Flying into Bolivia – Visa Entry Requirements
I traveled through Bolivia August 5-12, 2016. Going through immigration was not as bad as I thought it would be considering I didn’t have a yellow fever vaccination certificate like some websites said was needed. At the La Paz / El Alto airport, they didn’t ask about the yellow fever vaccination. They just wanted crisp, not-ripped US bills. You will need the following to get through immigration and get your US tourist visa:
2-Evidence of hotel reservation or letter of invitation.
3-$160 in cash, in crisp, not-ripped bills. They really do check each bill and will give it back it if has any rips.
4-Passport-sized photo. (Take one at home against a wall and just print it out.)
A yellow fever vaccination certificate was never asked for. It seems they didn’t really care about it. However, it is still recommended to have it if you are visiting the lowlands of Bolivia. In La Paz and in the Andes it is not needed, as there are no bugs!
If you don’t get your tourist visa beforehand from a consulate, then there is a certain window that you will have to present the above items to get your tourist visa. The tourist visa is good for 10 years.
Flying from La Paz to Santa Cruz, you don’t go through immigration. Just a passport is needed. Flying to other local cities, I assume would be the same.
You have to go through immigration again upon leaving Bolivia. I was prepared to pay an exit tax, but I never had to in the Santa Cruz airport. They just wanted to see the green immigration paper that was stamped upon entry, don’t lose it!
Traveling in Bolivia
Bolivia is a unique place to visit, especially around the higher country in La Paz and the Andes Mountain. La Paz is both the admin and cultural center for Bolivia. It also sits at around 12,000 feet in elevation. Getting around La Paz is mostly done by taxi or even the gondolas. There was one car rental kiosk (Europcar) at the El Alto airport, and they don’t have a person there all the time. If you reserve with them, be prepared to call their cell phone numbers when you arrive to come and meet you. Speaking Spanish helps with this. Picking up or dropping off the rental car outside normal business hours will be tricky and something you have to talk with them about. It’s fairly easy to leave a car there for them to pick up, however they will want to charge you for the kilometers you drove and they didn’t accept a card for that, only cash. Santa Cruz de la Sierra has two options for renting a car at the airport, Budget and Abarros. Same thing, they are only kiosk boxes with no staff there and you need to call them to pick you up. Seems most people will get taxis to get around the cities. If you are driving, feel free to pick up the Garmin GPS map for Bolivia to help you get around. My hotel in La Paz, Hotel Europa, provided a free bottle of oxygen if you are feeling loopy like I did starting on day 3 of being at that altitude. All in all Bolivia has a beautiful culture and very friendly people.