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La Paz cable cars

Bolivia is the fifth largest South American Country. It is one of the only two landlocked countries in the Americas (Panama is the other). It’s diverse landscape spans from the Central Andes, through part of the Pantanal, the Gran Chaco, into the Amazon rainforest and across the world’s largest Salt Flats.  

It is a country rich with culture and customs, with many of the indigenous people still wearing the colourful, traditional dress. Whilst officially a Christian country the native people also place Pachamama, or Mother Earth, in extremely high regard, honouring, celebrating and giving thanks to Pachamama alongside their Catholic practises.

1 - Daily budget in Bolivia

Bolivia is renowned as being  one of the cheapest South American countries to travel.

The pie chart breaks down where our money was spent & below are some typical costs.

Our average daily spend during our 3 weeks was 549Bs (£66/$79) for the 2 of us, on a medium budget but always staying in private rooms.

Typical costs

Large Beer in a restaurant/bar

Pisco Sour

A Coffee in a café

Bs 8 - 12

Bs 10 - 15

Bs 15 - 30

Menu del dia (meal of the day)

Private double room

Dorm bed

Bs 15 - 30

Bs 120 - 200

Bs 50 - 90

Daily backpacker budget breakdown & pie chart for Bolivia on a mid-range budget

2- Currency in Bolivia

The currency in Bolivia is the Bolivian Boliviano, at the time of writing this in December 2022 the exchange rate was

£1 = Bs 8.3 $1 = Bs 6.9

However it is always best to check current rates. I usually use XE to find up to date rates.

3- Withdrawing cash in Bolivia

What cards to use, how and where to withdraw cash & whether it is better to use cash or card for purchases abroad can be a bit of a minefield – read our Budget & Money tips for some general advice on managing your money when travelling.

When visiting in October 2022 we found the BCP, Merchantil Santa Cruz & Banco Pyme Ecofuturo were free to withdraw cash from. However, Banco Sol charged 17 Bs for each withdrawal on top of any charges your own bank may apply, and Banco Economico charged 34 Bs on top (not so economico!). 

4- Best time of year to visit Bolivia

All year round is a good time to visit Bolivia for different reasons, depending on what activities and sights you want to experience.

May to October is winter in the southern hemisphere, temperatures vary across the country but in the highlands can drop to -15 degrees Celsius. However, it is also dry season so perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities.  This is a very popular time to visit, therefore prices are at their highest.

December to March is low season as it is also rainy season. It can be a great time to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats as when flooded they are the perfect mirror of the sky. This season is also packed with festivals including the Alasitas Festival in La Paz, a huge celebration where locals shop for miniature versions of their dreams and goals to offer the Andean God, Ekeko, in the hope they will come true. Carnival in Oruro in the west, a 10 day celebration showcasing a mix of Spanish and Andean culture and March marks harvest time in the wine region of Tarija.

April & November are the shoulder seasons – warm, sunny days, cool nights, minimal rain and lower prices. November celebrates the famous Day of the Dead where locals gather in a colourful, joyous celebration to honour their ancestors.

5 - Perfect Itinerary for 2 weeks in Bolivia

3 nights in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is cheap to fly into and 3 nights here will give you plenty of time to recover from your flight and check out the sights. See our Santa Cruz blog for where to stay and how to fill your time there.

2 nights in Cochabamba. Cochabamba is a city located about half-way between Santa Cruz and La Paz and makes for a great stop-over to break up the journey, as well as giving you time to acclimatise to the increasing altitude. It is also known as Bolivia’s foodie capital and if you're into trying different cuisines read our Bolivia food & drink post to find the must tries. Check out our Cochabamba blog for where to stay and top sights.

3 nights in La Paz, a breath-taking city, set high in the Andes at an altitude of 3625m. 4 nights here will allow you to explore the city, ride the cable cars, sample the nightlife and take trip or two outside the city (number 1 trip for most travellers is the Death Road!). Our La Paz blog gives you ideas of how to spend your time, where to stay and most importantly where to get good coffee!

