(The current exchange rate is always changing)
But you can find it at The XE.com Universal Currency Converter.
Business Hours: In general business hours are from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon, break for two hour lunch and resume from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Many businesses open earlier and stay open later. Banks in general open from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon and from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM and some have branches that open on Saturdays from 9:30 AM to 12:00 Noon.
Time: Bolivia is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. For example: If it’s 12:00 noon in La Paz, it’s 11:00 am in Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York. It will be 10:00 am in Chicago, 9:00 am in Denver, and 8:00 am in San Francisco.
Electricity: Bolivia uses the world standard of 220 volts at 50 cycles. But in certain areas like La Paz and a few other areas in Bolivia, 110 volts at 50 cycles (like the US and Canada) is also used. Be sure to ask before you plug in. If in doubt assume its 220 and use a converter, but be sure that it is for the intended purpose and for the correct electrical appliance.
New Year’s (January 1)
Carnaval (February or March)
Semana Santa (Easter Week – March or April)
Dia del Trabajo (Labor Day – May 1)
Corpus Christi (May)
Independence Day (August 6)
Dia de Colon (Columbus Day – October 12)
Dia de los Muertos (All Saint’s Day – November 2)
Navidad (Christmas – December 25)
Oruro (February 10)
Tarija (April 15)
Chuquisaca (May 25)
La Paz (July 16)
Cochabamba (September 14)
Santa Cruz (September 24)
Pando (September 24)
Beni (November 18)
Potosi (November 10)
Tourism Offices: The National Secretariat of Tourism (SENATUR) has offices and kiosks in most major cities and towns including airports, bus and railway stations that have some information for tourists regarding destinations and general information. But, the better bet is to contact independent travel agencies and tour operators (either in-country or outside of Bolivia) for specific information. Guide books for the country (by independent publishers) are also a great source of information – usually done by travellers for travelers. The Embassies and consulates in foreign countries also have tourist information about Bolivia.
Guide Books: Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) there are many guide books that have been written about Boliva by non-Bolivians. This has caused the problem of reporting and publishing of information that is not often accurate. The other problem is that most people who write guide books have their own “personal points of view” that may or may have much to do with Bolivian reality. Another problem is that many guide books push the “accepted norm” that Bolivia is “cheap” and that is just not the case. Some things may be cheap (compared to what?) and others are not. This causes problems for the locals because many travelers use the guide books as “travel bibles” and often demand ridiculously low prices for certain products or services. This is not only unfair for the locals but often creates problems with the tour operators that have to “compete by lowering prices” as opposed to competing with better services. For international travelers it is likely that their money goes a long way but for Bolivians that is not reality. We feel most guide books are helpful, have generally good info, but we do not condone the “marketing” of Bolivia as a cheap destination. Please use the guidebooks as a tool for information – not to take advantage of the locals.
Maps: Good maps of Bolivia are hard to find but the Instituto Geografico Militar is the place to go for topographical maps of most of Bolivia (they restrict sale of sensitive or border areas). They are located in La Paz and other major cities. There is a series of shaded relief maps that highlight the major tourist areas, as well as regular road, political, transportation and cultural maps in most book shops (librerias). In the US try: Maplink in Santa Barbara, CA. and the National Technical Information Service (Springfield, VA). In Canada (Vancouver) try Travel Map Productions and in Great Brittain (London) try Stanfords.
Car Rental: There are plenty of car rental agencies in all major cities across the country. The prices tend to be steep because of the high cost of vehicles, service, spare parts, gas and the unpredictable and rugged roads of the country. 4WD drive vehicles like Toyota (Land Cruisers, Hi-lux), Nissan (Patrol), Mitsubishi (Montero, Galloper), Land Rover (Range Rover, Discovery, Santana) and Suzuki (Vitara) are the vehicles of choice for any trip outside the cities. You need a passport, international drivers license or valid driver’s license, and a major credit card.
Accommodations: The range of accommodations throughout the country can be anything from a hammock under a thatched roof to rooms in private homes and residential, and from hostels to 1 to 5 star hotels in the major cities. In general, the more remote it is, the less chances of finding quality and comfortable accommodations. Most cities and towns offer hotels, hostels and residential of all levels.
Weights and Measures: Like most of the world, Bolivia uses the Metric System. But, in the markets they also use the Imperial system of pounds as well as the metric system. But, in general the metric system is the standard.
Safety and Security: It is safe to say that Bolivia has been and is still one of the most peaceful, safe and hospitable countries in the Americas. We are fortunate that guerrillas are not part of this society and extreme crimes are not the rule but the exception. Thousands of tourists per year have been travelling to this unknown destination for a decades and have experienced warm hospitality, charming people and a welcome hand.
Police: There is the national police which wears a green uniform and has various departments like the Transit, Radio Patrol and others divisions. They are often mistaken for the army because of the uniform. They are helpful with travellers needs across the country. There is a division called the Tourism Police that help and protect the many tourists that visit Bolivia.
Food and Water: Since Bolivia is still a developing country, travelers still need to develop a common sense approach to travel and diet while visiting Bolivia, especially in more remote areas. Be aware that your body and the organisms living in your stomach and intestines are used to one type of diet and when you travel that diet changes and so stomach upsets or worse may be a result. Some people travelling to more developed countries have run into the same problems as people coming here. In the larger cities and towns food and beverages served in reputable restaurants will generally be safe to eat and drink.
If you are not sure, “boil it or peel it” is a safe course of action. In general, it’s best to stay with bottled or boiled drinks and maintain yourself hydrated as much as possible, especially in the highlands and the tropics. If you are not sure, either treat it chemically or physically with a quality water filter that kills and removes bacterias and viruses. But, by all means do not think that it’s all going to make you ill. Psychologically you’re not helping your body and system and for sure you will be missing out on a culinary spectacle that Bolivia is known for. Experiment and try everything; eat and drink and use common sense. The food and drink of this country are what make it so special.
Hospitals and Clinics: All major cities and towns of any considerable size will have hospitals and clinics available to the public. The clinics tend to be better than hospitals in most cases as they are privately owned and operated. Thus their services and doctors are not dependent on the local governments for supplies, training and equipment.
Film and Photography: Bolivia is a photographer’s shangri-la. It offers everything from the high Andes with it’s glaciers and rugged summits to magical Lake Titicaca and the vast undulating Altiplano. From the many temperate valleys to the deserts it has variety and an incredible array of geographic spectacles. In the tropics are the jungles, savannahs, rivers and wildlife that will leave you breathless. And within all these regions live a great variety of people whose customs, religion and way of life are open to countless photographic opportunities. Be sensitive to their privacy and wishes if they don’t want to be photographed. Please ask first, and if they do not want you to take a picture or film them, don’t. And by all means do not pay for photos as you are creating a bad example and negative precedent for the next photographer after you. Bring plenty of film (more than you think you’ll need), extra batteries, a variety of lenses from wide-angle to telephoto and a rugged camera bag to protect your equipment. A small sturdy tripod is also good as well as a dedicated flash unit. The quality of light is wonderful in the highlands and Amazon and everywhere in between and will make for spectacular photos. A polarizing filter may help but learn its pros and cons before using it indiscriminately. Film (slide and negative) is readily available in the major cities and fairly priced. You can also find digital cameras and compact flash cards as well. Most consumer and some pro-sumer photo equipment is available but make sure you buy from a proper camera dealer that will offer you a factura (receipt) and a guarantee of some sort. Batteries that fit most photo cameras are available as well.