Is Bolivia safe for americans anymore??

by Garrett
(Utah, USA)

I lived in Bolivia a few years back, during a time when I was doing service for my church, at this time there was a lot of change taking place (new president). I have heard in past months that it was not safe to go back. I would really like to take my wife back to visit friends there, but i am worried she would stick out(very white skin tone, and red hair) and i wonder what you all think. Is it safe if you were in my shoes would you go to bolivia? Also to visit will we need to get a visa?? please email me back with advice/answers. I miss the santa cruz, Bolivian people very much!! my email is garrbigair@hotmail.com please feel free to hit me back, and thanks for your help!

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Apr 04, 2014
Oasis
by: Anonymous

Today I met a man from Bolivia that is why I looked for information on Bolivia. He was mean to me and said he use to be a policeman in Bolivia. He was now a Knight of Columbus, "Catholic" and because I'm a protestant he was very mad and threatening because of my views. I know many Knights of Columbus including the local District Deputy."friendly" It was his first show at this protest 40 days for Pro-Life. Sooner or later he will get into trouble but it maybe all Bolivians are mean.

If they are dangerous talking after coming into America what are they like in their own country?

At this point I would never go to Bolivia.

-Oasis

Mar 13, 2014
Bolivia rules
by: Anonymous

My friend you think your country is paradise (USA) I been there in Washington DC beautiful but nothing is beautiful there was a neighborhood OMG even though I am from Bolivia I never seen anything like that dirty!! The apartments. Plus they stole my wallet when I was touring around DC please any country is safer if you go to Bolivia you just gotta know where to go!!! I never experienced a something like in your country !!! Man but Bolivia is nice especially Cochabamba. With the best climate!!! The food is amazing your country is all about mcdonalds ewwww

Feb 12, 2014
I love bolivia
by: Anonymous

I am english guy who has a beautiful bolivian girlfriend and we've got a gorgeous 4 year old daughter we travel to bolivia at least twice a year it is true that some parts are dangerous but i guess thats the same everywhere dont let these comments put you off I personally love bolivia santa cruz is the best in my opinion the people are really friendly and the food is just great ...

Feb 11, 2014
Forum rules
by: BoliviaBella.com

While we encourage a healthy debate and a diversity of opinions, we ask that comments posted in our forum remain respectful and useful to others.

Feb 10, 2014
Bolivia
by: Anonymous

Keep your mormon ass in utah! Suckas like you get robbed cuz you deserve it

Feb 06, 2014
to Yo and rest
by: Anonymous

The guy just asked about safety jerk off. get off your self righteous paranoid nancy soapbox

Feb 05, 2014
Yo
by: Anonymous

Leave it to a Christian from Utah to assume that Bolivia is no longer safe because it finally has a Bolivian president. Boo this man!

Jan 29, 2014
Visit Tahuichi?
by: Anonymous2

I have good friends from Bolivia here in the States. I'd like to visit and would like my family to visit as well. But reading comments like 'Haha, look at the gringo', doesn't make Bolivia look good to me.

It's sad to see racists like this guy. Is he typical in Bolivia? If I don't look right, am I a 'gringo', instead of just another person?

I think my friends who lived and played at Tahuichi will be sad to hear this.

God bless!

Jan 13, 2014
2 cents
by: Anonymous

Why is every bolivian's dream to move to the US?
Haha, look at the gringo. You are not doing that well, you know. If I wanted to live somewhere else, I would pick Canada, maybe.

The people that want to go outside for money are going to Argentina, Chile or Brazil. Language is a big deal there. If they wanted to leave the country, they would just do. There is no need for even passport to go to those countries.

I really doubt the dream of most people around here is to go live in the US. I for example have been offered jobs at google and Microsoft, but would rather stay. Bolivian culture is very into family. Leaving the nest is not a fantasy for many for us. Also, I much like the fresh food around here. The food in the US was just sad. And life is so darn cheap here!

Oh sure, there is violence and thievery here. Just like the US. Oh, are you gonna argue that there is no drug dealing or gang violence in the US? No domestic violence? At least our gangs are not as super organized as the US ones.

To the guy angry at his wife getting her necklace robbed. Give me a break, would you rather she be kidnapped and asked for ransom like in the 1st world?

Jan 03, 2014
BOLIVIA IS A HIDDEN TREASURE
by: Elena

I am american born and raised with bolivian heritage as my dad is from la paz, bolivia, but he has lived in the states for more than half of his life. That said, I have traveled to bolivia a handful of times to visit and have encountered fewer problems in comparison to my travels in Europe.

