Bolivian accommodations are among South America’s cheapest, though price and value are hardly uniform. In the altiplano, heat and hot water often makes the difference in price, while in lowland areas, air-con and fans are common delimiters.
- alojamientos (basic accommodations) The cheapest places are usually found around the bus and train stations
- residenciales (simple accommodations)
- casas de huéspedes (family-run guesthouses)
- posadas (inns) Increasingly a posada is a small, often upmarket hotel
- hostales (hostels) Note that hostales are not necessarily hostels as you might normally think; some are in fact upmarket hotels
- hoteles (hotels)
Room availability is only a problem at popular weekend getaways such as Coroico and during fiestas (especially Carnaval in Oruro and festivals in Copacabana), when prices double.
- Bolivia offers excellent camping, especially along trekking routes and in remote mountain areas. Remember that highland nights are often freezing.
- There are few organized campsites, but you can pitch a tent almost anywhere outside population centers. It’s always a good idea to ask for permission if possible.
- Gear (of varying quality) is easily rented in La Paz and at popular trekking base camps such as Sorata.
- Theft and assaults have been reported in some areas – always ask locally about security before heading off to set up camp.
- Hostelling International is affiliated with a network of accommodations in different parts of Bolivia.
- Most hostels have common areas, bunk beds in shared rooms, shared bathrooms with or without hot water, book exchanges and wi-fi. Some even have pubs and hot tubs.
- You can often get cheaper accommodations at low-end hotels, but you’ll miss out on the traveler culture.
Hostales & Hotels
- Bolivia has pleasant midrange places and five-star luxury resorts, although these are generally limited to larger cities and popular vacation and weekend resort destinations.
- Standard hotel amenities include breakfast, private bathrooms with 24/7 hot showers (gas- or electric-heated), phones, wi-fi and color TV, usually with cable.
- Save big by booking ahead online.
- A good breakfast is nearly always included.
Posadas, Alojamientos, Residenciales & Casas de Huéspedes
- The accommodations at the cheapest end of the scale can be pretty bad and are best avoided. At worst they can be smelly, dirty, with dangerous electrics and a suspicious clientele.
- The terms residenciales, alojamientos, posadas etc are often used interchangeably, but a quick look around will tell you all you need to know about standards.
- Communal bathrooms are most common (check cleanliness!), heating and hot water are usually absent.
- When there is hot water it's usually in the form of an electric shower. To avoid electric shock, don’t touch the shower while the water is running and wear rubber sandals.
- Casas de huéspedes sometimes offer a more midrange, B&B-like atmosphere.
- Ask to see a couple of rooms before committing, keep your valuables in a safe when available and check the sheets for bedbugs.
Readers have alerted us to improper use of propane heaters in Bolivia. These are sometimes offered in cheaper accommodations but are not meant to be used in enclosed spaces so refrain from using them if supplied.