Do you feel restless in your normal routine and want to plan a trip somewhere, but don’t know where to go? This overview is designed to give you a quick summary of what to expect in a particular country so you can decide if it might be a fit for your trip! While this is by no means comprehensive, you can get a great idea of how country might match you. Check out this tag to find more about Bolivia! Go to this tag to find more “Everything You Need to Know” posts!
Each metric is given an overall score between 1 and 10, and the ratings are briefly explained.
Go here if you are looking for: A cheap and safe tour of nature, easy-to-understand Spanish, and friendly people!
This explains the prevailing sort of experience you might have in this country.
Overall experience: 5.86/10
What your travel experience might revolve around.
Natural and landscape views: 9
- How beautiful and unique are the landscape and nature views?
- On one end, the town of Copacabana borders Lake Titicaca, one of the highest-altitude lakes in the world. Take a boat ride onto the ocean and the views and just STUNNING. It’s like an artist painted the most beautiful water views he could think up. On the other is Salar de Uyuni, one of the largest salt flats in the world. They are exquisite! Pure white “salt beaches” for miles around, and gorgeous lakes in between. Truly breathtaking. Don’t forget the Death Road bike ride you can do from La Paz!
Historical attractions: 2
- To what extent can you see physical evidence of the country’s culture?
- Bolivia has had a bit of an unstable political history, and with the changing times comes changing architecture. The buildings of Sucre exhibit a distinct culture, but for history you’re better off looking in a country like Peru.
City culture: 7
- How should you expect locals to react to you? How does it feel to be in the city?
- The cities in Bolivia are all very different. Even though you aren’t likely to see too many other tourists around, especially compared to Bolivia’s neighbors, the locals aren’t the least phased if you don’t look like them.
- How unique is the local food and how available is food from home?
- You can find great food here, from the classic Western foods that remind you of home to local twists that show you a new side to foods you never knew you needed. There are a mix of restaurants, but I prefer street food. In the 6 weeks I spent in Bolivia, I only got sick once – even though I ate street food about 50% of the time. You can get a ridiculously cheap meal, such as a burger and fries for less than $1.
- How much do souvenirs cost relative to everyday items and how representative are they of the local culture?
- Anything you could want that represents South America, such as llamas, hats, mittens, and earrings, can be found here. Because standard of living is cheaper than in other countries, these products are also cheaper. Something that costs you about $5 in Peru will cost you maybe half that price in Bolivia at a similar quality. This category does not earn full points because sometimes the items are of questionable quality, but you can largely figure this out when you actually look the products in person.
- How clean is everything, including trash along the streets, water, and food?
- In general, food is safe to eat, and bottled water will not make you sick. Like I mentioned above, I got sick just once in the six weeks I was there and I made zero of my own meals. However, you will see that streets are sometimes littered, open markets have flies, and you should not drink water directly out of the faucet.
Tourism services: 4
- Are there people who specifically serve tourists outside private hotels and accommodation?
- Sucre has several information desks staffed with people who are paid specifically to serve tourists, but the staff speak only Spanish. Some cities (especially La Paz and Uyuni) have several private tour companies that will organize trips for you to places like the Death Road and the Salt Flats of Uyuni. Outside of these, however, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t work for your accommodations to help you out.
[Recommended Read: Everything You Need to Know About Peru]
- Are you going to freeze or sweat to death?
- I was there during the winter, when it gets pretty cold at night especially in the high-altitude cities. Overnight busses can be freezing because they don’t have heating, and the Salt Flats will freeze you at night and in the early mornings. During the day, you’ll typically be fine with a long sleeve shirt and a sport jacket.
Currency: Boliviano, also called a peso
- What currency is used? (Not a rated category)
Cost: 9 (higher rating means lower cost)
- Overall, is this country expensive or not?
- Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries I’ve ever been to. A single room can cost less than $7. A ride on public transportation costs about 15 cents (2 Bolivianos) and you can get a 3-day tour, all expenses paid, of the Salt Flats for less than $100. There aren’t many luxury options here, though.
Approximate time needed to visit the whole country: 2 weeks
- How much time do you need to devote here? (Not a rated category)
- While you can see the very essential highlights of Bolivia in less than a week, I would highly recommend two to take full advantage of one of the highest-value and cheapest countries I have been to.
Speed of Wi-Fi: 4
- How fast is the Wi-Fi?
- Yeah, don’t try to do too much if you’re not at a higher-end place or somewhere that explicitly markets the availability and speed of their Wi-Fi.
Accessibility of Wi-Fi: 4
- Can you connect to Wi-Fi when you need it?
- Don’t come to Bolivia with high hopes for Wi-Fi you set it up yourself.
[Recommended Read: Automatically Save and Grow Money for Travel]
Culture and Immersion: 6.5/10
Language: Spanish and some local languages in the countryside
- What language do locals speak? (Not a rated category)
English level of the typical local: 3
- If you really needed help, how much could a typical local help?
- If you’re not interacting with someone who specifically works with tourists, chances are that they’ll understand what you say only to the extent that the English words you use are similar to their counterparts in Spanish.
Approachability of locals if you can’t speak the language: 8
- If you can’t speak the local language, how willing are locals to patiently help you?
- In general, people are happy to help you out! You might have some tough times getting your point across, but once you have you can expect others to help you.
Signage for an English speaker: 10
- If you can’t read the local language, can you read the signs?
- Spanish is readable for English speakers.
- If you buy something (especially at street markets), how much do you need to haggle?
- You can haggle, but prices are reasonable even without. For tours, haggling is recommended (or at least get several quotes before booking).
[Recommended Read: How to Learn a Completely New Language While Abroad]
Intercity buses, trains, and planes: 10
- How easy is it to get from one city to another? How understandable is the system?
- Need/want to go somewhere? Just get to the massive bus station in the city (every city has one), walk up to any and all of the booths that have your destination written on them and ask for a time of departure and price. You can basically go anywhere you want from wherever you are.
Taxi reliability: 7
- How many taxis are there? How likely are they to cheat you? How friendly are the drivers to foreigners, especially if you don’t speak the local language?
- Taxis are almost always available. They typically will not try to cheat you unless you don’t set a price with them before stepping into the car. The weird thing is that typically prices will be higher if you travel alone than if you have another person or more with you, but if you travel solo, just stand your ground and they will typically acquiesce. As long as you make sure the driver knows where you’re trying to go, you’ll be fine!
Intra-city transportation: 5
- How easy is it to get where you want to go within the city?
- In most cities, public transportation is quite alive and well. You’ll hear it as you walk in the city. The trick is that they’re all buses or little vans called trufis, and often there’s not really an official stop where you wait for the bus or get off. Instead, you just stand at the street corner and hail the trufi number you want, and tell the driver you want to get off when it’s time to get off. In some cases, you’ll see that the buses and vans have signs that mark their destinations, but you can’t know their route unless you’ve been on them. The best (and really only) way to learn the system is by experience but you can pretty much get wherever you want with them.
- If you want to get some exercise, how easy it is to walk from place to place?
- In general, you can get wherever you want by walking, but Bolivian cities tend to be quite big. Walk for shorter distances, but don’t be afraid to call public transport or a taxi if you’re going farther.
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Did this help you plan your trip? What else do you want to know? Leave a comment below!