- For other places with the same name, see La Paz (disambiguation).
La Paz was established in 1548, and is in the Andes. Altitude of the city ranges from about 4,058 m (13,313 ft) above sea level in El Alto (where the airport is located) to 3,100 m (10,170 ft) in the lower residential area. It is the highest national capital in the world.
The sight from the air as you fly into La Paz is incredible. First, you see the sprawling shantytowns of El Alto, slowly giving way to the sight of La Paz, clinging tenuously to the sides of what looks like a large gash in the earth.
La Paz was built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River (now mostly built over), which runs northwest to southeast. The city's main thoroughfare, which roughly follows the river, changes names over its length, but the central tree-lined section running through the downtown core is called the Prado.
La Paz geography, in particular the altitude, reflects the city's society: the lower you go, the more affluent. While many middle-class paceños live in high-rise condos near the center, the really rich houses are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. The reason for this division is that the lower you go in the city the milder the weather is. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those struggling in the hope of one day reaching the bottom.
Also covered in this article, the satellite city of El Alto, in which the airport is located, is spread over a broad area to the west of the canyon, on the altiplano. El Alto once served as a residential area for the airport and railway service workers. Now it's a big city with a population nearly as big as La Paz. The buildings are low - a limitation imposed by the airport. The altitude of the city is about 4,058 m (13,313 ft) above sea level. El Alto is mostly inhabited by Aymara people. Life conditions on altiplano are less friendly than these down in La Paz. People in El Alto are poorer and feel discriminated against by people in La Paz. However, the government is investing in education there, which may bring a positive change.
El Alto International Airport (LPB IATA), El Alto. This is the world's highest international airport; at 13,313 ft/4,058 m above sea level, it's almost half as high as a jetliner's cruising altitude, and takeoffs require a longer runway due to the thin air. There is an airport departure tax of US$25 for international flights, Bs. 15 (around US$2) for domestic flights. Tax can only be paid in cash, but several ATMs which also give out US$ are available at the airport.
Most South American airlines (LATAM, Avianca, Sky Airline, etc.) serve El Alto Airport as well local airlines (Boliviana de Aviación (BoA), Transporte Aéreo Militar (TAM), Aerocon and Amaszonas). Most international flights will make a stop over in Santa Cruz to pick up or drop off passengers. American Airlines is the only U.S. carrier serving Bolivia, with one daily flight from Miami.
State-funded Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) and LATAM (usually for a cheaper price) serve major domestic destinations and some major South American hubs. Aerocon mainly provides air links to communities in the Beni Department via their hub Trinidad. Amaszonas provides direct service to tourist destinations like Rurrenabaque or Uyuni.
While you may be in the practice of racing to immigration when you get off a plane, in order to avoid long queues, forget about this in La Paz. Take things very easily or you will be seriously out of breath and may suffer medical complications. Just walk slowly to the immigration area.
From the airport, the official rate for a taxi into central La Paz is Bs. 60. Only use radio taxis with a sign on the roof. Shared vans cost Bs. 3.80. If you are arriving on a domestic flight, you will see the vans straight ahead to your right when exiting after baggage claim. The route that it follows takes you down the autopista, past San Francisco Plaza, El Prado, down to Plaza Isabel la Católica.
When returning to the airport, please give yourself plenty of time if taking the bus. Often they are full once they pass near Plaza San Francisco, especially during rush hour 5-7PM. The first bus leaves from Plaza Isabel la Católica in Sopocachi at 06:15AM
If you are taking a LATAM flight out of La Paz airport be very careful to verify which airport it is leaving from, some LATAM flights leave from the El Alto Intl airport and others from the military base airport.
- 1 La Paz Bus Station. The station has food, ATMs, and surprisingly fast free WiFi. Buses leave for big cities such as Cochabamba (7-8 hr, normal Bs. 20, semi-cama Bs. 40-50, full cama Bs. 80-100), Santa Cruz, Oruro (3 hr, Bs. 15), Potosí, Sucre, Tupiza (from Tupiza: 10:30, 12:00, 14:30, 16:30, 20:00, 21:30), Tarija (from Tupiza: 21:00), Uyuni (from Uyuni: 20:00), Arica (Chile) (from Arica: 09:30 / from La Paz: 05:30-07:00, 9 hr, Bs. 70-100 incl. breakfast and beverages), and Iquique (Chile) (12-14 hr). Buses leaving or arriving in La Paz usually stop in El Alto to pick up or drop off more passengers, depending on their destination. If arriving in La Paz by bus from the south, try to get a seat on the right side of the bus. You'll pass through El Alto on the way, which means great views of La Paz out the window.
- 2 Terminal Provincial Minasa Yungas. Buses going towards "Los Yungas" and Tropical Lowlands region of Bolivia, such as Coroico, Chulumani, Irupana, Caranavi, Rurrenabaque, Riberalta, Guayaramerín, Yolosita, Garanavi, Yucomo, San Borja, Rio-Selva, Taypiplaya, Teoponte, and Guanay are leaving from this place in the Villa Fatima neighbourhood. Long distance connections are seldom; Coroico is served almost hourly, buses by Yucomo and to Rurrenabaque are more in the late afternoon. For Trinidad and San Ignacio de Moxos you will be better of when transferring in Yucomo.
- 3 Cementerio (City cemetery). Buses departing to, and arriving from, Lake Titicaca, like Copacabana, Sorata (Bs. 20, 3 hr), Desaguadero, Tiwanaku and so on leave from here, north of the cemetery. Check out Openstreetmap, to find the exact location where the bus takes off (bus icon).
- 4 Río Seco (Terminal), El Alto (easily reached with the Línea Azul gondola, and frequent trufi connections from El Alto bus station or Ceja (Bs. 1)). Besides the station, Río Seco also just refers to the 5 place next to the station at the main road from where many minibuses leave and where all buses from the terminal also pass by. This station also serves Lake Titicaca, Copacabana (Bs. 20/25 bus/minibus + Bs. 2 for the ferry, 3.5 hr), Sorata, Desaguadero, and Tiwanaku (Bs. 7-10, 1.5 hr), and most (mini)buses to/from Cementerio also go by here. The advantage of this transport hub over Cementerio is that it is not in the La Paz centre, saving travel time in case you do not want to head to the centre. E.g. Río Seco could be convenient for transferring between the just mentioned destinations without the need to go to La Paz centre.
