La Paz, Bolivia

I crossed the border by bus from Peru to Bolivia – which was a little nightmare as they unzip your bag and will take away your fruit then look through your bag then you have to repack everything. So annoying!
The customs were a nightmare and unfortunately, the custom officers were a little corrupt. One of the girls has an US passport and it said online that she didn’t need a visa to enter but Bolivia changed their mind that particular day. The customs officer told my friend that the VISA would cost $200 USD and that they require a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate. Of course, she didn’t have one so they sneakily used someone else’s as part of the VISA application that had an entirely different name and citizenship. Once this was done, we looked at the VISA and it costs $125 USD which means they pocketed $75 USD.
This was the first time ever that I have witnessed corruption by passport control.

Airport:

There is a small cramped transfer mini van that can take you to the airport to the city centre and visa versa for super cheap. A lot of locals use this too and it’s not really advertised but there is only literally only one bus stop outside so follow the locals. (I had to use this when I was flying to the Amazon – check out my other post if you want to find out more).

Things to see:

  • The Witches Market on Linares / Melchor Jimenez – it is as it sounds, centuries ago, the witches used to come here to buy their local ingredients to make potions and spells. But nowadays, this is a marketplace for all tourists curious to dabble with witchcraft or buy some souvenirs. Also, you will see baby llama bones and skulls hanging around. This is where dark tourism comes in as these llamas are bred and killed to cater to souvenirs as people find it cool to buy these. Therefore, I would say do not buy these.
  • Plaza Meyer de San Francisco – busy market square, has some shops with stuff you may need and people selling stuff in the street. Easy to navigate your location and move around.
  • Plaza Murillo for Government buildings – interesting fact, when the British was in Bolivia, they trained them to do the ‘changing of the guards’ and they kept this as their tradition so you may be able to see the uniformed people as well as the changing of the guards. CHeck out the government buildings and you might be lucky to see a Bolivian dance ceremony.
  • Go Shopping in Calle Sagarnaga – Sagarnaga is the main tourist heart of the La Paz, and this street is home to hundreds of shops, restaurants, hostels, and tour agencies.
  • Ride the teleféricos – La Paz’s location, in a valley surrounded by towering mountains, led to it having one of the world’s coolest public transportation systems: the teleférico!
    These colourful cable cars span the city, providing efficient, traffic-free transportation to residents – and a unique tourist attraction for visitors.
    To ride and appreciate the whole city from a bird’s eye view, visit a teleférico station and purchase either a re-chargeable card or a single-use ticket.
    Each ride costs 3 BOB (about 0.30pence GBP or $0.43 USD), and you have to pay every time you change lines. For the best views of the surrounding mountains, take the red line all the way to the top and check out the view of Illimani (the largest, double-peaked mountain to the right), Huayna Potosi (the triangular shaped mountain to the left), and the rest of the Cordillera Real.
  • Wander down Calle Jaén – Calle Jaén is the most well-preserved colonial street in the city, dating back to the 1700s, and it makes for a lovely place to stroll and take photos of its cobblestones and colourful buildings. Great spot to take photos!
  • Qantu Hotel – literally depends on what room you get. Some rooms are such a squeeze, no windows other than the hallway and only good for one night but then if you get a spacious room then stay longer. The larger rooms are much more better here. You can ask the hotel to organise a van transfer for the airport if there is a few of you.
  • Las Brisas – very dated but a hotel that has local character. Good location but note that there are some bedrooms that has a window out on the hall way and some rooms are small (luckily it’s a civilised place to stay). If you get the upgraded bedroom options, they are worth it as they are spacious and has natural daylight.
  • SO MUCH OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES TO DO!! Many do Death Road on a Mountain Bike – it is the World’s Most Dangerous Road for all you adrenaline junkies.
    Visit Valley of the Moon, go rock climbing or hike Muela del Diablo. Make the most of the great outdoors whilst visiting La Paz.

Food & Other tips

La Paz is an up and coming scene serving traditional Bolivian and South American food but also a small number of international cafes/restaurants have popped up giving a fusion of Asian and European. Unfortunately, I wasn’t here long enough to try them all but leave me a comment if you have a place you recommended.

  • Cafe Del Mundo created with a European traveller style and with food options that’s inspired by the owner who has travelled to many places 
  • Bolivian Green Kitchen tasty vegetarian food located across the road from Cafe Del Mundo.
  • Angelo Colonial – Great food and depends on the night, you do get a great atmosphere… cool venue too.
  • The English Pub – That is the actual name and there is like two of these. If you are craving a cup of PG Tip tea then this is a place you can go to. And it may get leery on other nights..
  • ATM – BNB24 /Banco Sol were free withdrawals. There’s cash machines dotted everywhere that’s a glass booth.

I used La Paz to travel to the Amazon as I heard it was cheaper to enter via Bolivia. I also worked on a vineyard in Tarija (post coming soon) and went to the famous Salt Flats then crossed the border to Chile to see the Southern Lights.

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