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Info La Paz
La Paz, officially known as Nuestra Señora de La Paz (English: Our Lady of Peace), also named Chuqi Yapu (Chuquiago) in Aymara, is the seat of government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. With an estimated 789,541 residents as of 2015, La Paz is the third-most populous city (after Santa Cruz de la Sierra and El Alto). Its metropolitan area, which is formed by La Paz, El Alto and Viacha, make the most populous urban area in Bolivia, with a population of 2.3 million inhabitants. It is also the capital of the La Paz Department. The city, located in west-central Bolivia, 68 km (42 mi) southeast of Lake Titicaca, is set in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River and sits in a bowl-like depression surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city. At an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world. Due to its altitude, La Paz has an unusual subtropical highland climate, with rainy summers and dry winters.
La Paz was founded on October 20, 1548 by the Spanish conquistador Captain Alonso de Mendoza at the site of the Inca settlement of Laja as a connecting point between the commercial routes that led from Potosí and Oruro to Lima; the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz (meaning Our Lady of Peace) in commemoration of the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors against the first viceroy of Peru. The city was later moved to its present location in the valley of Chuquiago Marka. La Paz was originally under Spanish rule when it belonged to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. Since its founding, the city experienced numerous revolts, the most significant ones being in 1781, when the indigenous leader and independence activist Túpac Katari laid siege to the city for a total of six months and on July 16, 1809 when the Bolivian patriot Pedro Domingo Murillo ignited a revolution of independence marking the beginning of the Spanish American Wars of Independence.
As the seat of the government of Bolivia, La Paz is the site of the Palacio Quemado, the Presidential Palace and seat of the Bolivian executive power, the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and numerous government departments and agencies. Sucre remains, however, the constitutional capital of Bolivia and retains the judicial power. The city also hosts numerous foreign embassies as well as international missions in the country. La Paz is an important political, administrative, economic, and sports center of Bolivia; it was responsible for generating 25% of Bolivia's Gross Domestic Product and serves as the headquarters for numerous Bolivian companies and industries.
La Paz is also an important cultural center of Bolivia, as it hosts several landmarks belonging to the colonial times, such as the San Francisco Church, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Plaza Murillo and the Jaén Street. The city is also renowned for its unique markets, particularly the Witches' Market, and for its vibrant nightlife. Its unusual topography offers unique views of the city and the surrounding mountains of the Cordillera Real from numerous natural viewing points. La Paz is also home to both the longest and highest urban cable car network in the world. In May 2015, it was officially recognized as one of th eNew7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, Durban, Havana and Kuala Lumpur. La Paz is listed on the Global Cities Index 2015, and is considered a global city type "Gamma" by GaWC.
|POPULATION :||• City 877,363|
• Metro 2,364,235
|FOUNDED :||Founded October 20, 1548 by Alonso de Mendoza|
Independence July 16, 1809
|TIME ZONE :||BOT (UTC−4)|
|AREA :||• City 472 km2 (182 sq mi)|
• Urban 3,240 km2 (1,250 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||3,640 m (11,942 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||16°30′S 68°09′W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+591 2|
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, while Sucre is the constitutional capital and the seat of the Supreme Court. 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 one flies into La Paz is incredible. First, one sees the sprawling shantytowns of El Alto, slowly giving way to the sight of La Paz itself, clinging tenuously to the sides of what looks like a large gash in the earth.
La Paz is an important cultural center of Bolivia. The city hosts several cathedrals belonging to the colonial times, such as the San Francisco Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral, this last one located on Murillo Square, which is also home of the political and administrative power of the country. Hundreds of different museums can be found across the city, the most notable ones on Jaén Street, which street design has been preserved from the Spanish days and is home of 10 different museums.
The home of the Bolivian government is located on Murillo Square and is known as "Palacio Quemado" (Burnt Palace) as it has been on fire several times. The palace has been restored many times since, but the name has remained untouched.
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 paceñoslive 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.
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.
Although the Spanish conquistadors entered the area in 1535, La Paz was not founded until 1548. Originally it was to be at the site of the Native American settlement, Laja, with the full name of the city being Nuestra Señora de La Paz(meaning Our Lady of Peace). The name commemorated the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors four years earlier against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru. The town site was moved a few days later to its present location in the valley of Chuquiago, which is more clement.
