La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz is a Bolivian city surrounded by the Altiplano mountains. As the cultural heart of Bolivia, it attracts hundreds of people every year, who flock to the city to experience its museums and cathedrals. However, La Paz has a reputation for drugs and violent crimes, crime related to cocaine traffic is a real issue here and the political climate is also generating tension and violent protests in the country.
Transport and taxis risk: HIGH
There is a lot of tourist scams in La Paz, and one of them is the overcharging of passengers by unlicensed taxi drivers. Express kidnappings, do also occur. The typical scenario involves the unsuspecting victim boarding a taxi in which the driver is an accomplice. The criminals then also hop in the taxi and proceed to rob, assault, hold the victim hostage and driving from ATM to ATM forcing them to withdraw money. The areas where kidnappings are most likely to occur in La Paz include Plaza Abaroa, Plaza Humbolt (Zona Sur), Plaza Isabel La Cat’lica, Plaza del Estudiante, Plaza San Francisco, and the Altiplano, as well as the downtown area of the city.
Pickpocket & Scams Risk: HIGH
It’s very common to be pickpocketed in La Paz, almost everywhere you go. It’s important not to travel around the city carrying valuables. Criminals have been known to pose as officials in order to trick you into parting with your cash.
There are also fake tourists you need to watch out for. They will approach you in a friendly way and may suggest you go with them to a friend’s home so they can kidnap and rob you. Another variation involves some phony police officers accusing your new-found friend of drug possession. They will take both of you to the “station” where all of your belongings will be confiscated and never returned.