What I noticed:

#1-Fewer pickpockets and scam artists compared to famous tourist cities such as rome, florence,paris, etc. and when I say much less I mean that I maybe saw a sketchy situation once or twice and while in europe for a couple weeks I saw MILLIONS of "sketchy/dangerous" situations. Bolivia does not have as much violent drug crime/gangs etc. compared to many other latin american countries and is not a major tourist destination so it is safer and has fewer thieves in my opinion for latinamerica.

#2-People were nice, friendly at times, not in your face, and glad to have your business (not snobby and rude for the most part). Just FYI vendors will try to charge you more because you are American, but usually it is not that much more. Don't be afraid to haggle prices but for the most part, Bolivia is SUPER CHEAP for Americans, you can live like a rich person there.

#3-Depending on where you go to Bolivia, you may get more stares than you are used to in the states, as in many south American countries and in Europe too, I noticed that it is not considered really rude to stare. In la paz, for example, 2/3s of the population consists of natives of distinct physical features/traits so you WILL STAND OUT but that can be a good thing as people actually have a tendency to respect americans; to them, we are good for their business so what's not to like? And bolivia has many cities so if you are really scared as appearing too "american" or whatever that means, check out Santa Cruz or cochabamba and you will blend in more. Wherever you go though I guarantee if you are prepared, smart, and willing to try new experiences, you will enjoy it as Bolivia has more to offer than most people realize.

CHECK OUT THIS LINK TO GET A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE NATURAL WONDERS OF BOLIVIA:
http://vimeo.com/57067390


Dec 07, 2013
Hear it from someone who knows..
by: Jimmy See

I was born in Bolivia from an Irish-American father and a white (Spanish-Bolivian) mother high class, Sucre.
My physical appearance is a mix of Spain/Ireland, when I get a jar head haircut, I look like a US marine, I also stand out like a sore thumb. But the key to enjoying Bolivia's secrets lies in communicating with it's people. The warmth, the harmless mischief, and the great variety is appreciated. Common sense and wit gets you around anywhere in the world, the comments about Bolivia being overly dangerous are exaggerated. During the late 80's and 1990's, Bolivia was rated among the world's safer countries by the World Tourism Board, as opposed to other countries that surround it. Since the 2'000's, it's rating has dropped somewhat to mainly thefts and isolated assaults. But it's neighbours reputations have spiraled even higher. The idiosyncracy of the Bolivian is of warmth of the home, respect of elders, and fellow humans. Racism is unknown here, and culture, wit and to participate in festivities is a way to aculturize.In my 49 years I've lived in this South American country, I've been viewed occasionally as a foreigner due to my looks, but being bilingual, an versed in Bolivian idiomatic language has helped me obviously. To the point of being an international tour guide leading Americans and Europeans on escorted tours throughout the Andes and the Amazonic basin in Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. Please view my website: www.boliviantreks.us, and inquire to my email jcrtrektour07@gmail.com

Oct 22, 2013
It's Safe
by: Anonymous

Just stay in the wealthy southern district in La Paz and you'll be fine. You might even like it more than the U.S.A. You will probably have your own maid and coming from the U.S. most things will seem to be much cheaper. As long as you don't plan on doing anything foolish, feel free to come.

Sep 06, 2013
To the ridiculous negative people
by: Anonymous

I see some ridiculous comments about Bolivia being a "shitty country" etc etc...smh I think that some people might like it and some won't. Everybody has their own opinions and are entitled to it but please don't be too ARROGANT to GENERALIZE your negative comments. Bolivia just like any other country has its pros and cons. Bolivia is a beautiful country and of course has its culture and way of living. And just like some of you complain about Bolivia being terrible in crime, then let me tell you that of course it has its bad areas just like here if you go to Baltimore or South East DC and get robbed.
I would recommend anybody who wants to go to Bolivia to go experience my beautiful country but have an open mind. Of course be careful and don't be naive either.

Jul 28, 2013
Get out more
by: David Lewis

I'm an elderly Englishman just back from 3 weeks travel in many parts of Bolivia, mostly on my own, with limited Spanish. I found people helpful and polite and the only crime I encountered was on transit through Miami Florida, where a padlock on my bag was stolen and a small Bolivian bag and necklace was missing on my arrival in London.
As to paying over the odds as a tourist, this is something that applies all over the world (including New York and London). Get over it. Enjoy your holiday, and forget about paying a few more dollars than the locals would pay.

