Bolivia Budget Breakdown

Time for our second country breakdown! Again, budget includes everything - all buses, meals, and crazy adventures. The only things missing are two visas for Tyler - for Bolivia (obtained on the way to Copacabana) and for Brazil (obtained in La Paz). Since visa costs vary based on the nationality of the traveler (e.g., Anaïs not paying for any visa in South America thanks to her French citizenship), we decided not to include these in our daily budget. 

Bolivia is a notoriously cheap place to travel, so we lowered our budget in this country to $30 per person per day, or $60 per day as a couple. Our original plan was to be in Bolivia for a quick 12 days, giving us an overall budget of $720. How did we do? 

Total Spent: $1,024.95
Days in Country: 18
Daily Total: $56.94
Daily Per Person: $28.47

We definitely went over our total budget, but given the amount of time we were in country, we came in a cool $3 per day under budget. Here's our spending break down:

Money Spent % of Budget
Accommodation $234.20 23%
Eating Out $261.29 25%
Entertainment $36.90 4%
Groceries $31.94 3%
Miscellaneous $24.48 2%
Tips $5.79 1%
Tours $305.26 30%
Transport $125.09 12%

Exchange rate was approximately 6.8 Bolivianos per US Dollar

Miscellaneous this month includes photocopies, bus taxes, bathroom charges, laundry, and money lost when exchanging dollars into Bolivianos in Copacabana. Tips only includes what we gave our tour guide on the walking tour in La Paz

Just like for Peru, our spending breaks down about how we expected it to. We spent 30% of our entire budget just on the Uyuni Salt Flat tour, which seems ridiculous for just a three day tour, but that just highlights how cheap traveling in Bolivia is. The great hostel we stayed at in Sucre, Hostel Forastero, was only $17.37 per night for a nice double room. Our median spend on eating out? $4.63 for dinner and juice for two in La Paz's central market. For two people!

That being said, if eating out is so cheap, how is it 25% of our budget? Pretty simple - we ate out almost every lunch and dinner. We cooked pasta with a meat sauce in Sucre one night for a change of pace, but all the ingredients cost us $8.90 - nearly twice what that meal in La Paz cost us. It's just cheaper to eat out most of the time and the food is usually going to be pretty good - just do a quick TripAdvisor/Google search and you'll find plenty of yummy places to eat. 

Bolivia in Retrospect

Before arriving in the country, we weren't exactly sure what to expect from Bolivia. We'd heard many positives, many negatives, and seen lots of outdated information. But, as evidenced by us extending our stay by nearly a week, we both fell for Bolivia pretty hard. We had heard that Bolivianos could be unfriendly at their best, but we met a few of the friendliest people in all of South America here, including a juice vendor in La Paz who was happy to chat with Anaïs for an hour about anything and everything. Or the lunch lady in Sucre who took us under her wing and served up delicious meal after meal.

We'd also heard horror stories about transportation around Bolivia, about how the buses were in terrible shape, the roads abysmal, and that it'd be a miracle to get any sleep. Well, that freezing cold, horrendously bumpy ride from La Paz to Uyuni? We both slept through it. Uyuni to Sucre was a smooth ride. And we flew from Sucre to Santa Cruz - for free, thanks to credit card miles - so we avoided that notorious route. Transportation was pretty easy for us, thankfully. 

Touring the Uyuni Salt Flats is something that we always tell everyone is one of our favorite experiences so far on our travels. Take a look at our pictures and you'll start to understand why.  There's something magical in the natural beauty of that corner of Bolivia that gets under your skin and never really goes away. This tour alone makes the visa Americans have to get worth the money, let alone all the other great experiences Bolivia has to offer. 

There are plenty of other places we'd like to explore on future visits, such as Rurrenabaque, Tarija, and Cochabamba. But, for the short 18 days we were in Bolivia, we feel like we made great use of our time. And, like we said last time, missing out on places only gives us more of a reason to go back!