Destination Guide

The Travel Well Guide

La Paz

City: N/A       State: La Paz       Country: Bolivia
La Paz (Full name : Nuestra Seora de La Paz) is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of La Paz Department.  Located at an altitude of 3,660 metres (12,008 ft), it is the world's highest capital city. Also known as Chuquiago Marka or Chuqiyapu from Aymara: "chuqi" = gold, "yapu" = farm. La Paz lies in a huge canyonin the mountains, clinging to the vertiginous edges all around, with the enormous Mount Illimani, 6,402 m (21,000 ft), looming in the background. This is one of Latin America's fastest growing cities and the centre for commerce, finance and industry in Bolivia. Moreover, tacked on to La Paz, high above on the lip of this canyon city, is El Alto, formerly a melting pot for subsistence farmers and people from all around the country, now with a population of 648,000 - a city in its own right. There are plenty of historical and cultural museums down around the centre of La Paz but it is in the upper central regions of the city where the pace of life is most frantic. It's a maze of impossibly steep streets and alleyways, with men pushing heavy trolleys laden with street food dodging the traffic as they hawk their wares, while women with long black plaits and bowler hats stir steaming cauldrons of Plato Paceno - a bean and potato based stew. Looking up between the world's highest high-rises you can catch glimpses of Illimani's towering triple peak. Formerly a big tourist draw, La Paz's San Pedro Prison must be the world's most bizarre jail - with no guards, no uniform and no curfew. The prisoners work to pay for their cells, some of which are extremely luxurious; they have unions and elect their leaders. The guided tours had to be stopped as too many visitors were coming on 'cocaine shopping sprees'.

Climate | When to Visit

Visit during: May to October

Directions | How to Reach

By Air:El Alto International. La Paz is served by El Alto International Airport, which is situated eight miles (14km) south-west of La Paz. It has various flights to major international destinations and local ones too.By Train:La Paz’s old train station is now defunct (although rumors of restarting a La Paz to Arica or La Paz to Tiahuanaco ferrobus passenger rail bus linger). Trains for Chile and the Argentine border, via Uyuni and/or Tupiza, all leave from Oruro.By Road:La Paz Bus Station, previously bus and train station, was built by the french architect Gustave Eiffel. It is the main gateway for intercities bus travel in La Paz, with several daily departs to all the main Bolivian cities. Also, connects the city with Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru.

miscellaneous | Important Information

Don't miss:El Alto's delectable sprawling markets. Seeing La Paz on a clear dark night with the glittering starry sky intermingling with the twinkling city below. Enjoying a folksy show at the Teatro Municipal Alberto Saavedra Perez - a rotunda theatre with curlicued balconies and elaborately painted ceiling mural. Mercado de los Brujos (the 'witches market') where you can buy herbalremedies, magic potions and shrivelled llama foetuses. Museo de la Coca - shows coca's role and uses in traditional life and society today. The world's highest ski slope, 5,320 m (17,450 ft) down to 4,900 m (16,076 ft), 35 km (22 mi) north of La Paz at Chacaltaya on a retreating glacier.

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