1 night from La Paz - Lake Titicaca (Copacabana), if you are heading north into Peru after Bolivia, Copacabana is a great way to break up your journey. If your trip is Bolivia only, head up to Copacabana & if you have time spend a night on Isla del Sol.

3 nights for Salar de Uyni - the world famous salt flats should not be missed. If you are heading to Chile after Bolivia, this tour can be done one-way from Uyni to San Pedro de Atacama (or vice versa).

2 nights for Sucre. The 'White City' has some of the best preserve colonial architecture in Bolivia. 

6 - Perfect Itinerary for 3 weeks in Bolivia

If you have an extra week, add one of the following onto the 2 week itinerary above;

Add some nature to your Bolivian itinerary

3 or 4 nights - Rurrenabaque (return journey from La Paz). This is the gateway to the Bolivian Amazon & the Pampas (Bolivian part of the Pantanal).  The trip goes in & out of La Paz & can vary in length, however the minimum time to spend in Rurrenabaque & the Pampas would be 3 days.  You can either take a plane in & out, or take a bus down the Death Road!

3 or 4 nights - Amboro National Park - Between Santa Cruz & Copacabana, stop in at Samaipata. Samaipata is a great place from which to explore all that the Amboro National park has to offer.

Add learning Spanish to your Bolivian itinerary

Sucre is one of the best places to take a Spanish class. One reason is the locals speak much slower & use less slang than some of their Latin American neighbours. A second reason & very important reason for most travellers, it is that it is the cheapest place!! 

Add 5 extra nights to your stay in Sucre to increase it to 7 nights.
You then could spend 2 days visiting Potosi to see the Silver mines, or Tarija for Bolivia's wine region (this is also a great stopping point on the way to northern Argentina).

7 - 1 month Bolivia itinerary

If you are lucky enough to be able to spare a month in Bolivia, you should be able to take in all of the above & although this it not everything Bolivia has to offer, it is a great mix. This would be our suggested itinerary if you can spare a month:

  • 3 night Santa Cruz

  • 3 night in Samaipata to explore the Amboro National park

  • 7 nights Sucre (take in the Spanish lessons)

  • 2 nights Tarija

  • 2 nights Potosi

  • 3 nights Salar de Uyni

  • 2 night in Cochabamba

  • 2 night in La Paz (take in the Death Road on one of these)

  • 3 night in Rurrenabaque exploring the Bolivian Amazon & the Pampas

  • 1 night in La Paz 

  • 1 night Copacabana

  • 1 night Isla del Sol (Lake Titicaca)

8 - Travelling around Bolivia by bus

Bus travel in Bolivia has a bit of a bad reputation. We met lots of travellers who were nervous about supposed overworked drivers who take drugs to stay awake on long journeys or reckless, inebriated drivers increasing risk. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, but we didn’t actually meet anyone who had a first-hand story, and we did not experience (or should I say notice!) anything like this. Driving in most South American countries is different to UK and can seem a little haphazard and fast, but we were never overly concerned! Also, unfortunately there are not a lot of other affordable options; you could look at flights and may find some cheap deals, but generally bus is the most flexible and cost-effective way to travel.

When it comes to booking bus tickets we found it was, more often than not, cheaper to purchase the tickets at the bus station rather than online. Be warned, visits to the bus stations can be a little overwhelming particularly in some of the smaller towns as the sellers shout to get your attention and try and encourage you to buy the tickets from them. Don't panic, they do it to everyone, even the locals. Don't allow yourself to be pressured, take your time, ask questions about price, journey times and type of seats available and make your decision in your own time.  The following websites are useful for checking whether your route is possible and seeing which companies service that particular route.

For overnight or long journeys we always opted for higher class seats which are roomy and recline a comfortable amount to allow you to get some sleep. To get a better understanding of the seat classes see our blog South America bus classes explained.

9 - Public transport, taxis & Uber in Bolivia


In most towns and cities you are able to jump on the colectivos, which are the public buses, and travel around safely. They do get crowded though, so be aware of pick pockets. 


