While I was in Bolivia, I also visited the city and surroundings of Santa Cruz, where my organization supports housing improvement and water and sanitation projects. The goal of the housing improvement projects is to contribute to the prevention of Chagas disease and malaria, which torment this low-lying, tropical region.
Santa Cruz, unlike La Paz, is low and hot. It is almost a totally different country. The entire time I was there, I felt like I was in a costal tropical city, rather than a land-locked city in the llano of South America. The low, colonial and colonial style architecture in the center of the city make one think that they are in a very old place, but in truth, the city was hardly a large town before the 1950s and import-substituting industrialization created the current industrial and business metropole that it is now. It is a fun city, as well, with a much more active and interesting night life than La Paz, and much better food. The industrial and commercial success, however, is very much limited to the already rich. The surrounding areas suffer from enormous poverty.
We stayed in the Hotel Asturias (email@example.com), which I recommend. It was clean and comfortable, and had a decent breakfast. It is also easy to access the rest of the sprawling city from there by taxi or on foot. The hotel is located on Calle Moldes 154, telephone +591-3-333-9611. We ate at the Casa del Camba, which, while incredibly cheesy, is a good place to get local food and beer.