La Paz, Bolivia – Flea Market Fun

This Tip is provided by our British Explorer, Alex Taylor.

One of La Paz’ highlights is the Flea Market. A brilliant place to go on either Thursday or Sunday every week.

Firstly, to get up to the flea market you must take a taxi (depending on where you are in the city) to the red cable car. There are three different coloured cable cars, so be sure to take the correct one. Once at the cable car you pay 5 Bolivianos for a return ticket and off you go. The journey takes around 15 mins and climbs out of La Paz to a sister town/city called El Alto; apparently one of the most up and coming areas in Bolivia. When in the cable car the views are amazing right across La Paz and to the snow-capped mountain beyond.

Also on route to the flea market you pass over a giant grave yard where people aren’t buried underground, they are piled high on top of each other in ‘above earth coffins’. The thing is in this particular graveyard you have to rent your place so it’s like funding a second home and with poverty being rife across Bolivia it’s sometimes hard to continually pay for your loved one’s place in the graveyard. Another amazing sight from the cable car is the remnants of a taxi that is wedged into the cliff face you see when approaching the top; you have to see it to believe it. Apparently the drivers body, or what’s left of it, still remains in the vehicle.

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Once at the top of the cable you are greeted with masses of people and masses of stalls selling everything you could ever imagine. If you’re running low on underwear; get a fresh set here. If you need a fancy dress outfit; get it here. I personally went to market 4 times but the first time was the best. We searched high and low for bargains (everything was a bargain). I found a Ralph Lauren navy shirt (looks real) and it cost 70 Cents (USD). Some striped green and red Christmas pants cost around 50 Cents and of course, essentials are cheap too. If you want to go all out, you can buy some slightly different items, like a puppy for just $30 USD…

A few words of warning to people visiting the flea market: one, allow yourself a full afternoon to look round, there are hundreds of stalls and you wouldn’t want to miss anything and two, take as little valuables as possible with you; the area is a pickpocket hotspot. Finally, don’t try the local food up there unless you have a strong stomach or your body is acclimatized to South American delicacies… you’ll regret it the next day!

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