Jul 06, 2013
It depends where in Bolivia not all Bolivia is the same.
by: Super Bolivian - American

I'm a 31 year old AMERICAN born in Washington DC where I have lived all of my life and my parents are from LA PAZ, BOLIVIA. Family and some bolivian friends have been in AMERICA since the 60's. Despite being so Americanized and visiting many American cities I love BOLIVIA! There is no other place that I have been to that compares to this beautiful Andean country and it's neighboring city CUSCO. It's a 30 minute flight away! THere are many ways to live in Bolivia that are low cost. The majority of people are humble, polite, and beautiful inside and out despite some being very poor. Do not compare the city and capital to the rural areas of Bolivia. Like India, people are often separated by social class. The natural beauty is astounding here. There are many ways to live there at a low cost and food is always delicious quinoa anyone? plato paceno? silpancho? fricase? Food is very fresh here! Reason why mcdonalds didn't last long there is because most bolivians prefer their traditional foods! It's not because they can't afford it since these fast food places are located in higher and higher social class areas of the city not in poorer districts. IF you are really interested though you should use facebook or another social meet up group to meet a bolivian but preferably one who is bolivian american.

Jun 14, 2013
I love Bolivia
by: Andy

I am an American and I have spent a lot of time in Bolivia. I have traveled all over the country. I spend 4 days in Salar De Uyuni that was an amazing experience. I highly recommend it. I stayed in Copacabana on the shores of lake Titicaca. My favorite city is the capital of Sucre. Next on my list would be Cochabamba followed by La Paz. Santa Cruz is my least favorite city because it is dirty and run down but there are a few places that are nice. I am engaged to a beautiful Bolivian girl that I met on facebook. Yes, millions of Bolivians are on facebook and skype. They also have iphones and tablets and most of the people I talked to in Santa Cruz have no desire to move to the United States. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and I stick out like a sore thumb and no one has every given me a hard time in Bolivia. In fact, I feel safer there then I do in Miami. Every place has good and bad you just have to focus on the good. I would live in Sucre tomorrow! I hope this helps you.

May 20, 2013
crazy people
by: dan ashman

people who say "i love bolivia because the people are so wonderful and its a beatiful country" are delusional. bolivia is a shitty, dangerous country. there were a couple of bolivians who posted here saying they haven't had much of a problem but just keep in mind very few bolivians can speak english, or use the internet to post on forums like this, and even the most cultured bolivians don't know they can buy products through the internet; in other words any bolivian that is posting here is a very special insulated type of bolivian.

MOST bolivians DO experience violence directed against them whether it be domestic violence (man OR woman), or from family, or from the huge number of poor kids that live on the street. a couple weeks ago i was sitting n the front seat of a bus when a dirty guy started washing the windshield which the bus driver didn't want. then the guy demanded money from the bus driver for his work and the bus driver didn't pay. so the guy said "i know you, you have to be careful," the bus driver said "shit get the hell out of here," so this drugged up guy dressed in rags went to the sidewalk and picked up a rock the size of an avocado and came back to the bus driver's window... this is when i got up and moved to the back of the bus.

so yeah, if you can live inside of a guarded complex or house with a security guard and use your own car or go in taxis maybe you can be lucky and protect yourself from something. but if you are poor, you will have run in with danger and violence.

and yeah if this country is so beautiful one little question, why is every bolivian's dream to move to the US and to live there for the rest of their life and to come back maybe once or twice every couple years to visit their parents but to have their own family live in the US? and by every bolivian this is the dream of about 80% of people here. only about 1% of those can accomplish their dream cause the culture is so low. oh yeah, how many americans dream about moving to bolivia and living here for the rest of their life? just curious??

May 07, 2013
santa cruz sucks
by: daniel

i have lived in santa cruz bolivia for a few years. there are a lot of ignorant comments here regarding this city.

1)santa cruz is dangerous. just ask a bolivian. most will have a story about being robbed at gunpoint or with a knife. the good news is that if you are rich you can insulate yourself from this violence since you don't need to take buses to far out dangerous parts of the city late at night.

2)people in santa cruz like americans. in santa cruz there is no anti american sentiment. you will get people asking you to buy them gifts though.

