This post is to help people who want to go from Puno in Peru to Copacabana or La Paz in Bolivia. It’s an easy border crossing; so don’t worry!
Puno to Copacabana
To get to Copacabana from Puno you can take a coach, known as the tourist coach as mainly tourists use it, or a minibus/shared taxi which mainly locals use. I chose the former as it was easier, but the latter is cheaper and involves less time at the border.
Puno to La Paz
There isn’t a direct coach from Puno to La Paz. All coaches from Puno to La Paz stop in Copacabana to change coach. The stop is a few hours. When buying your ticket in Puno they will tell you the name of the second coach company and the time of departure.
My experience from Puno to Copacabana to La Paz
I got the tourist coach at 8am from the Puno bus terminal. The coach arrived at the border within 3 hours. Because several coaches arrived at the same time the border was busy. I queued for 30 minutes to leave Peru and 30 minutes to enter Bolivia. Neither immigration officers asked me for anything other than my UK passport and to complete a short form.
The tourist coach waited for all the passengers to pass through immigration. On either side of the border there were stands/shops to exchange money. It’s a good idea to get some Bolivianos as you will need cash for the ferry (!) later. Once across the border it was a short ride to Copacabana.
Once in Copacabana I left my backpack in the office of the second coach company. Then I spent the 1.5 hours between coaches walking around Copacabana.
The coach from Copacabana to La Paz took five hours. At one point the coach had to cross a river by ferry. I wasn’t aware that the coach passengers had to get off the coach and onto a passenger ferry. There is a small fee (one Boliviano) to get on the passenger ferry so have some cash on you. Luckily I had exchanged money at the border.
There were road works between Copacabana and La Paz, when I made the journey in November 2014 , which slowed the coach down. The new road will make the journey quicker and less bumpy. However, I would pack extra food and water in case the coach breaks down or is in an accident as help and supplies are far away.
I arrived in La Paz around 5.30pm. There was still enough daylight to walk around and look for a hostel. You do not need a taxi from the coach station to a hostel. There are four hostels within a 10 minute walk of the coach station.
La Paz is a great city and Bolivia is a fantastic country – enjoy!