Ice-covered mountain tops, crystal clear lagoons, rough lowlands and lush Amazonian forests; Bolivia showcases all of South America’s different landscapes.
The famous tourist attractions in Bolivia are Lake Titicaca, the highest lake, the Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt lake and La Paz, the highest existing capital. The frequently changing landscapes of Bolivia sweep you off your feet and the views of the city from Mount Illampu are truly captivating.
Bolivia Travel Info
Language: The official language spoken in Bolivia is Castilian, also known as Bolivian Spanish. The second and third most spoken dialects in Bolivia are Aymara and Quechuan. With exposure to tourism, English is now spoken widely.
Currency: Bolivian Boliviano.
Visa: Most tourists visiting Bolivia do not need a visa.
Electricity: Bolivia operates on 115/230 volts with a frequency of 50 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Bolivia Festivals & Celebrations
Alasitas in La Paz: Alasitas is celebrated every year in Bolivia’s La Paz on January 24th. Worshippers purchase a miniature version of what they dream to be, get these blessed by the priest and eventually offer to Ekeko, in the hope that their dreams come true. There is a dedicated market packed with these tiny things such as cars, plastic babies, cameras, phones and many more.
Semana Santa: The Holy Week or Semana Santa gets celebrated in Bolivia with a lot of vigor, the weeklong festivals and processions are a testimony to it. The largest gathering is held at Copacabana, thousands of pilgrims arrive barefoot from La Paz to celebrate Good Friday and perform a ritual called La Bendición de Movilidades.
El Gran Poder: One of the biggest festivals of Bolivia in La Paz is El Gran Poder also called La Festividad de Nuestro Senor Jesus Del Gran Poder. The festival initially began as a candle procession, but now it has evolved into La Paz’s biggest religious celebration with an enormous parade carried out by locals.
Safety In Bolivia
Just like most countries in South America, Bolivia is a relatively safe place to travel to. Thefts, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so be mindful of this. Based on my own travel experiences in Bolivia, I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Bolivia.
Top Things To Do In Bolivia
Lose yourself in La Paz
If you are flying into the country, the chances are bright that you will land in La Paz. It is among the world’s highest airport, at the height of 4000 meters. The city has surroundings of mountains and appears like it is inside a bowl. La Paz is a beautiful city that caters to its visitors in the best possible manner. The nightlife is crazy n full of fun and the most exciting area being Sopocachi.
Salar de Uyuni
A visit to these salt flats is among the best things that you could do in Bolivia but remember to take a guide along as it might get pretty difficult to go along and you might even get lost. The flats are endless, and it’s just salt to as far as the eye can see. They stretch across 11,000 sq kilometer precisely and are a treat to the eyes. They are believed to be the world’s largest salt flats.
Soak in the beauty of Laguna Colorado
Laguna Colorado or the red lake is a masterpiece of natural beauty and is located about 14000 feet above sea level. The most noticeable feature of this shallow salt lake is its unique red color which is a result of red sediments and some algae that live here. The entire view is just breathtaking. You might also encounter some local flamingoes as well, especially the rare James’ or puna flamingoes are a cherry on the cake.
Visit Lake Titicaca and Isla Del Sol
Lake Titicaca spans the border between Peru and Bolivia Lake Titicaca is home to many underwater ruins and Inca Settlements. It also has about 530 aquatic species which include the rare giant frog. Just about the lake, you will find a local delicacy, freshly-caught smoked trout that goes best with ripe papaya juice. From the lake, boats ply to Isla Del Sol, a beautiful island where you can spend some time in peace and watch the sun rise and set.
Explore Museo del Tesoro
This treasure museum is built in an ancient home in La Paz and exhibits tons of precious stones and metals, especially from Bolivia. The museum has different areas dedicated to individual fields like jewelry, mining, geology, architecture and there is a section where you can buy some good quality jewelry. So if you are looking for a perfect gift to take back home, you know the place.
See the sunset at Valle de la Luna
Velle de la Luna is the remains of a giant sandstone and clay mountain that was weather-beaten for decades. The landscape that remains today is just gorgeous and unique and appears like a maze of stalagmites and canyons. The rays of the setting sun dance of the ridges and make the entire area look mystical. I am not sure, but it is a belief that Neil Armstrong gave the place its name.
