Travel in Bolivia
Bolivia is a beautiful country with very diverse landscapes, nature, weather and scenery. When you travel in Bolivia you can go from the tops of the Andes to the Amazon Basin and experience a huge variation in temperature, humidity, altitude and geology. I’ve travelled to many places in Bolivia by bus from 2018 to 2021 and I’ve made this Bolivia Travel Guide with some tips and information for you.
Bolivia is a country where they seem to make everything harder than it needs to be. Like the fact that most tourists can stay for 90 days without a visa in Bolivia but you have to go to an immigration office every 30 days to renew it.
There is very little information online when it comes to buses and any official information. Most offices don’t update their details on Google (don’t trust the opening hours on Google) and don’t have phone numbers to call. If a business does have a ‘website’ in Bolivia it is probably just a Facebook page and you will probably be directed to communicate via Whatsapp.
If you know some tips and tricks for travelling in Bolivia, you can see more and do more for less money and less stress. I’ve been living in Bolivia for over 2 years and share some of my experiences with you on this website to help you orientate yourself quickly to the Bolivian landscapes and culture.
Tips for travel in Bolivia
Here are a few tips that you might find useful depending what situations you get yourself into in Bolivia.
- Supermarkets are generally more expensive than local markets. You can save money and practice your Spanish by shopping at a local market.
- Not all buses have toilets and even fewer have working toilets. Always ask if the bus has a toilet (‘Tiene baño?’) and if it works (‘El baño funciona?’) before you buy your ticket.
- Boil tap water or just buy bottled water. You might be fine but it’s not worth the risk. The tap water’s not great quality especially after rain.
- Nearly every price can be negotiated. The locals are great at bargaining. You can start by asking the price (‘Cuanto cuesta?’) and when they tell you the price you can follow up with (‘Hasta que precio me puede dar?’) which basically means ‘how cheap can you sell it to me?’. It’s a simple phrase used by some locals here. Of course if your Spanish is good you can keep bargaining but this is a good place to start.
- Negotiate the price before you get in a taxi. That goes for many countries but is definitely true in Bolivia.
- Rum and singani are very cheap and whiskey is expensive. However, you can find places which sell black market spirits much cheaper than a supermarket.
- Wine is cheap in Bolivia and beer is not so cheap. You can however buy crates of beer (12 x 1L or 750ml). You will have to pay a deposit on the bottles which they will give back when you return the bottles.
- If you buy bags of quinoa you will probably have to search through the seeds and remove any stones.
- If you take your cell phone to be repaired at a ‘tecnico’ wait at the shop while they repair it to be sure they don’t take out original parts from your phone and replace them with counterfeit parts.
- In some crowded places like markets, robberies are more common. Guard your personal belongings well.
- If you need a hospital the best way is just to ask a taxi to take you to the nearest hospital. Generally taxi drivers know the city well and will take you to one faster than searching for an ambulance or searching on your map.
- The number for police in Bolivia is 110, fire is 119 and as far as I know health emergencies is 168. I have also read that in Santa Cruz and Sucre for ambulances it’s 160, in La Paz it’s 165.
- Also watch out for olive stones in the salteñas.
Places in Bolivia
Lake Titicaca with a surface elevation of 3,812 m and an area of 8,372 km² is often called the “highest navigable lake” in the world and according to legend is the birthplace of the Incas.
The Uyuni salt flat (Salar de Uyuni) at an elevation of 3,663 m and an area of 10,582 km² is the worlds largest salt flat. It is the remains of a prehistoric lake that went dry and is like visiting another planet.
I came to Bolivia from New Zealand in 2018. My main reason to come to Bolivia was to study Spanish in Sucre and continue my travels through South America.
I met my beautiful wife when I was studying in Sucre and have lived with her and her family since soon after we met. Living with her has given me a great insight into the way Bolivians live and the way society works.
Most of my time in Bolivia has been spent in Sucre, but I have done a few trips to other places too.
I want to share my experiences in this travel guide so that hopefully other travellers can see Bolivia with as little stress as possible.