Despite Bolivia having the poorest economy in South America it is starting to chase tourist money and prices are slowly creeping up for visitors. As with many countries in South America, there are tourist prices and local prices, and these are often not transparent. Very little is actually labelled up. Vendors make prices up on the spot and often seem loathe to bargain.
I always find the issue of bargaining a delicate subject. Prices may have been inflated for a tourist market but it does feel awkward to see travellers fighting hard to get a 5Bs. reduction for a quality piece of handiwork, something somebody has spent considerable time slaving over. 5Bs.? That’s US$0.72.
Imported products are more expensive, although you’re never fully sure whether you’re getting the legitimate brand or a counterfeit (shoes, for example, in the style of Converse with All Stan marked on the side are pretty obviously not the real deal, but there are plenty of close calls).
However, in a country where accommodation typically costs between Bs.30 and 50Bs., where a meal out will set you back 20Bs, where bus travel costs approximately 8Bs. per hour, Bolivia still is a place where cash-strapped travellers can go far. The cost of backpacking in Bolivia is cheap. No wonder some people keep extending their visa, postponing their travel on to Argentina or Chile or Brazil where life is a whole lot more expensive.
|Hostel bed (rural/city)||Bs.20 / Bs.50||£1.83-4.58 / US$2.87-7.18|
|Private room in hostel/hotel||Bs.70-Bs.100||£6.41-9.17 / US$10.06-14.37|
|Cheap lunch out (al meurzo)||Bs.15||£1.37 / US$2.16|
|Bottle of water||Bs.6||£0.55 / US$.86|
|Fresh fruit juice at market||Bs.4||£0.37 / US$0.57|
|Beer (large bottle)||Bs.15||£1.37 / US$2.16|
|Yoghurt (1ltr)||Bs.12||£1.10 / US$1.72|
|Branded toothpaste||Bs.15||£1.37 / US$2.16|
|Woolly hat||Bs.20-Bs.30||£1.83-2.75 / US$2.87-4.31|
|Woolly dress||Bs.80-Bs.120||£7.33-11.00 / US$11.49-17.24|
|Travel guitar||Bs.350-Bs.700||£32.08-64.16 / US$50.29-100.58|
|Cigarettes (20 pack)*||Bs.8-Bs.10||£0.73-0.91 / US$1.15-1.44|
|Cocaine (per gram) *||Bs.100-Bs.200||£9.17-18.33 / US$14.37-28.74|
|San Pedro powder (1 hit/trip)*||Bs.10||£0.91 / US$1.15|
*DISCLAIMER: By including these items, I am in no way advocating their use. I am simply detailing what is available and providing associated costs in order to give a fuller impression of the country and its marketplace.
- Bolivian Money and Currency (BoliviaBella.com)