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 the 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, a tourist 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 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).
- 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.