Is Bolivia Expensive?
The short answer is no. Food, accommodation, travel and tours are all cheap making Bolivia one of the cheapest countries to travel in South America for Europeans and North Americans.
You should budget between $13-20 per day for food, accommodation and transport in Bolivia as a backpacker.
Currency In Bolivia
The currency in Bolivia is the boliviano (BOB).
To help you get a better idea of the exchange rate, here are some conversions as of January 2021.
$1 = 6.89 BOB so $10 is just under 70 BOB
£1 = 9.10 BOB so £10 is just over 90 BOB
How Long Do You Need In Bolivia?
You need a minimum of 7 days in Bolivia to see the two main highlights: Salar de Uyuni and La Paz.
Allow 3 days for a Salt Flats tour and 3 days in La Paz with 1 day in between for travel.
If you want to see the Amazon in Bolivia, then extended your trip to 10-12 days so you can travel to Rurrenabaque and do a 3 day jungle tour.
Daily Backpacking Budget in Bolivia
As mentioned, you should budget between $13-20 per day for food, accommodation and transport in Bolivia as a backpacker.
The price of tours varies depending on what you are doing so we will cover this later in our weekly budget to give you a better idea.
|Expense||Average cost per day ($)|
Average Hostel Price In Bolivia (Per Day)
The average daily cost for a multi-bed dorm (usually 6-8 beds) is around $6-9 in Bolivia.
This price will get you a comfortable room in most popular backpacker hostels such as Wild Rover or Loki in La Paz. Hostels outside of La Paz are usually a little cheaper than the average hostel price in Sucre around $7.
- Wild Rover – party central – $7 per night
- Selina – clean and comfortable – $10 per night
- Loki La Paz – Dorms from $7
Most of these prices include breakfast which helps when sticking to a budget.
If you want to treat yourself, a double room in a basic hotel will set you back around $26 per night.
Average Cost Of Food In Bolivia (Per Day)
Your daily food cost will depend on:
- How much you eat
- How frequently you eat
- How often you can stomach local food and…
- Whether your hostel includes breakfast.
We’re usually big eaters, but we only eat twice a day when travelling. Eating twice helps us keep our weight and wallet in check!
Like the rest of South America, hostel breakfasts in Bolivia usually include eggs, bread, jams, fruits, and coffee. As your first meal of the day is covered by the hostel, that means you only need to worry about lunch and dinner.
If you decide to eat out for breakfast then try out our favourite brunch spot in La Paz, Café Typica. You could have poached eggs and avocado on toast with a freshly brewed coffee for $5.
It’s easy to eat on a budget in Bolivia as local markets and food stalls are everywhere.
The best thing to do is eat lunch at a market where most stalls serve ‘Almuerzo’ (meaning lunch). Typical lunches include a soup, rice dish with fish or meat, and a drink costing $2-3. These stalls often serve dinner too – lookout for signs saying ‘Cena’ (dinner) or ‘Menu del Dia’ (menu of the day).
They are tasty, cheap, and substantial enough to keep you going until dinner.
You could eat set meals at the markets for lunch and dinner but we imagine you’d get bored quickly. When you fancy a change, you can seek out restaurant.
If you choose to eat out in restaurants, it’s unlikely you’ll blow your budget. Most meals are priced at $5-10 for a standard gringo joint depending on what you order. If you decide to go super fancy, then expect to pay $12-15 – still not crazy!
So, if you stick to eating at markets twice a day, your average daily spend shouldn’t exceed $8.
If you eat at the market for lunch and then out at restaurants in the evening, it won’t cost more than around $6-12.
- Market Lunch/Dinner – $2-3
- Restaurant Meal – $4-8
- Street Vendor Snacks (Empanadas) – $1 per empanada
- Water – $1 per litre
You can’t drink tap water in Bolivia. Some hostels have their own water dispensers, but you may need to buy your own.
Average Cost Of Transport In Bolivia (Per Day)
The bus journeys between cities in Bolivia are long (8-10 hours) and usually overnight, so they cost a bit extra.
We used Bolivia Tickets to buy ours online first. You could buy your tickets directly at the bus stations to save money if you wish. We preferred not to and stuck with booking online with Trans Copacabana as they have the best reviews.
- La Paz to Sucre (12 hours) – $26
- La Paz to Uyuni (10 hours) – $21
We took 3 overnight buses in Bolivia (La Paz > Cochabamba > Sucre > Uyuni) which came to around $60
In the big cities like La Paz, we took taxis and Ubers, but most of the things we did were within walking distance. Local taxis and Ubers cost $2-5 per trip in big cities such as La Paz. The taxi from the airport costs around $10 which is a fixed price.