Control over the former Inca lands had been entrusted to Pedro de la Gasca by the Spanish king (and Holy Roman Emperor) Emperor Charles V. Gasca commanded Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru; the city of La Paz was founded on October 20, 1548 by Alonzo de Mendoza with Juan de Vargas as its first mayor.
In 1549, Juan Gutierrez Paniagua was commanded to design an urban plan that would designate sites for public areas, plazas, official buildings, and a cathedral. La Plaza de los Españoles, which is known today as the Plaza Murillo, was chosen as the location for government buildings as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Spain controlled La Paz with a firm grip and the Spanish king had the last word in all matters political. In 1781, for a total of six months, a group of Aymara people laid siege to La Paz. Under the leadership of Tupac Katari, they destroyed churches and government property. Thirty years later Indians laid a two-month siege on La Paz – where and when the legend of the Ekeko is set. In 1809 the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule brought uprisings against the royalist forces. It was on July 16, 1809 that Pedro Domingo Murillo famously said that the Bolivian revolution was igniting a lamp that nobody would be able to turn-off. This formally marked the beginning of the Liberation of South America from Spain. In La Paz, simultaneously with the city of Sucre, was made the first revolution against the Spanish Crown the 16 July 1809. This event is known as the Primer Grito Libertario de América.
Pedro Domingo Murillo was hanged at the Plaza de los Españoles that night, but his name would be eternally remembered in the name of the plaza, and he would be remembered as the voice of revolution across South America.
In 1825, after the decisive victory of the republicans at Ayacucho over the Spanish army in the course of the Spanish American wars of independence, the city's full name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho (meaning The Peace of Ayacucho).
In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucre remaining the nominal historical as well as judiciary capital. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silvermines of Potosí to the exploitation of tin near Oruro, and resulting shifts in the distribution of economic and political power among various national elites.
At more than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) above sea level, higher parts of La Paz have an unusual subtropical highland climate (Cwc, according to the Köppen climate classification), with subpolar oceanic characteristics (less than 4 months have a mean temperature above 10 °C). The whole city has rainy summers and dry winters. Night-time temperatures range from cold to very cold. Snow flurries can occur in winter, especially at dawn and it usually melts before noon. At these high altitudes despite being located only 16 degrees from the equator, the city's average temperature is similar to that of cities such as Bergen, Norway or Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, located as far as 60 and 62 degrees from the equator respectively.
The temperatures in the central La Paz, at 3,600 metres (11,811 feet), and in theZona Sur (Southern Zone), at 3,250 m (10,663 ft) above sea level, are warmer (subtropical highland climate Cwb, according to the Köppen classification).
Owing to the altitude of the city, temperatures are consistently cool to mild throughout the year, though the diurnal temperature variation is typically large. The city has a relatively dry climate, with rainfall occurring mainly in the slightly warmer months of November to March.
At 4,012 metres, February and March, the two cloudiest months of the year, both in late summer, receive a low daily average of around 5 hours of sunshine. Conversely, June and July, the two sunniest months of the year, both in winter, receive an abundant daily average of around 8 hours of sunshine.
The seasonally uneven distribution of the year's annual precipitation often results in destructive mudslides experienced in summer, due to the excessive amount of precipitation typically observed throughout the season. At 3,250 metres, the wettest month is January with a monthly average of 114 mm (4.5 in) and the driest is July with 8 mm (0.3 in).
Climate data for La Paz, Bolivia (elevation 3,250 m)
|Record high °C (°F)||25|
|Average high °C (°F)||17|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.5|
|Average low °C (°F)||6|
|Record low °C (°F)||1|
|Source: BBC Weather|
Located at (−16.5, −68.1333), La Paz is 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.
The geography of La Paz (in particular the altitude) reflects society: the lower areas of the city are more affluent. While many middle-class residents live in high-rise condos near the center, the houses of the truly affluent are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those less economically fortunate.
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. La Paz is renowned for its unique markets, very unusual topography, and traditional culture.