3)in my experience as an american, a bolivian will pay more money for a taxi then i will. this is because a taxi is too expensive for many people here, so they will get into a cab without first asking how much they will be charged whereas i know to ask for the price first and i know the standard fares. in other words, if you get charged too much it is probably just cause you are an inexperienced bargainer, not cause americans have to pay more.

Apr 28, 2013
Don't go
by: Anonymous

Out of all the places to visit in the world why Bolivia? The comments by others are correct - don't go!!

Apr 26, 2013
You get what you pay. (second part)
by: Anonymous

In the end, I got tired of tourists and their unrealistic and even offensive expectations about price. I always wondered why the ended complaining about how bad was a service or product when they just wanted the "cheapest" the "bargain". You get what you pay here and all over the world, believe it or not. So, if you want some quality service please try at least to pay not the most expensive one, but at least something in between or a bit higher, and dont push too much on people to get bargains and huge discounts because it then gets charged to your overall satisfaction.

I sold the travel agency and are happier than ever. My quality service was not fully appreciated or was hard to convince people that I was not getting rich with their money. I got many debts trying to sustain my business because tourists love to buy cheap services or stick to poorer but more expensive services sold by foreigners, just because they trust more on them.

I never regretted of it.

Apr 26, 2013
You get what you pay.
by: Anonymous

I am a light skinned Bolivian and despite people know well I am a fellow countrywoman they charge me a higher price despite I am not wealthy. Some people also tend to charge more to those they think are rich, no matter what their skin color is so you are not the only ones being unfairly charged. I am sorry for that.

But I was blackmailed and harrased when traveled to Europe once. Should I say it is "unsafe" despite I never had a similar experience here in my country?

I agree with some opinions verted here but wonder how people coming from countries where it is possible to die or get seriously hurt in a random bombing attack or shooting attack complain so strongly about safety. If you aren´t careful you may be robbed here of course and foreign people may be a candy for thieves that is why I recommend to avoid walking at night or bring with you large amounts of money when going out. Don´t show you have the latest camera model to everybody in the street as well. Keep a low profile and try to dress similar to Bolivians. At La Paz one may spot a "gringo" from two miles of distance because they usually dress flip flops and shorts despite the cold weather. None Bolivian wears flip flops either "typical" attires but "cholitas" and some indigenous people in their daily routine as some tourists do.

Apart, there are unsafe neighborhoods and places in US as here. When I traveled to some US cities I was recommended to never go to certain places. If you also have unsafe places in your own country where one might be shot or raped then why do you look down on other countries? There is unsafeness all over the world but with common sense and careful approach we should be taking care of us and preventing threatening experiences to happen.

Also, to close this long post, I would say that most foreigners coming to Bolivia, think that because it holds the title of the "cheapest country in South America", every price or service should be so cheap that in some cases their expectations are ridiculous and even offensive. I owned a travel agency recommended by LP and other prestigious traveler guides but got tired of foreigners trying to put down my services prices because they had unrealistic, if not, biased or even offensive expectations about how much they should cost. Of course, people like them ended hiring cheaper but unsafe, awful services and believing we were "expensive" just to regret in the end not having decided otherwise.

The fact that Bolivia is a "cheap" country does not mean it has to be a "gift". When providing a service, we have expenses to afford and a profit to earn if this service is going to be delivered finely. When people demand that services are "cheap" and cheaper, they only get that low quality service and in the end, half of the responsability is theirs, because they dont respect the fact that for a decent living, one has to earn, not to get rich but to afford a modest life style.



Mar 07, 2013
In love with Bolivia
by: Mark

I've visited the USA for a period before I came to live in La Paz Bolivia - the comments above could equally apply to the USA and parts of Australia where I come from. I love Bolivia and its people and understand their animosity towards westerners - fear driven and arrogant are not qualities I hold in high regard either - you are all better off staying where you are - do not come here please !!!

Mar 02, 2013
Bolivia!! mm ... no thanks
by: Paul

Me and my Bolivian wife decided to settle near Santa Cruz, without doubt one of the worst decisions. On the face of it the people are friendly , relaxed thought we would do well. Didnt suffer from any crime, its just that everything is such hard work to achieve.And i mean hard work. Customer service dose not exist. When they do decide to do something its very badly done.
Sorry to say i do not have much good to say about the country. Undisciplned, under trained, obsessed with the three meals a day( which is strange with the food being so awful). Most bolivians think us gringos have money because it grows on trees !! no its because we work hard. Bolivia is the poorest nation in SA because the people are lazy. Period.



