10 Facts About Bolivia before you Travel

Have you ever longed to travel to the less hyped corners of the world? Of course, Paris and London are all good, but it is not often in such places that you get to experience a culture unhindered by tourists.

Bolivia, might not appear like a top destination in South America, but that is precisely why you should visit it. It is still intact without tourists exploiting its resources and globalization conquering its culture. Its eccentricities are what makes Bolivia a unique and authentic cultural vacation spot.

Here we have 10 interesting facts about Bolivia to shed some light on this country’s way of living.

1. Altitude Sickness at Arrival

Altitude Sickness at Arrival Bolivia

Bolivia’s capital, La Paz one of the must see places in Bolivia, stands as high as 3500. Most of the tourist places in Bolivia like Sucre and Uyuni are at about 2500 m above sea level.

Here is the twist, the main airport El Alto is at an even higher altitude of 4000m. So this means, when you land, you are going to have a few symptoms of altitude sickness, which might last for a few days. Don’t fret; you will get plenty of remedies offered by your hotels, guides and even friendly faces in the airport and in a few days, you are sure to adapt.

2. The Idiosyncratic Bolivian culture

The Idiosyncratic Bolivian culture

The peculiar Bolivian culture is the topmost attraction of the country. You will find women still wearing traditional clothes, shoe shiners wearing balaclavas, even dried llama fetuses sold in the market for good luck.

Some you might find amusing, some even repelling. But it is all a part of it that you have come to encounter during your travel. Respect the characteristics and traditions, and you will soon embrace them too. (maybe not the fetuses though).

3. Legality of Coca leaves

Legality of Coca leaves

Yes, you heard it right. Coca leaves are legal in Bolivia and all Western South America, but it is not recommended to show them off. Coca leaves are even used to cope up with altitude sickness. You might see them at airports.

These leaves are common and even used in tea and for other medical purposes in Bolivia. However, if you try to sneak some off from the country, you might be in some serious trouble.

4. Bolivia is insanely cheap

Bolivia is insanely cheap

Bolivia travel has one of the greatest attractions to the entire world that it is cheap as chips. Almost everything is really cheap, except the internet. The amount you usually spend on a budget for food and accommodation could get you luxury in Bolivia. Hostel beds would come for as cheap as 8 or 9 dollars, and even transportation is exceptionally cheap.

Let us also tell you that you get huge portions of meals for 5 dollars. They usually have sharing tables, and eating is more of a social affair in Bolivian culture.

5. Drinking Water

Drinking Water

Like you would have guessed, the tap water is not safe enough to drink or in other words, it is better not to risk it. Especially while you are traveling and experiencing motion sickness, there is no point in finding out whether it is safe or not.

Either drink boiled water or get the bags of water that you will find anywhere. Also when you get bottled water, make sure to check the seals as it is a common practice to refill the bottles with tap water.

6. Different Toilet Habits

This is one thing a Bolivia travel guide might not prepare you for. It is common in South American countries not to have toilet paper in toilets. So you are better off carrying it with you. Although, do not flush it in the toilet, as the sewage system is not equipped to handle it and you might block it.

Also, there are more of squat toilets where you have to manually flush with a bucket of water from a tap in the toilet. Better prepare yourself for this rather than complain once in the country.

7. Terrible Internet

The Internet is the most expensive thing in Bolivia. You might find internet in hostels and hotels, but you will soon realize that they are painfully slow. Same applies to internet cafes too.

But on the positive side, enjoy the time off the internet and use to experience your travel to the fullest. The connection will be fast enough to receive emails, so you don't have to worry about contacting your family.

8. Poor Road safety

Poor Road safety

Driving is crazy mad, pedestrian paths are scarce, and connectivity is terrible. Summing up, the roads will make you feel like a roller coaster ride in Bolivia.

When you are traveling domestically, it is inevitable to avoid them too. So when you are choosing tour operators, check for their reviews especially regarding the transport they provide. Try to stick on to travel during day times rather than at night and try to choose minivans than buses. Inside La Paz, you might find that you reach safer and faster walking or in cable cars than on the road.

9. Strikes are common

Strikes are common

You might come across rallies and protests more often than you expect with everything including shops being shut down. It is more common in La Paz;  the place would be deserted, there will not be any transport, and there will even be restrictions on drinking. If there is a national strike coming down during your travel days, you might have to reconsider the itinerary.

In case you are planning a trip to Bolivia, it won't hurt to stay on top of the news to look out for such strikes.

10. Beware of Police Scams

Beware of Police Scams

Not everyone who is dressed as police is police in Bolivia. It is easy and common to fake it. A police officer will approach you, and ask to see your passport and before you know it, they would have fled with it.

The other one is to ask you to accompany them to the station by getting into an unmarked car to isolate and rob you. If it happens, have a copy of passport and carry that with you.

Like any other place in the world, it is not advised to carry valuables with you and keep your bag always with you.


If you have made it to the end of the article, that means 10 facts about Bolivia has sure interested in this fascinating country. Fancy a visit? Get your cheap flights to Bolivia now itself on FareDepot. Start your search and compare airfares from multiple airlines; along with our exclusive fantastic deals, you international flights could be the cheap you ever find.