Shopping in La Paz

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Shopping in La Paz is an experience like no other. The steep streets of the high altitude city are awash with vendors selling everything from fruit and vegetables to the hats, scarves and gloves that become all too necessary when night falls and the temperature plummets. A vast ‘witches’ market’ sees Bolivian mountain folk selling all manner of potions and items used in rituals to honor their gods – those of a squeamish nature should avert their eyes from the dried llama foetuses. Travelers looking for chic boutiques and upscale malls will be disappointed in La Paz, but there are some western-style shopping complexes out in the suburbs.

Markets and More
The steep cobbled streets that wind their way upwards from Plaza San Francisco are filled with street vendors virtually 24 hours a day. The stalls selling fruit, vegetables, cheese etc. are a good bet for self-caterers, while those who have arrived from lower altitudes might want to stock up on cold weather necessities such as gloves, scarves and those cute Andean hats with earflaps to keep the chill air at bay. Alpaca-wool items are good value, but travelers on a super-tight budget can also find wool-mix and synthetic versions for next to nothing. Shoppers needn’t go hungry or thirsty as they browse the stalls – you’re never more than a few steps away from a vendor selling delicious fresh squeezed juice for just a couple of bolivianos (the local currency), and snacks such as nuts, popcorn and hand-made potato chips are all widely available from street sellers.

The Witches’ Market
The fascinating Mercado de Hechiceria, or witchcraft market, is by no means a mere tourist attraction. The charms, scents and herbal concoctions are used to treat ailments and carry out religious rituals, and this vast sprawling hodgepodge of shops and stalls is testament to the fact that the various mountain deities are very real to a lot of La Paz’s citizens. The llama foetuses may look gruesome but are used in religious rituals. Should you wish to take photographs, ask permission first and offer a few bolivianos in return. The market is found at Calle Melchor Jimanez and Calle Linares.

Supermarkets and Malls
Supermarkets are relatively thin on the ground in La Paz, but the food markets are a good source of supplies for backpackers and self-caterers. There is a branch of Supermarket Ketal at Avenida Sanchez Lima 2362. Should you be looking for a modern mall, the best bet is to head out to the suburbs. In Miraflores, for example, Hipermaxi is a decent-sized mall located at Cuba y Brazil.

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The Spitting Llama Bookstore & Outfitter

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The  Spitting Llama Bookstore & Outfitter has locations in La Paz, Copacabana and Cochabamba and specializes in camping, trekking, foreign language books, and socially & ecologically responsible travel. They are the only foreign language bookstore in Bolivia and supply everything from Lonely Planet guidebooks, maps, backpacks and tents, to organic coffee, cuban cigars and Quechua poetry. They rent camping equipment, exchange & sell books in English, Quechua, German, Spanish, Aymara, Guarani, and many other languages.

type:Book shops
World66 rating:[rate it]
address:947 Calle Linares
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