La Paz is located in the valleys of the Andes, and is closer to the Eastern split of the Altiplano region. Therefore, it is closer to the famous mountains such as the Illimani (guardian of La Paz), Huayna Potosi, Mururata, and Illampu. On the Western side of the Altiplano divide, about an hour to the West of the La Paz, is the site of the tallest mountain in Bolivia and 9th tallest mountain in the Andes, the Sajama Volcano. In July 1994, an earthquake rated at 8.2 struck just 200 miles (322 km) north of La Paz.
The economy of La Paz has improved greatly in recent years, mainly as a result of improved political stability. Due to the long period of high inflation and economic struggle faced by Bolivians in the 1980s and early 1990s, a large informal economy developed. Evidence of this is provided by the markets found all around the city. While there are stable markets, almost every street in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods has at least one vendor on it. La Paz remains the principal center of manufacturing enterprises that produce finished-product goods for the country, with about two-thirds of Bolivia's manufacturing located nearby. Historically, industry in Bolivia has been dominated by mineral processing and the preparation of agricultural products. However, in the urban centre of La Paz, small plants carry out a large portion of the industry. Food, tobacco products, clothing, various consumer goods, building materials, and agricultural tools are produced. "The tin quotations from London are watched in La Paz with close interest as an index of the country's prosperity; a third of the national revenue and more than half of the total customs in 1925 were derived from tin; in short, that humble but indispensable metal is the hub around which Bolivia's economic life revolves. The tin deposits of Bolivia, second largest in the world, ... invite development."
Located in the district known as Cotahuma and near Sopocachi, is one of the main residential and diplomatic areas of the city. San Jorge is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of La Paz and the financial center of the metropolis, housing international firms like Deloitte, Bank of America, Ernst & Young,BBVA and the famous Ritz Hotel. It is now home of Bolivia's tallest building known as Torre Girasoles, and the only intelligent building of the country, known as Torre Azul. The neighborhood is also populated with expensive offices, renowned restaurants, museums and bookstores. Its Avenida Arce, one of the main streets of the city, is the highest-priced street in the country and the one with the most upscale boutiques in Bolivia. San Jorge is home to the embassies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan,Germany and Spain. The offices of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the CAF – Development Bank of Latin America, theGoethe Institut, the Alliance Française and the Dante Alighieri Society are also located in this modern neighborhood.
Located in the 1st District (Cotahuma), Sopocachi is probably one of the oldest residential neighborhoods, 10 minutes from the center of the city. Despite the expansion and development of the area, this quarter maintained its residential property. In the last years, there has been an important commercial expansion, mainly on the surroundings of Abaroa Square, one of the many squares and parks of the zone.
Located in the 1st District (Cotahuma), on the right bank of the Choqueyapu River and built around the "Plaza de San Pedro" (official name: Plaza Sucre,Sucre Square), is home to numerous shops, businesses and small enterprises, especially printing, spare parts and auto maintenance and repair shops. San Pedro's "Rodriguez Market" remains as one of the most popular middle-class and oldest of the city. The San Pedro prison is here.
The city's downtown area, in the 7th District, comprising the center of La Paz and principal roads of the city, like Arce Avenue, July 16 Avenue (also known as "Prado Avenue"), Mariscal Santa Cruz Avenue and Camacho Avenue — the last one being the home of the headquarters of the principal banks and companies of the country.
In the 7th District, Miraflores district is separated from downtown by a long barrel (Parque Urbano Central, "Central Urban Park") and connected by the Bridge of the Americas and two avenues. Originally a residential zone, its growth has led it to become a major recreational center. It houses universities (including the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés's faculty of medicine), hospitals and the Estadio Hernando Siles (capacity of 45,000 people).
Located in the 2nd and 3rd districts, it has a significant industrial activity (mainly food), being the Cervecería Boliviana Nacional (Bolivian National Brewery) the most significant industry founded by Germans, and one of the city's biggest companies in the country. It connects La Paz with the city of El Alto by the autopista (highway).