Bike the World’s most dangerous road
Although riding a bike on a path that is so risky that it is named the ‘Death Road’ seems reckless and stupid, yet a large number of tourists do it on a daily basis. The annual death count is also stated clearly on the starting point; still the sheer exhilaration and adrenalin rush motivate bikers to head towards the death road. The road is narrow, dusty, with hairpin turns, and you need to descent 50 miles with numerous blind spots.
Stop at the Witch Market La Paz
Not everyone might like the idea, but this market has been there for a long time. The visuals are pretty horrible and might make you feel uncomfortable, like the site of dead llamas are not for the weak hearted. You might also come across weird concoctions and things like dried snakes, owl feathers, and random artifacts. Although now the market has even started to cater to its visitors and you can buy souvenirs at many spots.
Go on a Pampus Jungle Tour
The trip to the Pampus Jungle starts from the little town of Rurrenabaque. The jungles of Bolivia are much cheaper to explore than their neighbors Peru and Brazil. Here you will encounter a variety of wildlife ranging from squirrel monkeys to sloths making it world’s most diverse ecosystem. Take a boat and visit the stilt houses on the river and venture upstream to enjoy piranha fishing, swimming with pink dolphin and anaconda hunting.
Head to the Train Cemetery
Although it might sound bizarre on the outskirts of Uyuni is a vast ‘Train Graveyard.’ It is a place where a large number of abandoned trains and loco equipment from the 1940s are kept and are now entirely rusted due to salt winds. Most of these date back to the 20th century and were imported from Britain. The crowd at this place is less during the early hours and in the evening. During the day visitors flock to the cemetery to witness these ruins and take pictures.
Other than these top things to do in Bolivia, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Bolivia that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Bolivia
Although Bolivia does not boast a world-famous cuisine and the food is usually rich in carbs, there are still some mouthwatering local delicacies that are well worth trying.
Saltenas: This typical Bolivian breakfast is an oven-baked pastry which filled with meat, carrots, peas, and potato drowned in lots of sweet and spicy gravy. Eating it without making a mess is a source of pride among the Bolivians, and everyone has their tactic for the same.
Sajta: This dish belongs to western Bolivia and features boiled chicken which is seasoned and served with rice, onions, diced tomatoes, and chuño (dried, frozen Andean potatoes). Not everyone might like the taste of the chuño, but the preparation is 100% authentic.
Tucumanas: Tucumanas are similar to salteñas, but instead of being baked, they are deep-fried. It is also a morning dish that gets served with several colored sauces. The technique is such that you will experience a different taste in each mouthful.
Pique Macho: Pique Macho is somewhat like an Andean fish-fry where lots of chopped beef and sliced potatoes served with onions, locoto, boiled eggs and a generous amount of ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise.
Silpancho: It is a classic Bolivian dish which originated in the Cochabamba region. It features beef which is crumbed and served with rice, onions, dices tomatoes and potato. The recipe gets finished with a fried egg placed on top of the entire preparation.
Where To Stay In Bolivia
Bolivia is a very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Bolivia is easy even if you’re on a tight budget. Bolivia hostels and dormitories make travel here very affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Bolivia is a very popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Bolivia.
If you’re backpacking in Bolivia or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South America very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Bolivia Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Bolivia
Bolivia has two seasons: Summer (November to March) and winter (May to October). May to October is considered the best time to visit Bolivia because the dry weather brings blue skies and less travel disruption. This is the Bolivian winter, so the highlands will be cold and temperatures will be below freezing in the desert at night, particularly in June and July.
Bolivia Travel Budget
Bolivia is generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Bolivia really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $250 plus a day.
- Budget: $15 – $35
- Mid-range: $35 – $100
- Splurge: $100 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Bolivia Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Bolivia, like most places in South America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Bolivia. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques (aimed at tourists) than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your South America trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Bolivia include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Bolivia check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate South America Packing List For Female Travelers.