- 6 El Alto bus station (trufis to/from Río Seco and La Paz. More exactly: From San Francisco Church walk a half block down the Prado from the corner of Sagarnaga and the San Francisco Church. There are no less than 14 minibuses (about 2-3 a minute) going to the Ceja. They also say "Ceja", like the following minibus lines: 311, 934, 222, 240, 908, 256, 940, 919, 859, 289, 807, 837, 219 and micro 13. They take about 19 minutes to get to the Ceja and you get off at the turn-off for Ave. Juan Pablo II. From this corner follow the main boulevard, called 6 de Marzo south about 7 minutes walk until you get to the corner with a BCP bank and a PRODEM bank. This is basically the area of the "bus station". Turn right towards airport and walk about 50 meters and on the left hand side is the Apostal Santiago (for Quime) bus office at address no.62. Otherwise, to get to the Flota Inquisivi office (for Quime as well), pass the BCP bank instead of turning right and continue down the main boulevard two blocks to Calle Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz. You will see a Pernos Jhasen hardware outlet on the corner. Turn right towards airport, walk 25 meters, turn left, walk 40 meters and the office is on the left hand side of the street next to address no. 2480.). This is less of a station but more an area where regional minibuses and servis go from or to, e.g. Quime, Patacayama, even Copacabana, and everything smaller that is south of La Paz. Ask around to find the right location of the required company.
- Peru Hop is a safe and flexible way to travel from La Paz to Lima and opposite. It's a hop on hop off bus system which means that you can leave the bus at one of their stops along the way and then hop on the next bus later.
There are three types of shared public transportation in La Paz: regular buses or "micros"; shared vans, called "mini buses", and shared taxis running set routes advertised on the windshield, called "trufis". The micros cost Bs. 1.30 while. The mini buses are Bs. 1.50-2.30 depending on duration. A trufi will generally cost you Bs. 3-3.50. Mini buses in El Alto are just Bs. 1.
All types have their routes indicated on the windshield, but mini buses have the bonus of fare collectors hanging out the side, yelling out routes in a rapid, auctioneer-like manner. You can hail a bus or mini bus anywhere; to get off, just yell out "¡voy a bajar!"
By cable car
A system of five cable car lines (Mi Teleférico) connects El Alto with downtown La Paz. Bs. 3 for a ride.
Even if you're not trying to get to El Alto, riding a cable car is an experience in itself. If you take the red line up to 16 de Julio station in El Alto, it gives you a great view of the city from above.
The easiest way to get around is by taxi. They aren't metered, so agree on a fare before boarding; a ride within downtown should be about Bs. 6-8. If you want to go further, ask two or more taxi drivers before boarding. A normal ride by taxi from downtown to a place within the city won't cost more than Bs. 20.
If you ever find yourself to be lost, in general the easiest thing is to simply walk downhill. You will eventually find yourself on the Prado or another main avenue, then You'll be able to take a taxi to the downtown, if you are on the southside of the city (Zona sur).
- 1 Sagarnaga Street (just south of Plaza San Francisco). La Paz's main tourist strip. It's mainly a market street with artesano and souvenir stores, but you'll also find budget hostels, tour and travel agencies, cafes, and lots and lots of backpackers. Don't be suckered by the roving sellers of "trilobite-in-a-rock".
- 2 The Witches' Market (Mercado de Hechicería, Mercado de las Brujas), Calle Linares between Sagarnaga and Santa Cruz. Vendors sell llama fetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals, as well as soapstone figurines and aphrodisiac formulas. This street is also the best place to pick up a charango or other Bolivian musical instrument.
- Eloy Salmon. Shops on this street sell cheap electronics.
- Calle Jaen. One of the few places in the city with preserved colonial buildings, now housing several interesting museums.
- 3 Plaza Murillo. Contains government buildings and the city cathedral.
- The Valle de La Luna, just outside the city. Surreal, weathered rock. It is a natural attraction of great beauty whose authors are water and air, which through its erosive effects of terrain created whimsical formations of cones and craters that resemble a lunar landscape. Take a local bus to Mallasa (Bs. 2.30) or a taxi (Bs. 35) or join a tour. The entrance to the park is next to the flags and costs Bs. 15. If you want to see more eroded formations with glittering diamond like silver and pink sand, try going on a red bus to Alpacoma from Calle Buenos Aires, then take a Bs. 2 trufi to the brick ovens, then walk a few minutes over the pass to the upper Achocalla valley (towards the well-hidden municipal dump).
- The Thursday & Sunday Market in El Alto or Feria de 16 de Julio. A huge market held in El Alto every Thursday and Sunday. This mostly Aymara market is one of the world's biggest, and a person can find just about anything. The latest software and DVDs are practically free as are high quality used clothes, jackets, sweaters and everything else imaginable. The market is an attraction in itself – you can buy stuff, see people, eat local food. For newbies, stick to the railroad tracks starting at the ceja and ending at Plaza Ballivian. Do not bring anything valuable (like camera or iPhone) and keep your money (except small bills like 10's) inside your clothing. Bring sunblock. Expats living in Bolivia are known to enjoy the bargains available in order to furnish their houses, to dress their kids, and to buy plants for their gardens. To get there, take the red cable car line from 4 Estación Teleférico Central to 5 Estación Teleférico 16 de Julio. It helps to be there early on the market days, at 10 o'clock you might already encounter a very long waiting line. It might be worthwhile waiting because the view from the cable car over the city is spectactular and even if the line looks like you have to wait for hours, it might be only half an hour. Buy your ticket first (Bs. 3) and then get in the line. You might encounter a second, shorter line for people that own a prepaid card (tarjeta) to pay for the cable car ride. Alternatively, take one of the hundreds of shared taxis (Bs. 2.50) that have the destination "Ceja" in the front window. You can find them all over the city, e.g. at the Prado, or if you are at the Teleférico and decide you don't want to wait that long, from this 6 parking lot at the nearby autopista.
- Mercado Uruguay. A labyrinth of street market stalls on a steep slope. Best fish meals in the city ("Fish Alley"). From the corner of Santa Cruz and Illampu walk up hill about four blocks... that is, two blocks will bring you to the round Plaza 14 de Septiembre. One block straight up will bring you to Eloy Salmon, and another block to the market.
- 7 Museo San Francisco (San Francisco Museum), Plaza San Francisco. This restored religious complex has housed some of Bolivia's most important historical moments, including the birth of the Independence Revolution of 1809. Also, you can climb the church tower to get a panoramic view of the indigenous and Mestiza quarters. Displays are in Spanish and English along with personal guides.
- 8 National Ethnographic and Folk Museum (Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore), Ingavi 916, corner of Jenaro Sanjinés. MUSEF shows Bolivian cultures in their historic dimension and their current situation. These cultures are alive in the cities and the countryside, in markets, schools and churches, in streets, the jungle or a minibus. Not a single corner of Bolivia escapes its diversity. And to understand this complexity better, the MUSEF offers an incomparable tour.