In the 5th district; has less height than the rest of La Paz (3,200 to 2,800 meters). This area houses some of the most affluent and exclusive neighborhoods of the city, like Obrajes, Irpavi, Calacoto, La Florida and Achumani, among others. It has been benefited from steady economic growth and is now the second commercial and financial center of the city, housing international firms like Moody's, Citibank, Aon Corporation, Huawei, Millicom International Cellular, Nissan Motor Corporation represented by Taiyo Motors,Pan American Silver Corporation, a Sumitomo Corporation branch, Ernst & Young, and the "MegaCenter", Bolivia's biggest shopping mall (52,000 sq m), Samsung Electronics.
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.
Prices in La Paz
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.70|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$5.40|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$9.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$18.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$5.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$3.20|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.20|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.30|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M.)||1||$|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.30|
38 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
147 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
El Alto International Airport (IATA: LPB), 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 (LAN, 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 currently the only U.S. carrier serving Bolivia, with one daily flight from Miami.
State-funded Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) and TAM (usually for a cheaper price) serve major domestic destinations as well as 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. LAB (Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano) was Bolivia's national airline until April 2007, when services were suspended by the Bolivian government due to financial problems.
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 (about US$9). Only use radio taxis with a sign on the roof. Shared vans cost Bs 3.80 (US$0.50). 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 de Católica in Sopocachi at 6:15AM
If you are taking a TAM flight OUT of La Paz airport be VERY careful to verify which airport it is leaving from, some TAM flights leave from the El Alto Intl airport and others from the military base airport. I got mistakenly dropped off early morning by the taxi driver at the Military airport which is about 2 km from the Intl airport and had no choice but to catch a cab back for the ripoff price for 30 Bs (for 2 km!) as it was early morning! (As of Nov. 2011 all TAM flights seem to be leaving from El Alto Intl. - May 2012 update - TAM flights do sometimes still leave from the military airport)
The main bus terminal is in Central Park, near the upper end of the Prado and a 15-20 min walk from most hostels. From this bus station, buses leave for big cities such as Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Oruro, Potosí, Sucre, Tarija and Arica. Buses leaving La Paz usually stop in El Alto to pick up more passengers. It sometimes takes almost an hour until you really leave the city.
Cochabamba 7-8 hr. Normal day buses cost around Bs 20 while "full cama" (flat bed) buses with for example Bolivar cost Bs 90. Semi cama between the two.Oruro 3 hr, Bs 15. To Chile, buses run to Arica, around 8 hr, some continuing to Iquique (12-14 hr - best to get the bus at 7AM, later buses will result in arriving in Iquique in the middle of the night.)
Buses departing to, and arriving from, Lake Titicaca, like Copacabana, Sorata,Desaguadero, Tiwanaku and so on leave from the area "Cementerio" (the city cemetery). Buses are leaving from "parada Copacabana", "parada Sorata", "parada Desaguadero" in the "Cementerio"-area.
Buses going towards "Los Yungas" and Amazonas-region, such as Coroico,Chulumani, Irupana, Caranavi, Rurrenabaque, Riberalta and Guayaramerín are leaving from the area Villa Fatima, "parada Yungas".
Buses going towards Quime, any bus going to Oruro from the main bus terminal will stop in Conani, from whence you catch a mini-van into the Cordillera de Quimsa Cruz.
Transportation - Get Around
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 former cost Bs 1,30 while the second are Bs 1,50-2,30 depending on duration. A trufi will generally cost you Bs 3-3.50. 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!"
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.
By cable car
A system of three cable car lines (Mi Teleférico) connects El Alto with downtown La Paz.
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).
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- 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.
- Ayni Bolivia (Fair Trade handicrafts), Av. Illampu 704 (one block from witches market), , e-mail: [email protected]. 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, 213 Sagarnaga Street, Suite #7, , e-mail:[email protected]. 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. www.facebook.com/SuritaykaAlpacaClothing
Gear & equipment
- The Spitting Llama Bookstore & Outfitter, 947 Calle Linares (inside the Hostal Posada de la Abuela), , e-mail: [email protected]. 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 lunch try the little almuerzo-kitchens. You'll get a decent menu for under Bs10. 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.
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 the best, and is good for checking upcoming music venues.
