Tourism in Bolivia is thriving, and many people are starting to enjoy the natural beauty of this country. But there are a couple of things you need to know before the trip to ensure that you have a great time and an unforgettable vacation.
Beware of Thieves
One of the things you’ll need to worry about is thieves. The best possible idea is to keep your valuables with you at all times and be careful. If you are using public transport in Bolivia, keep your credit cards, money, cameras, or anything valuable with you.
Thieves are usually looking for easy targets, and they won’t bother doing Ocean’s Eleven on you. In all honesty, you probably won’t meet many thieves if you visit Bolivia. The threat of crime is somewhat similar to major cities in Europe. Furthermore, the level of theft is significantly lower compared to neighboring countries like Brazil and Peru.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to lose your belongings. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So keep your things with you, and be careful. Bolivia is a country that has many issues, but theft is not the biggest problem you’ll encounter.
Delayed Transportation Schedules
If you plan on using public buses to travel through Bolivia, you will need to prepare yourself. There is no secret that the whole process can be challenging. Toilets on board are rarely working, and for a bus to arrive on time is still a dream.
For everyone used to strict schedules, the best idea is to forget them while you are in the country. Transportation schedules here are unpredictable, and you should keep that in mind while planning your trip. If you are on a tight schedule, there is a big chance that you’ll miss a lot of things due to delays.
It is not rare for the bus to be late due to weather, blockades, or strikes. Avoiding buses, however, can be difficult, since they are the best way to travel around the city. Moreover, due to the low prices, buses are something many will opt for despite all the problems and delays.
Mode of Transportation
But buses are not the only mode of transportation available in Bolivia. The safest way to travel around the country (or city) is by taxi. As always, cabs are convenient, and you can call them anywhere and at any time.
In the cities, you’ll encounter two different types of taxis. The first ones are dispatched by radio, and private clients like restaurants and hotels usually call them. The other type of cab is the regular one you can stop on the street. What’s more, the price is under a dollar for a one-way trip. Calling a cab will require you to understand Spanish, but you can find apps that will ease the whole process.
Based on the location you’re staying in, you might be able to use cable cars. For example, they connect La Paz and neighboring El Alto, which is the highest altitude cable car in the world. It is one of the fastest and easiest ways to travel between cities, and it will take you approximately ten minutes to arrive from one place to another. Using land transport to cover the same distance, on the other hand, can take you over an hour.
Learn a Little Bit of Their Language
In Bolivia, you might have a lot of problems if you don’t know Spanish. Similarly to the rest of South America, English is not widespread, and not many people understand it. Usually, just the upper class and those working in tourism will know it.
Other people often won’t understand a single word in English, and you will need to use sign language to get around.
You might need to learn a couple of phrases before visiting the country if you never had experience with Spanish. Furthermore, get as much info as you can from the receptionist at the hotel you’re staying in. With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to find someone who understands you, and with enough patience, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
For those of you who love planning early, getting a couple of Spanish classes might be the best idea ever.
Bring Enough Cash
To avoid any unpleasant situations, you should bring enough money. How much is enough depends on what you’re planning to do. But, it is advisable to bring a decent amount of cash. The reason for that is that cash is used in the entire country, and not many places allow you to use your credit card.
Some expensive restaurants and hotels might accept a card, but this is quite rare. Of course, ATMs are available in major cities, but you might have problems if you go a bit farther.
ATMs in rural areas are either unreliable or nonexistent. So, be sure to have enough money for the duration of your stay. You should also keep some extra cash, and your cards tucked away in case of an emergency.
For those of you wondering if Bolivia is hot or cold, the answer is yes to both. All jokes aside, some parts of the country are quite cold, and you will need to pack appropriate clothing. That is especially common for some tourist destinations that are on extreme altitudes. While fancy hotels in the country have heating, this is not something you often see across Bolivia. Fortunately, even if you forget something, you can buy yourself a cute sweater.
But the country offers a diverse topography, which means that it isn’t cold everywhere. Some parts of the country might be hot too, and the last thing you’ll need is wearing that sweater you just bought.
Naturally, the temperature will depend on the time you decide to visit the country. Also, it may significantly vary based on your location. So be sure to inform yourself before the trip and ensure that you are ready for temperature changes.
Be Wary of the Food
Every city in Bolivia is a paradise on Earth when it comes to tasty food. But you will need to be careful. Not to say that you shouldn’t eat anything, but you need to know that it may go wrong. Hygiene is a major problem for many food stands.
It is not rare for European tourists to get salmonella while visiting the country. Almost any type of food you find can make you sick, and that applies to restaurants as well.
Furthermore, the water distribution in Bolivia is miles behind the rest of the world. It would be best if you avoid drinking tap water. Even in bigger cities, there is still a risk, but you can probably brush your teeth using it.
Is There a Need for a Visa?
Based on the country you’re living in, you might need to get a visa if you want to visit Bolivia. There are three main groups of countries across the world.
If you are in the first group, you can visit the country without a visa. That applies to the U.S., Canada, Australia, the majority of Europe, and almost the entire South America. You can enter the country using only your passport, or passport and ID if you are from a South American country.
For the second type, you can get a visa on arrival or before entry for free. The rule applies to some parts of Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.
Finally, some countries require a special authorization that you will need to obtain before you can receive a visa.
You should inform yourself to see in which group you are and ensure that you have all the necessary papers to visit Bolivia.
Bring Enough Medicine
Some people might experience altitude sickness, and it is important to bring enough medication, especially if you plan on traveling across the country. Some parts of Bolivia are at high altitudes, and the last thing you’ll need is to get sick.
But this isn’t the only problem you might encounter. We already mentioned food poisoning, and it is one of the most common issues for tourists.
You should also inform yourself if there are any vaccines you need to take before your trip. Needless to say, if you have a pre-existing condition, you should definitely pack your medicines for the trip.
There is a chance that you’ll need to contact the embassy or find info online to see what type of medicine you can carry with you to another country. While all of this might seem too much, it’s better to be safe and avoid any health risks.
There are many different and unique tourist spots in Bolivia you can visit. But your main concern should be your safety. You will need to loosen your schedule since public transportation in Bolivia can be quite challenging. Moreover, you need to worry about theft, and be sure to keep your valuables with you.
To visit Bolivia, you might also need to get a visa. Residents of some countries can travel to Bolivia with their passports only, but it would be best to check this beforehand. Finally, be sure to have enough cash and medicine to ensure that your Bolivia tour is unforgettable.