- 9 National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional de Arte), Calle Comercio, corner of Socabaya. No doubt, the tour through the National Museum of Art is a ride through the history of Bolivian art, its paintings, sculptures, photos and other artistic expressions; a singular experience for national and foreign visitors.
- Tiwanaku Museum (Museo Tihuanaco).
- Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo), Av. 16 de Julio 1698 (Prado). The permanent collection upstairs (Bs. 10) contain many works by renowned Aymara painter Mamani Mamani. The downstairs gallery containing work by students and up-and-comers is free.
- Coca Museum, Calle Linares 906. Daily 10AM-7PM. A favorite of foreign tourists, this small museum details the history and significance of the coca plant, including the effect of the U.S. War on Drugs. The displays are in Spanish, but booklets of complete translations in other languages are provided. According to the museum, crack cocaine is the greatest epidemic since the Plague in the Middle-Ages. And yes, there are free samples of coca leaf for visitors. Bs. 15.
- 10 Musical Instrument Museum (Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia), Calle Jaen 711. Displays a huge collection of sound-producing devices from Bolivia and beyond, some of which you can play yourself. The museum was founded by charango master and inventor Ernesto Cavour, and some of his creations on display (such as multi-bodied guitars) are downright bizarre.
- 11 Museum of Precious Metals (Museo de Metales Preciosos Precolombinos), Calle Jaen 777. Pre-Columbian treasures in silver and gold.
- Submerged Museum (Museo Subterraneo), in front of the city stadium. Hardly deserving the name "museum", it's essentially a small outdoor plaza sunk into the ground with a huge replica Tiwanaku monolith in the middle of it. The original one used to be there, but it was moved back to Tiwanaku for preservation.
- Bolivian Andean Textile Museum (Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos), Plaza Benito Juarez 488. It exhibits a large variety of textiles and weavings from all the Bolivian andean communities. It's a must-see for weaving lovers. It also displays several garments, like ponchos, from all these regions. The museum also includes a shop (90% of your purchase belongs to the artists) and it is at lovely house in Miraflores.
La Paz is a city which can be a sight in itself, and there are several viewing places or miradores offering impressive panoramas.
- Mirador Killi Killi (from Avenida Sucre take Avenida La Bandera and then walk straight up, the mirador is on the right side). You can get the best view of La Paz from here. No entrance fee. You can either walk, take a taxi or bus to get there. Buses with sign "V. Pabon" go there, such as "micros" W, P, 22, 137.
- Parque Laikacota (at the top of Av. Ejercito west of the city center). The best panorama from within the bowl, with clear views of the city and the rugged terrain to the east, all the way to Mt. Illimani. Admission is Bs. 3.50.
- Mirador Monticulo (next to Plaza España). This small park (free entry) has a church and lots of trees which block much of the city, but the clear view of Illimani makes it an evening hotspot for couples.
- Av. Camacho (in the heart of downtown). Points straight to Illimani, and from the intersection with the Prado it's framed by skyscrapers in an interesting juxtaposition.
- Condor Samana (take a red bus from Calle Buenos Aires east towards Ciudad Satellite). Near Alpacoma, The most unknown of La Paz view sites, on top of some eroded cliffs below Ciudad Satellite, The condors used to nest here before the city moved up. If upu look out the left hand side of the bus you will spot the castle like formation a bit before getting to El Alto.
Take it easy on your first day in La Paz if you arrive from low altitude. Even if you feel fine, resting and walking slowly will help. Try not to eat too much, at least the first day or so. And sleep as much as you can.
- The Self-guided Public Transport Tour. The best way to see the real La Paz is to jump on and off public transport minibuses and micros at random, go to the end of the line, turn around and jump off at any place that looks interesting. There is no way to get lost and each jump on and off costs about US$0.15. Buy fruit and so on along the way and talk to people in the periferal zones. Inexpensive, quite safe, and you will see the most fascinating things imaginable.
- 1 Biking to the Death Road (North Yungas Road). You will ride a bike in the new paved road about a half hour, then enter the most dangerous road in the world, North Yungas Road (a.k.a. Death Road), built by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco war in 1930. It's a 64 km long scenic ride downhill to Coroico. There was an average of 100 motor fatalities a year (though in the ten years that companies have been biking down the road, there have only been 12 biking fatalities), a world record, mostly due to the Bolivian driving style than to the road itself. Although it's a narrow, winding road with big drops on the side, going down by bike is probably the safest way to get to Coroico and there are several tour agents in La Paz offering the trip. You will ride a bike about 3 hours to Yolosa reach, where you can enjoy a buffet lunch, showers and a swimming pool, then you can relax and have fun. You'll enjoy the day watching waterfalls and appreciating beautiful natural landscapes.
For a safer and more relaxed trip to Yungas, you may want to take the South Yungas Road that leads to Chulumani by bus. Around 36 km up the South Yungas Road you will find a surprise: a European castle, built in the 1930s, emerges in the middle of the coca and flower growing region. It's a treat because the people who run the castle/hotel have built many narrow roads for hiking through mountains and mountain cascades. Much calmer and relaxing than Coroico. The hotel is called the Hotel y Parque Ecológico el Castillo del Loro.
- Crazy Dave, Plaza San Pedro (Plaza Sucre). 1PM. "Crazy Dave" is a New Yorker who was arrested for drug smuggling in Bolivia and spent years in San Pedro Prison in La Paz. Most afternoons he can be found telling his story (with perhaps a bit of embellishment) at Plaza San Pedro near the prison. He's quite a character, and the story is interesting and entertaining.
Bolivian wrestling cholitas
Cholitas are indigenous Bolivian women who can be seen all over La Paz in traditional clothing. If you seek it out, you can also see this unusual WWE-inspired entertainment event, where Bolivian women wrestle in front of an audience. Shows every Sunday at Ceja El Alto, Zona 12 de October. Taxis from downtown tourist area at most Bs. 50.
One of the most recognizable aspects of Andean culture is its folk music, which you can enjoy at a number of peñas, or music clubs.
- Huari, Calle Sagarnaga 329. Its location makes it the convenient choice for foreign tourists, so be prepared for extreme tourist prices and slightly tacky decor. (The ancient Incas probably didn't have black lighting.) Nonetheless, the music and dance performances are excellent.
- Marka Tambo, Calle Jaen 710. Considered among the best for serious fans of the music.
- MegaCenter (in the entrance to Irpavi in the "Zona Sur"). From downtown you must go on public transportation.
- MultiCine, 2631 Avenida Arce, (a couple of blocks south of Plaza Isabel de Catholica). Multiplex cinema with a 3D screen. Shows current Hollywood blockbusters.
- The Cinemateca Boliviana, (Guachalla and Federico Suazo St). Most modern movie theater in the city. You can see new mega-releases, local films and international festivals.
