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Looking for recommendation for area to stay in La Paz, Bolivia

Looking for recommendation for area to stay in La Paz, Bolivia

Old Sep 16th, 2023, 02:50 PM
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Looking for recommendation for area to stay in La Paz, Bolivia

A friend and I are on the way to check in on our college kids who are spending the year in Bolivia working at an orphanage. In mid October we'll be arriving into La Paz around 6am on a Saturday and flying out around 8am on Monday. So we've got two nights and a full Sunday in La Paz. Our goal will be to do some shopping for things to bring to the orphanage and we'd like to do a bit of sightseeing as well. Where should we stay in? My main interest is what part of the city should we stay in. I know the elevation will be a challenge so we'd prefer to stay in a place where we won't have to walk too far to see some of the older parts of La Paz. Do any areas stand out as obvious places to stay? I do realize they've got the gondola system for transportation, but we've only really got one day, so trying to maximize the time. Thanks for any advice.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 02:58 PM
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As I've done further research...does it make sense to stay near Basilica of Saint Francis? That does seem to be the center of the area with things to see.
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Old Sep 17th, 2023, 06:45 PM
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Yes St Francis is central to tourist sights. But if you are looking at Hotel Rosario, I wasn't that thrilled with it, other than the good breakfast. I might also consider staying farther downhill if you think altitude adjustment may be an issue (e.g. The Stannum near Puente de las Americas). Try for a mountain view room, the setting in La Paz is incredible. For the price of a Motel 6 in the US, you can get something 5 Star in La Paz.

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Old Sep 18th, 2023, 08:36 AM
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The two key factors to consider when visiting La Paz, which you are rightly considering , are altitude and location. Assuming that you are flying in from sea level, you are most definitely going to feel the altitude, the question is how much/badly you may be affected. The best way to for acclimatise to the altitude is to start low and go high, impossible in La Paz given the layout of the city The altitude ranges from3,200 m asl in fthe lowest part of the city, called "Zona Sur" to , 4,000 m asl for El Alto where the altitude is situated. The Centro Historico (Plaza Murillo, Plaza San Francisco etc. is around 3,600 m.

If you have not been at altitude before , I would strongly suggest reading up on the subject beforehand https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/altitude-sickness/ . If you are not going to be spending time at altitude beforehand (say in Peru) , you may wish to consult your doctor re a prescription for acetazolamide which can significantly alleviate the symptoms. We have always been in La Paz after spending months at altitude an dos have been affected but we have had friend join us there and one ended up collapsing in the street and I had to take her to a clinic for oxygen therapy!

​​​​​​​The best place to stay for acclimatisation purposes would be around the lower part of the city in Zone Sur but the most convenient for getting around is in the Centro Historico.

As you have only a short time there , I would strongly recommend booking a guide for the day. I rarely use guides anywhere but La Paz was a place where I found it really added value. We used Banjo Tours a couple of times and they were very good. Details and photos of one such tour on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/08...day-in-la-paz/ The guides will probably be able to help with the best places for your shopping.

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Old Sep 19th, 2023, 06:42 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. I've spent time in higher elevations in the Alps and Denver and never had any issues with altitude, but didn't sleep at those higher elevations. Certainly good thoughts to keep in mind.
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Old Sep 19th, 2023, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Wekiva
Thank you all for your advice. I've spent time in higher elevations in the Alps and Denver and never had any issues with altitude, but didn't sleep at those higher elevations. Certainly good thoughts to keep in mind.
The alps vary tremendously in altitude, but I think Denver is at an altitude of 1800m or so which is not high enough for altitude to become an issue. La Paz is double that @ 3600m plus. It is the sleeping when the effects are felt the most. My first time in Cusco, Peru at 3400m I was hit very badly excruiating headaches, nausea etc. I have visited Lesotho in Southern Africa just driving through, not sleeping and was fine. Having spend a lot of time at altitude in Bolivia and elsewhere I have seen a lot of people suffering to one degree or another both in La Paz and out on the altiplano on tours visiting Salar de Uyuni.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston
It is the sleeping when the effects are felt the most.
I think we're going to try and stay a bit lower down to help avoid that. Thanks to you and those previously for this advice.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 09:11 AM
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Look around the Stannum for example, If you stay at a nicer place and don't feel too good, ask them for oxygen.

I have never taken the Diamox, but have also never flown straight into La Paz. I went overland after several nights at altitude in Arequipa and Colca Canyon.


I believe the appropriately named El Alto airport is even higher, 4000 meters. People have been know to drop right then and there.

Last edited by mlgb; Sep 20th, 2023 at 09:15 AM.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 05:36 PM
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My suggestion is to crash in the San Fran hood to be close to the shops and sights you're into. And, if you wanna catch the best views around, Sopocachi is worth checking out. Don't forget to take advantage of the gondola system to zip around the city and save time.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Wekiva
As I've done further research...does it make sense to stay near Basilica of Saint Francis? That does seem to be the center of the area with things to see.
Yes, that's a great idea! Staying near the Basilica of Saint Francis would put you right in the heart of the San Francisco neighborhood and within walking distance of many attractions, shops, and markets. It's a convenient location to explore the area and easy to navigate. Plus, the Basilica itself is definitely worth a visit. So, it's a win-win situation!
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 05:04 PM
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I wanted to report back on what we did. We did end up staying near Basilica of Saint Francis. I had no trouble with the altitude but my friend had pretty bad headaches. He took some altitude meds and felt better. Our flight into the Amazon was delayed a day and since we had moved out of our hotel we then went further down the mountain to the Sur district and stayed one night there. The hotels down there are quite a bit more modern, along with the restaurants, but you're further away from the historic center of La Paz. But we did enjoy that the green Teleférico line went all the way down to the Sur district, so that made getting into the old town quite easy. All in all we enjoyed both locations for different reasons.
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Old Nov 12th, 2023, 06:11 PM
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Thank you for reporting back.
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