Bolivia has always been a highlight of my South American Journey. The country-side itself is absolutely stunning, housing some of the largest mountains in the Andes as well as the world’s largest high altitude lake. It is bursting with history including both the storied Tiwanaku and Incan civilizations. From these it has developed a culture so distinct you could not miss it if you tried. If you are considering taking a trip to Bolivia, here are 5 reasons to help you make your decision.
1. It’s Cheap!
That’s right, if you’re looking to spend some time in South America rather than your money, you should consider stopping by Bolivia. If you’re a backpacker on a budget like myself then you will likely find some beautiful reprieve here. You can grab meals at restaurants anywhere between $2.50 and $10.00, and a 1.5 litre bottle of water costs only $1.00. To stay in a 4 star hotel you would not pay more than $35.00 a night and you would not believe how far $10.00 will take you in a taxi. Bolivia is great, there is so much to see and do. The people are lovely, and everything can be enjoyed at a relatively low cost!
2. The Markets are Amazing!
The market in La Paz, Bolivia contains one of my favorite markets in all of South America! Cruising through the winding and narrow streets of the Witches Market, with its colorful buildings packed with everything from alpaca sweaters to curious herbs and magical offerings is forever entertaining. The ‘witches’ stalls harbor everything from dried llama fetus’s to magical candles and give a little insight into the curious superstitions of the Bolivian people. The shops are commonly manned by Bolivian women dressed in their traditional garb and are packed full of colourful clothes, beautiful art and other knick-knacks for your perusing purposes. All this mixed in with multiple food vendors and people selling things like jewelry on the street are what make all the markets in Bolivia just so much fun. If you’re looking for anything else from shoes to toiletries to phones, pens, paper, e.c.t. you can find these within the markets as well. Again, a dollar goes much further here. It does not matter where you go in Bolivia, you will most definitely be blessed with fabulous markets.
3. Uyuni Salt Flats!
Listed as one of those places you ‘never thought existed’, the salt flats of Uyuni will leave every traveler speechless. This 3-5 day tour through the dessert, past frozen lagoons, saturated with pink flamingos and across one of the biggest salt flats in the world is possibly one of the most iconic tours South America has to offer, and should be on your Bolivian itinerary. You know, the sweet perspective photos people take, with their friends standing on their hands or battling a giant llama, or the epic water reflection and the classic 4×4 jeep surrounded by vast nothingness…yes, this is Uyuni. Expect to get dirty. Expect to spend a night in a hotel made completely out of salt and expect to have a blast.
4. Learn Spanish!
The Spanish spoken in Bolivia is of the best you will find in Latin America. It is considered well spoken, enunciated, and slow paced making it a great place to learn Spanish. If you’re looking to enjoy some Spanish lessons, enroll in Spanish school or even do a homestay with a family then you should definitely consider Bolivia a viable option. Not to mention, the low cost of everything here makes both the lessons and the cost of living more affordable. Bolivia is a great place to settle down and do a little learning.
5. Bolivia is packed full of History!
Bolivia is a country bursting with culture and history. Similar to Peru, some of the largest Tiwanaku (pre-Inca) ruins are found in Bolivia. There are archeological sites, restored ruins and many museums here waiting for your exploration. You can also find ruins of the Incas and other groups of inhabitants spread around the country. The culture within Bolivia is also very front and center. So many of its people are still wearing their traditional clothing complete with the classic Bowler hat placed on their heads at a jaunty angle. Their babies and goods are carried in the historic manner utilizing a very colorful blanket that is folded to hold everything and slung on their backs. The traditions and superstitions are commonly practiced by the old and young alike. If you are looking for a destination where you can easily get in touch with its history then Bolivia is a great place to go.
These are all excellent reasons to visit, I would love to check out some of those historic monuments and Pre-Incan!
I can’t wait to visit Bolivia for all of the reasons you listed. The salt flats look especially fun.