- Monje Campero (at the beginning of Av. 16 de Julio).
- 16 de Julio (near to Plaza del Estudiante).
- Cine Azul (at the beginning of Av. 16 de julio). Despite the best efforts to censor it, Latin America's premier underground bluey showhouse is still up and running. The steam is literally dripping off the walls, among other things.
Bank holidays and special dates
16 July - Anniversary of La Paz
- 2 Instituto Exclusivo, Avenida 20 de Octubre #2315, ☎ . Study Spanish, English, Dutch, German, Portuguese or several other foreign languages with experienced and personable teachers. Excellent individualized and small group instruction with friendly staff. Activities from salsa classes to local excursions, including museum, market or peña visits upon request. Free internet, homestays and transportation.
- Pico Verde Languages, 363 Sagarnaga St (up from San Francisco, close to corner with Calle Illampu), ☎ , . M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. Friendly Spanish school in the heart of La Paz´s historical district. Specialises in crash courses for travellers wanting to get to grips with or improve their Spanish, as well as longer courses for those spending more time in the city. Group or individual classes tailored to any level, with experienced teachers who all speak fluent English, as well as some French, German and Italian speakers. Homestays and volunteering opportunities can be arranged, as well as other activities. Competitive prices and laid back atmosphere. US$4.50-8 per hour depending on class size and hours taken.
- William Ortiz (Servicing for ABC Spanish Tuition), Miraflores, Avenida Simon Bolivar, Pasaje 1880, house Nº 1785 (opposite China Motors Company, walk the alley up to the end), ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 8AM-8PM. Mr. Ortiz, has taught Spanish since 1992, in La Paz, his place is located 20 min walk from Sopocachi and 10 min to the centre. The schedules for the lessons are completely flexible and the student could start lessons any day of the week. Individual, Group and tailor-made classes. Family homestay, Volunteer work and Educational tours could be organized for students during the course. Intensive lessons 3-4 hr/day or Short-term intensive lessons 5-10 hr/day. Free hostal pick-up.
- 3 Rita Clavijo, Pasaje José Manuel Loza Nº 420 (Calle Prudencio esq. Juan de Vargas) (Miraflores, between Parque Laicacota and Estadio Obrero), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. For those who find learning in a formal school environment difficult, or whose schedules make fitting in with a school's timetable impossible. Rita offers private tuition at whatever time is most convenient, either at her home, your hostel, or a quiet café of your choice. More than 10 years experience teaching Spanish, and a positive, adaptable approach based on her extensive study of cognitive theory. Specialises in helping students who have found that rigid, traditional approaches don't work for them.
- Iris Palacios, Calacoto district, Calle 23 N 7870. 9AM-7PM. Private Spanish classes in the heart of south area of the city. Certified teacher with 5 years of experience. Flexible schedules, kitchen, Wi-Fi, volunteer placements, homestay and host families.
- Fair trade shop, 958 Calle Linares. Weavings are upstairs, better quality than the stuff on the street with comparable prices. Nicely mounted with wood panels and ready for hanging.
- A Manos, Calle Carlos Bravo 299 (Behind Hotel Plaza on el Prado). Good quality handicrafts. Has a café (Café El Consulado), travel agency; Topas Adventure Travel Bolivia, and 5 great rooms.
- 1 Ayni Bolivia (Fair Trade handicrafts), Av. Illampu 704 (one block from witches market), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8AM-8:30PM, Sa 10AM-6:30PM. Fair trade store member of World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), has 26 different groups, with a wide variety of handicrafts (alpaca, wood, ceramics, native textiles, table cloth, greeting cards). One store is located inside Hotel Rosario and other at the street. US$2-50.
Luxury Clothing and Items
- Suritayka Luxury Alpaca Clothing, leather bags and jewelry, 213 Sagarnaga Street, Suite #7, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 9:30AM-7:00PM, Sa 9:30AM-6:00PM. Alpaca clothing company, owned and managed by Bolivian women. Suritayka uses only the highest quality of alpaca wool (baby, super fine and royal) to produce pullovers, cardigans, wraps, ponchos, hats, et al. The store also offers leather products and jewelry.
Gear & equipment
- The Spitting Llama Bookstore & Outfitter, 947 Calle Linares (inside the Hostal Posada de la Abuela), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-7:30PM. Offers offers a wide range of trekking, camping equipment and similar requirements. They also rent things like tents and sleeping bags. Thousands of books in English and many other languages and have Bolivia's best book exchange. English-speaking staff available.
La Paz is a good place for buying maps of the country. Topographical maps are available in 1:50 000, 1:100 000 and 1:250 000. The most popular maps, including the 1:250 000 version of Cordillera Real and the 1:50 000 version of Volcan Sajama are sold by street vendors that roam Calle Sagarnaga and from stalls along el Prado. But the best place to buy maps is the "Instituto Geografico Militar", IGM. The instituto has two offices in town, listed below.
- Edificio Murillo No. 100, Calle Juan XXIII parallel to Calle Murillo at the end of Calle Rodríguez. This office is likely to be closest to where you stay and sometimes has as map or two on offer, but most often asks you to come back mañana when they still don't have the map you want. It's has a nice atmosphere though, and makes a nice visit for mapophiles needing that fix of fresh map air.
- Oficina Central, Estado Mayor General, Av. Saavedra No. 2303. This is the place to go, but a little out of the way. It is said to be open afternoons, but it's best to visit between 9PM and 11PM. Closed if there's a soccer game in the nearby Stadium. Take a micro marked "E. Mayor" from Plaza San Francisco. The unmarked entrance is 20 m down Av. Saavedra from the main car entrance to the Estado Mayor. Surrender your passport in the window marked IGM, get a number tag to hang around you neck and walk down the road and to the left. Many maps are only available in copies for Bs. 30 a sheet. An original is Bs. 40.
For traditional musical instruments, some small shops are in El Alto near the Che Guevara statue. They are cheap there. You can buy "user manuals" as well to help you getting started.
For lunch try the little almuerzo-kitchens. You'll get a decent menu for under Bs. 10. Be careful with or avoid salads the first days. If you are on a budget it is always possible to eat in the local markets.
Street food is plentiful in La Paz, including juice, snacks, and meals. The avocado sandwiches are delicious, if you're lucky enough to find someone selling them.
Vegetarian options are rare.
Most of the fancier restaurants in La Paz are at the bottom of the Prado, around the vicinity of Plaza Isabel La Catolica and Plaza Avaroa.
There's a string of inexpensive pizza and hamburger joints on the west side of Avenida 6 de Agosto south of Plaza del Estudiante.
- Sergio's is considered good for pizza, and is good for checking upcoming music venues.