Feb 14, 2013
In response to Dutch Australian
by: Anonymous

I think this person had a very legitimate question and one that every person who is considering moving their family, belongings and entire life to a foreign country should honestly ask themselves. So to me it isn't about Americans "picking on" Bolivia. And it's not about comparing Bolivia to the U.S. or any other country. It's simply about a person trying to make a very difficult decision in the most informed manner possible.

And to be truthful, although it's a question that MANY people ask prior to moving to Bolivia, given it's unstable politics, rising crime rates and frequent violent demonstrations, it does also seem to be a question that Americans ask more than citizens of other countries precisely because this government has taken such an openly public stance against Americans. You don't hear the president making comments (in nearly every speech he makes) about the vile "imperialists" from say Germany, England or Holland.

No other country's ambassador has been kicked out, no other country has had members of its aid cooperation and religious (missionary) groups mass deported as the U.S. has in recent years, often with very little explanation. In Bolivia, no other country's citizens have been targeted as much for the various types of crime as Americans have. Americans have been victims of robbery, murder and express kidnappings and there have been several very high profile cases of financial fraud. More than citizens from any other country.

So there are a lot of reasons why Americans may be more worried about living here than foreigners from other countries. It isn't only about crime on the streets. Therefore, I think this is a very legitimate question.

Feb 14, 2013
My Home
by: Anonymous

I have lived in Bolivia for 18 years and have never had anything happen to me. (I am half american, tall, have light skin, etc.) Yes, there are some areas that are a little more dangerous than others--as in every country! I'd say my main concern would be pickpockets in certain places, but even so I have never been robbed while living there (although I do know a couple people who have been). But basically, in my opinion Bolivia is an amazing country that everyone should visit, with incredible cultural and geographic diversity, delicious food, and beautiful sights to see.

Feb 13, 2013
Vive Bolivia
by: Dutch Australian

I love Bolivia even though we have been robbed a few times, but that shouldn't happen to someone who's a bit smarter than me. I get a bit absent minded. Don't watch the man who tries to get your attention, whatch the the one bihind you.
Theyr's always two working together.
I've been in USA once and did not find it any safer. So you yankies don't pick on Bolivia.
yes I know not all of you do.

Feb 07, 2013
True Bolivia Santa Cruz
by: Anonymous

General rule to follow in Bolivia:

Safety in numbers!!! You can't depend on public transportation or the Police if you are in a jam.

No American consult open.(appointment only)

If you are brown skinned and Male you should be fine. You will still experience Santa Cruz's bad customer service almost everywhere you go. In time they say you get use to it. I'm still not. Women get robbed more than men cause they seam to be an easier target. They is always more security in numbers.

Women, if you walk alone you will be harassed by strange men parking cars or security guards "mamacita" and stuff like that. Need to be careful getting a cabs by yourself since some women traveling alone get kidnapped, rapped or most commonly harassed but the taxi driver or just make you uncomfortable. Not to say that will happen every time but it does happen.

Buses are safer for women and cheaper. Although you have some strange people that might try to rub up against you. Speak up!!! let the rest know. And they will back off. avoid being the only person on the bus as well. Bus drivers a also sketchy.

Be vigilant as a rule in order to enjoy the city. I love Bolivia but you have to be more careful than in the USA. You can't even assault a robber that gets in your house. The police will arrest you for assaulting him in your own home.

Don't expect justice in Bolivia. You can be arrested and detained in jail without charges for 18 months or longer. So keep your head down and don't be a proud American in Bolivia. I live here but as soon as my wife get's her papers I'm moving back to Houston to live. But I will always have a special place in my heart for Bolivia. (Only for vacations though.)

Nov 26, 2012
safe
by: Anonymous

It is safe, i am a french blond girl, i am working here, and i walk alone in the streets and until now i haven't had any problems. Sure it is maybe not the safer place in the world but we live only once !! cya

Sep 08, 2012
Safe, just use common sense
by: Anonymous

I would say it is a relatively safe country. I have seen some petty crime, such as chains being snatched etc. I have also had a couple of people pull up in cars and try the I´m a policeman, I need you to come with me¨ scam in Santa Cruz, but I think so long as you take the normal precautions and use common sense, you will be safe. I have never personally seen any violent crime here. Of course it does happen, I just don´t think it is epidemic.

Jun 05, 2012
Bolivia lost its coast to Chile
by: Anonymous

Bolivia is a beautiful country but because we lost our coast the country is bleeding as we pay to the chileans whatever they like to charge to pass our merchandise to overseas countries.

