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 1542, and is located in the Andes. Altitude of the city ranges from about 4058 meters (13,313 feet) above sea level in El Alto (where the airport is located) to 3100 meters (10,170 feet) in the lower residential area. It 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 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, altitude) reflects 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 more oxygen there is in the air and 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.
El Alto International Airport (IATA: LPB) (ICAO: SLLP), El Alto. This is the world's highest international airport; at 13,313 feet/4,058 meters above sea level, it's almost half as high as a jetliner's cruising altitude,!! and takeoffs take a bit longer due to the thin air. There is an airport departure tax of $24 for international flights, Bs14 for domestic flights.
Most South American airlines (TAM, LAN, TACA, etc.) serve El Alto Airport as well local airline Aerosur. 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 to Miami.
Aerosur (a newer, private airline) also serves major domestic destinations. LAB (Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano) was Bolivia's national airline until April 2007, when services were suspended by the Bolivian government due to financial problems.
From the airport, the official rate for a taxi into central La Paz is Bs 50 (about USD 6). Shared vans cost about Bs 4 (USD 0,50).
The main bus terminal is located in Central Park, near the upper end of the Prado. Note that buses arriving from Lake Titicaca (the route for entering overland from Puno, Peru) and Sorata terminate at a plaza near the city cemetery (Cementerio) farther to the west.
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.
Seven or eight hours by bus from Cochabamba.
Three hours by bus from Oruro.
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. 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 20 Bs.
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)
- Sagarnaga Street, just south of Plaza San Francisco, is 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) is on 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.
- The Mercado Negro ("Black Market"), though not very clandestine, is quite comprehensive, selling clothing, household items, liquor, and other products in its many blocks.
- Eloy Salmon Shops on this street sell cheap electronics.
- Calle Jaen is 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 Massalla (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.
- The Thursday & Sunday Market in El Alto -A huge market held in El Alto every thursday and sunday with great bargains including vintage clothing, antiques, everyday goods, etc.
- 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.
- Tiwanaku Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo), Av. 16 de Julio 1698 (Prado). The permanent collection upstairs (Bs10 admission) 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. 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.
- 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.
La Paz is a city which can be a sight in itself, and there are several viewing places or miradores offering impressive panoramas.
- 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 3.5.
- 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.
- In the heart of downtown, Av. Camacho points straight to Illimani, and from the intersection with the Prado it's framed by skyscrapers in an interesting juxtaposition.
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.
- The Cinemateca Boliviana (Guachalla and Federico Suazo Streets) recently opened and is the newest and most modern movie theater in the city. You can see new mega-releases as well as local films and international festivals.
- Try Monje Campero at the beginning of Av.16 de julio.
- Also you can go to 16 de Julio near to Plaza del Estudiante.
- Despite the best efforts to censor it Cine Azul (Latin America's premier underground bluey showhouse) is still up and running at the beginning of Av.16 de julio. The steam is literally dripping off the walls! (Amongst other things)
Internet cafés are on each street corner in La Paz. Current standard fare is 2-4 Bs. per hour. There are four internet cafés around Plaz Mendoza at this price, all with good connection.
If you have a laptop computer you can find Wi-Fi access at the Sol Y Luna cafe on Calle Cochabamba and at the near by Oliver's Travel Bar. Also Café El consulado offers fast internet in the café and patio.
Fair trade shop - 958 Calle Linares: Check out the amazing value weavings upstairs, much better quality than the stuff on the street and not that much more expensive (sometimes cheaper even!) Also very nicely mounted with wood panels and ready for hanging. To quote their mission statement "... for the generation of economic revenues that contribute to the improvement of life quality of (the weavers´) families".. So by buying here you also support a good cause! Searching for high quality handicrafts - try visit 'A Manos' which is found on Calle Carlos Bravo 299.(behind Hotel Plaza on el Prado) The same house also has a café (Café El Consulado), travel agency (Topas Adventure Travel Bolivia) and 5 great rooms.
La Paz is a good place for buying maps of the country, but be aware that Bolivian maps have a reputation of containing errors. 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 Parallell 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 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Closed if there's a soccer game in the nearby Stadium. Take a micro marked "E. Mayor" from Plaza San Fransisco. 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 30 Bs a sheet. An original is 40 Bs.
