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La Paz Travel Guide

Safety and Precautions

Safety never used to be a problem in La Paz, but things are changing, and unfortunately a lot of crime now is directed at tourists. This is unlikely to go any further than opportunistic theft, especially bag-snatching or pickpocketing, but at night and in certain areas it can be worse, particularly around large concentrations of tourists. Be especially careful around Sagárnaga and San Francisco church, and at the Cementario bus terminal, where there have been several cases of kidnappings of tourists. In general, avoid obvious shows of wealth and tourist status such as expensive cameras, keep an eye on your bags at all times, look like you know where you are going, and be aware of what is happening around you. Never visit ATMs alone. A common scam is for somebody to surreptitiously spray something on you, then help you clean it off, taking everything you have in the process. The latest scheme is for thieves dressed as police to demand your passport and money. Do not walk around town with your passport and only carry the amount of money you plan to spend while you're out. Leave valuables at the hotel and only carry photocopies of official documents. Be very cautious when using taxis at night—always look for radio taxis or trufis. This said, La Paz remains in general a safe city and a relief for travelers arriving from other South American countries; a few basic precautions just make this all the more enjoyable.

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