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 hostels room for $50 USD and up but it will make you feel at home and comfortable.
9. FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN BOLIVIA
Since Bolivia is relatively cheap you will find meals for at least $2-3 USD around 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 for as cheap as half a dollar. On average $10 USD a day is a good food budget travel in Bolivia. You can afford to go to local restaurants since is affordable.
10. 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. You can go on Salt Flat tour in 1 day for $20-25 USD to $90 USD if you decide to explore the Salar of Uyuni for a few days.
Other museums have no charge, as well as churches. A 2-day Maragua Crater Trek costs $65 USD per person while a tour of the Potosi Mines costs $14 USD per person.
11. INTERNET IN BOLIVIA
Bolivia travel tips for finding great internet. There are two biggest cities, La Paz, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra are the ones with the fastest connections. In remote areas, internet access is sometimes only possible via a cell phone signal. Consider buying a local SIM with data especially if you are a tourist so you can have internet wherever you are in Bolivia.
If you are traveling as a Digital Nomad in Bolivia you will have a problem outside big cities and when traveling around with internet connection if you need to catch up with work.
SIM CARD AT LA PAZ AIRPORT
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at La Paz airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in La Paz. Read here Bolivia sim card for tourist and best Bolivia eSim
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%).
Holafly eSim Bolivia for $44 USD with 6 GB data in Peru valid for 15 days and use our discount code GAMINTRAVELER. GigSky Bolivia eSim for $11 USD with 1 GB data valid for 15 days. For $40 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days.
12. ADAPTER IN BOLIVIA
In our Bolivia travel tips, you should know they use the American adapter. A few places make it possible to fit your European adapter in the plug. If you are coming from European countries, we recommend you to bring an American adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
13. LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IN BOLIVIA
There are buses for longer trips on terminals and some that are for shorter trips. Shorter bus routes in Bolivia are serviced by minibuses, referred to locally as “micros”. These buses are leaving at any time when full and stop whenever a passenger wants to get on or off. Prices are regulated and all routes cost the same; approximately Bs 1 ($0.15 USD) one way. Local transportation in Bolivia can be one of the cheapest that you can find around the world.
The cheapest way to move around is by bus. Prices are so affordable inside the city that you can get a ride for less than $1 USD. For long-distance buses, you can get $5-6 USD for a night bus backpacking Bolivia and you will save a night of accommodation at the same time. Bolivia travel tips make sure you bring food and you went to the toilet since is so uncertain when the bus will stop.
Like other countries, the most basic and simplest way to get around the city is by taxi. As every tourist or traveler, you should always be cautious and aware when taking a taxi. Make sure to ask a local for an idea of how much the fare is in advance. In Bolivia, Radio Taxis are the safest option, but you can also use those ride-sharing apps which is the safest and most convenient way.
There are 4 Cable Cars in Bolivia which is located exactly in La Paz. The cable car is the most popular for both locals and tourists. It offers a great view of the city.
14. NIGHTLIFE IN BOLIVIA
Nightlife in Bolivia is great you will find always bars and music around. The best areas for nightlife are La Paz and Santa Cruz. Plenty of locals go out to bars and foreigners to drink and dance. Prices for beer and drinks are quite affordable in Bolivia $2-3 USD.
15. Altitude Sickness
Altitude Sickness in Bolivia is something you will have to consider. Most of the places in Bolivia are 3000-4000 meters like La Paz and Uyuni. Make sure you rest properly and drink water since you can feel a little bit tired until you adapt to the altitude. Make sure you avoid alcohol and doing exercise
16. COCA LEAVES
Coca leaves are great to cure altitude sickness. There are places like La Paz 3500 meters above sea level. You will find Coca leaves in local markets and when eating you will be helpful to avoid headaches. Remember only in Bolivia and countries in South America are legal so make sure you aren’t bringing it back to your home country or at least check if it’s allowed to bring Coca leaves.
17. There is No Mcdonald’s in Bolivia And Almost No Supermarkets
There is no Mcdonald’s in Bolivia an interesting thing in case you are looking for this. There are not many foreigner chains in Bolivia and most of the restaurants are local. There are also almost no malls in Bolivia and supermarkets. I only found a couple of supermarkets in La Paz and prices were so expensive compared to local street markets.
18. Women Dresses (Polleras)
In Bolivia you will find women wearing long dresses called Polleras. The women are walking around and selling food or other staff in local street markets in Bolivia. They are also wearing traditional Bolivian hats to protect them from the sun.
19. Cheese And Bread Everywhere
Cheese and bread are products that you will find everywhere when going to local markets and street food. You will see all women selling bread as cheap as 1-2 BOB per piece.