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Utama, top floor of Plaza Hotel, Av. 16 de Julio 1789 (Prado). With its fabulous view of the city, the Utama has served the likes of Fidel Castro and Alberto Fujimori (embattled former President of Peru), yet the main dishes (Bolivian and international, in portions ample for two) are only around Bs 50 (USD 6.50).
- 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. Slow service.
- Tambo Colonial, in Hotel Rosario. Lavish breakfast buffet for Bs 20 (USD 2.50), great international and local food at night. Try the Lake Titicaca trout with Beni almonds: one of the best dishes I've had in Bolivia. Not open for lunch.
- 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 fifties 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 fastfood 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).
- 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.
- Pizzeria Italia, Calle Ilampu 809, serves nice breakfasts with a friendly smile.
- La Mia Pizzeria, Calle Ilampu, below one of the two "Pizzeria Italia" branches on Calle Ilampu. Cheaper than "Italia" with more American style pizzas. Take-away available.
- Al amir, Murillo 824, has nice Arabic food.
- 100% Natural, Calle Sagarnaga 95. The cheapest and most popular backpacker café on Sagarnaga. Often full, especially around 11 a.m., but serves huge sandwiches and great vegetarian burgers in a cosy atmosphere.
- The Star of India, (the highest Curry House in the world!!) has the best curry in La Paz and one of the few places you can get curry in Bolivia (and also can deliver to your hostel). Open from 9am for breakfast, then lunch served from midday mon-fri (with good veggie options.) They offer a free "I SURVIVED THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS VINDALOO" t-shirt to anyone who finishes it - people generally don't!
- Cafe Mediterraneo, Avenida Jaimes Freyre, Sopocachi. Italian pasta, fresh salmon & seafood, rabbit, salads, all good quality and well priced. Gringo owned by Zach and Andreas. Caters to mixed crowd.
- Café Ciudad, Plaza Estudiantes(Lower end of the Prado). Open 24 hours!Burgers 15-20 Bs, main courses 30-40 Bs.
- Cafe Karlovy, Av. Claudio Aliaga Nº 1182 - Bloque J-47, San Miguel, . 8:00-24:00. 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. Recommend you avoid, after two completely separate confirmed cases of food poisoning on consecutive days (11th and 12th of March 2009).
Local law prohibits serving alcohol after 4 AM. 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 infact, although he is considerably tamer after a rough encounter with a fiery cholita.
- Blueberries, Av. 20 de Octubre 2475. This café serves af 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".
- 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.
- Oliver's Travels, Calle Murillo (opposite Sol y Luna) is a Northern English owned backpackers bar serving standard English fare at mid-range prices. Under new managment so doesn't have the problem of the (In)Famously obnoxious drunk in charge. Fun party atmosphere,and a warm welcome from Eglish speaking staff. Also has travel Has wi-fi and tv for most sporting events and a GREAT book exchange (best in south america). Also has a great tour agency and great happy hour sunday to thursday. Wednesday Nights are Theme orientated with fancy dress. Also availabe for big bookings for tour groups,
- Sol Y Luna, Calle Murillo, is a Dutch owned & managed traveller's hangout serving a good menu and mid-range prices. Good atmosphere, different areas, live music, free wi-fi zone, television, large screen for important football games, and a Pool Table. Serves Coca Leaf Mojitos, where Coca leaves are substituted for mint leaves!
- Irish, on Plaza Avoroa, pathetically named Irish themed bar. Food is overpriced but good, and the cocktails are reasonable, though behind the above mentioned bars. Mostly frequented by Bolivians and should be scorned by real Oirish people.
- Traffic, in San Jorge is a 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, at Pichincha 662 has 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.
- Mongo's, Hermanos Manchego 2444, is one of the popular places for travellers with a good mix of locals. Among some Gringo males, this bar is known for its loose women. Live music. Open nightly till around 3:30 AM. Good mix of food, well priced.
- Ram Jam Presbitero Medina 2124, near Plaza Avaroa , is another popular place, Less gringos than Mongos. Serves Saya beer from Adventurebrew hostel. Occasional live gigs. 0,6 l beer 18 Bs. Saturday cover charge 10 Bs.
