First Impressions of La Paz (Bolivia)

It’s funny. Before I arrived in Bolivia I was almost certain that I would love La Paz and that Sucre, one of Bolivia’s other large(r) cities, would not really be my ‘cup of tea’. In actual fact it turned out to be the exact opposite! That said, I still found many worthwhile things that made La Paz quite a cool place to be for 2 or 3 days. These were my first impressions of the city;

Interesting hillside backdrop

la paz hillsides with rows of buildings

La Paz is a city situated in a deep valley. When you’re in the city centre and looking up into the hillsides, filled with rows and rows of houses, you can’t help but find it incredibly beautiful. The drive in on the bus was also really cool so if you’re coming I’d try pick a day bus rather than a night bus so you can check out the view on the way in.  It was probably the thing I loved most about La Paz and what made the cityscape unique in my opinion. Unfortunately my pictures really don’t do it justice in this case, so you’ll just need to take my word for it, but it’s worth coming here for at least for 1 day just for the views.

Party Town

If you want to party in Bolivia you’ll be hard pressed to find a better destination than La Paz. In fact, there are many hostels set up just for the backpacker party scene here such as Wild Rover and Loki. Then there is also the fact that despite La Paz being one of the biggest cities in Bolivia it is still exceptionally cheap for almost everything, booze of course being included. The average price of a beer in the city is around 10 to 25 Bolivianos depending on whether you’re drinking local draft beer or something imported. Then there is also the underground party scene. For me personally I chose not to engage in this. Whilst the idea of an underground cocaine bar (for example) does sound interesting from a purely spectacle point of view, i.e. just being able to witness what it is like but not necessarily take part would be intriguing. I just think anyone caught dead with drugs in a developing country is a complete fucking idiot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’ve never experimented with drugs in my life, but I did so back when I was student aged around 19 or 20, and in my home country. For me personally I’m just both a) past the stage in life where I think drugs are cool, and b) not stupid enough to try them abroad – especially not in Bolivia!

Incredible viewing platforms

La Paz Cityscape Bolivia

One of the coolest things to do in La Paz (that also happens to be free) is to take a walk along the viewing platforms in Parque Urbano Central. The park itself isn’t anything special but the high walkways they’ve built throughout it that allow you to view the surrounding city offer some incredible views. It’s definitely the place to take your camera in the city.

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palaca La Paz Bolivia

I happened to be in La Paz when President Morales was in town, i.e. the President of Bolivia. Living a mere 2 minutes walk from the Presidential Palace during his/my stay resulted in some funny detours when I wanted to walk across the plaza for example and they wouldn’t let me or my friends walk anywhere close to the Presidential building. However, it did mean that we got to see some cool parades and the changing of the guards during a few impromptu walks in the evening time. It was also interesting to see the guards just as they were coming off duty. Suddenly these highly disciplined individuals who barely flinched a face muscle as they spoke to you had a personality and were laughing and joking around. It was nice to see they hadn’t lost all of their individuality.

Not for me

It could just have been that I was feeling ill during my entire 3 days in La Paz due an on/off iffy stomach, or that I’d seen (what I believe to be) the best of Bolivia before coming to La Paz, but for some reason I just wasn’t feeling this city the same as everyone else seemed to. That said, I’m not saying I hated the place, but I’d already fallen in love with the pretty architecture and foodie scene of Sucre, the jaw dropping scenery in Salar de Uyuni, and the loveable miners of Potosi. In comparison La Paz to me was just a city. A nice city in parts, and with lots of things to see and do, but still just a city. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting too old for these party towns. Is 25 considerably ancient in the party scene these days? Because, this may sound boring, but sometimes I’d honestly rather just have a nice cup of tea!

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2 Responses to “First Impressions of La Paz (Bolivia)”

  1. Katy says:

    La Paz looks cool. I’ve heard it’s a crazy city. I’d think I’d probably prefer Sucre too but the views do look incredible.

  2. John Batty says:

    Cool pics! :DDD

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