20. Haggling Local Street Markets
You can haggle in local street markets everywhere in Bolivia. You will not find almost supermarkets and no malls in Bolivia. You will find in small towns and cities selling food and other things. You can haggle the price in the street markets remember always to do it with a smile.
21. Most Of the Bolivian Population are Indigenous Speaking Other Language
Most of the Bolivian Population is Indigenous around 70-80% speaking other languages in Bolivia. You will find many of them leaving in the mountains and small towns. There are also many of them in the mountains. I met old people in Bolivia who speaks Quechua and Aymara and they couldn’t speak Spanish.
Bolivia Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Bolivia
FOOD TO TRY IN BOLIVIA
22. EMPANADAS SALTEÑAS
Salteñas is the most popular street food in Bolivia. Salteñas is a type of baked empanada savory pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken mixed in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce. You can find them as street food everywhere where you can have 2-3 salteñas for $1 USD. Salteñas are so delicious!
23. PIQUE MACHO
Pique Macho is the most typical Bolivian food. Pique Macho is a heaped plate consisting of bite-sized pieces of beef, and French fry-cut potatoes. Smaller portions of this food are simply called pique, and pique macho is actually a huge portion. Pique Macho is traditionally spicy hot because of pimiento. In their Urban legend, the person who’ll finish this plate by himself is called Macho.
Anticuchos is It´s a popular inexpensive meat dish that originated during the pre-Columbian era. Anticuchos can be found on the street-carts and street food stalls is made of any type of meat, the most popular is the beef heart. It often comes with a boiled potato or bread. Prices are around $1-2 USD.
Majadito is one of the most famous dishes in Bolivia. The word “Majau” means smashed meat and “ito” is a Spanish suffix. Majadito is a traditional dish found in all nine departments of Bolivia. The original majadito was toasted and boiled rice.
FACTS ABOUT BOLIVIA: FESTIVALS IN BOLIVIA
26. ALASITAS FESTIVAL
Feria de las Alasitas is a month-long festival where locals buy miniature items to be offered to Ekeko, the Aymara god of abundance to bring fortunate and happiness to their lives. Festival Alasitas is celebrated on the 24th day of January and people from all around the country will gather in La Paz.
The are many stores in the city that sell their products for a cheaper price. During February, La Paz markets have a long line of stalls that sells smalls items like main draw card, handcraft ceramic and leather goods that are offered to Ekeko.
27. ORURO CARNIVAL
Facts about Bolivia the Carnival of Oruro is the most important festival in Bolivia. Oruro Carnival is a religious festival dating back more than 200 years ago. The festival demonstrates the ongoing Pagan-Catholic blend of religious practice in the region. It starts with a ceremony dedicated to the Virgen del Socavon.
Marching bands in Oruro compete simultaneously in the Grotto on Sunday. This is for greeting the Virgin. The highlight of the festival is the three-day-and-three-night parade of 48 groups.
28. SEMANA SANTA
Most Catholic nations all over the world celebrate Semana Santa (or Holy Week), and Bolivia is one of them. Semana Santa is celebrated lively, featuring food, music, dance and religious processions. The main celebration takes places during Thursday.
This is when Churches throughout the city open their doors to a stream of devotees who come to light candles, pray and sing hymns. One of the most important traditions of the week is the accent of Churuquella Hill.
29. COPACABANA AND ISLA DEL SOL
Isla del Sol is my favorite tourist spot in Bolivia. Isla del Sol is a place where according to the legend the first Inca was born. Copacabana is the main Bolivian town in the shore of Lake Titicaca. As a tourist in Isla del Sol you can rent boats from Copacabana to reach Isla del Sol back and forth for tourists that only stay at noon.
I will recommend you to stay a few days in Isla del Sol where you can enjoy the views of the lake. There are a few trekking and you can go from North to South part of the island. The life is so simple and prices for accommodation is so affordable. The nature is amazing and you will love every moment in Isla del Sol.
Sucre is also one of the capitals of Bolivia where you’ll be able to see beautiful colonial architecture. Sucre is one of the most stunning city in Bolivia also called “White City” because it is one of the cleanest cities in the country. Sucre is the perfect city to stop and spend a few days, even for learning Spanish if that´s something that you are interested.
There are many things to do in the Sucre from visiting museums and hiking to sightseeing beautiful landscapes. Central Market is the place where you’ll be able to find street stalls or food stalls that sell delicacies. The cemetery is also a popular spot in Sucre with beautiful views.
31. LA PAZ
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia. La Paz lacks colonial beauty but the city is still worth visiting. The city has its own set of highlights, such as the famous cable cars. While riding the cable car, you’ll be able to see the beauty of the whole city, while also avoiding traffic.
This is the highest cable car system not only in Bolivia but in the world. The cable car is a big hit for both local and tourists, because of its spectacular view of the city. It is the best transportation in La Paz to avoid traffic. You may wander around the city to chill and watch incredible vistas around.
