La Paz

La Paz, or Nuestra Señora de La Paz, is the administrative capital of Bolivia, and it is located in the Andes, in the west-central part of the country. La Paz is set in a canyon that was created by the Choqueyapu River, and it is surrounded by the high mountains of the Altiplano. Besides being an important political, administrative, economic, and sport hub in Bolivia, it is also an important cultural center. It has many landmarks that belong to colonial times like the San Francisco church, the metropolitan Cathedral, the Plaza Murillo, and the Jaen Street. While in the city, you must visit the Witches’ Market and enjoy the many beautiful views. Below, you’ll find more information on safety and precautions you can take, so you can enjoy your trip.

SAFETY INDEX

See others cities in Bolivia

La Paz is not the safest city, so common sense is recommended like in any other major city. Petty crime is common in the downtown area and on buses and other popular areas among tourists that tend to get crowded like Sagarnaga Street. Be particularly alert around the San Francisco church, El Alto market, and markets in the Sopocachi area as pickpocketing and mugging during the evening have increased. Do not walk through the Prado at night.

Downtown

Downtown, or El Centro, is located in the 6th district and is where most tourists stay in due to its easy access to the city’s main attractions. The Plaza San Francisco area has countless souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurants. Although it is a good spot to walk around, it is a bit far from the “real Bolivia.” If you walk towards Avenida Perez, you’ll see the city’s true downtown with most of the important government buildings, the city’s best museums, oldest churches, and Calle Jaen and Plaza Murillo.

Sopocachi

This is the bohemian district of La Paz with a mixed of grand colonial mansions and towering modern apartment blocks. Here, there are many upscale restaurants, cafés, bars, and nightclubs.

Casco Viejo

This is the historic and ancient center of the city. It is home to many museums, hotels, shops, the Mayor City of La Paz, and the Central Bank of Bolivia. You’ll find the Plaza Murillo in the Old Quarter where the Government Palace and the National Congress are.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Taking normal safety precautions are recommended in La Paz. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Pickpocket and bag and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Muggings have happened in urban areas. Though most victims are not physically injured, criminals usually do not hesitate to use force if the target does not cooperate; in case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables. Avoid walking alone after dark. Although kidnapping is not common, express kidnapping involving tourists have occurred in Bolivia. Victims are abducted for a few hours and forced to withdraw money from ATMs in order to be released.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them as they are not metered, so make sure you agree on a fare before getting in the vehicle. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you. Beware of “non-uniformed” policemen asking for your passport and permit. Official policemen will always be satisfied with a copy of your documents.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Transportation is not very reliable due to strikes. Strikes often affect local transportation, and they usually last one or two days. Follow local news for updates on strikes and road blockages.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Expect floods and landslides, especially in mountainous areas during the rainy season (November-March).

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : N/A

Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Bolivia. However, they cannot be ruled out. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Many women travel safely without any issues. However, if you are traveling alone, it is important to exercise particular care in crowds, on public transportation, in rural areas, and in isolated sections. Avoid traveling alone after dark. Women may get some unwanted attention from men.

Carte

Useful Information

Some countries do not need a visa to enter Bolivia for short stays (less than 90 days). US citizens need a visa (US$160 for a 90-day visa valid for 10 years); you may get one on arrival, but most airlines will not let you board your flight without one. South American and Western European countries can get a tourist card upon arrival for a 90 0r 30 day stay depending on the nationality. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your arrival date. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Bolivia is the Bolivianos ($b). Cash machines are common throughout the country. Credit cards are accepted in main cities, but be careful of possible scamming and never leave your card out of sight.
The weather in Bolivia varies throughout the country depending on the altitude. The climate can be humid and tropical during summer (November-March), but it can also be cold and semiarid during winter (April-October). La Paz tends to be cool year-round.
El Alto International Airport (LPB), Viru Viru International Airport (VVI), and Jorge Wilstermann Airport are Bolivia’s major airports. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page