Bolivia can not get any help asking to the ONU as the secretary of this group of Nations is the ex-president of Chile.

Bad luck for Bolivia, I hope some day will be able to recover one of our ports Antofagasta, Arica, etc, etc.


Apr 12, 2012
Do not visit Bolivia
by: Anonymous

I am from Bolivia and if God helps me I will never ever return. Nothing works, nothing is easy, worst country is South America

Jan 26, 2012
Yay! Off to Santa Cruz in 3 weeks
by: TallCowboy0614

My family and I are off again to Santa Cruz (and for a week in Tarija) in a few weeks (we will be there for MY first Carnaval - though the rest of my family is from there).

I can't wait. There are some places (market districts, mostly, and Equipetrol) where she won't take me, but other than that I have never felt the slightest bit threatened nor vervous while there on vacations.

Dec 24, 2011
Bolivia is much safer then many other latin countries
by: Sergio

Bolivia is very diverse when it comes to color of skin. Im Bolivian live in California and I go back every year to La Paz and Santa Cruz. I my self I. Very let skin and even here in the US people think im an American. As much as o love the US. Bolivia is my heart. I have never had a problem with in Bolivia because im white. Bolivia has all kinds of people indigenous, mestizos, Asians, and afro Bolivians, and the white population. I have couple of friends that are Americans and have gone to Bolivia to retire. I would say just do not stick out that and try to impress that you are rich, I've seen that crime has increased on the past years. But as far that goes Bolivia is much safer the other neighboring countries like Peru, Brazil etc
if you have any questions my email is latinosur1979@hotmail.com


Apr 02, 2011
SAFE MY ASS!
by: Anonymous

MY WIFE GOT HER CHAIN SNATCHED FROM AROUND HER NECK IN BROAD DAY LIGHT AND SHE IS BOLIVIAN. THAT NEVER HAPPENED TO HER IN THE U.S.

Feb 16, 2011
you won't regret it
by: Anonymous

I am from Bolivia but I live in the States now. I try to go to my country as much as I can and I have to be honest with you, every time I go there I just see things getting better and better. I actually felt more safe there than what I feel here in the States every day.

I am not saying that you don't have to worry about anything, because just like any other part of the world you have to be careful with some things, but don't let the news or what people say here about South America stop you from visiting this country.

If you have friends there they will be able to tell you which are "good" and "bad" areas, but besides that I don't think there is a reason to not feel safe.

Go to Bolivia, and I'm pretty sure you'll have the time of your life! you'll see how much it changed and how much it's growing. You won't regret it!

Jan 18, 2011
Give me a break
by: Hendrik

Give me a break...

We are a Dutch couple working some three years in Bolivia now in the Santa Cruz area.

Me or my wife never had any problem as to safety. It's true that the Bolivians try to charge you more when your're a tourist. But at the same time they are very relaxed, helpfull, etc.

I did not feel uncomfortable for a single moment here. It's also about YOUR attitude towards the Bolivians. But as far as I have experienced, they are very relaxed people that treat you, the way you treat them.

I went any time all over the place and did not see anything of organized crime, gangs, etc. Like in anywhere in the world you should keep your eyes a little bit open, but I would not even hesitate to go there as a American tourist....

Jun 17, 2010
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
by: Susan

Hello Garrett,

First, be aware that every country in the world requires an entry visa. One word of caution at the Bolivian border crossing is to not just walk in without having your passport stamped, even though the border crossing guards may be having a break.

Second, there is safety in numbers when travelling anywhere in the world. Your wife sounds lovely and she can be protected if she is with a companion or with a group of people. Don't purposefully encourage vulnerability.

Lastly, learn some Spanish and enjoy the experience.

Jan 24, 2010
right about taxis so-so about safety
by: New Jersey

Susan (below) is right about negotiating taxi fares before you get into a taxi, especially if it's a taxi right off the street. The other (better) option is to call a radio taxi (taxis formally associated with a taxi company) and ask the "centralista" (the operator who answers) how much the taxi driver should charge you for the route you plan to take before he picks you up. When you get out, you hand him the correct amount, thank him and get out. If there's a discussion you just tell him "call the centralista". No big deal. Radio taxis only cost 1-2 bolivianos more than street taxis. As a whole, though, most of us can't even afford a taxi in the US, if you want to see it that way.

