Some travelers report discomfort when they arrive in La Paz from lower altitudes. At 3000 to 4000 meters, La Paz is much higher than many travelers have ever been, so some shortness of breath is to be expected. Most travelers acclimatize after a good night's rest.
In some cases, travelers may exhibit symptoms of high altitude sickness. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced appetite
Symptoms will usually fade in a day or two, but travelers can take certain precautions to avoid or alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. When traveling to La Paz, make sure to:
- Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks like Gatorade are helpful as well because they contain sugars, sodium, and electrolytes, which are lost due when you dehydrate.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take your time traveling through the city, don't push yourself.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Coca tea, or coca de mate, is a popular folk remedy for altitude sickness. In severe cases, especially when preexisting medical conditions are present, medical attention may be necessary. Hotel Rosario and Turisbus guides have bottled oxygen available should guests have a problem with the altitude.
Although La Paz is at a tropical latitude, its high elevation means that the city does not experience the tropical heat that is typical at lower elevations. The temperature in La Paz remains mild all year, with an average temperature around eight degrees Celsius. Expect the temperature to drop significantly over night, especially during the winter months (June-August).
The summertime (December-February) can be more humid in La Paz with frequent rainfall. The drier winter months of May to October are the most popular for travelers, though La Paz remains a popular destination year round.
Bolivia uses the Peso Boliviano, referred to simply as Boliviano abbreviated Bs. The Boliviano is divided into 100centavos with coins of 1, 5, 10, and 50 centavos as well as 1, 2, and 5 Bolivianos. Bills are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Bolivianos.
Approximate exchange rates:
- 1 U.S. Dollar = 7.01 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Euro= 9.11 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 British Pound = 10.57 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Canadian dollar = 6.82 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Australian dollar = 7.12 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 New Zealand dollar = 5.77 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Peruvian Nuevo Sol = 2.7 Bolivian Boliviano
- 1 Brazilian Real = 3.54 Bolivian Boliviano
(Note that the exact rate can fluctuate with the market)
La Paz has many ATMs available that accept Visa and Mastercard. Like anywhere, travelers should be mindful of their surroundings when using ATMs and should avoid withdrawing money after dark or in poorly lit areas. There are several ATMs with a block or two of Hotel Rosario that are safe for guests.
Be sure to check ATM fees before withdrawing currency, as some local banks will charge more than others. Authorize bankcards and credit cards for international travel before leaving your home country because some companies will freeze your account if they suspect fraud.
At full-service restaurants, 10% of the total bill is a typical gratuity. Look for a line that indicates servicio on restaurant bars as the gratuity is sometimes included. Taxi drivers do not expect tips.
Taxi: This is the fastest, safest way of getting around La Paz. Make sure you take a so-called "radio taxi", which will have a telephone number and the name of the company on the roof of the car. Unmarked taxis can be untrustworthy and should be avoided. Taxis are unmetered so be sure to negotiate a fare before you enter the cab.
On Foot: Many of La Paz's most popular attractions are within walking distance of Hotel Rosario. The city has many small side streets and winding market alleys that are can be fun to explore on foot. The rule of thumb in La Paz is that if you get lost, just head downhill as you are sure to cross a major avenue where you can get your bearings or catch a cab.
Bus: La Paz is serviced by many private vans and busses as well as shared taxis or collectivos. Travelers should avoid these vehicles as they do not follow fixed schedules or routes.
Shuttle: Hotel Rosario provides a shuttle service and we offer private transportation during our tours.
The international airport of El Alto is about 35 minutes from Hotel Rosario by taxi. A taxi will cost 60 Bs. There are also minibuses in front of the Airport that will take you to the San Francisco Church, 4 blocks from the hotel. Hotel Rosario offers an airport pickup service.
La Paz is a safe city. Regardless, we do recommend that you follow a few simple tips to avoid unnecessary hassle:
- Do not leave baggage unattended in public areas.
- Avoid carrying any personal or valuable items/documents with you on the street.
- Leave valuables in the safe provided in your hotel room.
- Carry photocopies of passports rather than the original documents.
- Be aware of pickpockets in crowded areas.
- Simply keep your items close and pay attention to common tricks like people spilling liquids on you or offering to carry your bags.
- Avoid exchanging money on the street, this may make you a target for fraud or pickpockets.