Many travelers visit Peru and fall in love due to its amazing culture, people, and the many hiking activities it offers, like the Salkantay Trek, Laguna 69, and many other hikes in Huaraz. Ending in Arequipa or Puno is popular, but right next door is another adventurous country, Bolivia. Crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia might seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think!
Some of Bolivia’s most popular attractions include climbing Huayna Potosi and visiting the Uyuni Salt Flats.
In this guide, I’ll go over all the steps you need to take (especially if you’re from the United States) to get over to Bolivia and beyond!
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What’s the Best Town to Cross the Border into Bolivia?
When we were traveling through Peru, we decided to see Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side before heading over to Bolivia. The town of Puno sits on Lake Titicaca and is where we got a bus from to the border of Bolivia.
We headed to Copacabana as we heard this was the best area to cross the border and that they took credit cards (as we had to pay $160 USD to enter the country).
The other town you can cross over at is Desaguadero. We were told this town is more hectic to cross and might not take credit cards.
Is Crossing the Border into Bolivia Easy?
Crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia was very easy and straightforward! We purchased a ticket from Puno to Copacabana on Redbus.
We rode the Titicaca Bolivia bus company as it was much cheaper, and we had no issues with them.
What was told to us was that we would switch buses once we crossed the border. Unfortunately, it took us too long because we didn’t have our papers in order so the bus left without us.
This wasn’t a huge issue as there are colectivos leaving quite often to Copacabana for very cheap.
The bus will drop you off near the border, and you will walk with everyone to the first office to get your exit stamp out of Peru. You’ll then head up the road some more to the Bolivian office to get stamped in.
Things to Know Before Crossing the Border from Peru to Bolivia
There are a few things you should know before you cross the border from Peru to Bolivia, especially if you are from the United States.
Requirements for U.S. Citizens to Obtain Bolivian Visa
I read countless things on the internet and talked to friends who had entered Bolivia recently to obtain a visa. The process seemed different depending on where they entered at or where they were coming from.
Below is the sheet of paper the people at customs handed to us as to what the visa requirements are:
- Form of sworn statement of request of visa
- Copy of Passport
- Hotel reservation
- Copy of valid bank financial statements
- Ticket of exit of the country
- Trip itinerary
- 2 Photos size 4×4
- $160 USD (for U.S. citizens)
When we arrived at the border, the only things we had on us were our exit tickets, hotel reservations, and copies of our passports.
We also got a free yellow fever vaccine shot in Ecuador, as we heard this was required but were never asked for it.
Can You Pay for the Bolivian Visa with a Credit Card?
If you cross the border from Peru to Bolivia at Copacabana, you can pay by card. I suggest having a credit card available even if you want to pay with cash because they can deny any bill they don’t think is prestine enough.
I’m not sure if they accept credit card payments at the Desaguadero border, so I’d try to cross at Copacabana if you can.
What if I Don’t Have All the Documents Needed?
This was my worry. I wasn’t sure if they had areas for us to print other necessary documents or take photos, but there was.
When you walk up to the Bolivian border office, it’ll be on your left. Right next to the office is a smaller office that says “photos,” and they have good Wi-Fi available.
We had to take photos, email them a copy of our bank statement, write an itinerary, and get a better copy of our passport. All of this cost us $20 USD.
What’s the Best Bus Company to Take?
There are a few bus options you can use when crossing the border from Peru to Bolivia. We took the Titicaca Bolivia bus company as it left at 7 pm and was 60 Soles cheaper than the other option.
The other option is going with Transzela if you want to leave earlier. They leave at 5:40 am, and this would be helpful if you want to get to the border early in the morning.
Peruhop is another popular option, especially if you want to get off at different stops for a day or two. You can get a bus from Puno to La Paz but stop in Copacabana for a few days.
Your ticket will still be good to get on the bus from Copacabana to La Paz.
Is it Dangerous to Cross the Bolivian Border?
Absolutely not! We felt extremely safe while crossing the border at Copacabana. There will be a lot of street vendors and people hanging out. If you’re a little hungry, grab something to eat!
You’ll most likely be with many travelers alike on the bus headed to Bolivia. If you’re like us and miss the bus across the border, simply go up to a small shuttle van and ask for Copacabana.
How to Cross the Border from Peru to Bolivia
Traveling from Peru to Bolivia is easy and straightforward. I highly suggest doing this border crossing on your own since the cost of travel in Peru is low, and in my experience, everything is easy to do.
The bus station is centrally located in Puno, and it was an easy morning walk for us. It took us around 3 hours to get from Puno to the border town of Khasani.
This was nice as we got ample time to rest and listen to some podcasts. We then went to the customs officer and asked what we needed and headed next door to get this printed out.
Getting all the necessary documents printed out took us an hour; by then, everyone was gone. Right outside this office is someone to exchange cash for Bolivianos.
It’s better to be prepared with everything so you can get on the correct bus leaving Khasani and head to Copacabana. We had to jump in a colectivo instead.
The Colectivo will take you to the center of Copacabana, where there will be multiple buses going to La Paz for a few dollars or 20 Bolivianos.
Best Places to Stay in Copacabana
- Hostal Piedra Andina: This hostal is one of the best deals in Copacabana and offers great views of Lake Titicaca!
- Hostal Sonia: If you’re looking for something cheaper with the same amenities, then Hostal Sonia is the spot! There’s also free breakfast included!
- Hostal Las Olas: This hostal is one of the most beautiful in the area and you won’t be disappointed by your stay!
Final Thoughts About Crossing the Border from Peru to Bolivia
When first setting out to cross the border into Bolivia, I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure if we had the right paperwork and if we’d be able to use our card. Once we arrived at the border, all my worries vanished as everything was easy to do and safe. I would highly suggest doing this crossing into Bolivia if you want to keep your adventure going in South America!