- Luciernagas Restaurant, Avenida Illimani #1683, ☎ . W 6PM-11PM, Th-Su noon-11PM. Run by a Dutch-Bolivian couple, this place offers authentic Bolivian cuisine for little money. The owners are very knowledgeable about what they serve and really interested in introducing local food to travelers. Set in an apartment converted into a restaurant one can get original Bolivian cuisine for small money. Definitely recommended to all foodies. If you can cook or reheat in your accommodation, ask for a doggy-bag - if not, feast for a day or two - portions are massive and very affordable. US$2-9.
- Chifa Puerta del Sol, Av. Ballivian #503 (Calacoto, Calle 11). Average Chinese. Not worth the 17-km drive out of the city.
- El Consulado, Calle Bravo 299 (Behind Hotel Plaza (Prado)). Best brunch in town, gourmet food in beautiful surroundings. Wifi and garden. Working with the "New Andean Kitchen" and organic coffee. Closed in the evening.
- Angelo Colonial, Calle Linares 922. A dark, bohemian cafe set in an old mansion decorated with scads of antiques. Serving Bolivian and mediocre international food. The best drip coffee in La Paz. Painfully slow service. Another location on the Prado. Serves llamas.
- Tambo Colonial, in Hotel Rosario. Lavish breakfast buffet for Bs. 20 (US$2.50), great international and local food from noon-11PM. Try the Lake Titicaca trout with Beni almonds.
- Naira, Calle Sagarnaga 161. Catering mostly to travelers (and guests of the hotel—see below), but a good sampling of Bolivian dishes. Expensive.
- Alo Cubano, Av. Aniceto de Arce. Best place to pretend you're back in the 1950s plotting a Pan-American revolution with Fidel and Che.
- Contigo Peru, second floor of Edificio Alameda (on the Prado). Good ceviche and other seafood.
- Eli's New York Deli (on the Prado). Try ordering with a thick New York accent and see what you get. Prices gone sky high this year.
- Sultan, San Miguel, Zona Sur. Great Arabic fast food in a tiny setting. Try the falafel for Bs. 7. Order a "super" for Bs. 10 if you're hungry and be there for lunch when the boss isn't around (bigger portions).
- Pizzeria Italia, Calle Ilampu 809. Serves nice breakfasts with a friendly smile. Pizzas are not good, and also overpriced.
- La Mia Pizzeria, Calle Ilampu (below one of the two). Cheaper than "Italia" with more American style pizzas. Take-away available.
- Al amir, Murillo 824. Nice Arabic food.
- The Star of India. Open from 9AM for breakfast, then lunch served M-Sa from 11:30AM and Su from 4PM. The highest curry house in the world! This is one of the few places you can get curry in Bolivia (and also can deliver to your hostel). Good veggie and vegan options. The curries and side dishes are mediocre at best, if you're longing for a UK style curry you'll be disappointed. They offer a free "I survived the world's most dangerous vindaloo" T-shirt to anyone who finishes it - people generally don't. Portions are small for a curry house.
- Café Ciudad, Plaza Estudiantes (Lower end of the Prado). Open 24 hr. Burgers Bs. 15-20, main courses Bs. 30-40.
- Cafe Karlovy, Av. Claudio Aliaga Nº 1182 - Bloque J-47, San Miguel. 8AM-midnight. An elegant coffee shop in the hip southern part of La Paz. Serves fantastic food all day.
- Sol y Luna, Calle Murillo and Cochabamba. Wide selection of international food, Dutch owned and operated. Excellent coctails and always a good atmosphere. Drink Coca Leaf Mojitos where the mint is replaced by Coca Leaves - top cocktail!
- Namas Te, Zoilo Flores #1334 (San Pedro). 8:30AM-7PM. In the heart of the city, San Pedro. Serving possibly the best homestyle vegetarian cooking with much flavour and love. Deep fried vegan patties. Fixed lunch starts midday. Music with your organic coffee, tea, and food. If you want the menú del dia, be sure to reserve it in advance by calling. Bs 20.
- La Terraza Cafe, Ave 16 de Julio 1615. On el Prado. Very nice restaurant-cafe for Bolivian standards. Try the personal size pizza. The one with extra cheese, pesto, tomato and caramelized onions is to die for.
- Ken Chan, Batallon Colorados No.98. Esq.Federico Suazo (200 m on the right side of Batalíon Colorados from the round-about at the lower end of the Prado (the left street if coming from the direction of the bus station)), ☎ . Authentic Japanese food in this restaurant run by the Japanese Society in La Paz. Japanese specialties such as ramen, chicken katsu and karaage in addition to the expected sushi. Set meals with miso soup, (Japanese) rice are available. Set meal main Bs. 40~50.
- La Coca, Rosendo Gutiérrez Nº 482, ☎ . In the Sopocachi district, about a block and a half from Plaza Avaroa, La Coca is an almuerzo style restaurant offering a very good four course menu for the price. Choice of 3 soups and 5 main courses, at least one of each guaranteed to be vegetarian. Quiet, pleasant decor, friendly and competent staff. 20Bs.
- Glam, Sanchez Lima Nº 2237, ☎ . High-end international cuisine at a price to match. The food is excellent, and the surroundings live up to the name, but you won't get much change from Bs. 400 for two people (including wine and dessert). Despite describing itself as a "jazz lounge", the resident DJ has never heard of Chet Baker, Miles Davis or John Coltrane, and seems to prefer elevator music ... though with a little prodding can be persuaded to put something more tolerable on. 85Bs.
- Marrakech, Calle Jimenez 774, ☎ . 12-10PM every day. This cosy little restaurant has amazing hummus, tajines and mint tea. Its warm and Moroccan atmosphere is a nice contrast from the cold city. Menu in English, Spanish, and Hebrew.
- Paladar-Cozinha Brasileira, C. Ferrecio #B-28, San Miguel (On the right side of Alexander Coffee), ☎ . Tu-Su noon-3:30PM, Tu-Sa 7PM-11:30PM. Traditional Brazilian cuisine. Feijoada (hot bean pot with smoked pork rib, smoked sausages, sun dried meat and bacon), moqueca de Peixe (pirarucu filet [white meat amazonian river fish] slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices). A caipirinha is the perfect cocktail for this meal or you can also have wine or beer if you aren't feeling that adventurous. Variety of grilled meats (not "rodizio" style), chicken and trout. Cozy and owned by a Brazilian and French Canadian couple. US$5-15 with drinks.
- 1 Popular Cocina Boliviana, Calle Murillo 826. M–S. Lunch place serving contemporary Bolivian food: opened in late 2017 and quickly became, well, popular. Reservations recommended, especially for large groups. Bs. 45.
