Have you never left your own house before? Do you have absolutely no common sense whatsoever? Have you decided to drop everything and come to Bolivia? Here are are our absolute simplest travel tips to ensure you enjoy your trip to La Paz.
Before You Leave
Check your home country’s travel alerts or register for alerts before going abroad. Many countries have travel alert notification programs through the embassy or some government department.
Be sure to check what adapter you’ll need for your electronics before you travel. Many of the outlets in South America are general usage and fit appliances from Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia but you should still bring a universal adapter just in case.
It is also a good idea to think about what you’re going to do when you get here. Plan out some day tours or think about what destinations you want to visit. Many top tourists attractions in Bolivia have limited hotel rooms. Bus and airline companies often hike up their rates as the departure date draws closers. So it’s a good idea to make your hotel and transportation bookings as early as possible.
Also remember to research events. There are hundreds of festivals throughout Bolivia and South America that are unforgettable experiences. It would be a shame to miss La Paz’s biggest festival, the Gran Poder, if you happen to be in the region.
On the Way to Bolivia
When the day of your big trip arrives, get to the airport early to avoid last minute stress. There is nothing worse than running to catch an international flight and in turn worrying about missing two, three or four connecting flights.
Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to take on and off for security and during the flight. Wear clean socks so that you don’t stink up the airplane.
Although carry on bags generally save you money, they are also stressful to deal with on long journeys. If you have a small bag, use it as a carry on. If you don’t bite the bullet and check it. Bring a change of clothes just in case the airlines loses your luggage.
Bring a sweater that is easy to remove because airplane cabin temperature is usually cold but can be hot if you are in direct sunlight. Most international flights into La Paz arrive very early in the morning, so get some rest on the flight.
Bolivia does not require a visa for EU passport holders, Canadians, Australians, Japanese or citizens visiting from other South American countries.
Americans visiting Bolivia will need a visa. You should get a visa in advance to avoid any headaches. If you haven’t done that, then print and fill out a visa form to have upon arrival in Bolivia. A completed visa form, passport size photo and $160 cash are required. Bring exact change and crisp bills to ensure your visa is processed without hassle.
When You Arrive in La Paz
Generally speaking, ATM rates at the airport give the worst transaction rates and charge the most fees. Avoid taking out money on arrival if possible.
When you get to La Paz, it is easy to find and take a taxi to the city from the airport of El Alto, especially if you have a little bit of currency already. If you don’t want to deal with a taxi, then have your hotel or hostel arrange an airport pickup for you. This will cost more than a taxi, but it won’t break the bank.
When you check into your hotel, request a quiet room if you are a light sleeper. Hotels generally have a certain area or floor of the building is quiet and away from street traffic or in-house bars or restaurants. The streets of La Paz are very busy from 9 am to 9 pm.
Bring some acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with headache you may get from the altitude in La Paz. Mild altitude issues are common in La Paz because people are generally not acclimatized. Also drink local coca tea which helps to alleviates symptoms of altitude sickness. Don’t try to bring coca leaves home with you because they’re probably not legal where you live and you might get arrested.
Take a look at your bed. If the blanket is thin, request an extra one right now. La Paz does become very cold at night with temperatures approaching freezing year round… even in the summer. (The summer is Bolivia is winter in the northern hemisphere.)
Drink a lot of water! Due to the altitude and sun it is very easy to become dehydrated. We recommend drinking bottled water throughout your trip. Never, never, never drink tap water in Bolivia.
Don’t forget to bring your camera. You’ll want photos from this incredible trip!