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Backpacking in Bolivia thrills your emotions on every corner.
Bolivia is a fascinating country and hosts many attractions, including ruins, adventure tourism, history, ecotourism and the best reason for travelling: fun!
Most people begin their trip in this magical country flying directly to La Paz, though almost as popular is crossing the border from Peru. Bolivia is full of culture which is combined with a rich history and it is evident on every corner. Backpacking in Bolivia is a worthwhile experience that you´ll never forget.
Bolivia has two main regions, namely the "altiplano" (high planes) in the Andes and the low lands where you find the jungle. Most of the countries attractions are located in the Andes, and it will take some time for you to get accustomed to the altitude. Some places like Potosí are located at more than 4,000 m high!
Bolivia has a great variety of hostels and cheap hotels for your stay. Some of them are subscribed to international organizations such as Hostelling International and found on global booking systems. In general all places are relatively cheap and safe enough. As in Peru, most hostels have electric showers which are heated by a coil within the shower head, sometime to get warmer water you have to have the pressure on low for the water to be able to heat. Most places of single, twin and multiple share dorm rooms and in many hostels there is facilities for cooking, even though food is very cheap in Bolivia.
You may experience elements of culture shock in at the beginning of your Bolivian adventure. Bolivian people have customs and dress that will probably catch your attention. Streets are a little filthy in many cases and but in general they´re safe enough. Remember to be respectful with people, especially those of indigenous descent.
Bolivian transport is not good and in general it only consists of small buses and taxis. Bus terminals are a little chaotic and expect delays and last minute changes. In many cases buses are overloaded, and you should be careful with your luggage. Only 15% of Bolivian roads are paved making for some bumpy journeys. Also do not expect toilets on board buses.
Taxis: When you get into a cab in South America don´t expect an expert driver. Even though, it is a safe way to travel, you still need to know some things. In general taxis don´t have a meter to indicate your fares, so don´t forget to arrange the price in advance. In many Bolivian cities, some taxis pick up people after you are already in it.
Bolivia is one big market. You can find anything sold on the streets. You will probably want to bring back home everything you see. But you must know that bargaining is very common and if you like take your time and check various vendors you can find great prices. For clothes, arts and crafts, streets merchants are OK, but beware about food, especially plates that contain seafood. Bolivian restaurants are good and cheap enough. Also beware of the water, buy mineral water whenever you can.
High in the Andes, that is the "Altiplano" (high plains), people normally need some days to get accustomed. So it is a good idea to spend your first days taking it easy so that you can skip awful headaches.
Many hostels offer Internet access, but in Bolivia there are hundreds of "cybers" in the streets. In some places it may take you a little to find one, but in general they are popular as not many people have computers in their house. Computers and connection are usually a little slow but they are useful enough.
It may sound a little obvious, but avoid changing money in the streets. Don´t take risks and try to change only in good exchange houses. There are usually some in bus stations and downtown as well.