- 2 Café Vida, Calle Sagarnaga 213, esquina Murillo, ☎ . Organic vegan restaurant serving healthy, fresh meals: some Andean cuisine and some from further afield. Good for breakfast and lunch – the lunch combo includes soup, bread, hummus, a bowl, and a drink. Lots of gluten-free options. Menu in English. Wi-Fi available. Bs. 32 for the lunch combo.
- La Gabriela, Casa Matriz or Sucursal. Nice Chinese food with one vegetarian tofu dish and buns. Free wifi. Menus are 25Bs, comes with a lemonade.
Try a glass of mocochinchi from street vendors.
Local law prohibits serving alcohol after 4AM. There are a number of speakeasies defying this.
- Alexander The Great, Av. 16 de Julio 1832 and other locations. Many thought the legendary Macedonian slayer had long since died. Not so in fact, although he is considerably tamer after a rough encounter with a fiery cholita.
- Blueberries, Av. 20 de Octubre 2475. This café serves very delicious coffee, and also has a very appealing breakfast menu. The café is situated at the east end of Plaza Avaroa, where you may also find an "Alexanders Coffee".
- Cafe Confiteria La Paz, Avenida Camacho & Ayacucho (close to Obelisco). 8AM-midnight. Free WiFi for customers
- Pepe's Coffee Bar, Jimenez 894. Decent coffee and a nice calm getaway close to the tourist ghetto. Sandwiches are disappointingly small, but tasty. The "Trekker´s Breakfast" is huge and delicious.
Coffee is not a popular drink in Bolivia. If you want a sweet hot drink try api, made of corn.
- Oliver's Travels, Calle Murillo (opposite Sol y Luna). Northern English owned backpackers bar serving standard English fare at mid-range prices. Under new management. Fun party atmosphere,and a warm welcome from Eglish speaking staff. Also has travel. Has WiFi and TV for most sporting events and a book exchange (very good, but expensive). Tour agency and great happy hour Su-Th. Wednesday nights are theme orientated with fancy dress. Available for large bookings and tour groups. Great food, the breakfast is very nice and not too overpriced compared with the other local options.
- Sol Y Luna, Calle Murillo. Dutch owned & managed traveller's hangout. Good atmosphere, different areas, live music, free WiFi, large screen TV for important football games. Pool table, serve coca leaf mojitos, where coca leaves are substituted for mint leaves.
- Irish, Plaza Avoroa. Food is overpriced but good, and the cocktails are reasonable, though not as good as some from some of the other bars. Mostly frequented by Bolivians and is of course a themed bar.
- Traffic, San Jorge. Bar with a good atmosphere and fairly good music. There is a large dance floor and a comfortable bar. Owner Asher has taken 6 steps back from managing the place after a sting operation codenamed 'superhuey'.
- Antique Pub, Pichincha 662. Recorded rock music, and all sorts of old things including fob watches, photographs, a kid's tricycle and a six shooter to keep you amused. They serve food too.
- Pomp Pomp Salty Man, Loayza and Comerceo. Known for its great clandestine happy sauces. ATM on premises.
- Hard Rock Cafe, Calle santa-cruz #399 esq. illampu, ☎ . 10PM-4AM. Open all week long, great parties, all kind of music. The biggest bar in Bolivia serves almost every drink there is. Full of backpackers and locals, great music and atmosphere.
- BackStage, La Florida, Calacoto. Trendy karaoke lounge with a great ambience and an amazing variety of songs both in Spanish and English. A good option if you visit the Zona Sur.
- Mongo's, Hermanos Manchego 2444. Since 1995 has remained one of the most popular places for travellers with a good mix of locals. It's a lively atmosphere every night of the week at this place. Open from 6PM-3:30AM. Serving the best in global cuisine, and well priced. Be careful, though, as many tourists (as of July 2009) have reported being duped by being charged much higher prices for drinks than listed on the menu. Check your bill carefully! Unfortunately because of its popularity with tourists, Mongos has attracted pick-pockets as of late. A common trick to for a Bolivian to 'drunkenly' hug you in the bar, while he takes your phone/wallet/valuables from your pockets.
- Forum (near Plaza Espana). Bolivian hangout and a proper disco venue, the other one is called Soundbar. Very dressed up Bolivians frequent the establishment. Worth a look if you're missing a big club with big pretensions.
- La Gitana, Zona Sur, Calle 8 de Calacoto. A bar/club hangout for upper class youth of La Paz's South Zone. Dress well.
- Dry Law, Zona Sur, Cota Cota. A pretty hip club in La Paz's rich South Zone that's slightly on the right side of pretentious. Good alternative to Mongo's or RamJam if you're sick of bumping into Gringos all the time. Dress well.
If you do not want to pay for a bed, you can pass a night in loco along Calle Sagarnaga or Calle Illampu. These streets are merged into fairs and museums, so are full of people all day long. Be sure to inspect your room before signing the register.
- 1 Hostel Maya, Calle Sagarnaga 339, ☎ . Quality, inexpensive hostel in La Paz with very friendly, helpful, bilingual staff. The terraces have a fantastic view of the city, and they're located in the best neighborhood near all the bars, museums, restaurants, and great events.
- Loki Backpackers Hostel, ☎ . Calle Loayza 420. Set in a beautifully restored 100 year old hotel, with an amazing bar in the old ball room. Also houses the Oxygen Bar on the 3rd floor with a rooftop terrace and BBQ area. Amenities include real duvets, comfortable beds, hot showers, breakfast, English speaking staff, tour desk, internet and WiFi, International phone service, pool table, TV-room with DVDs, cable, and enough partying to keep you up until 3AM. Dorm beds from Bs. 40. Matrimonials, triples and twin rooms also available. Probably the worst internet connection in La Paz (and that's saying something) so take care of any online bookings or arrangements before arriving. It was raided in early June 2013 by the police looking for drugs. At least two travellers were caught and Loki's liquor license was taken away.
- Hostel Pirwa La Paz, Calle Ricardo Mujía 766 (central area of the city), ☎ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. 24-hr hot showers, movies, in-house bar, attentive staff, free breakfast, free internet, pick up service, and comfortable beds.
- 2 Perla Negra Hostal (Hostal Perla Negra), P. Kramer #775 (Opposite bus station upset of stairs on the left very small sign). Check-out: noon. 24-hr hot showers, free pool table/ping pong/table football, free breakfast, free internet, Wi-Fi in all rooms and comfortable beds. Feels more like a hotel than a hostel Bs. 120 for double with shared bathroom.
