La Paz is well known for being one of the highest major cities in the world at 3,500m above sea level. It also takes the cake being being one of the most affordable travel destinations in the world where you can buy dinner for as little as $1.50 USD and decent accomodation with breakfast for as little as $20 USD for a double room.
Things to do
Visit the witches market
As the name suggests, the witches market is where some seriously strange things are sold. Once we saw the dead baby Llamas hanging in the doorway, we were too grossed out to go inside. Still, very interesting nonetheless.
Ride the famous Death Road
While I was too chicken to go on a death road tour (due to a fear of heights) this is one of the most popular activities to do out of La Paz. Death Road is dubbed ‘the world’s most dangerous road’ due to its sheer cliffs and the amount of people who have lost their lives over the edges. As you pass down death road on a bicycle tour, you will notice an unsettling number of crosses and altars. Due to the amount of casualties on the road, the Bolivian government built a safer road for cars and buses to use and now Death Road is used for adrenaline seeking travellers. If you are a thrill seeker and want to complete this activity while in La Paz, the company currently with the best safety record is Gravity Bolivia.
Admire Iglesia de San Francisco
The architecture of Iglesia de San Francisco measures up to something you might see in Europe. While the church itself is magnificent, the activity in the square is even more interesting. Here, you will experience the true hussle and bussle of La Paz and see many street vendors selling local specialties. Here, we purchased delicious ice creams off a street vendor for 2 BOB!
Go for a ride on Mi Teleferico
This attraction has good reason to take the number 1 place for things to do in La Paz. It only costs 3 BOB per way for a ride that provides spectatular views of the city. What is particularly interesting is that it gives you a birds eye view of how people of La Paz live. You can see ladies doing their washing in buckets on their balconies, roofs held down by rocks and the strangest/most interesting cemetery I have ever seen. It is sometimes a little sad/confronting how poor the people of La Paz live!
Do your souvenir shopping at Calle Sagarnaga
The best place to do your souvenir shopping in La Paz is undoudedly Calle Sagarnaga. We visited this street almost daily to souvenir shop and watch the women in their traditional outfits go about their business. You can get some great deals on this street too! We bought a llama jumpet for 70 BOB and high socks for 15 BOB a set. You have to visit a few shops to work out who is giving the best deal and of course don’t be afraid to haggle a little!
Visit Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo was a cool place to see the locals relaxing and having time out from their busy schedules. At the park, vendors sell all sorts of treats including jelly and whipped cream/yogurt (a Bolivian specialty) which will only set you back 5 Bolivianos and the Bolivian drink Mocochinchi (made out of dried peeled peach) amoung other things. Plaza Murillo is full of pigeons and a lady at the park even sells bird feed for 2 BOB for the children to feed them.
Food in La Paz
When we were in Uyuni, we were warned by our fellow Uyuni Salt Flat friends how terrible the food in Bolivia is. While it probably doesn’t look the most appetising and certainly wouldn’t win any points for presentation on Master Chef, we found it quite delicious and certainly a bargain! A meal in a non fancy restaurant or from a street vendor in Bolivia will cost you between 10 to 20 Bolivianos (1.44 to 2.88 USD) and I’m not talking about measly portions either. The first night we bought a plate each and couldn’t finish half of what was on there. Subsequently, we noticed the locals shared 1 plate between 2. Mercado Lanza is a good place to buy local food and sit in tiny, pop up restaurants as you enjoy it.
Where to stay
La Paz is a very cheap city and you should be able to find a decent hotel for between 20 – 30 USD. We stayed in a great priced, new hotel called York Vintage B & B. For around 20 USD per night in low season, it was a great deal. It included a really nice breakfast each morning of yogurt, fruit, bread, jam and coffee or tea. For the backpackers, our friends stayed at Wild Rover Hostel and couldn’t recommend this hostel highly enough. We think two to three full days is enough time to enjoy what this city has to offer.
Onward travel from La Paz
From La Paz, people often next visit the Copacabana region and the ruins if Isle de Sol. You can take the local bus for 35 Bolivianos from the bus terminal or buy the tourist transfer that picks you up at your hotel for 40 Bolivianos pp. We booked our transfer with Diana Tours.
Another popular route is to travel to Uyuni next to see the Salt Flats. A night bus will transfer you between these cities for 100 to 150 Bolivianos per person. We booked cama seats with Illimani from Uyuni to La Paz for 100 BOB and were very happy with the service that we received.