- Luciernagas Restaurant, Avenida Illimani #1683, . 18:00 - 23:00 (Wed) 12:00 - 23:00 (Thu - Sun). Authentic Bolivian food at its best. Run by a Dutch-Bolivian couple, this place offers authentic Bolivian cuisine for small 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/reheat in your hotel/hostel/apartment, ask for a doggy-bag - if not, feast for a day or two - portions are massive and very affordable. 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)). New place in La Paz. 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.
- Restaurant Sabrosa Taiwanesa, Calle Chichas No. 1208, Zona Miraflores, 2221186 (a short walk or quick taxi from Plaza Isabela Católica, just on the other side of the Puente de Las Americas). New family-run Taiwanese restaurant. Flavourful dishes and a good sized menu (veg and non-veg) in a clean setting. 30Bs for chicken with spicy peanut sauce (2-person portion). (Update 2 June 2011: Restaurant seemed to be closed today around 1PM...in fact, aside from the small Taiwanese decorative lantern hanging next to the front door, it was hard to tell if that was even the correct address. Maybe closed permanently?)
- 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 12 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 50s 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 7 Bs. Order a "super" for 10 Bs 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. has nice Arabic food.
- The Star of India. Open from 9AM for breakfast, then lunch served Mon-Sa from 11:30AM and Sun 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 15-20 Bs, main courses 30-40 Bs.
- Cafe Karlovy, Av. Claudio Aliaga Nº 1182 - Bloque J-47, San Miguel. 8AM-12PM. 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!
- Yussef (closed down), cnr illampu and Sagarnaga (As you go up Sagarnaga it is on the right inside a building about 10 m before the corner). Lebanese food, with real authentic Lebanese owners. Great platters for vegetarians and mea eaters alike. Also real quality Baklava. great hosts there and atmosphere. It is a little more pricey than the usual fare but definitely worth it.
- 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 w/much flavour and love. Deep fried vegan patties. Fixed lunch starts midday. Music w/your organic coffee/tea/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 around 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 400Bs 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
Coffe & Drink
- 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.
Sights & Landmarks
- Sagarnaga Street, (just south of Plaza San Francisco). La Paz' 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".
- The Witches' Market, (Mercado de Hechiceria or 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 acharango 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, currently housing several interesting museums.
- Plaza Murillo. Contains government buildings and the city cathedral.
- The Valle de La Luna. Surreal, weathered rock. Just outside the city. Take a local bus to Mallasa (Bs2.30) or a taxi (Bs 35) or join a tour. The entrance to the park is located next to the flags and costs Bs15. 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. 2.00 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 Aimara 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. 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 Estación Teleférico Central to 2Estación 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 (3 Bs) 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 (2,50 Bs) that have the destination "Ceja" in the front window. You can find them all over the city, f.e. at the Prado, or if you are at the Teleférico and decide you don't want to wait that long, from this 3 parking lot at the nearby autopista.
- 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. Quite safe.
- 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... othat 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.
La Paz is a city which can be a sight in itself, and there are several viewing places ormiradores 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 belowe 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.
The most popular day trips from La Paz are to Tiwanaku, Chacaltaya, and Lake Titicaca, though the latter (especially Copacabana) is pushing it a bit in terms of time and worthy of a trip.
Another popular daytrip is the bike ride down the world's most dangerous road, North Yungas Road (a.k.a. Death Road). 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.
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 Ecologico el Castillo del Loro.
Museums & Galleries
- CIRCULAR Circuit of Culture and Art: One ticket for three awesome museums. Visit La Paz museums, one ticket for three within a week! With the aim of promoting the cultural and historical heritage of La Paz and Bolivia, we launched a single ticket to access the circuit, which will be sold at tourist agencies, hotels and The museums of the circuit. The Three Museums of the Circuit are San Francisco Museum: a Catholic-indigenous face, the National Ethnographic and Folk Museum: a Trip through Bolivian Cultures, and the National Museum of Art: Exhibitions, collections, history and more.
- Museum San Francisco. 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, one can climb the church tower to get a panoramic view of both the indigenous and Mestiza quarters. Displays are in Spanish and English along with personal guides.