I've had 3 women taxi drivers in the time I've lived here. They were pretty brave I think to drive a taxi. But the point is, there are some women drivers. But Susan's right, in general there aren't many. Taxi drivers themselves are frequent victims of crime because they carry money. They don't have glass divisions between the front and back seats like some taxis do in the US.

As to safety, I'd say the world as a whole isn't that safe any more and we all need to take the necessary precautions. We stick out as Americans here, that is true. But as to crime, there is still 10 times more crime in the US than here (actually the US has the highest crime rates in the world). Susan is Canadian so I can't speak to that.

In Bolivia, you know you stick out and you know what kind of crimes you can maybe expect to be a victim of so you can at least try to take some reasonable precautions. In the US you could be shot or raped or mugged in any place at any time with no warning and no idea what to look out for (or why you were chosen). In Jersey I couldn't walk from my front door to my car on the curb without a can of mace in my hand, and I lived in a "good" area. So I think that's relative. But that's just my opinion.

Jan 24, 2010
Is Bolivia Safe for Anyone?
by: Susan

Not just Americans are affected by Bolivian bullies.

I am Canadian and felt the static electricity of male testostorone in the air as soon as my husband and I arrived in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

I worked at a false-faced school called Cambridge College in Santa Cruz, and learned that two teachers had been beaten by hoolagans very soon before I had arrived. One young teacher was accosted just outside her residence, and another in her car as she drove away from the school.

I didn't feel safe in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. There is a male dominance in the city starting with the high walls covered in barbed wire that surround all of the properties, the male-only driven busses and the male-only driven taxis.

Bolivia is a place where women live, but they are not treated as equals. Ladies, don't wonder the streets on your own, day or night. Plan your excursions with a male escort. Keep your personal possessions tucked away safely on your person.

If you must carry a bag, I would suggest that you carry a non-discript tote across one shoulder and have it drape on the opposite hip.

Eyes wide open!

Jan 23, 2010
its safe
by: Anonymous

bolivia is safe and its NOT true that bolivians hate americans but it is true that people try to charge you more money but thats normal for ANY tourist bolivia is safe friendly and you have alot more freedom people are way more friendlyer den in the us but ofcourse you have to becarfull at night like anywhere else .
and dont believe the news they allways make everything look worse.
i RECOMMEND you to go to bolivia
its calm and it has beutiful weather

Jan 22, 2010
Learn to speak Bolivian!
by: Anonymous

My wife and I traveled through out Bolivia in Feb-March 2009 during carnival.My wife is Bolivian and Speaks spanish very well so that really helps. Iam American.I thought it was safe. But the bus terminal in La Paz I thought was a little risky.Have to be careful just like any other bus terminal in any big city in the U .S.I guess.But there wasn`t a time where I did not feel safe.And we went to copacabana, Oruro, for the parade.Cochabamba,Samipata,and Santa Cruz.We also went To Bolivia (La paz & Santa Cruz)back in 1996 and I thought the people were a little more friendly then then now.But hey, people are people anywhere you go.But it really helps big time if you know spanish or are with someone who does. They seem to try to charge you more if you speak English for some unknown reason. But I would like to go back.

Jan 08, 2010
Don't let the news scare you so much.
by: Anonymous

When you're overseas the news about Bolivia sounds awful. Keep in mind that the news feeds off sensationalism. It wouldn't BE news if there was nothing negative to report.

When you're far away things it's very hard to get a feel for what's really going on. For example, I see news about a demonstration with a picture of hundreds of people marching on a street. Then I call my uncle in Bolivia and he's like "oh yeah, another demonstration" ... stretch...yawn...

The thing is, bad things happen everywhere! Take a look at your local paper or TV news any day in the United States. All you see is murders, rapes, fires, catastrophes. If foreigners were to base their travel decisions on the US news, no one would ever come to the US - we have more crime here than anywhere else in the world - but we're not leaving the US in droves! Are we?

Chances are, your local newspaper contains more scary news than a Bolivian newspaper any day. But you're still living where you live. There is just as much chance of something happening to you in the US than anywhere else.

Bad news is something we all live with. It's true that there is a lot of anti-American government rhetoric coming out of Bolivia and it's true people try to cheat Americans and charge them more for stuff - but that's not news! That's been the same for a hundred years. Besides, you're going to Santa Cruz not La Paz.

