Bolivia is praised as a stunning and authentic travel destination due to its dominant indigenous culture and incredible landscapes. Known for sites like the Titicaca lake or the salt desert and its colorful life, Bolivia will not fail to impress you. Still, it is better to be prepared before you go. You probably did not know it is best to bring your own roll of toilet paper wherever you go, right? But that is the reason we have some great advice for you on how to make your travels to this amazing country a full success.
Take the Bus
The cheapest and easiest way of getting around in Bolivia is by bus. You will be able to cross the country for peanuts, but don’t expect a lot of luxury. Most of the long rides go during the night though, which offers you the possibility to sleep through most of the ride. Don’t drink too much while on the bus, since a lot of them don’t have working bathrooms and stops are very rare. And expect fast drivers. For short rides we recommend you to look out for so called ‘Collectivos’, a minivan with a limited amount of seats. Definitely a quick and cheap option.
Paying by card has only started to become more popular in the last couple years. Still a lot of restaurants, supermarkets and even hotels only take cash. Look for an official bank since other ATMs might ask for a high fee for you to pick up money. In some places you will be able to pay with US Dollars, but the exchange rate is on your side when you pay with Bolivianos.
… and your own toilet paper roll
It might be a surprise for a lot of travellers when they enter the bathroom in their hotel room and don’t find any toilet paper there. It is very common even for good hotels, restaurants and bars to either not have any, or to sell them for an extra fee. So make sure to bring your own with you! And once you have some paper don’t flush it down the toilet, unless you want to have a flooded bathroom.
Learn some Spanish
Knowing the most important phrases in Spanish might be crucial. In many cities you will have trouble communicating in English. To know how to ask for directions, order some food or say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will help you a lot. In addition it shows Bolivians that you have interested in their culture and you might be welcomed with open arms.
Take your time
Bolivia is a land with an unbelievable diversity throughout the whole country. Absorb the culture of the cities and get into the beautiful nature of mountains, lakes and deserts. But don’t rush from one sight to another, from one city to the next one. A lot of travelers stay for a month or more. If you don’t have that much time choose a few and don’t try to squeeze everything in. Also make sure to be acclimatized before you get up really high, this will help you to prevent altitude sickness.
Bring warm and cosy clothes
Most of Bolivia lies on a high altitude, and the higher you get, the colder it is. Especially at night it might get colder than the freezing point. So bring your winter jacket, your plushy socks and your cosy hoodie and you will have a warm experience.
Don’t drink tap water
Does not matter if you are in big cities or tiny villages, tap water is not considered to be safe to drink. So even if you hear or see different from locals, buy some water in the stores to prevent an upset stomach. Water in plastic bags sometimes is cheaper than in bottles. And try to buy big bags or canisters and refill your bottles afterwards. This saves you some money and avoids too much of a plastic pollution.
Don’t forget you are in South America, leave unnecessary valuables at home and don’t carry too much cash while you are in Bolivia. Pickpockets and scammers try to make profit with tourists. Compare tour and taxi prices before you take them. And be aware of fake ‘undercover police officers’ that want to see your passport or claim to take you to the police station. Try to stay away from certain districts and don’t walk in the dark by yourself. You don’t have to feel unsafe during your trip, just be careful and you will have an amazing time!