The diversity of environments, cultures, landscapes, flora and fauna makes BOLIVIA a fascinating tourist destination. Bolivia offers unique and exciting adventures in tropical jungles, on pre-Columbian trails and at the great Uyuni Salt Lake, as well as cultural experiences where you will meet the Aymaras and the descendents of the Tiwanaku civilization, who have kept their spiritual values and traditions alive.
Information about Bolivia
- Area: 1.098.581 sq. Km.
- Population: 8,274,325 inhabitants. (2001 Census Updated) 70% are natives (essentially Quechuas and Aymaras), 25% are of mixed race and 5% are white, of European origin.
- Languages: Spanish, Aymara, Quechua.
- Currency: Called the Boliviano. 1 Bs = 100 cents. Paper bills of Bs. 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. Coins Bs. 1, 2 and 5, and 10, 20 and 50 cents
- Exchange rate: One dollar equals 7.93 Bolivianos (October 2006)
- Gratuities: Usually they amount to 10% of your bill for waiters, but this is not an obligation. It is not common to tip taxi-drivers.
- Drinking Water: Although tap water is safe to drink, it is advisable to drink bottled water.
- Electricity: Electric energy in all the country is 220 volts, except for the Department of La Paz where you can find both 110 and 220 volt outlets.
- Vaccinations: No special vaccines are needed to enter Bolivia. Nevertheless, if you wish to visit the Bolivian Amazon, vaccination against yellow fever is a must and malaria prophylactics are recommended. Consult your physician.
- Safety: Bolivian cities are safe. Nevertheless, it is recommended to be careful. Do not leave your luggage unattended and do not carry your documents and other valuables in the street. It is better to leave them in the safe provided in your room or at your hotel.
On this page you will find a lot of useful information on how to handle with money in Bolivia.
The currency used in Bolivia is the Boliviano.
It is recommended to take Bolivianos with you when you intend visiting villages, if not you can get into difficulties. Only Bolivianos with a lower value until Bs. 20 are accepted in rural areas.
Every series edited has a different characteristic of security. For official information go to www.bcb.gov.bo, Información de Billetes y Monedas en Circulación – the web page of the Bolivian Central Bank.
American dollar is the second most used currency in bigger cities in Bolivia. The Bolivian economy is very much influenced by the dollar, especially hotels, tours and flight tickets are sold in dollars. Other products or services that are very expensive are also expressed in dollar. A small commission is charged for the exchange. E.g. if the official exchange rate is Bs. 7.98 to 1 $ it is exchanged to Bs. 7.96. Try to get small money bills up to 20 $.
In order to see the official exchange rate go to www.bcb.gov.bo
Credit cards are accepted in bigger stores, hotels and restaurants in bigger cities. In villages it is difficult to pay by credit card or to find an ATM. The most accepted credit cards are VISA and MasterCard. American Express is accepted in some places.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's)
You will find ATM's in many places of bigger cities. It is recommended to use these that say “Red Enlace” as these accept credit cards with symbols like maestro, cirrus, mastercard, visa electron, visa... For more information or contact to your bank call from Bolivia: 800 – 103060. You will be connected with your bank without charge.
In bigger citiers it is possible to change traveler cheques in American dollar. A small commission, however, is charged. They are accepted in most of the better hotels. You should pay attention to always firming the same way and in the adequate space. If not it is possible that the person who receives it gets into problems and has to wait more than one month for a confirmation of exchange. Traveler cheques in other currencies are only accepted in some exchange offices. If you have problems or worries call this number in Bolivia that is free of charge: 800–100252
Are accepted by exchange offices in bigger cities, however, you get an exchange rate that is much lower than the official. E.g. If the exchange rate is 9.50 to 1 EUR they will pay you only Bs. 9.
It is recommended to go to an exchange office in order to exchange money. They are a lot more secure and offer better exchange rates. They usually ask for your passport. You can exchange American dollar in most of the banks.
Caution: It was reported that at the International Airport of El Alto a commission of Bs. 20 is charged for each transaction and that they give you a lower exchange. This commission is not charged in other places. It is better to pay the taxi in dollar (approx. 6 USD to the center) and to exchange bigger amounts of money later in the city.
Recommended banks with offices all over Bolivia:
Banco Nacional de Bolivia
Banco Bisa S. A.
Mutual La Paz
Recommended exchange office
La Paz: Sudamer. Av Camacho esq. Colón
If you want somebody to send you money the most common way is to do it with Western Union or MoneyGram that operates in various banks and post offices.
Suggested links to see weather
Bolivia is a safe country, but as cities develop so does the petty thieving. For your security, please follow these suggestions:
- If you need to be transported from your Hotel to other places, it is advisable to ask your Hotel reception for a "Radio Taxi".
- When walking along the streets, or in public and crowded places, please don´t get distracted and keep an eye on your things.
- Never contract a tour or other tourist service in the streets. Do so via an authorized Travel Agency.
- There are some delinquents trying to make tourists believe that they belong to the Police, Anti-narcotics Forces or Tourist Guides. Please be careful.
- Always carry with you the name, address and telephone number of your Hotel and Travel Agency in Bolivia.
- Leave all important documents at your hotel security box.
- You must not give your credit card PIN (Personal Identification Number) to anybody and at any place. Don´t answer to any strange question referred to your credit card.
If you need help, or wish to state a issue please call the Tourist Police in La Paz. Phone. 2225016.
INTI, the SUN God of the Incas, source of life and warmth, cannot be estranged from the actual physical sun whose intense rays require, in fact, some precautions to preserve the health.
Bolivia is a tropical country, with part of its territory situated at a high altitude. It has a clear sky free of pollutions and with ample horizons. For these reasons the ultraviolet radiation is more intense than in most other countries, i.e. your skin can be burnt more easily.
Considering your well being, we recommend to take the following precautions when enjoying the Bolivian sun:
- Wear always wide-wing hats.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Wear preferably long sleeve clothes.
- If you decide to use sun blockers, we recommend SPF 25 or higher. If you have a hyper-sensible skin, consult your physician.
- Don't expose yourself excessively to the sun between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
We wish you to keep a pleasant memory of Bolivia ... even in your skin.
- World Health Organization (OMS-OPS)
- Ministerio de Salud, Dirección General de Salud Ambiental
- Asociación de Operadores de Turismo Receptivo ASOPTUR - La Paz
- Scientific Information provided by: Atmosphere Physics Laboratory UMSA