VISIT ALTO MARKET IN LA PAZ
El Alto Market in La Paz is one of the busiest market in the world. The view of the market is very rustic. Visiting Alto Market is worth it because you can buy everything there. It’s a good opportunity for sightseeing and shopping. Locals are very nice and approachable here.
Prices for clothes and food are cheap, too! You can also get amazing views of the city of La Paz from the market so it’s really a must-visit place for tourists.
Cochabamba is one of the least visited cities in Bolivia. Cochabamba has beautiful weather is spring-climate all year around making it an ideal place to visit. Cochabamba is the fourth largest city in Bolivia, with a population of 600,000 people. Cochabamba is known as the “City of Eternal Spring” or “The Garden City” because of its spring-like temperature.
33. SALAR DE UYUNI
Salar de Uyuni is a unique destination in Bolivia and one of the most popular in South America. Uyuni is located in the Southwest region of Bolivia. Uyuni is the main gateway for tourists in visiting the world’s largest salt flats.
What to see a long span of salt flats? Going to Salar de Uyuni may be one of the best things to do in Bolivia. You have to visit in a day tour and if you have time you can do a tour spending 3 days in Uyuni. The experience is amazing and you will get amazing pictures too!
Cemetery For Trains in Uyuni
The place is a cemetery for trains in Uyuni. The place is found in the deserted outskirts of Uyuni. Known as an important transportation hub in South America, most trains you’ll able to see here are dated back early to 20th century.
The best time to visit is early morning or the evening where tourists are already gone or haven’t arrived yet. The cemetery of trains in Uyuni is walkable from the center of Uyuni.
Rurrenabaque is the Amazon of Bolivia. “Rurre” is a shorten-term name of the town in North Bolivia. There is an easy access from Rurrenabaque to Madidi National Park inside the rainforest. You’ll be able to reach the town by bus or airplane. A total of 18 hours when you travel by bus and a total of 45 minutes by airplane. There is a new road on this route for easy access rather than taking the route of Death Road.
Rurrenabaque town is a starting point for ecotourism for the country. Also Eco-Lodges are available around the area that tourists may use. Their Fiesta (Bank Holiday) is on the 2nd day of February. In Rurrenabaque you will see wild animals like alligators, squirrels, monkeys and giant rodent capybaras.
35. SANTA CRUZ
Santa Cruz is the second most important city in Bolivia. Santa Cruz is the largest city in Bolivia and the most modern city. Santa Cruz is in the tropical lowland of Bolivia, so it is warm all year round but expects to experience cold winds for a while. Santa Cruz is great for Digital Nomads because of the weather and the highest internet speed in Bolivia.
There are a lot of spots for tourists in Santa Cruz like museums, cultural centers and galleries. Despite its rapid growth, the city’s traditions and culture are still preserved.
Coroico is a town in Nor Yungas Province and the locals are known as Coroicans. The weather in Coroico is perfect for hiking, warm during the day and refreshing at night. Make sure you bring mosquito spray when going to Coroico since is inside the jungle make sure you wear long sleeves after the sunset.
37. BIKING ACROSS THE NORTH YUNGAS ROAD
Yungas Road known as the “Death Road” is listed as one of the most dangerous routes. The roads first climb is up to 4650 meters at what’s called the La Cumbre Pass.
Be careful because is one of the longest downhill stretches in the world only 3.5 meters wide and has many unpaved sections. One side of the road is solid rock, the other side a 600-meter abyss. You can join in a tour as a day trip from La Paz or Coroico.
Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world- over 4,000 meters in altitude. Potosi is nice walking around the town because of the weather. Potosi is not very touristic and most of the tourists go there to visit the mines. You can join in a tour organized for a company or your hostel. Prices of the tours are around $15 USD.
39. WALK AROUND THE FOOTSTEPS OF CHE GUEVARA
Have you ever heard about Che Guevara? There is a popular village La Higuer and unique in every way. Having fewer than 20 houses La Higuer village is small enough for tourists to walk around. Tourists go to visit La Higuer because of the village town and passion memories of La Ruta of Che Guevara.
40. GO OVER TO LAGUNA COLORADO
Laguna Colorado is about 5000 meters above sea level. The first thing for you to see is the shallow Salt Lake. The red sediment and algae is the reason why it is color red. You will find it more breathtaking when it’s sunset time, because of the mixture of the color of the sky and the water.
Keep in your mind that there are local flamingoes too in Laguna. Since Laguna Colorado is one of the most tourist areas make sure to take your trash back with you or throw it in the proper bins.
Hope you liked our Bolivia travel tips. Let us know if we are missing things to know before visiting Bolivia in the comments below.
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