Alpaca in front of Nevado Sajama, Bolivia
Alpaca in front of Nevado Sajama, Bolivia

Nevado Sajama

Alpaca in front of Nevado Sajama
Photo by Alain Bonnardeaux

BOLIVIA

South America

Bolivia Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Sucre

Location:

Central South America, southwest of Brazil

Currency:

bolivianos (BOB)

Area:

1,098,581 sq km

Population:

11,758,869 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Spanish (official) 60.7%, Quechua (official) 21.2%, Aymara (official) 14.6%, Guarani (official) 0.6%, other native languages 0.4%, foreign languages 2.4%, none 0.1%; note - Bolivia's 2009 constitution designates Spanish and all indigenous languages as official; 36 indigenous languages are specified, including a few that are extinct (2001 est.)

Religion:

Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 14.5%, Adventist 2.5%, Church of Jesus Christ 1.2%, agnostic 0.3%, atheist 0.8%, other 3.5%, none 6.6%, unspecified 0.6% (2018 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC-4

Tel Code:

+591

Weather

Climate

Bolivia has a diverse climate due to its varying topography. The western highlands, which include the cities of La Paz and Cochabamba, have a cool and temperate climate with temperatures averaging around 10-15 degrees Celsius. The eastern lowlands, which include the cities of Santa Cruz and Trinidad, have a hot and humid climate with temperatures averaging around 27-32 degrees Celsius. The rainy season in the western highlands is typically from November to March, while the rainy season in the eastern lowlands is typically from April to November.

Temperature

The temperature in Bolivia varies depending on the region and time of year. In the western highlands, temperatures average around 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and can drop to below freezing at night. In the eastern lowlands, temperatures average around 27-32 degrees Celsius (80-90 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and can be quite humid. It is important to note that temperatures can vary greatly depending on the altitude and location, so it is always a good idea to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Bolivia depends on your travel plans and what you want to see and do. The months of May to October are considered the best time to visit the western highlands, as the weather is dry and mild, making it the perfect season for outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, and sightseeing. The months of November to April are considered the best time to visit the eastern lowlands, as the weather is hot and humid, making it the perfect season for activities such as wildlife spotting, bird watching, and river rafting.

Transportation

Air

Air travel is the most convenient and efficient way to travel within Bolivia, with many domestic airlines offering flights between major cities such as La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and Sucre. Some of the major airports in Bolivia include El Alto International Airport in La Paz, Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz, and Jorge Wilstermann International Airport in Cochabamba.

Bus

Bus travel is a popular and affordable option for getting around Bolivia. Long-distance bus services connect major cities and towns, and there are also local bus services within cities. Bus travel can be a bit more time-consuming than air travel, but it is a great way to see the country and experience the culture.

Train

Train travel is limited in Bolivia, with only one main line running between the cities of Oruro and Villazón. The train ride is considered a tourist attraction for its spectacular views and should be booked in advance.

Car Rental

Car rental is an option for travelers who want more flexibility and independence during their trip. Rental car companies are available in major cities and tourist destinations, and it is important to note that the roads and infrastructure outside of major cities can be challenging. Also, a valid International Driving Permit is required.

Taxi

Taxis are widely available in major cities and tourist destinations. They are a convenient and safe way to get around, but it's important to agree on the fare before starting the trip and be aware of the local taxi regulations.

Bicycle

Bicycle rental is a popular option for travelers looking to explore smaller towns and rural areas. Bicycle rental shops can be found in many towns and cities, and they are a great way to experience the local culture and see the country at a slower pace.

Accommodation

Hotels

Bolivia offers a wide range of accommodation options, including luxury hotels, mid-range hotels, and budget-friendly hotels. Luxury hotels are typically found in major cities such as La Paz and Santa Cruz and offer amenities such as spas, swimming pools, and restaurants. Mid-range hotels are also widely available in major cities and offer comfortable accommodations at a more affordable price. Budget-friendly hotels are also widely available, especially in major cities and tourist destinations, and offer basic accommodations at a lower price point.

Hostels

Hostels are a popular accommodation option for backpackers and budget travelers. They offer shared dormitory-style rooms at a lower price point and often have communal areas and kitchens. Hostels can be found in major cities and tourist destinations throughout Bolivia.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are another budget-friendly accommodation option and can be found in many towns and villages throughout Bolivia. They typically offer private rooms and may have shared bathrooms or a shared kitchen. Guesthouses are a great option for travelers looking for a more authentic and local experience.

Camping

Camping is a popular option for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers. There are several campgrounds and RV parks in Bolivia, many of which are located in national parks and protected areas. Some campgrounds have basic amenities such as toilets and showers, while others are more primitive. It's important to check the availability and services before heading out for camping.

Homestays

Homestays are a unique accommodation option that allows travelers to stay with a local family and experience the culture and lifestyle of a particular region. Homestays can be found in many rural and remote areas of Bolivia and are a great option for travelers looking for an authentic and immersive experience.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Bolivia Closed
Test
Required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America known for its diverse culture, stunning natural landscapes, and rich history. From the Andes mountains to the Amazon rainforest, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this country. Here are the top 10 things to experience when visiting Bolivia:

      1. Visit La Paz

      La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and is located in a valley surrounded by the Andes mountains. It is the highest capital city in the world and is known for its vibrant markets and colonial architecture.

      2. Explore the Salar de Uyuni

      The Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat and is located in southwest Bolivia. It is an otherworldly landscape with vast expanses of white salt and blue skies.

      3. Visit Lake Titicaca

      Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and is located on the border of Bolivia and Peru. It is a sacred site for the Incas and is home to many indigenous communities.

      4. Visit the Tiwanaku ruins

      The Tiwanaku ruins are an important archaeological site located near La Paz. These ruins are believed to have been built by the Tiwanaku culture, which flourished in the region between 500 and 900 AD.

      5. Explore the Amazon rainforest

      The Amazon rainforest is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals and is located in the northeastern part of Bolivia. Visitors can explore the rainforest by boat, on foot, or by taking a canopy tour.

      6. Visit the Valle de la Luna

      The Valle de la Luna is a valley located near La Paz that is known for its unique rock formations. It is said to resemble the surface of the moon, hence its name.

      7. Take a trip to Potosi

      Potosi is a colonial city located in southern Bolivia that is known for its rich mining history. Visitors can take a tour of the mines and learn about the city's history.

      8. Visit the Chacaltaya Glacier

      The Chacaltaya Glacier is a popular tourist destination located near La Paz. It used to be the world's highest ski resort but now it's a visitor center and hiking trail.

      9. Explore the Sucre

      Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. It's also a good place to experience the local Bolivian culture.

      10. Visit the Madidi National Park

      Madidi National Park is located in the northwest of Bolivia and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including monkeys, jaguars, and over 1000 species of birds. It's a great place for adventure and nature lovers.

      Overall, Bolivia offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers, from exploring ancient ruins and colonial cities to visiting the world's largest salt flats and the Amazon rainforest. With so many things to see and do, it's no wonder that Bolivia is a popular destination for travelers looking to experience the best of South America.

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