America,  Bolivia,  TDM,  Travel Journal

La Paz (Bolivia): pollution and chaos

This is the second time we are in La Paz. This city still doesn’t manage to seduce us

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

From Puno (Peru), we take two buses: the first one to go to Copacabana. And a second one from Copacabana to La Paz. We were fooled by the name of the bus: Pullman Bus. In Chile, it is a very good bus company, but here, it is a local bus having the external appearance of a tourist bus. We are given the last places of the last row, so that during 5 hours, we feel every irregularity of the road. And this road isn’t tarred

What a horror! Arrived at 6:30 pm in La Paz after this horrible journey, the pollution and chaos of La Paz did not help. We decide to leave ASAP from this city. Unfortunately, the next tourist bus for Sucre (passing by Potosi) leaves only the following day at 7 pm. The day buses to Sucre pass by Cochabamba and the road Cochabamba – Sucre is horrible

Cable car

After a sleepy morning, we decide to take the cable car from La Paz anyway. Our hostal is next to a cable car station, we will take the red line to El Alto, for 3$B/person

Then we plan to take the green line and then the yellow line to go to the Sopocachi neighborhood, as suggested in the plan. But in reality, the construction isn’t finished for most of the lines

The red line runs through a station called “cemetery” something. It’s quite impressive especially seen from above! It isn’t a cemetery as we are used to see in Europe, here everything is superimposed one on top of the other, creating buildings of several mini-stories. I think most people choose incineration, otherwise technically it’s not possible to fit so many people in a small space like this

The higher you go up, the better you understand the pollution of La Paz. The city is shaped like a “basin”, surrounded by mountains and hills. There are some areas without buildings because of the cliff. In fact, on one of these cliffs you can see the shape of a car that crashed between two hills

With so few trees, a lot of traffic and a huge factory next to the bus terminal (beer factory), pollution is inevitable. Also noteworthy are the brick houses, without cement or paint on the outside, or houses that are half built (the owner will continue the construction when he has money), creating a chaotic architecture, just like the traffic and traffic jams in La Paz all the time

We make a U-turn by cable car to return to the city center. Not having the patience to wait for a local bus taking us to Sopocachi, we take a cab (20 bolivianos) to go to a Korean restaurant (Corea Town)

Thanks to this, we hate La Paz less. Next to this restaurant, a woman sells fruit cocktails. JB buys for 10 bolivianos a mountain of strawberries, really delicious

To get back to the hostel, we take a local minivan (2 bolivianos) with “Terminal” marked on it. Our hostal being near the Terminal, it is very practical to locate the buses and minivans that can drop us next to it. Here, the locals take a lot of public transport. In spite of that, there are always a lot of traffic jams, at any time of the day. The air is unbreathable, some cars date from the last century, leaving behind them a big toxic smoke

Too tired of all this chaos, we decide to skip the witch market, the central market, the walking tour of La Paz… in short, everything. We have only one thing to look forward to: being in Sucre

Two bus companies are recommended for this trip: Trans Copacabana or El Dorado. We choose El Dorado to vary a bit: the bus will leave tonight at 7pm

Part 2: Practical Tips


  • Accommodation: 17€ at Hostal Isidoros. I don’t particularly recommend it but it does its job for one night, plus it’s very close to the bus terminal, reception 24/24.
  • Restaurant : Corea Town, 75$B per dish.
  • Water bottle: 6$B for 2,5L
  • Transportation

    • Puno – Copacabana : 20 soles/person with Titicaca bus
    • Copacabana – La Paz: 30$B/person with Pullman Bus (maybe we should have continued with Titicaca bus, even if we had to wait 2 hours in Copacabana)
    • Local bus: $1.5-2$B/person
    • Cab : 20$B
    • Cable car: 3$B/person


  • If you stay several days in La Paz, I recommend the Sopocachi neighborhood, where there are many embassies and ministries. You always felt safe in this neighborhood, unlike the neighborhood near the main square or the bus terminal.
  • Transportation: Local buses (20-30 seats) cost $1.5B/person. Local mini-vans cost $2.00B/person. There are no bus stations, buses and minivans can stop anywhere.
  • Cab: you should only take cabs with the company’s phone number on them. After 8pm, it is better to ask for a cab and not to stop a cab like that on the street. If this isn’t possible, look for OMEGA cabs, they are reliable. ALWAYS ask for the price before getting into the cab. It is possible to negotiate, but usually tourists always pay 5 bolivianos more. For info, the route Bus Terminal -> Sopocachi (3.2km) costs 20 bolivianos for tourists and 15 for locals.
  • Cable car: type FFCC Train Station on Google Maps, that’s where we took the cable car.

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