We used the taxis in Bolivia without any issues. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of safety standards when it comes to the vehicles, and I don’t think we had one journey where working seatbelts were available, so it is certainly at your own risk. The taxis don’t run on a meter, so make sure you agree a price before getting in. We found taxis in South America to be reasonably expensive compared to the general prices of other things, and they are obviously substantially more than the local buses.


Uber is available in some cities, we used them in Santa Cruz. The standard of vehicle seems to be better and obviously it is a tracked service, so where possible I would always choose Uber over a regular taxi. Uber is generally cheaper too, unless you can barter down a low price with a taxi driver. 

10 - Is Bolivia safe to travel?

Travelling anywhere comes with a certain element of risk and in any busy town or city anywhere in the world you need to be aware of petty theft and pickpockets. We found Bolivia however to be very safe, we never felt any threat and found the people to be kind and helpful. It is always good practise to check with the hostel whether there are any places that should be avoided, especially at night. The central squares are lovely to visit during the day and early evening but generally should be avoided after 10pm. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t flash expensive items such as jewellery or electronics about.

11 - Food and drink in Bolivia

Eating out in Bolivia is incredibly cheap especially if you stick to local cuisine. If you are staying somewhere with cooking facilities you will be able to shop for yourself at the local market; supermarkets do exist however Bolivians don’t really like them and do all their shopping at the market. For information on authentic Bolivian dishes and local drinks, read our Bolivian food and drink post.

12 - Language spoken in Bolivia

In Bolivia there are 37 official languages!! The most commonly spoken is Spanish which is spoken by over 80% of the population (only 40% as their first language), with Quechua & Aymara being the most common indigenous languages spoken. 

English isn't widely spoken in Bolivia so if your Spanish is poor, get ready with a big smile & you may need Google Translate. Make sure to at least know the pleasantries.

13 - Buying a SIM in Bolivia

So your asking yourself, how easy is it to buy a SIM card in Bolivia?

Great news, buying a SIM card in Bolivia is very easy, although quite a formal process, it ran smoothly and we found the staff were well-versed in tourist SIM packages.

We picked our SIM up in Santa Cruz & were advised by the hostel owner to go with Entel. We went into the branch with our passports and were directed to grab a ticket with a number on & take a seat. When our number was called we went up to a desk, explained we’d like to buy a SIM card (the staff spoke fair English) & were shown a few options for SIM packages. The actual SIM card cost 10 Bs and we opted for a 30 day package that for 50 Bs gave us 5GB of data & unlimited WhatsApp. The staff set it up, inserted the SIM into our phones and applied for the package, showing us the confirmation text messages and we were on our way again within 15 mins.

If you are going to be in the country for more than 30 days you can top up the SIM on your phone and purchase another package.

14 - Bolivian visa requirements

When visiting a new country we would always refer to the GOV.UK website before travelling as we find we can rely on them being up to date & we found some foreign governments websites entry requirements page a little confusing at times. As with most South American countries, currently a fully vaccinated British national has no requirement to apply for a visa in advance and will be granted permission on arrival to stay up to 90 days. However, Bolivian authorities require you to register the places you are staying throughout your trip online - In all honesty I am not sure when or how this is checked but you should comply with regulation. We updated it online each time we booked a new hostel, it might have only been the day before and we obviously had gaps in our timeline when we spent nights on overnight buses but this was never queried.

15 - What vaccinations do you need for Bolivia?

Even if a country doesn’t have specific vaccination requirements for entry, we always check Fit4Travel & Travel Heath Pro to see what is advised. You should speak to your travel nurse 12 weeks before travel to ensure you have enough time to receive the vaccinations recommended.


For Bolivia, if you are arriving from a country that has a risk of yellow fever transmission you are required to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. The Fit4Travel website shows the yellow fever risk areas.

Advised/ to be considered

Generally, the vaccines which are advised are;

  • Hepatitus A

  • Tetanus are advised

The vaccines to consider are;

  •  Diptheria

  • Rabies

  • Typhoid

  • Yellow Fever 

16 - Bolivia plug type

There are two plug types,

Type A (two flat parallel pins)

Type C (two round pins)

Bolivia operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

I recommend buying this universal adapter, as it is the best one we've had.

Bolivia blog posts

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