- Forum, Near Plaza Espana is a mostly Bolivian hangout though is La Paz's only proper disco venue. Upper class Bolivians frequent the establishment very dressed up. Worth a look if you're missing a big club with big pretensions.
- Gitanas, Zona Sur, Calle 8 de Calacoto, is a bar/club hangout for upper class youth of La Paz's South Zone.
- Dry Law, Zona Sur, Coto Coto, 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.
- Orange Club, Av. 6 de Agosto, Sopocachi, is a new club which boasts two dance areas, one techno the other typical dance music. Co-owned by Rick of 'Sol y Luna' and 'The Star of India' fame and Pablo of "Thunderbirds" fame. Good mix of locals and gringos.
- Vivians, an extremely surreal tiny bar/club?! Mirrors everywhere. It can be a bit difficult to find—you might wind up crouching under a metal shutter gate, walking through a store room, and then out into the back alley just to get in.
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.
The most popular hostels in town are overpriced. Their dorm beds cost substantially more than a single room with shared bath in a cheap, centrally located hostal. Remember that the hostel bars are accessible even if you are not sleeping in; Just tell the recepcionist you are meeting someone.
- Loki Backpackers Hostel, Calle Loayza 420. Tel:(591)2-2119024 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 Wi-fi, International phone service, Pool Table, TV-room with DVDs and cable. Dorm beds from 40 Bs. Matrimonials, Triples and Twin rooms also available.
- Adventure Brew Hostel and Brew Too ,Avenida Montes 533 and 641 ph:(591)2 2461614,  New, bright and clean, Adventure Brew Hostel has it´s own micro-brewery on-site, and a rooftop bar, with BBQs most nights. Just down the road is the annex: The Adventure Brew Too. Dorm beds 48-72 Bs, single with bath 192 Bs. 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.
- Wild Rover Backpackers Hostel, Calle Comercio 1476. Un-officially the highest Irish owned hostel/bar in the world, Wild Rover is a new Backpackers just 3 blocks from the famous Plaza Murillio in a beautiful old ex presidents house. Facilities include 24 hour reception, travel agency, backpack lockers, 24 hour gas powered hot showers, extra wide beds with specially made winter/summer duvets, fun bar with daily activities, all day food menu with the food you miss from home, wi-fi and free internet, pool table and tv room. Dorms from Bs. 40. Phone (591) 2 2116903.
- El Solario, Calle Murillo 776. Another backpacker joint. Warm water, shared bathrooms with electrical showers, cheap laundry service, free internet and kitchen use. Singles Bs 35, Doubles Bs 60, Triples Bs 90, dorm bed Bs 20-25.
- Inkaterra Backpackers Home, across 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, 591-2-220-2346. 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 25 b 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 less gringos around this is a good place.
- El Carretero, about 5 blocks north of San Francisco, dorm for 20 Bs. Basic. Gets a lot of "Artisans" staying there.
- Hostal Austria, Calle Yanacocha 531, 235-1140. Very popular with backpackers , offering warm water, friendly staff and a central location. Singles Bs35, shared room Bs30.
- Hosteria Blanquita, Santa Cruz 242, is a nice place, with a friendly staff, offering doubles for 70 Bs.
- Hotel Continental, top end of Calle Illampu. Doubles with shared bath are 80 Bs. 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!). 30 Bs for privates (10 Bs for lentil soup).
- Hotel Majestic Calle Santa Cruz. Splurge just a little and for 130 bolivianos you get a nice comfy double (Single 100 Bs) 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 Senora 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 from home taste of Tel Aviv.
- La Posada en La Paz, Calle Hermanos Manchego 2551, 243-5204, . Small, friendly and bilingual staff run this posada in the heart of the restaurant and pub disctict. Between Mongo´s and Traffic, and just steps from Mamprahon´s Asian Food. Singles $20, Doubles $30.
- Hotel España, Av. 6 de Agosto 2074, 244-2643. Located in the Sopocachi district close to numerous nice restaurants, the España has a charming garden courtyard as well as a solarium. There's a single net-connected PC in the lobby. Singles $24, doubles $34.
- Hotel Rosario, Av. Illampu 704, 245-1658, . Located in the Aymara District close to the Witches Market and many touristic attractions. Has a colonial style building with sunny patios. Free Internet and WiFi. Has a travel office. Beautiful rooms. Friendly and helpful staff. Complimentary tea and mate de coca. Singles $28-$31, doubles $39-$43. Book ahead; it fills up.