- 3 Adventure Brew Hostel and Brew Too, Avenida Montes 533, ☎ . Bright and clean. Micro-brewery on-site, and a rooftop bar, with BBQs most nights. Just down the road is the annex: The Adventure Brew Too. there, dorm beds are Bs. 48-72, single with bath Bs. 192. Includes all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, slow internet, Wi-Fi, a range of DVD-films and a small Saya beer. Although their internet booking engine will state they are full, they might have a bed if you call. The location is good for the bus terminal, but a bit off for other things. US$20 per night for a single.
- 4 Wild Rover Backpackers Hostel, Calle Comercio 1476 (esquina Bueno), ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 1PM. Claims to be the highest Irish owned hostel/bar in the world and with a crowd to match, Wild Rover is a backpackers three blocks from Plaza Murillio in a beautiful old ex-president's house. Facilities include 24 hr reception, travel agency, backpack lockers, 24-hr gas powered hot showers, extra wide beds with specially made winter/summer duvets, fun bar with daily activities, menu with the food you miss from home, wifi and free internet, and pool table. Very popular with British/Irish backpackers. Some rooms are very noisy due to proximity of the bar, ask for a room in the back. Dorms from Bs. 40.
- El Solario, Calle Murillo 776. Clean and cheap backpacker joint, 1½ blocks from Calle Sagarnaga along Murillo. It is a 10-15 min walk from the bus station or a short taxi-ride. Warm water, shared bathrooms with electrical showers, cheap laundry service, free internet and wifi as well as free use of a kitchen. Nice mix of people - especially popular with Japanese and French travellers. Occasionally full but back-up options are available in the same block, albeit not quite as good value. No lockers so valuables must be left with the office. Singles Bs. 35, Doubles Bs. 60, Triples Bs. 90, 4 bed dorm Bs. 25, 6 bed dorm Bs. 20..
- Bacoo Hostel, 693 Alto de la Alianza St.. Big party hostel, guests are mostly very young. Dorms around Bs. 50 (depending on the size), 2 privates; Bs. 140-160, but very poor beds and bad shower in the privates.
- Hotel la Valle, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Great location, great prices (double with private bath (no TV), Bs. 90) and very friendly staff. Popular with Bolivians. Great place.
- Inkaterra Backpackers Home (across from the bus terminal). Singles from Bs. 30.
- Arty's Guesthouse, Avenida Montes (a few blocks down from the Adventure Brew). Small family-run hostel, friendly staff but the midnight curfew can be a bummer.
- Hostal Illimani, ☎ . Calle Illimani #1817 In Barrio Miraflores, a few blocks from the Stadium. Basic and secure accommodations with shared bath and sink in room. Ms. Filomena is the manager who keeps an eye on the place and is always happy to help. Has a courtyard and places to wash and dry clothing. Expect to pay Bs. 25 for a single. Doubles are available. Is not in the normal city central tourist area. If you want to be by the tourist stuff, do not stay here. If you want fewer gringos around this is a good place.
- El Carretero (about 5 blocks north of San Francisco). Basic. Gets a lot of artisans staying there. Dorm for Bs. 20.
- Hostal Austria, ☎ . Calle Yanacocha. Very popular with backpackers. Offering warm water, friendly staff and a central location. Singles Bs. 35, shared room Bs. 30.
- Hosteria Blanquita, Santa Cruz 242. A nice place, with a friendly staff, offering doubles for Bs. 80, midnight curfew. Be wary of confusing billing calculations and over charging. Use your own calculator to check the totals.
- Hotel Continental. Top end of Calle Illampu. Doubles with shared bath are Bs. 80. 10% discount with HI-card. Former members of Status Quo tend to use this hotel whilst in town.
- Hostal Cactus, Calle Jimenez. Kitchen, laundry service, lousy Nestle instant coffee maker, rooftop terrace, nice quiet street. Very popular with the pseudo-hippie types. Can be very loud outside the rooms near the employees reception area (Friday night fiesta time). Bs. 30 for privates (Bs. 10 for lentil soup).
- Hotel Majestic, Calle Santa Cruz. Splurge just a little and for Bs. 130 you get a nice comfy double (single Bs. 100) with TV (loads of movie channels) and private bathroom with hot shower. All in the heart of the backpacker area. Breakfast is also included, but isn´t great. The señora in charge is a lovely lady and will take good care of you.
- Hostal Lobo, c/Illampu esq Santa Cruz. Low prices, friendly staff, a home away from home taste of Tel Aviv.
- Hotel Savoy, Calle Chuquisaca 675. Very friendly staff, free wifi, basic breakfast (ask for more and you'll get more for free), hot showers, clean. Quiet street, though stinks a bit. Recommended! Doubles from Bs. 160.
- Hotel Milton, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Calle Illampu #1126-1130. A bit worse for wear, but excellent value for the price. Friendly and honest staff. Singles from Bs. 100 which includes a real breakfast, cable TV, room with view, bathroom with solar/gas hot water (not electric), decent furnishings, and wifi, which is rare to find in this price range. They also run a travel agency and bus company for tours.
- Tiquina Palace Hotel - Pasaje Tiquina 150. Good central location, nice rooms and very good hot shower. Free Wi-Fi. Doubles with 2 beds are of better quality than the ones with one bed. Rooms on the right side (if standing in front of it) have the most windows and are a bit bigger. The higher in the building the less noise from outside. Bs. 160 for a double, basic breakfast included (May 2012).
- Colibri Camping, Calle 4, Jupapina (www.colibricamping.com/find-us), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Nestled on a beautiful mountainside high above the Valley of Flowers. While away your days in a hammock, hike in the spectacular Valley of the Moon, trek to the Devil’s Molar, or enjoy horse-riding and mountain-biking and a taste of local culture and cuisine. Fully-equipped kitchen, brand new bathrooms. Campsites, cabins and teepees. US$7 per person.
- Apartment Collita. Calle 6, Los Pinos. Gorgeous, spacious and tastefully equipped apartment for 4-6 people in the Zona Sur of La Paz. Prices are between US$140-175 (per week).
- La Posada en La Paz, ☎ . Calle Hermanos Manchego 2551. Small, friendly and bilingual staff run this posada in the heart of the restaurant and pub district. Between Mongo´s and Traffic, and just steps from Mamprahon's Asian Food. Singles US$20, doubles US$30.
- Hotel España, Av. 6 de Agosto 2074, ☎ . In the Sopocachi district close to numerous nice restaurants, the España has a charming garden courtyard and a solarium. There's a single net-connected PC in the lobby. Singles US$24, doubles $34.
- Hotel Rosario, Av. Illampu 704, ☎ . In the Aymara District, close to the Witches Market and many touristic attractions. Has a colonial style building with sunny patios. Free Internet and Wi-Fi. Has a travel office. Beautiful rooms. Friendly and helpful staff. Complimentary tea and mate de coca. Singles US$28–31, doubles US$63 per night. Book ahead as it fills up.