We think factoring in $2-3 a day for transport makes sense as it will be spread across days you do and don’t use transport.
Weekly Backpacking Budget For Bolivia (La Paz & Uyuni)
Here’s a budget estimate for spending a week in Bolivia and seeing the highlights:
|La Paz 3-days|
(Accommodation, food and transport)
|La Paz night out||20|
|Death Road Tour||80|
|Bus To Uyuni||25|
|Salt Flat Tour (3 days)||150|
Most people speed through Bolivia, visiting only La Paz and Uyuni. But if you’re short on time, don’t worry as these are the two best things and it’s still an excellent trip.
These sights will take you around a week to see:
- La Paz – 3-4 days
- Uyuni – 2 nights, 3 days (via tour)
There are so many other cool things to see and do in La Paz that are cheaper than the Death Road Tour if you want to cut this budget down a bit. Read more in our detailed La Paz guides here:
Monthly Backpacking Budget For Bolivia
Here’s a budget estimate if you want to extend your trip and spend a month in Bolivia:
|Expense||Average cost per day ($)||Monthly Spend ($)|
If you decide to stick to the strictest budget and free activities, you could easily visit Bolivia and survive somewhere between $400-600 for a month.
We hope you don’t do this though as it won’t be any fun.
On top of this baseline budget, you should now factor in any activities you want to do. As Bolivia is one of the least travelled countries in South America, tours and activities are cheap.
Here’s a breakdown of activities you may wish to factor into your budget:
- Walking Tour – $3
- Cholita Wrestling – $11.50
- Death Road – $80
- Night out – $20
- Uyuni Salt Flats Tour (3 Days) – $100-$150*
- Flights and 3 Day Amazon Trip – $150-200*
*prices vary depending on low or high seasons. It’s much easier to get cheaper tours in the low season with fewer tourists.
If we add all these the activities mentioned above and take an average, we get $15-20 a day spent on activities across 30 days.
This might seem like a lot but there a couple of things to consider here:
- Both your Amazon tour and Uyuni Salt Flats tour include food and accommodation in the price so the money will be saved there
- The Amazon tour cost also includes the flights to Rurrenabaque which is a great deal
We think visiting the Amazon in Bolivia is a must because it is cheap compared to what you would pay in Brazil.
Also, Uyuni is the highlight of the country and can’t be missed.
Aside from these two big tours, you won’t spend much on activities in big cities such as La Paz or Sucre. You can explore both on the cheap with walking tours and self-guided hikes.
For more information on both places including how to book tours and find cheap prices, head to the links below:
How Much Should I Budget For A Month In Bolivia?
With everything included, hostels, food and activities, you should budget between $28-40 day while backpacking in Bolivia.
If you decide to do an entire month backpacking, then you can manage it on $800 at the low end and $1,100 at the high end.
We would suggest taking $1,100 just to be on the safe side.
There will always be a tour that takes your fancy at the last minute, or an extra night out, or meals out in excellent restaurants. No one wants to eat at markets twice a day for a whole month, no matter how fantastic the food is.
Also, doing a month in Bolivia is only for those who want to get off the beaten track and enjoy slow travel. We only stayed for three weeks, so you can budget less than what we’ve outlined above.
Check out our three-week backpacking itinerary and route for Bolivia to help you start planning:
Making The Most Of Bolivia
Sadly, few people spend more than a week or two in Bolivia meaning they don’t take advantage of the cheap costs and other amazing sights around the country.
There are two experiences in South America that you can do in several South American countries that will be half the price in Bolivia: learning Spanish and visiting the Amazon.
Learning basic Spanish will make your life easier when travelling in South America.
Bolivia is one of the cheapest places to learn with an hour lesson costing $5. A week cost would cost $130.
We recommend learning in Sucre to benefit from the calmer atmosphere and better climate compared to La Paz. See our Sucre city guide to find out more:
Visiting The Amazon
Bolivia is one of the cheapest places to visit the Amazon Rainforest.
Most people fly to Rurrenabaque although it is possible to take a bus. We don’t recommend doing this due to the quality of road and time it takes (20 hours).
You can book a package deal in La Paz, including flights and the two-night three-day tour for $150-200. The price includes transport, all meals while on the trip, and the guide.
Read our guides on visiting the Bolivian Amazon here if you’re interested: