After a total of eighteen days in Bolivia, I will once again be sharing my travel tips. I will mainly stick to general travel tips, but I am planning to do a seperate guide to Uyuni.
Money: If cash was king in Peru, cash is an empress in Bolivia. Credit cards are hardly accepted and even if, a lot of the devices do not have the neccessary connection to handle international cards. I had a situation where I was paying in the same café, one day my card worked, the next it did not. My bank assured me it was not frozen and it has perfectly worked in Brazil. Taking cash out is easy in big cities and I stuck to using BCP ATM’s.
Culture: Bolivians are very proud of their country, which is easily observable everywhere, but became especially clear in the Casa de la Libertad. They are incredibly nice and friendly, especially in smaller towns. I stayed in a guest house in Sucre and the families who worked there were more than just professionally hospitable. We experienced the same with our Uyuni tour group, Domingo was a wonderful driver and without him, the tour would not have been half as fun. He even gifted us a bottle of wine, which we took to the hot springs.
Shopping: Bolivia is well-known for their outside markets and you can buy everything on the street, from fruits to cellphones to shampoo. If you want a little more sophisticted shopping experience, I can higly recommend Venture Mall in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which is the largest mall in Bolivia and features a lot more international stores than you will find in the rest of Bolivia.
Movie theaters: Almost every theater has a 2×1 deal on movie tickets on Wednesday, which you should take advantage of. Movies are sometimes synchronised, others will have Spanish subtitles and run in English. We watched “Allied” in Sucre, which I would highly recommend everyone to go and see. The ending was quite unexpected for me.
Activities: The highlight of the trip was definitely our tour to the Salar de Uyuni. In La Paz, you can ride down the most dangerous road in the world, go to Valle de la Luna or watch a Cholita wrestling match. Also visit El Alto, a former part of La Paz which has now become an independent city with more than 800.000 inhabitants. For Sucre, I have written an entire post about different activities, most of them involving food, which is very good here. In Cochabamba, there is the Cristo de la Concordia. Finally in Santa Cruz, I briefly went to Plaza 24 de Septiembre and climbed up the church tower. You can get a good overview over the city from there.
Food: As in Peru, most traditional dishes consist of rice, potatoes, some kind of meat and fried bananas. If you’ve had enough of that, go to the market and prepare your own food. There is an endless supply of fresh ingredients and it will be healthier. I have never gotten sick from market food, although I had food poisoning after eating dry spaghetti on the Uyuni tour.
Buses: If you plan to travel around by bus, there are certain oddities which might occur:
a) You cannot buy a bus ticket for a bus that is leaving the next day.
b) Though there are cama (fully-reclining) and semi-cama buses, you can only purchase the ticket for one type of bus.
c) You are driving from 24°C to 31°C but the bus’ heating will be blasting.
Between La Paz and Uyuni, I can recommend Todo Turismo, which is VERY expensive compared to other companies but you get a lot of comfort. They provide blankets (temperatures here are only between 5-10°C), movies and a working bathroom. Afterwards, I have mainly used TransCopacabana, which was recommended for its safety. You can purchase tickets a day in advance and actually get to choose which type of bus you want. The only thing that still baffled me, was the heating.
These are my tips for navigating Bolivia. I hope you get to visit this beautiful country sometime and see all of the amazing sights for yourself. Let me know, what is the best travel advice you have ever gotten?