Are you hanging around in La Paz for longer than the average traveller? Check out this guide to the best day trips from La Paz
When I spent 2 months in South America, my original plan was to only spend a couple of days in La Paz before moving on to the salt flats by Uyuni. I had an overnight bus booked to go south, but when I arrived at the bus station, I found out that the miners along the route were on strike and had created a road block. I tried to get a flight south instead but they were all booked out. Unfortunately, this meant I was stuck in La Paz! Dodgy bus companies were running, but as the protests had turned violent, it didn’t seem like a safe option! Therefore, I took the sad (or was it?) decision to remain in La Paz.
Fortunately, I had already got a good feel for La Paz, and was really starting to fall in love with the city and its friendly people. However, the hostels I had stayed in here (2 of them!), didn’t seem to offer many excursions in (or near) La Paz. Although there were several 3 day trips to the Amazon and the mountains, these required more time than I had. I was also limited as my travel insurance only covered me to 4600m, with La Paz sitting at 3640m. The only trip that was on offer in most hostels that I could do was… biking death road!
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Where to stay?
|Accommodation||Price-range||Why stay here?|
|Greenhouse Bolivia||Budget||Lovely central hostel. Cheap dormitory beds with free Wifi.|
|Hotel Nuevo Sol||Mid-range||Buffet breakfast included, comfy basic rooms and social area.|
|Hotel Europa||Luxury||Full spa on-site, selection of restaurants, included buffet breakfast and beautiful rooms.|
The 5 best day trips from La Paz
The only trip that was on offer in most hostels that I could do was… biking death road!
Ok so I suppose my disclaimer here is that I never biked death road, I can’t tell you for definite how dangerous it is or exhilarating or fun!
I’m sure it is an awesome trip to do and will allow you to see Bolivia’s gorgeous mountains and sights. However, I never fancied this, mainly because at the time I hadn’t cycled in years and so the idea of throwing myself down a mountain on a very old bike with no experience of mountain biking at all did not appeal to me!
That said – biking death road is meant to be the best day trip from La Paz – make the decision yourself! Read this guide for how to book biking death road.
Canyoning and rafting
After much searching around multiple travel companies in La Paz, I found one that would offer a canyoning and white water rafting trip. I’d always wanted to go white water rafting, as I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie and knew it would be something I’d enjoy. I had also done some abseiling stuff before and so, thought canyoning would be a lot of fun.
So I rocked up to the meeting point, ignorantly expecting a group of foreign travellers. I was greeted with a group of Bolivians who lived in La Paz. They turned out to be a lovely bunch of people, and they tried their best to communicate with me despite my not so perfect Spanish!
When we arrived we blew up the raft and headed out onto the river, it was great fun! We then left the raft and headed off up to discover hidden waterfalls, they were stunning! From there, we followed a stream down and carried out various activities. These included abseiling and slipping down naturally formed slides (when I did this trip I didn’t own a GoPro, hence the lack of pictures!). I decided to do the very first big jump which was around 10m.
However, as I jumped I tripped slightly and hit my chest and one side of my face on the water. It was a pretty terrifying experience and I was sore for a couple of days after. I would just advise to consider taking the abseil down the big jumps!
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After arriving back at the raft we set off for another hour down the river before the day ended. The rafting was quite tame because of the time of year (August), but still an enjoyable time! It was so much fun overall and a great (and safer) alternative to death road. Although I should point out we drove along death road for a bit to get to the river! If you are interested in this trip have a wander around the various travel agencies in La Paz! This was my favourite day trip from La Paz.
This is a small town about 3 hours away from La Paz by bus. I was dropped off here on the way back to La Paz following the rafting tour. I’d heard about it being a beautiful place to spend a day and a night. It’s a small town with multiple hotels/hostels with pools and stunning views over the mountains. It is mainly used as a Bolivian holiday spot.
I had pre-booked a bed in a yoga hostel, however, when I tried to gain access to it I was chased off site by two scary dogs! It was pretty terrifying and after this I did not fancy trying to find another hostel to stay in. But I managed to get a taxi to take me to a fancier hotel up on the hill. By this point it was pitch black, but when I woke the next morning I found a beautiful view.
I whiled away the day in the pool and reading on my private balcony. It was easy to get back to La Paz, by just grabbing a minibus at the bus station. This is definitely one of the best alternatives to biking death road as its so cheap! This is a beautiful day trip from La Paz if you would like some chill time.
This was another day trip that I did from La Paz. Similar to the rafting/canyoning trip I was with a group of local Bolivians. We drove down a small road on the side of a mountain with a drop of 1000m down one side! Always best to just look ahead and not think of it! When we arrived we kitted up in harnesses and had a look at the circuit. It involved abseiling down some of the rock face, climbing back up and a zip wire.
Then at the end of it all we donned an extra harness and could complete a bridge jump. Here you throw yourself off the side of the cliff and free-fall for around 20m and then swing around. We could do it twice, once backwards and once forwards. The backwards one was somewhat easier as you couldn’t see the drop! The forwards one was terrifying, but such an exhilarating experience!
This is the most expensive day trips from La Paz I did at 90 USD – but it depends on your travel budget.Booking.com
Now while this wasn’t an option I actually took myself, it was one I thoroughly looked into and spoke to several people who did it. It is an abseiling experience down a 50m wall. The main novelty with this experience is that you have the option to do it face first down the building! They also give you the option to experience a 6-storey free fall at the bottom, giving you a true adrenaline rush! This is in the centre of La Paz, and so doesn’t require a whole day may make it appealing if you don’t have long in La Paz.
The main reason I didn’t do this was because I thought it was a lot of money for one abseil (30USD for one drop). However, its one of the great alternatives to biking death road if you have less time available! Click here for more info!
How to get to La Paz
- By air: The easiest way to arrive is by air. La Paz has an international airport.
- By bus: You can take buses from neighbouring cities or countries.
Money saving tips in La Paz
- Eat local food: Western food and fast food are considerably more expensive.
- Visit local attractions yourself, instead of taking tours.
- Try to walk as much as possible instead of taking taxis.
Read more budget travel tips here.
How to get around La Paz
- By taxi: This is the easiest and one of the cheapest ways to travel. Expect to pay only 2 USD per trip.
- By bus: The local buses are very cheap, but can be hard to navigate, especially if you don’t speak Spanish
- By foot: It’s easy to walk around La Paz. But make sure you check with your hotel/hostel about any places to avoid.
When to visit
Temperatures remain very constant through the year in Bolivia. However, May – October is considerably drier. During November to March, heavy rainfall can occur.
Remember to check the government website for any records of unrest. Sometimes, Bolivia can become unsafe as a foreigner throughout the year.
While I enjoyed Bolivia as a solo female traveller – and a blonde one! I did get some attention, it’s important to follow some safety tips.
- Check which areas are safe to walk alone in – especially at night. Your hostel/hotel can normally give you this information.
- Don’t carry your phone in your hand – this makes you a target.
- Wear a money belt and only keep a limited amount in your purse.
- Avoid taking money out at cashpoints if people are close by.
It’s important whenever you travel abroad to get valid travel insurance. I recommend World Nomads, if you have no pre-existing conditions. They will also cover most activities you would want to do.
If you do have pre-existing conditions, including mental illnesses, check out True Traveller – they cover most.
Navigating a new country is hard enough, without being able to use your phone. I recommend buying one when you arrive in the country either from a local store or the airport.
Alternatively, you can buy one before you go with World Sim.
Overall, I had the best time stuck in La Paz, and I would definitely recommend spending longer there if you get the chance!