Eating for $5 a day in La Paz, Bolivia


The main square in front of San Francisco church. The market you can see is an annual one in the lead up to All Saints Day. The vendors sell biscuits and sweets as offerings for the dead, or for a snack!

La Paz is utter mayhem. Throngs of people darting along skinny pavements dodging noisy cars, market stalls, buses, pollution and dogs everywhere. Oh and food. There are street vendors every few steps selling everything from ice cream, jellies, juices, curious drinks that come in plastic bags, to burgers, hot dogs and chewing gum.


Elderly men taking their ice cream purchases very seriously


Pastries and baked goods at the All Saints Day annual markets

There is a multi-level market in the town centre where micro restaurants sell hot meals, juices and sundaes. Walking through it is sensory overload as you take in various smells and the vendors yell for your business. It’s the perfect spot to grab lunch very cheaply.

It’s easy to eat for less than $5 a day in La Paz if you are a bit adventurous and can speak a couple of Spanish words! Here are some examples of what we ate.


Breakfast was free at our hostel and is free at many other hostels and hotels around La Paz, a definitely win if you’re eating on a budget.

The typical hostel breakfast in Peru and Bolivia seems to be bread and jam. Cereal, yoghurt, cheese and fruit are included occasionally, if you’re extra lucky.


Love that it looks like a school cafeteria meal! Cereal, juice, bread, a banana and jam and butter


Here are two examples of a cheap market lunch. The first are Pappas Rellenas (‘stuffed potatoes’), which originally come from Peru but are common in the Bolivian Andes.


Andrew had a meat one, I had cheese

They are balls of mashed potato which are stuffed with meat and and egg or cheese, coated with a flour batter and deep fried.

Cost: 6 Bolivianos each or $1.20 Australian

After the Pappas Rellenas we were keen for some fruit, so we grabbed fruit salads with yoghurt.


Fresh and delicious

Cost: 8 Bolivianos each or $1.60 Australian. Total cost for lunch that day was $2.80.

On our second market lunch day we had a set menu with a soup starter:


It was delicious, totally would have been enough on its own

My Spanish wasn’t good enough to really understand what the second courses were (although I could see the chicken had run out) so I picked randomly and we ended up with mystery meat, rice and salad.


The marinade on the meat was mouthwatering, but unfortunately the texture of the meat itself was really weird and I had a minor freak out and couldn’t eat it. So Andrew finished mine! It was probably just liver or something, which I am unaccustomed to.

Cost: 9 Bolivianos or $1.80 for both courses


At night inconspicuous metal boxes dotted along the street are opened up and transformed into bright, sizzling food stalls. Disclaimer: the food they sell isn’t particularly healthy, but it is delicious.

Salchipapa is made of french fries topped with pan-fried pieces of sausage as well as ketchup and mayo if you like.


I warned you it wasn’t healthy!

Cost: 8 Bolivianos or $1.60 to share

The other common street food is burgers, with or without a meat patty, an egg, some fried veggies and occasionally fries inside.


Greasy but good

Cost: 6 Bolivianos or $1.20


Lunch on the first day $2.80 + burger $1.20 + Salchipapa $1.60 = $5.60

Lunch on the second day $1.80 + burger $1.20 + Salchipapa $1.60 = $4.60

Not bad! I guess this kind of gives you an idea of how we can continue to travel if we find cheap stuff to eat. The fruit and veg markets are also very cheap and we have been cooking for ourselves as well.

What do you think of the food in Bolivia? Would you eat it?

This entry was posted in Food, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Eating for $5 a day in La Paz, Bolivia

  1. sassykabassy says:

    Wow, for that kind of thing in Australia, you would pay like $16 or something crazy like that!! That’s what I call thrifty eating :).

  2. Patrick Caruana says:

    Hi Bec, I wonder what the cholesterol of the locals is like. I also wonder about the origin of the meat that you couldn’t it. Was it Barking Steak ? I love how adventurous you guys are. Travel Safe.

    • Bec says:

      The cholesterol of everyone in South America would be dangerously high I’m sure! So much greasy meat here. Not sure about the steak!

  3. Yum – I would give everything (apart from the mystery meat) a go haha! xx

  4. Pingback: How to get the money to quit work and travel | My Bloggable Day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s