This one time I went to La Paz Bolivia

la paz bolivia
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The world’s highest city… altitude sickness… witches markets… talk about feeling like an alien dropped in from outer space. This city is truly one of the world’s most authentic doses of unusual you will find.

When I first arrived in La Paz in a delirious jetlag-induced haze, I didn’t really know what to think. My mind was darting everywhere as were my eyes, from the colours and busy streets through to the smell of gas and dusty air. It was one of those ‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” moments. Surreal, intimidating, and slightly nauseating (thanks to the altitude sickness).

la paz

But it was also inspiring all at the same time.

La Paz is a city unlike any other in the world. There’s so much happening all at once that you’re never really certain how you feel or able to ‘put your finger on it’, if you will. It’s confusing in the best kind of way.

La Paz for First Timers

First of all, you’ll notice the lack of oxygen in the air. Walk a few metres up hill and you’ll already start to huff and puff, wondering if you’ve suddenly stooped in fitness levels, but fear not – it’s just the altitude sickness. Hopefully you can shake it off in a day or two, but just to be safe, don’t plan on doing too much exercise in your first couple of days here. Besides, taxis are cheap at $2 a pop to get just about anywhere in town. Just as a warning, the city is over 3,500m above sea level!

The city is essentially a massive hole in the earth – hence the hills. and lots of them.

There are 835,000+ people living in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital.

La Paz is renowned for being quite unsafe for tourists and travellers – though you shouldn’t run into trouble if you keep an eye on your belongings and stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. Walking around after dark isn’t recommended but I did sneak in one or two missions to grab food and had no troubles as a solo female traveller.

What to Do?

Be sure to find a viewpoint – ‘Mirador’ – and see La Paz from above. It’s truly a sight for the eyes.

Bike riding Death Road has become a highly popular activity and is a great challenge, albeitΒ not for the fainthearted.

A road trip to Moon Valley is also popular and will set you back about 200 Bolivianos for a taxi fare, round-trip.

Don’t forget to ditch the map and get lost in La Paz’ many alleyways and crazily steep streets, as there’s lots to see and do in this eclectic city.

la paz la paz la paz la paz la paz

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    Miledis A
    March 7, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I really love La Paz, you should visit this amazing plac

    July 29, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I adore La Paz. from all the cities in Bolivia I have been (Sucre,Tarija,Santa Cruz) its my favorite one.
    I must warn most of the short term tourists that you are really missing the core of the city if you only spend your time in the north zone. Despite its beauty , there are a lot more places to see in the city. I stayed at an expat friend in the south zone, and it was amazing, the mointains , the colors, the people. It was so comfty and the views where unbelivable. Try the Valle de la Luna, Golf Course, Mirador, San Miguel, Valle de la animas, teleferico, or some of the unique bars in Sopocachi. This the get apart from the witches market, plaza and other north places which are nice but not the only ones.

    Cheers from Germany!

    May 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Couple of things:

    La Paz is actually very safe for a latin American big city. Lonely Planet gives it an unfair write up which is why it has a reputation. For the most part you can walk around at night without issue. Some areas should be avoided after certain hours but on the whole it’s much safer than Quito, Lima, Buenos Aires etc

    Sucre is technically the capital.

    A one way taxi to Valle de la Luna costs 30BS.

    April 2, 2015 at 12:38 am

    There is a difference between a settlement and a city. El Alto, the La Paz suburb where the airport is located, is the highest large city in the world (pop over 100,000):

    February 17, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    You might want to fact check it being the world’s highest city. It actually isn’t even close:

    Caroline Achieng Otieno
    October 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Never been to South America, would love to visit Bolivia, and other cities in this region..La Paz sounds and looks interesting..variety of eye-popping colours!

    October 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Looks a busy and interesting city.

    Department of Wandering
    October 2, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Altitude sickness is such a strange feeling. I experienced it whilst trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal a few years back– pounding headaches and feeling light headed.

    What an incredible experience though!

    October 1, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Are you ever gonna come to Sweden? xx

    Best holiday destinations
    October 1, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Nice blog.Thanks for posting nice blog.

    Christine King
    October 1, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    The photos are amazing. So vibrant and beautiful.

    October 1, 2014 at 5:27 am

    What a rustic beauty! I can relate to being sleepy and unfocused when I first arrive at a place. I’m glad that you take time to understand a place and the take in it all when you are there.

    October 1, 2014 at 3:42 am

    You made a little error by writing 35000 rather than 3500. Just FYI!

    October 1, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Oh, would love to go here someday! (with an empty suitcase so I can fill it with all these handmade items and souvenirs πŸ˜‰ )

    Kathleen Ryan
    October 1, 2014 at 12:52 am

    My altitude sickness started in Merida, Venezuela and lasted until Asuncion, Paraguay. Luckily it was only in the morning I got sick. It became a daily routine.

    I rode into La Paz across the altiplano from Peru. Seeing the city from above was jaw droppingly awesome. I loved wending my way down to the city on the winding road. I roamed La Paz. It was one of my favorite cities in S.A. This was in the mid-1970’s.

    October 1, 2014 at 12:27 am

    The photos alone make me want to visit La Paz! I love the color of your photographs. What camera are you using?

    October 1, 2014 at 12:10 am

    beautiful photos Brooke!

    xo, Laura

    September 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Sounds awesome, I’m loving these posts! Are you off too Peru next?

    September 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Looks really amazing πŸ™‚

    September 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Wow, it looks absolutely gorgeous!

    September 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Awesome! I didn’t make it to Bolivia during my South America trip unfortunately but I’d love to check it out. I’ve heard its super cheap. Not sure about the altitude in La Paz though!

    September 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    This has been on my to-do list for a while…I love the pictures with the blankets, really beautiful!

    – Ava

    beck daily

    September 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Brooke, think you need to lose a zero in the elevation to 3500m

    September 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Hey, you might want to edit that to 3,500 m not 35,000 m above sea level!

    September 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Beautiful photos πŸ™‚
    I was in Sorrento at the Amalfi Coast last week and it waas incredible too πŸ™‚


    Diana A.
    September 30, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for doing this city justice!

    Lucy @ Skeeter and Scout
    September 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

    It looks so beautiful. I would be keen to make my way there, but i think i would most likely not be able to make it there cause of altitude. My cousin went and was in the hospital the whole week with heart issues from altitude sickness, poor thing. But she said it was unreal.

    Lucy X

    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    September 30, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Such beautiful colors!

    September 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Looks like so much fun to me!

    20 year old travel blogger

    September 30, 2014 at 10:16 am

    La Paz is certainly a very beautiful and interesting city.