Jan 07, 2010
information on the yellow fever vaccination for bolivia
by: BoliviaBella

I did some research for you. We get a LOT of people asking about the yellow fever vaccination requirement for American travelers to Bolivia. Although customs and immigration officials APPEAR to enforce this requirement fairly randomly, it's best to be informed on what yellow fever is, how you get it, the vaccine, how it works, who should and should NOT get the vaccine, and how to get the required certificate showing you've had the shot.

So here's a new page I put up on yellow fever and the vaccine.

Jan 06, 2010
Visa needed if American & $135 !!!
by: M Mederos

My sons just got back from Bolivia and for the first time EVER, they needed visas. However, you can get these at the airport in Bolivia upon arrival, just have the Form [formulario], PASSPORT PHOTOS, and $135 IN CASH PER PERSON!
One of my sons, who was born in Bolivia but has only been an American citizen since a baby, did not have to pay. [They noticed the city of birth on his American passport].
I have heard rumors that ONLY Americans pay for this visa, but have not been able to confirm the rumor...does anyone know?

I would LOVE to go back to Bolivia. It seems to have 'grown' a lot in the past decade.
Saludos!

Jan 06, 2010
No Problem
by: Geddy

In July/August I traveled to Sucre, Tarija, Santa Cruz, Trinidad, and Magdalena. I am an obvious American and my wife is Bolivian. I had no problems whatsoever in any location. I did not feel uncomfortable anywhere. Quite the contrary, I felt more comfortable there than in many other countries I have visited. In Santa Cruz, I felt Americans were very welcome.

Also, I got the Yellow Fever vaccine 2 weeks prior to traveling like the warnings say, but nobody in Santa Cruz airport even checked it.

Geddy

Jan 06, 2010
Things are chaning for Americans in Bolivia
by: Anonymous

There's no denying it. The Bolivian government is teaching its followers to hate Americans. You won't have any problem in Santa Cruz unless you run into any Masistas. But Americans in La Paz are having a difficult time from what I hear. Lots of "express kidnappings" and like the lady below said, people try to cheat them all the time. Europeans are saying that they get treated bad when people think they are American and then when they find out they are not, they treat them well.

Jan 06, 2010
bolivia tourist visa
by: BoliviaBella

If you're just coming to Bolivia as a tourist, you can get your visa when you arrive at customs, either at the border overland or at the airport if you fly in. It costs $135 per person.

But you can't forget to bring all the requirements with you like the person below said your yellow fever certificate (in most U.S. states you have to contact the Department of Health to get one because it's not commonly used so it's not something they just have on hand and it could take them some time to get one for you).

You can see a full list of the visa requirements on the Bolivian Consulate in Washington D.C. website here. It's in English. I suggest calling them in person. Their secretary speaks English and is pretty helpful.

You can also get your travel visa before you arrive. Why chance getting here and finding you're missing something and be denied a visa when you can get it stamped into your passport by the Bolivian Consulate prior to your trip? Peace of mind.

You can find information on getting visas on our visa page here. Also be sure to take a look at our page just for Americans (the US Embassy regularly posts travel advisories and other information on it).

I also have a page on travel and security info for U.S. citizens here. We also have a page on crime and safety tips here.

Also read our general preparing for your trip and precautions pages. They contain information on how to stay safe while traveling or living in Bolivia, most of it from various government sources.

All of the above pages are found through our Plan Your Trip. Check out what people are saying in our Santa Cruz Forum. Check out our Bolivia Travel Tips page. It's in our Bolivia Forums so all the tips are from other travelers. Here's a page with information on customs and here's another on Bolivian immigration which won't apply to you if you're touring, but will if you ever plan to live here.

Hope this helps.
B.

Jan 06, 2010
Visiting
by: Anonymous

I am American and my husband is Bolivian. We used to travel to and from Bolivia all the time (about 3 times a year). I have noticed that the tension is getting kinda bad. Each time I go it is a little worse. I have noticed that a lot of people will now try to double charge me for something or will say something kinda mean to me hoping I dont understand Spanish.

I also think it depends on the area you go to though. The only times I have had these bad experiences has been when I was in areas that were more MAS than Autonomist. But we normally are in Santa Cruz.

We have only gone once last year and that was in April. We were there for 3 weeks and overall had a good time. But there was a lot of tensions building. I dont know if we will be going next year because we are starting to get scared. Our son although choco can pass for Bolivian, but I cant.

If you do decide to go you will need a visa, but they will give it to you when you get to Bolivia. You just have to bring everything with you (proof of income, yellow fever vaccine, $$) I dont know what else you will need.

Hope you have a safe trip.

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