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Is Bolivia Safe to Visit in 2023 | Safety Concerns

Is Bolivia Safe to Visit in 2023 | Safety Concerns

Bolivia is one of the most gorgeous and attractive countries to visit in South America. It features beautiful natural attractions, rich culture, and a history filled with the influence of indigenous peoples and European colonizers.

Geographically, Bolivia is in the western part of South America. Brazil is to its east, Peru is to the North, and Chile is to the South.

It’s right in the heart of South America and borders the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca. With all this beauty and history, you probably want to see it for yourself. But is Bolivia safe to visit?

Despite its many charms, Bolivia is not without safety concerns. To stay safe while traveling in Bolivia, it is vital to be aware of the potential risks and take appropriate precautions.

Keep reading to learn about the various safety concerns involved with visiting Bolivia and some steps you can take to minimize them.

Is Bolivia Safe to Visit?

City of Sucre on a sunny day for a piece on Is Bolivia Safe

Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Overall, Bolivia is a relatively safe destination for travelers. With some basic safety precautions and common sense, you can enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer without worry.

Just be aware of the risks involved and take steps to mitigate them, and you can travel to Bolivia with peace of mind. The primary dangers you should keep in mind while visiting Bolivia include crime, natural disasters, and potentially dangerous animals.

Despite the country’s high crime rate, major tourist attractions like La Paz and Potosi are generally safe to visit, even at night. However, it is still advisable to exercise caution and avoid certain parts of these cities that may be more prone to crime.

It’s important to remember that Bolivia has an enormous wealth discrepancy. Tourists often have far more money than the locals. This disparity can make tourists targets for crimes of opportunity. 

Finally, if you plan on exploring the more rugged and wild parts of Bolivia, you should consider additional dangers including natural disasters and wild animals.

Crime in Bolivia

Crime is a significant issue in Bolivia, but violent crimes are quite rare. Theft and petty crimes like pickpocketing and purse snatching are common in major cities like La Paz, Potosi, and Cochabamba.

Practicing caution when using public transportation or walking around crowded areas is essential. As always, it is best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or anything valuable.

Try to keep your valuables with you at all times and be aware of your surroundings. If something seems off or suspicious, it’s better to be safe than sorry and move to a different area.

You should also do your best to keep a low profile and avoid becoming the victim of a crime of opportunity. Keep your valuables out of sight and do not flash large amounts of money around or draw attention to yourself with expensive clothing or jewelry.

The concerns regarding crime in Bolivia are limited to petty theft. Otherwise, Bolivia is a relatively safe place.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

San Lorenzo Church steeple view overlooking the city for a piece on Is Bolivia Safe to Visit

streetflash/Shutterstock

While most tourist areas of Bolivia are generally safe, there’s always the possibility that you may end up in a bad part of town. Not all neighborhoods and areas are safe for tourists, especially at night. 

To avoid this, you should research ahead of time and ensure you know where it’s safe to go in the Bolivian city of your choice.

For example, some neighborhoods in La Paz are notorious for high crime rates, but others are extremely safe and frequented by tourists. 

Consider finding a trustworthy local guide who can help you navigate the city, point out safe neighborhoods, and tell you where to go. Your lodging host can also be a valuable resource for identifying what neighborhoods to avoid.

If you’re feeling concerned about an area, it’s always best to avoid it or trust your instincts and leave the area.

Getting a Visa to Travel to Bolivia

The Bolivian government requires all tourists and visitors to obtain visas before entering the country. You can either apply for an e-visa or get a visa upon arrival.

You need to have a valid passport and proof of onward travel to get a visa on arrival. It is also helpful to have a return ticket, which is often asked for at the Bolivian border when entering.

Overall, there is no harm in applying for a tourist visa in advance. You can get an e-visa online and it’s the most common way to apply. You will need a credit card to get your visa this way. 

The e-visa or visa-on-arrival is available for most nationalities. However, it would be best to check ahead with your embassy or consulate.

If you’re not eligible for one of these visas, you will need to apply for a different visa which may take more time and effort. You can contact your government for information on the type of visa you’ll need to enter Bolivia. 

Natural Disasters in Bolivia

Bolivia is prone to several natural disasters, including flooding, earthquakes, and forest fires. The best way to prepare is to stay alert, follow the local news and weather reports, and avoid potential danger zones.

For example, if a flood warning or an earthquake is expected, you should stay away from rivers or other areas that may be affected. Avoid driving at night when visibility is limited and road conditions are poor.

It’s also essential to be aware of potential dangers in the surrounding area. For example, if there is a forest fire in your vicinity, it is best to stay away from the affected area and avoid hiking or other outdoor activities.

Overall, it is best to be prepared and stay safe by following local news when traveling in Bolivia.

Transportation in Bolivia

Green bus for transportation in La Paz for a piece on Is Bolivia Safe

Colorful bus transport in the streets of La Paz with bolivian people on October 15, 2019/SL-Photography

Bolivia is a beautiful country with diverse landscapes and many different types of transportation infrastructure. There is no shortage of options for getting around Bolivia, including planes, trains, buses, and cars.