- Hostal Naira, Calle Sagarnaga 161, ☎ , fax: . In business since 1975, with a good restaurant in the basement and a popular cafe (Coffee Banais) on the ground floor.
- Apart'Hotel A La Maison, Pasaje Muñoz Cornejo nº15 (near from plaza de Espana), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bs. 280-630 for 40-120m².
- Ritz Apart Hotel, Plaza Isabel La Catolica 2478. 5 stars and all suites in the heart of Sopocachi.
- Radisson Plaza Hotel La Paz, Av. Arce 2177. Luxury hotel in Sopocachi in the heart of La Paz.
- The plain-clothed police officer scam seems to be popular (but seldom) in La Paz. Read all about it under Bolivia#Stay safe and be aware.
- In crowded areas be careful for pickpockets and bagslashers. A common trick is that one person spills something on your clothes and, while you or he wipes it off, another person lifts your wallet or slashes your bag. Be vigilant when checking into a hotel or hostel. Keep a hand on all your bags and belongings at all times. Acting as if they work for the hotel, opportunist thieves will create a diversion and snatch the nearest unattended bag.
- El Alto is one of the most dangerous cities in Bolivia; if you decide to go there, avoid bringing valuables. Theft is the most common crime, so keep your things close to your body and in sight. Locals advise to keep your backpack in front of you to protect your things. Nevertheless, during the day, all you have to fear is pickpockets, and El Alto bus station and Río Seco are fine to be used.
- Generally, if you feel you are in a dodgy situation, just simply walk away as soon as you can and try to vanish in the crowds.
- There have been several cases of violent muggings in taxis. Take only Radio Cabs (they will have the telephone number and their call centre listed above the cab). The taxis, or Gypsy Cabs, have no boarding above the taxi and have taxi written on the side and are dangerous to take at night, as many of the drivers are paid to drive tourists to specific locations for muggings. Be especially careful if you are at one of the illegal after-hours bars such as Fin Del Mundo or Route 36, as most of the muggings happen in taxis from these locations. Lock the doors and don't allow other people to share the journey with you. Alternatively, just skip the caps, there are enough other proper ways of transport around, like the gondolas and regular (mini)buses.
- There are more reliable taxi firms to use:
- Magnifico Taxis, ☎ +591 2 2410410
- La Paz Taxis. ☎ +591 2 2221212
- Gold Taxis, ☎ +591 2 2722722.
- Protests are frequent in La Paz, especially around midday, and are usually non-violent. They're sometimes accompanied by firecrackers. They often shut down streets, disrupting driving and public transit. You may see police roadblocks; if they see that you're a tourist moving on foot, they'll probably let you through with no hassle. Foreigners are prohibited from participating in political activity.
- Computer hard drives can be damaged by operating them at altitude, and so if you use a laptop computer or anything else containing a hard drive (including iPods and certain other MP3 Players), you are taking a risk. Most hard drives sold today safely work up to 3,000 m/10,000 ft. La Paz exceeds this altitude by one-third. While you may get by without anything bad happening, the hard drive could be destroyed (disc crash) and you will lose your data and installed software (even after returning to sea level). At the very least, you should back up your data before arriving. The high elevation won't subsequently "stress" the hard drive though, assuming nothing else happens during your visit.
Travelers to La Paz often become ill the moment they arrive in the city. Why? La Paz is 11,900 feet (3627 m.) above sea level, the highest capital city in the world. People with ailing hearts or bronchial problems are warned to stay away, and even those in perfect health usually cannot avoid some illness resulting from the altitude.
The altitude of La Paz is well within the zone where altitude sickness could be a problem, especially for those arriving from at or near sea level. (Just spending a day or two at an intermediate elevation may not be enough.) It's is highly recommended that you have adequate travel insurance, familiarize yourself with the symptoms of altitude sickness, and inform your physician to what elevation you will be traveling (up to 4,000 m/13,000 ft. for La Paz, and 6,000 meters/20,000 ft. if you want to climb Huayna Potosi). Taking Ginko Biloba supplements for a couple weeks before a climb in altitude has been known to eliminate altitude sickness. On your first night in La Paz you are likely to find difficulty in breathing and wake up panting for breath. Mate de Coca (Coca Leaf tea) is a popular remedy. Take it easy when walking around town and if you are young and healthy don't be lured into a false sense of security. Marathon runners can get altitude sickness while those far less healthy can have few symptoms. You can also request "soroche-pills" at any pharmacy, which will help.
Despite being near the equator, it does occasionally snow a little in La Paz during the middle of the year, and packing some warm clothing is a must year-round.
Internet cafés are on each street corner in La Paz. Current standard fare is Bs. 2-4/hour. There are four internet cafés around Plaza Mendoza at this price, all with good connection.
If you have a laptop computer you can find WiFi access at several cafes and similar establishments:
- Sol Y Luna cafe, Calle Cochabamba.
- Oliver's Travel Bar.
- Café El Consulado. Fast internet in the café and patio.
- There are many laundrettes situated around the city, charging from Bs. 6 per kilo wash and dry.
- Changing money on the street does not give you a better rate, and some tricks will most likely be tried such as false Alasitas or Banco de la fortuna Notes (toy money). Still, it is convenient on weekends and after hours, -just stay alert. There are also local exchange houses off El Prado - for example at Almirante Grau, offering better rates than the banks.
- If you need to extend your Bolivian visa this is easily done at the Immigration Office at Avenida Camacho 1468 (between streets Loyaza and Bueno). The office is open Monday to Friday from 7:30AM-3:30PM. Bring a photocopy of your passport's photo page, your entry stamp as well as immigration card (the white one). Ask the information counter which counter is processing visa extensions. You cannot extend your stay to more than 90 days in total.
- United Kingdom, Avenida Arce No 2732, Casilla, ☎ , fax: .
- United States, Avenida Arce #2780, ☎ , (emergencies), (after hours emergencies), fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Tiwanaku – 72 km from the La Paz City. Once there, you can visit the Lithic and Ceramic Museum, then you can visit the archeological site of Tiwanaku and its major ceremonial centers, which are: the Pyramid of Akapana, Semi Underground Temple of Kalasasaya, and the Puerta del Sol. At the end of your visit you can taste a typical lunch place.
- Chacaltaya – You can walk for about two hours, then see a beautiful landscape with mountains of the Cordillera Real and may also take fantastic photos.
- Salar de Uyuni - the salt flats can be visited as part of a 2-day trip but worthy as a destination.
- Quime - For spectacular mountain views, native cloud forests and exploration hiking, take a 5-hour bus/minivan trip to Quime. This is off the La Paz to Oruro Road.
- Copacabana - chilled-out town by Lake Titicaca and gateway to Peru.