Bolivia budget in 2018
They say Bolivia is the cheapest from all the countries in South America.
This is to confirm that your dollar/euro will definitely go further here than anywhere else. That doesn’t mean you won’t be spending as much or even over budget. (Guess what happened to us?).
Also, we are not budget travellers in true sense of a word. All the great things in life come with price tag and we are willing to spend some bucks to have fun. On the other hand, we have no problems to hitchhike or sleep in a tent, if it means that for dinner we will have a stake and bottle of red.
What is cheap in Bolivia:
Street food - no surprise here. It’s tasty, diverse and usually unhealthy. During our travels we try to be sensible and go for the fried stuff only occasionally.
Daily menus at Central Market - for as little as 10BOB/$1,5 you can get quinoa soup with vegetables, main (meat, rice, potatoes and salad) and super sweet drink. In La Paz, the daily menus could go up to 25BOB in average. We always try to eat at the markets. It helps us keep the budget down. Usually we buy extra vegetables and have it as a side to whatever meal we are being served.
Side note: it happened quite a lot on the busy market that we have been ignored for a long time. Maybe it’s my face, maybe it’s the fact that we are gringos but we confirmed this theory with many travellers. The locals are being served first. Even if it’s 50 of them 😉 In Torotoro, one lady sitting at a table with us couldn’t look at it anymore. She made a horrible mess and ordered for us and made sure we finally got our meals. Sweet soul.
Accommodation - we have been surprised how cheap this can get. We never slept in a dorm. Always had our own private room either matrimonial or double and paid mostly 100-160BOB in average.
Lake Titikaka, Copacabana and Isla del Sol we’ve paid 100BOB/$15 in average for both of us. (Some included small breakfast, all with private bathrooms but no hot water)
In La Paz we had to check in to a hotel as I was really sick. It was the best thing we have done. We’ve stayed in bed for 2 days watching TV, taking hot showers. Booking.com gave us a better price than the hotel itself. We’ve paid 245BOB/$38 per night.
Torotoro national park is fairly touristy destination, the accommodation is basic, there is no wifi and no breakfast offered in most of the places. Therefore the price seems higher, 160BOB per night for both of us for matrimonial with shared bathroom.
Cochabamba was also slightly more expensive, but we negotiated a price of 120BOB per night for matrimonial with shared bathroom. Small breakfast included. It was by far the cheapest option in town.
Villa Tunari was way more expensive than the rest of the country. The town itself is not nice, the accommodation is fairly basic but they were asking crazy sums around 360 BOB. In the end we found Hotel A for 180BOB for matrimonial with private bathroom.
In Sucre we treated ourselves and went for a beautiful art hotel for 180BOB per night, again booking.com gave us better price than the hotel itself. We also took advantage of getting some money back through booking.com. If you want 15€ off your booking, just use this link when booking your next stay.
Potosi was expensive comparing to other places and the accommodation at Koala Den was the only one we could actually find. 160BOB got us private room, shared bathroom (outdoor), no night sleep but very good breakfast.
In Tupiza, you could find private room with shared bathroom for 120BOB, we opted for private bathroom with matrimonial in Hotel La Torres for 160BOB, breakfast was great.
Tarija is where we negotiated for 5 nights and stayed in quiet Rosario Hospedaje for 100BOB for double with shared bathroom. It was by far the most economical option in the town.
What is expensive in Bolivia:
Beers and food in Gringo restaurants
You can’t be on local food all day every day. You want a salad or pasta here and there. That always comes with price tag. No surprises there. Beers are fairly expensive, wine is definitely cheaper option in this beautiful country.
Visit to national parks
Bolivia is being very smart about this. Not only you have to pay to enter the national park (like in Torotoro fe 100BOB pp), you also need to hire a guide. You can not go into the forest in national park for a walk by yourself. Again, it’s not that horrible of a price tag. Guide is usually 100-180BOB for an activity. This gets divided between people, usually 6, if you can find them. Otherwise you get to pay the fee yourself.
Museums and touristic sites
They are not that expensive, but you always pay 2-5x more for being a foreigner. That doesn’t mean that you get explanation in English ;).
Bolivia budget in total:
36 days/ over 5 weeks = $2634,9
1 day = $73,19
Budget was $2500; we went over by 5% or $135
Where did our money go?
Food - $787
We haven’t cooked once in Bolivia. Always ate in a restaurant or market or had street food or bought a baguette with cheese and vegetables. This was our treat time (all 5 weeks of it) It feels like you can do it here. Comparing to the first 3 months of our travel in Ecuador and Peru, we had much more wine with our dinners. This sum doesn’t include 2 fancy dinners we went to in La Paz: Gustu and Ali Pacha. We have a special budget for fancy dinners and feel that many long time travellers wouldn’t be spending their budget on these.
Accomodation - $706
Less than $19 per night for both of us is not too bad. We had 3 nights where we slept in a tent and didn’t pay for accomodation and 6 nights in a hotel in La Paz where we paid $38 per night.
Entertainment - $506
Most of the budget went for the 4 day Uyuni tour, the rest was for entries to museums, Potosi mine and walking tours. This is money well spent.
Transport - $287
Transport is cheap, buses are ok, roads are almost non existent and drivers are crazy. We would have spend much less on transport haven’t we bought one flight from Cochabamba to Sucre. It was only $44 pp, but could have been done in an overnight bus for 10th of the price.
On top of meals with wine which are included in the food section, we’ve spent another $177 on buying alcohol separately. Given the alcohol is much cheaper here than in Peru or Ecuador, we definitely have been enjoying ourselves much more. Bolivia also has a wine region near Tarija where we spent a week tasting, buying, drinking alcohol. Obviously our 2nd favourite past time activity after eating food.
Admin fees - $135
This includes entrance fees to national parks, guides, leaving terminal fees, entrances to islands etc. Nothing can be done about this.
Others - $38
Laundry, toiletries, presents for miners or lunch we paid for our guide in Torotoro are all included here.
Could we spend less?
Of course, way less.
- We carry a tent, could have used it more. (2more night in tent would save us $40)
- Skip the hotel in La Paz and go for $25 option instead ($60 would be saved)
- Use bus instead of a plane from Cochabamba to Sucre ($70 saved)
- Eat in less expensive restaurants and not order wine whenever we feel like it ($100 could be saved)
Would we change a thing? Absolutely not 😉
Bolivia was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of our South American trip. For $260 pp per week we felt like holidayers not budget travellers.
Hope this helps you with budgeting for your upcoming travel.
We’ve been to Bolivia in January 2018. If you have more up to date information, please share it in the comments.