These are all great reasons to visit! The salt flats look other-worldly. How cool! The llama fetuses in the market are a little scary, but it sounds like there’s a lot of other neat stuff to look at and buy! And cheap to visit… you’re speaking my language!! :)
Meg Jerrard says
Bolivia was the highlight of our South American journey too – and it really took us by surprise. there were a few days there where we stayed indoors to acclimatize properly as the altitude threw us for a bit of a loop, but really loved it. We spent time in la Paz … in an amazing one bedroom apartment at the Ritz – $80 a night, was INSANELY cheap!! And then some time in the Amazon and did Death Road.
Would love to get back to experience the Salt Flats :)
Paula McInerney says
We have always had Bolivia on our list and now more so with these helpful suggestions
Sue @NoFixedAbodeForSue says
Bolivia is certainly on my Bucket List but I love all the ideas you give for why I should move it further up the list. The colorful market looks like a fun place to shop.
Megan | Traveling Nine to Fiver says
I like all of these reasons. Definitely on my list of places to go. After heading to Southeast Asia next year might have to head South.
Wandering Carol says
Well. Now I want to go to Bolivia and buy dried llama fetus at the Witch’s Market, stay in a hotel made of salt and learn more about the Tiwanaku culture, which I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of. I was at Lake Titicaca but on the Peru side. Fascinating.
Lara Dunning says
I’ve never really thought about going to Bolivia. This is making me reconsider.
Joe Ankenbauer says
I loved visiting Bolivia and the markets were a highlight of my visit! Thanks for the other tips!
I would love to pack my bags and head to Bolivia right now! I’ve been dying to go and this doesn’t help, lol! I really want to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats, but everything else you mentioned looks wonderful too, especially the markets!
Awesome reasons, we agree with them all but never did get to Bolivia. We were all set mainly because of the reasons you gave. We wanted to learn Spanish, we had heard that Bolivia was inexpensive and we love markets.
Th only thing that stopped us was the cost to get there. Way to expensive or way to long (traveling with a 6 year old we just don’t do 36 hour bus rides). Reading your post certainly makes us want to visit, maybe next year!
Local Nomads says
Great article! We’re off to South America in April, so i’m definitely going to bookmark this. Also, I’m almost a little embarrassed to say those llamas are a bit cute!
Don’t forget the incredible salteñas–delicious savory meat pies in hand-rolled dough widely available especially at lunchtime. The coca-mate tea is an outstanding cure for any “sorache” or altitude sickness. The charango is possibly the happiest sounding instrument in the world, made famous by Simon & Garfunkel and Ernesto Cavour. The best part about Bolivia is the kindness, generosity and pure benevolence of the people!
Marta Cunha Grilo says
I’m thinking about going to Bolivia in 2017! Great reasons!! Completely agree, specially because those are some of mine as well.
It certainly is the cheapest of the South American countries we experienced as well, and how incredible is the Salar de Uyuni!
Personally, we found the Spanish spoken in Colombia to be the easiest for us to comprehend though :-)
Kimberly Erin says
which is funny because in Colombia the Spanish accent is like….think if sean connery was speaking spanish…like that aha
Sanket D. says
Been eyeing those salt pans at Salar de Uyuni for a while anyway, but great to hear some other interesting stuff about Bolivia here. Thanks for this, Kim :)
Cai Dominguez says
Thanks for sharing this article. One day, ill make sure that I’ll make my South America’s backpacking dream come
True. Bolivia will definitely be on the list.
YES! We spent three weeks in Bolivia in April and loved it. The Salt Flats is still a highlight of my trip so far (nine months in). It’s a must for any photographer. You’re right, traditional life is far more apparent in La Paz than in most of the tourist sports in Peru. Great post, nice walk down memory lane!
Bolivia is amazing but remember you get what you pay for. Cheap Amazon and Pampas tours are destroying the areas and every day Pink Dolphins and Anacondas are being killed by irresponsible tourists and operators. I recommend tourists to visit Madidi National Park, Uyuni, Toro Toro, Amboro and Samaipata- Sandboard Lomas de Arena and Sloth watching in Santa Cruz Bolivia.