For those of you who have interest or plan on visiting Bolivia, here are some things you need to know and tips.
1. Fly! The country isn't the size of Brazil but it's still large and bus transportation is awful. Buses are cheaper but flights are really not that expensive. A nine hour bus ride can be a 30 minute flight and flying is just so easy. The roads, buses and drivers are all nerve racking. Buses break down or crash pretty frequently throughout the country.
2. If you are flying into the country, fly into Santa Cruz instead of La Paz since it is cheaper.
3. If you are from the States or another country that needs a visa for entry, do it in advance not at the border. If you fly into Bolivia you might get it for $135 USD but otherwise it is a whoppin' $160 USD. Visa process takes a couple of hours and buses will not wait for you. Also you will need copies of your passport, credit cards, yellow fever vaccination & proof that you leaving the country, like flight details.
4. No need to stay in La Paz for more than a day or two. Also if you hear about the witch's market, it really isn't
special, mostly dead baby llama fetuses. La Paz is incredibly loud and overpopulated. But if you come across cuñapes, buy them. They are delicious little cheesy breads.
5. Do the Death Road. Even if you aren't the best bicyclist then simply go your own speed. One of the most amazing experiences. There are tons of tour companies but the most popular and expensive is Gravity. They charge almost double and afterwards there is a
visit to a monkey reserve but of course that price is not included. Don't do the cheapest but there are still other good companies from La Paz such as Barracuda.
6. If you do the Death Road have your tour operator drop you off in Coroico afterwards. We didn't know that was an option until too late. Coroico is supposed to be a beautiful area with quite a few great hiking areas and waterfalls.
7. Visit Salar de Uyuni but do the one day, no need for the 3D/2N. Sure you see a few more places but honestly it's mostly driving on total s*** rocky "roads." All you need is time on the salt flat so you can take in the vastness of the world's largest salt flat and take your trippy photos. Also choose an operator only from Uyuni, it will be cheaper.
8. Visiting Lake Titicaca is great, personally I think the Peru side had more to offer but don't miss the Bolivian side. But hostelworld and other online sites will tell you there are only two hostels on Isla del Sol, one being HI but that is total bulls***. The HI was more expensive and hostelworld is s*** anyway. Don't use it and book in advance. There are dozens of places to stay on the island. I paid 30 bolivianos, it wasn't much but it had beds, a bathroom and a door that locked.
9. Get small bills and coins whenever you can, no one has change. Basically true in all over South America, but Bolivia in particular. If you get money from an ATM try changing some big bills to small bills inside. If you exchange currency make them give you smaller bills.
10. There is no need to visit the city of Cochabamba (unless you are my friend Soraya who was born in Bolivia and hasn't been back since she was adopted and has family there). The city is nice but is not for tourists and there is quite literally nothing to do. We went to the lake and it wasn't nice looking but rather sad looking. Also since really no tourists go there, you will quite literally get stared at by everyone if you are white.
11. Prepare yourself for not being able to breathe well in La Paz, not only due to the altitude but also because the exhaust from cars & trucks is awful.
12. Go to Sucre. It's a nice city and a nice break from the chilly altiplano but if you hear about Maragua Crater then skip it. It's not actually a crater and if you do the 3D trek then you will also hear about the dinosaur tracks. I personally am not fully convinced that they are real and if they are they are not really impressive. But if you do the trek then book with Condor Trekkers.
13. If you do public bus transportation just prepare yourself that buses either don't have toilets or if they do they do not work.
14. When you encounter coins in Bolivia just know that the 1 and 2 boliviano coin are the same size and can be confusing.
15. If you are a vegetarian, then good luck. La Paz is your best bet for actual vegetables. Best places are Tierra Sana, Star of India and La Cueva.
16. This should be obvious, but ask permission to take photos of locals before doing so.
17. If you go to La Paz, do the free walking tour. It was great and you learn a great deal of Bolivian history & culture.
18. Bolivia and The United States have a strained relationship. The people were incredibly nice to us but the country in whole basically hates America. If you want to know why, research President Goni and the Gas War of 2003.