Bolivia is one of the few countries in South America that is entirely landlocked. However, where it lacks in sandy beaches and ocean horizons, it more than makes up for with its other numerous breathtaking attractions. They have it all from rolling mountainous terrains in the Andes to unique watery destinations like the glassy Lake Titicaca.
So, if you are considering a trip down south, there is no denying the fact that Bolivia has a lot to offer. Here is more on what you need to know when planning your vacation to this South American paradise.
1. You have to polish up your Spanish
Spanish is the predominantly spoken language in Bolivia. So, if you are planning in dating a Bolivian woman (check those tips) or a guy, you will, therefore, either have to polish up what you already know or learn the essential phrases before you get there. You could also get translation books or apps to make life easier. However, if you are planning trips to more remote and rural locations, it is best to have a guide and translator at hand. That is because the unique lingo and presence of different ethnic dialogues might get confusing.
2. La Paz is the safest place to stay
For the most part, Bolivia is a relatively calm and safe place. However, there are pockets of crime and strife all over with some popping up randomly. So, to avoid getting caught up in any sticky situation, it would be wise to pick La Paz as your base of operations. Travel as far and wide as you wish but make sure to make this beautiful city your home while you are there.
3. It is a real off the grid experience
You might have to wait a while before you get good enough wifi to upload those pictures of yourself at the foot of the Andes Mountains or on the Salt Flats. It is because most locations in this country receive weak or no phone/internet signals at all. It is perfect if you plan on using your trip to unplug.
4. You will spend a lot of time on the road
When writing down your destination bucket list for Bolivia, it is essential to note that all these wonders are not conveniently clustered in one location. It may take you several hours and even days on the road getting from one to another. However, the sore necks and swollen feet will be worth it when you get where you are going. Just like Transport Executive, everything is smooth with your travel time when you hire a van driver where you can enjoy going out with your friends.
5. Transport is cheap
The good news about spending so much time traveling from one destination to another is the fact that it is affordable. Public transport like buses referred to as le collectivo will get you where you need for as little as the equivalent of 1 USD per hour of travel. If you want more privacy and convenience, you could go for private cabs. These are often more expensive but still manageable.
6. The weather can be unpredictable
When you are packing for your Bolivia trip, make sure to carry clothes for all seasons. That is because the weather here changes a lot, not only region to region but also hour to hour. You might wake up to a freezing morning, and by the time it is noon, you are stripping your numerous layers to escape the stuffy heat.
7. There are several tourists scams to look out for
As a foreigner in Bolivia, you arrive with a target on your back. While most people here are welcoming and very genuine, numerous shady characters are lurking around waiting to take advantage of your confusion. These range from simple private transport price hikes to scams like the fake police scam. In the latter, con artists claim to be plainclothes officers and demand identification credentials. They may then make away with your documents or straight-up rob you. The best way to protect yourself is to learn more about these scams or work with a trusted guide.
8. You probably don’t need a visa for a trip to Bolivia
For many countries in the world, a visa is not required to travel to Bolivia for a stay of fewer than 90 days. Your passport is sufficient, provided that it is still valid 6 months after the date of return. Before your departure, check with your country’s diplomatic website to be informed of all the up-to-date information to go to Bolivia.
9. Stay safe and secure
To avoid any theft, it is necessary to respect some basic rules: do not exhibit valuables or jewelry in public, put your money in a place not easily accessible for thieves. You will also avoid getting into any taxi because some fake taxis rob tourists; some thieves even pretend to be fake policemen to steal your money. Remember to make a copy or scan your important documents such as your passport or plane ticket, as this would be useful in case of theft or loss.
10. Respect the basic rules of hygiene
Tap water should be avoided and you should only drink bottled water. Remember to wash your hands regularly. You should avoid eating raw fruits or vegetables (raw vegetables, fresh fruit juices) unless you peel them. Many animals roam in cities; do not pet them, as they could carry rabies.
11. Be ready to eat Bolivian food
During your stay in Bolivia, take the opportunity to stroll around a market to discover the different flavors of the local cuisine. Soup is present at many meals and can be used as a complete dish. Sopa de mani, with potatoes, meat, thick cream of peanuts and spices, sopa de quinoa or sopa le chairo with potatoes and meat. The main courses are mainly meat-based with dishes such as chicharron, pieces of chicken or pork cooked in oil or pique macho, a very spicy dish with bites of grilled beef, chips, tomatoes and chili pepper. The desserts are varied with tropical fruits, ice cream, chocolates especially sugar, marzipan.
On the drinking side, you will be pleasantly surprised by the wines of the region as well as the local beers famous in Latin America. You will be able to try the chicha, a drink based on corn and cereals or the mate de coca, an herbal tea made from coca leaves which has many virtues.