- National Ethnographic and Folk Museum. Ingavi 916, esq. Jenaro Sanjinés. The MUSEF shows us the 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 us an incomparable tour.
- National Museum of Art. Calle Comercio esq. 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 both 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 (Bs10) 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. M-Su 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 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.
- 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 located at lovely house in Miraflores.
Things to do
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.
One good thing to do is to take any mini-bus or micro from near your hotel to the end of the line, walk down a bit and catch another one to the end of the line, walk down some more and catch another one and so on. Cheap, no danger and you will see the most fascinating things imaginable.
- Tour Moon Valley & Chacaltaya (Full day Tour), Montes Avenue #641, , e-mail: [email protected]. Go to Chacaltaya where you will walk for about two hours, you will see a beautiful landscape with mountains of the Cordillera Real and may also take fantastic photos. Then visit the Moon Valley, located in the southern part of La Paz. 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.
- Biking to the Death Road (World's Most Dangerous Road), Montes Avenue #641, , e-mail: [email protected]. You will ride a bike in the new paved road about a half hour, then enter the most dangerous road in the world, same that was built by paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco war in 1930. 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.
- City Tour in La Paz (Full day tour), Montes Avenue #641, , e-mail: [email protected]. La Paz is one of the great cities of the world, offering beautiful views, same as themselves and attract foreigners. In this city tour you will see many places visited by tourists, in any of the tours you choose. During the tour, you will have two stops, each 10 minutes long. You will visit Isabela Católica Square, the Central Post Office, St. Francis Church, Witches market, Killi Killi View point, among many other places.
- Cholitas Wrestling, Montes Avenue #641, , e-mail: [email protected]. The show starts at 16:00 pm, it is a struggle of Bolivian battling cholas, who are proud to wear their traditional dress for the show, offers a very American style show that lasts about 2 hours.
- Tiwanaku Full day, Montes Avenue #641, , e-mail: [email protected]. Tiwanaku is located 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, The Puerta del Sol, etc. At the end of your visit you can taste a typical lunch place.
Bolivian wrestling cholitas
Shows every Sunday at Ceja El Alto, Zona 12 de October. Taxis from downtown tourist area at most 50bs.
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), [www]. Brand new multiplex cinema with 1 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 as well as 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.
Local law prohibits serving alcohol after 4AM. There are a number of speakeasies defying this.
- Blue Note Café/Wine Bar [closed down, as of April 2012], Plaza gaston Velasco, Viluyo esq. Linares (1 block from sagarnaga and illampu; at the top of the stairs when you exit Oliver's). Great vibe; it's a fantastic place to chill with friends, have a drink & a bite to eat. The people behind the bar know their stuff (from martinis to wine to local beer), and there's excellent chili, lamb chops and tapas on the menu. Good prices compared with other bars in the area; it's open from the late afternoon onwards.
- 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, is a bar/club hangout for upper class youth of La Paz's South Zone. Dress well.
- Dry Law, Zona Sur, Cota Cota, is 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.
Things to know
- 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, located at Avenida Camacho 1468 (between streets Loyaza and Bueno). The office is open Monday to Friday from 07:30 to 15:30. 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. Note that you cannot extend your stay to more than 90 days in total.
Safety in La Paz
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.
If you are approached by plain-clothed police officers, don't show any valuables or your passport. Certainly, don't get in a taxi with them as it is a trap. Undercover police are strictly ordered not to hassle tourists. There have been several cases of muggings and things going missing from bags or luggage after "drug searches". Insist on being taken to the police station before giving them access to your things. If you can, call the 110, which is the Bolivian number for emergencies. Take care: an Austrian couple was found murdered in 2006 after following false police into a taxi.
A recent twist in the above scam is the involvement of accomplices where they try to befriend you on a bus and when the 'plain clothes' policeman approaches the accomplice claims that the same thing happened to them and that you should cooperate with them. This is a trap and the same scam as described above.
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.
There are more reliable taxi firms to use:
Magnifico Taxis, +591 2 2410410
La Paz Taxis. +591 2 2221212
Gold Taxis, +591 2 2722722.
La Paz is a very safe city, and if you keep your wits about, you there shouldn't be any problems.
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.