- Hostal Naira, Calle Sagarnaga 161, 235-5645, Fax 231-1214, . In business since 1975, with a good restaurant in the basement and a popular cafe (Coffee Banais) on the ground floor.
- Ritz Apart Hotel, Plaza Isabel La Catolica 2478, . Five stars and all suites in the heart of Sopocachi.
- Hotel Europa, Tihuanaco 64, 231-5656, . Luxury hotel located just off the central Prado.
- Radisson Plaza Hotel La Paz, Av. Arce 2177, . Luxury hotel situated in Sopocachi in the heart of La Paz.
- Many laundries 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.
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 meters/13,000 ft. for La Paz, and 6,000 meters/20,000 ft. if you want to climb Huayna Potosi). 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.
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/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. And certainly don't get in a taxi with them. 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.
There have been several cases of violent muggings in taxis. Only take 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, they 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 Bar 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. Reliable taxi firms to use Magnifico Taxis tel 2410410, La Paz Taxis tel 2221212 and Gold Taxis tel 2722722.
La Paz is a very safe city, and if you keep your wits about you there shouldn't be any problems. Operating (not just bringing) a laptop computer or anything containing a hard drive is a risk. Most hard drives sold today safely work up to 3,000 meters/10,000 ft. La Paz exceeds this 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 happens during your visit.
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 64km 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 kilometer 36or so of 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.
- Kanoo Tours , Calle Loayza 420 (inside Hostel Loki), (591-2)22204624. Reliable and honest advice is available from this english owned agency and they offer the only online booking service in Bolivia for Tours and Transport (various bus destinations and flights to Rurre) with payments made via Paypal.Offering all the usual popular options (and more) they are also the premier booking agency for Gravity Assisted Biking (see Below), Todo Turismo (tourist bus to Uyuni), Amazonas (flights to Rurrenabaque and other locations)and others. Quad biking and motorcycle tours are also available and international flights can also be booked in the office.
- Topas Bolivia . This company is managed by international standards, and receives funds for developing sustainable tourism. Offers customized climbing excursions, mountainbiking on the Death Road and the Ghost-Ride at only USD 45,-
- Swiss Bolvian Adventures  Friendly and helpful staff, they cover all the main tours in Bolivia and are a climbing and adventure specialist. Find them in: Handal Center, ground floor, Of.6 just in front of the main Post Office in Av. Mariscal Santa Cruz, near to San Francisco Square (005912 2406470)
- Terra Andina Bolivia  ,the team is specialized in custom tours, adventure tourism, and off-the-beaten-track trips in Bolivia: cultural tours, discovery circuits, 4WD off-road expeditions over the altiplano, hikes and treks, and mountaineering and alpinism in the Bolivian Cordilleras.They provide combination trips which extend into and explore the neighboring countries of Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.
- Bolivian Astrid Tours, Sagárnaga 389 (esq. Illampu), (591-2)2116756. Recommended tour agent with good equipment and a low price.
- Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, Av. 16 de Julio #1490 (Edificio Avenida, Ground Floor, Office #10), (591..., is the one mostly recommended by the guidebooks, although a little more expensive ($55 for the bare-bones Death Road trip, $75 for a bike with both front- and rear-suspension), you get what you pay for, the guides are great and the bikes are high quality, all have disc brakes and are well maintained. It also offers a wide range of other mountain biking trips, and contrary to the guidebooks it now operates on Mondays as well as a beefed up operation over the rainy season. Also offers "The Ghost Ride" which takes the road to Chulumani, finishes at a haunted hotel and includes off road jumps.
For those needing to travel this road by bus (on their way to Rurrenabaque, for example) there's now a new, half-complete paved road down to Coroico. Not all bus companies take it, though, so inquire when you buy your ticket. Bolivian officials close this new road at seemingly random times for construction (which has been ongoing for the last 12 years).
A lot of travel agencies on Calle Sagarnaga and Calle Illampu organize climbing. The most popular mountain is Huayna Potosi. Travel agents will carry any tourist to the top for US$100-150.
This page was last edited at 00:27, on 29 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Wikitravel user(s) LtPowers, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.