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Border Crossing Guide in South America – Peru, Bolivia and Chile

One of the favorite traveler routes through South America starts in Lima, Peru, snakes down the coastline through beaches, deserts and dunes before entering the Andean mountains of Cusco and Machu Picchu. From there it’s only a short bus journey to the border of Bolivia, onward to La Paz; the highest capital in the world, and the world’s most dangerous road.


Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Lima, Machu Picchu and La Paz / La Paz.


After La Paz, move onto Uyuni and take a 4×4 tour through the salt flats, desert rock formations, and flamingo lakes, before crossing the border into Chile and San Pedro de Atacama. After a tour of Central and Southern Chile head northwards through the desert to the border city of Arica to cross back into Peru. It’s an amazing journey through different landscapes, cultures, and traditions, one of those greatest traditions is the border crossing. Each one is different and comes with its challenges and peculiarities. Here are all the little ‘need-to knows’ about crossing the borders between Peru, Bolivia, Chile and back again.


Border Crossing Guide in South America Peru, Bolivia and Chile
Photo by Erik De Leon CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Crossing the border is very easy on Peruvian side, you simply go to the immigration so they can check if you overstayed (you have to pay 1 USD per day of overstay) and got your stamp. A short walk up the hill and you reach the Bolivian Immigration Office to cross the border into Bolivia. The mood of the Bolivian officials is notably different from the Peruvians, far less friendly, but crossing should be simple enough. If you’re a US citizen, the bad news is that you are the only nationality that has to pay to enter Bolivia – $120 USD to be exact. You can thank your government for that one. There are few money exchange stalls there, and you might consider exchanging your few Soles to Bolivianos. The rate isn’t the best, but it’ll get you to Copacabana.

Related Article: Looking for affordable accommodation? Check out our Ultimate List of Best Hostels around the World!


Border Crossing Guide in South America Peru, Bolivia and Chile
Photo by mydearboy CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you plan to leave Bolivia after your Uyuni Salt Flats tour, then the 4×4 will deliver you directly to the border and make sure you get on your bus connection. Bring a few extra Bolivianos as Immigration will most likely charge you for the exit stamp. It’s one of those ‘unofficial charges’ so it’s up to you if you argue it or not. At 20 Bs each most people just pay it to keep moving.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in San Pedro de Atacama.


Border Crossing Guide in South America Peru, Bolivia and Chile
Photo by marcosHB CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

After a long ride from Santiago up to Arica, 36 hours to be exact, the bus will drop you at the Arica national bus station, from where it’s only a short walk around the corner to the International Terminal. From here you have choices, take a bus which will take you to the border and across to Tacna for about $3-4 USD, or you can take a collective taxi for about $7-10 USD, and the driver will take you to the border, guide you through the process and drop you exactly where you want to go in Tacna. From the local bus station, you can get any bus you need to most parts of Peru.

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Have you purchased your Travel Insurance? If not, check out this article on why travel insurance is so important and how to choose the right insurance for you. 

Looking for other articles? Check out our DIY Travel Guides Around the World and City Guides (Awesome Things to do in each Destination). For cheap and luxurious places to stay while traveling, here’s our ultimate list of best hostels and hotels!


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9 thoughts on “Border Crossing Guide in South America – Peru, Bolivia and Chile

  1. Hi,

    I’am planning a trip through Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
    My biggest problem, I think, is that we can only go in July.

    Do you think it is possible to hire a rental car in Calama and cross the border to Bolivia near Arica/Putre, by road 11?
    After visiting La Paz, drive down to Uyuni and afterwards cross the border to Argentina in Villazon, by road 14?

    Thanks in advance

  2. good day chike from Nigeria, I will be traveling to Venezuela soon can I use a bus to travel to Chile to see a friend and go back

  3. Crossing the border from Puno to Bolivia with a US passport, did the Bolivian immigration require you to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate? We plan to travel from Lima, Cuzco, Puno, La Paz.

    1. do it with the bus company Bolivia Hop. They have a guide onboard that can help you out with everything. At the moment they’re not requesting the yellow fever but sometimes they do.

  4. Hi there,
    I’m heading to South America for 6 months this Sept and your blog is really helpful. .
    thanks for sharing!

  5. My husband and my 12 year old son is planning a trip for South America via Los Angeles from Philippines. Our plan is to start from Peru ( Lima then fly to Cusco, Machu Picchu , Puno, Lake titicaca then bus going to La Paz , Bolivia , fly to Uyuni then cross San Pedro de atacama, bus ride to calama airport then fly to Santiago Chile , stay 1 night in chile then fly next day to Easter Island , spend 4 days there then fly back to Santiago chile back to Los angeles then Manila, is this doable ? I plan to start on April 25 from Lima then leave Santiago for LA on May 11 or 12. can you please give me some tips. Thank you in advance

    1. Hello Ginny, definitely doable! We have some guides for each destination you’ve mentioned! You can go to our City Guides, DIY Travels and Best Hostel list (we covered mostly South America)

      You will definitely have an amazing time! We’ve never been to Easter island but everyone says it’s amazing!

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Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.