When choosing transportation for your trip to Bolivia, it is important to consider costs, comfort, and convenience. It’s also a good idea to research your preferred mode of transportation ahead of time.

For example, booking in advance and arriving early for your trip is essential if you travel to certain parts of the country by bus. Booking ahead is particularly important during high-tourist seasons or on holiday weekends.

Cellular Phone Service in Bolivia

Cell service and data are essential anytime you travel. Luckily, Bolivia has a wide range of wireless phone options from major service providers to smaller regional networks.

If you plan to travel around Bolivia, finding a reliable service provider with good coverage across the country is vital. You may also want to consider purchasing a local SIM card, which is a great way to stay connected and save money on international calls.

Local SIM cards are affordable. You can easily pick one up at the airport or cell phone shops in most towns in cities. Ensure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use the local SIM card.

There is no shortage of options for cell phone service in Bolivia. Whether you are looking for a primary provider or a regional network, exemplary service is available for your needs.

Health and Disease Concerns in Bolivia

Staying up-to-date on health and disease concerns is essential. It’s wise to know about the diseases you could encounter here, from malaria and yellow fever to typhoid and rabies.

To protect yourself against these diseases, you must consult your doctor or travel clinic about vaccinations and other preventative measures. You may also want to consider purchasing travel insurance to access medical care in an emergency.

Additionally, it is essential to remember that some regions of Bolivia are at risk for mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika and dengue fever.

To avoid these diseases, it is best to take preventative measures. Wear long sleeves and pants when out in the evening, use bug spray, and avoid hanging around bodies of stagnant water.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to visit a hospital or clinic, the health care system in Bolivia is of decent quality. You can trust the doctors there to care for most health issues, including infections and broken bones.

However, if you experience a more serious medical emergency, you should try and return home.

Weather in Bolivia

Flamingos at Sunshine Lagoon showcase the weather for a piece on Is Bolivia Safe

In Green/Shutterstock

Keeping an eye on the local weather conditions is always a good idea and can help you avoid dangerous situations.

Most of Bolivia is at a high altitude and is affected by strong winds and storms. The weather at high altitudes can change quickly and without warning.

It is important to pack accordingly if you’re planning a trip to Bolivia. Make sure you bring clothes appropriate for the weather, such as a rain jacket, warm layers, and sun protection.

Additionally, you should always check the forecast closely before heading outdoors. 

If you plan to visit the Amazon while in Bolivia, be prepared for a different climate. The weather in the Amazon portions of Bolivia is hot and humid, and you should pack light clothes and a hat to protect you from the heat.

Dangerous and Poisonous Animals in Bolivia

Finally, when traveling to Bolivia, it is crucial to be aware of the many dangerous and poisonous animals that call the country home.

The most common is the puma, a large, muscular cat responsible for many deaths and injuries. The puma is beautiful and majestic, but don’t be fooled! It’s still capable of causing serious injury and harm if you come across one.

There is also the spectacled caiman, a small-to-medium-sized crocodile found in Bolivia’s Amazon area. These animals are not typically dangerous to humans, but you should still exercise caution and keep a safe distance.

Other common animals to watch out for include snakes and spiders, which can be venemous.

Frequently Asked Questions

View of Island Incahuasi and salt lake Uyuni in Bolivia

streetflash/Shutterstock

Still need some of your questions answered about the safety of visiting Bolivia? These are some commonly asked questions.

Is Bolivia worth visiting?

Bolivia is definitely worth visiting. There are many natural and cultural attractions, the weather is nice year-round, and the views are incredible.

It’s also a great destination for budget travelers, as the cost of traveling is very low.

Are people in Bolivia friendly?

Bolivians are very friendly and welcoming to tourists. They are very proud of their culture and you can expect to be warmly welcomed into the community for your stay.

Can U.S. citizens enter Bolivia?

Yes! U.S. citizens are free to enter Bolivia and are eligible for visa-on-arrival. You can also apply for an e-visa online before your trip.

Is Bolivia safe for female travelers?

Yes, Bolivia is a safe place for female travelers. However, as with any country, it is vital to take some basic safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

Is Bolivia safe to travel alone?

You can travel to Bolivia alone. You will likely meet many other solo travelers along the way. Take precautions and use common sense to avoid dangerous areas and staying out late at night.

So, Is Bolivia Safe to Visit?

Overall, Bolivia is a beautiful and diverse country full of natural wonders, rich history, and home to many friendly locals. It’s a safe place to visit whether you’re traveling alone, as a woman, with a group, or with your family. 

While it’s a safe place to be overall, it’s still essential to take the necessary precautions and stay informed about potential risks to have a safe, enjoyable experience.

Non-violent theft and petty crimes are the most common here, so keeping your valuables and belongings secure will go a long way in protecting you while you visit. 

With proper planning and vigilance, you can enjoy your time in Bolivia without worrying about your safety or becoming the victim of a crime. Just keep your wits about you and stick to tourist areas to fully enjoy your stay!