Bolivia : Safety by City
Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is located in western-central South America.
This gorgeous and geographically as well as ethnically diverse democratic country is squeezed in between Brazil to the northeast, Peru to the northwest, Chile to the southwest, Argentina and Paraguay to the south, right at the heart of South America.
It also shares control over the world-known Titicaca Lake with Peru.
This lake is the world’s highest navigable lake and one of the tourist landmarks Bolivia is most popular for.
What separates Bolivia from most of the countries in South America, is the geographically interesting fact that it is, along with Paraguay, the only landlocked nation in both South and North America.
Apart from that, it is also the most indigenous country in both Americas, and as high as 60% of its population is of pure Native American ancestry – which is what makes this country a cultural gem you shouldn’t miss.
Warnings & Dangers in Bolivia
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Bolivia is somewhat safe to visit, though it has many dangers. You should be aware that tourist hotspots, restaurants, shops, and public transportation are places where most thefts and pickpocketing occur, and that violent crime exists on the streets, too.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Transportation is not very safe or reliable. Tourists are advised to avoid the Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba, near the main bus terminal, since this area is where the drug addicts and alcoholics gather and it's dangerous for both foreigners and locals. Common strikes affect the public transport, so it's not very reliable.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
As for pickpocketing, it is a recurring concern on the streets of Bolivia, but what is even more common is bag snatching, so be careful and hold your bags tightly by your side. Even better, keep your money and your valuables elsewhere, like in hidden pockets of your clothes and never ever keep all of your money in the same place.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Rainy season, especially in the mountainous areas can be a risky time for tourists, and you can expect floods and landslides from November to March in these regions.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There have been cases of mugging and even kidnappings which usually involve criminals targeting a foreigner, taking them hostage and driving them to the nearest ATM to withdraw everything from their bank account. These kidnappings are most likely to occur include Plaza Abaroa, Plaza Humbolt, Plaza Isabel La Católica, Plaza del Estudiante, Plaza San Francisco, and the Altiplano, as well as the downtown area of the city.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The risks of terrorist attacks in Bolivia are low, but since they shouldn't be ruled out, it is important that you remain vigilant at all times and aware of your surroundings. There are common demonstrations and you are advised to steer clear of them, since they might turn violent.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There is a high risk of getting scammed. Don't fall for "non-uniformed policemen" trying to extort money from you. For official policemen, a copy of your passport and your Bolivian visa will be enough. If they turn aggressive towards you, scream to scare them away. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Many women have traveled to Bolivia and had nothing but great time. However, this country isn't the safest in terms of females traveling solo, especially at night and you should apply precaution measures at all times and avoid dark and empty streets and locations.
So... How Safe Is Bolivia Really?
Bolivia is somewhat safe to visit, and you should keep in mind that it is a country of many dangers when planning the trip.
Petty crime is a serious issue, and not only that: violent crime is on the rise too.
You have to remain vigilant for people trying to kidnap you since this is a common occurrence: typically, tourists boards a taxi where the driver is the accomplice, and the criminals hop into the cab right after the victim, robbing, assaulting and keeping the victim hostage.
Always use reputable cab companies, for this reason.
This mostly happens in the tourist frequented locations like La Paz, Cochabamba, Copacabana, and Oruro.
There is also the danger of getting scammed in various ways, one of them being people impersonating ‘non-uniformed’ policemen trying to extort money from you: for official policemen, a copy of your passport and your Bolivian visa will be enough.
If they turn aggressive towards you, scream, be loud and attract the attention of passers-by.
That will usually scare them away.
Never carry all your money with you: in fact, do not carry large amounts of it at all.
Just carry a bank card with you, in case you need to fill up on cash (but be careful as they are not that common in rural parts of Bolivia).
How Does Bolivia Compare?
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- Visas - Some countries do not need a visa to enter Bolivia, for any stays shorter than 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond your arrival date. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Bolivian boliviano is the official currency in this country. Even though all sizeable towns have cajeros automáticos (ATMs), don’t rely on them and always carry some cash with you, especially if you plan on traveling to rural areas.
- Weather - Bolivia has the humid tropical climate characterized by very distinct wet and dry seasons and an average temperature of 30 °C, though the climate varies greatly from region to region. However, Bolivians typically refer to two seasons: the rainy season and dry season.
- Airports - Viru Viru International Airport is Bolivia's largest international airport. It is located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the most populous city of Bolivia.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we advise getting travel insurance when traveling to Bolivia, because it would cover not only medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.
Bolivia Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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9 Reviews on Bolivia
I am an American expat living in Bolivia. I have been here 6 years. I think the review in regards to crime is way too high. I feel far safer here than in any part of the US. Of course things happen here, just like in any other country. But violent crime is very low in comparison to any other country in South America, or even compared to the States. And I have never heard o tourists being kidnapped. Getting food poisoning is far more likely than any violent crime happening. The only real caution I would give is to avoid protests, as they are common. They rarely turn violent, but since most people are generally drunk at these protests, you can’t really predict a person’s actions.
I think this country is very underrated in regards to tourism. There is a ton to see and do here if you are a nature lover (biking the Death Road, the Uyuni Salt Flats, hiking Sajama, Huayna Potosi, or Illimani mountains, the dinosaur remains in Sucre or Toro Toro, the jungle in Rurrenabaque, Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, the colonial area of La Paz, Samaipata and Guembe near Santa Cruz, the wine area of Tarija, the colonial areas of Sucre and Potosi, the sand dunes and the flamingos near Oruro, and the cultural richness of the Chiquitania). It is also a very cheap place to visit, especially if you eat local (an expensive meal would be US$6-10). The only real concern a tourist should have is the fact that infrastructure is not very well developed and it can be a pain to get around. I DEFINITELY recommend Bolivia to tourists of all types.
Not accurate at all.
I completely agree. Bolivia does NOT have a medium level risk of terrorism, that´s ridiculous! Also never heard of tourist being kidnapped. Yes, as you should anywhere, you must be careful with your money, pay attention to your surroundings, but please do not fear violent crime on the street.
Bolivia is dangerous-you take a chance!
Camila is definitely incorrect and the warning should be medium high. You can get mugged or robbed in just about any area of the larger cities. Best to never travel alone especially at night.
THats really rude
this is a bit of a racial steryotype
Bolivia is dangerous but Uruguay is safe? This site is a joke.
Had a pizza on the beach, very nice.
Bolivia is great !
My wife and l have traveled Santa Cruz , Sucre, Uyuni , La Paz and Rurrenabaque two separate times . We have done the pampas tours and the high altitude tours in Uyuni . We are always in by dark and settled down and have never seen nor experienced any crime while there for a month combing both trips .
Not saying crime doesn’t happen because it does in every country . We spent two weeks in Peru and never experienced anything but crime is there ,
I am super cautious of my surrounding no matter which country l go to and I’ve been to 20 countries . Even be super cautious l got distracted in Athens Greece and got my wallet stolen right out of my shorts front lower pockets and it was double buttoned . I never felt one thing until l started walking and l didn’t feel the wallet bumping on my leg as l walked 15 steps .
So l say if you want to visit Bolivia go but stay in good parts of town , beware of everyone around you , don’t start trouble just walk off and obey the country’s laws and you should be fine .
Traveled to la Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. Never had a problem and I felt safe. We never stay out late when traveling so I can’t speak for that. My husband had issues with the high altitude and allergies but other than that we can’t complain. I only wore junk jewelry though. Lol Can’t wait to go back!