My Essential Travel Guide to Chile – The World’s Most Gorgeous Country

What does this travel guide to Chile contain?

  1.  Where is Chile?
  2. How did I decide to travel to Chile?
  3. what is English Open Doors program?
  4. But why should you travel to Chile or South America? What is so special about the place?
  5. How is the landscape of Chile?
  6. What are the natural disasters of Chile?
  7. The Geography of Chile (Along with the things to do in Chile).
    1. The North.
    2. The Central Valley.
    3.  The Lake region of Chile.
    4.  The South
  8. The Logistics.
    1. Chile is far. What about the long flights and the insane timezone shifts?
    2. How to stay connected with family?
    3. Didn’t I feel homesick or lonely that far away from my home country and friends?
    4. Why do I say that Chile people are the nicest?
    5. Is Chile expensive on a traveler’s budget?
    6. What about the rough Latin American Spanish?
    7. What about the tourist visa for Chile?
    8. How much did the tickets cost for the flight to Chile?
    9. What is the best time to travel to Chile?
    10. What to pack for Chile?
    11. How to move around in Chile?
    12. How should you carry money when you travel to Chile?
    13. Is Chile Safe?
    14. How is Chilean food?
    15. Now let’s get real – the drinking scene of Chile.
    16. Some closing FAQs and tips.

While watching the traditional Balinese performance in Ubud where men and women dressed as Ram, Sita, and Ravan danced around the fire, my close friend Anish asked me that why haven’t I published a comprehensive travel guide to Chile, yet.

You would find the occasion of the question strange, but he was concerned that even though I travel the world, alone, and indulge in different cultures intricately, I don’t write about them enough.

I pen down my cultural experiences, the people I meet, and the places I travel to, but a lot of my travel stories are still hiding in the folders. Like we never serve our curries without garnishing them with garam masala and coriander, I have to add final touches to these stories, too, before publishing them. 

This massive travel guide to Chile is one such postponed piece. I traveled through Chile for around six months as a part of a longer nine-month journey through South America, solo, and came back last year. 

Since then I have been writing and traveling, full-time, as you all know. And since September, I have been living as a nomad, without a home to go to, while spending most of my time on the road.

Recently after traveling in Southeast Asia(again) relentlessly for two months, I am staying put for a month now and doing the final editing of a good bunch of my content; most of my writing is about to come out of its closet before I move onto further adventures.

Assuming that we both do justice to this ambitious travel guide to Chile, let us continue.


travel guide to Chile

Where is Chile?


travel guide to chile


Chile, the world’s narrowest country, is located at the western edge of the South-American continent. Chile leads our way up to the end of the world, for the southernmost tip of Chile, Cape Horn, is the last inhabited area on earth which then gives way to South Antarctica, a no man’s land.

The extreme south of Chile or Patagonia is still mostly devoid of humans due to its cold and inhospitable climate, and the temperature there stays low throughout the year.  Even the Spanish conquistadors were not able to colonize this part of Chile, which they had conquered in entirety.

But let me amaze you by telling you that the Northern part of this long country is the driest desert of the world, Atacama, which we all studied about in our Geography school lessons.

Have you seen such geographic contrasts within a country before? (I know the Himalayas and the Thar desert, but this is a rhetorical question.)


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The Atacama desert in the North.


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A view from the South of Chile.

How did I decide to travel to Chile?

I get this asked a lot as Chile is a long way from India and is not a popular destination amongst Indian travelers, yet. I was the only Indian on the Chilean island I was living on, and most of the islanders were meeting an Indian for the first time, which explains my celebrity-like status in the Chilean countryside.

Until a couple friend of mine, who also went to Chile for the same English Open Doors program(EODP) that I volunteered for later, mentioned Chile, I didn’t even know that the country existed. Or maybe I knew, but I had forgotten the petite country thriving on the extreme edge of the South-American continent for we don’t hear about Chile often.

Drooling over a few Chile pictures of my friends and accepting that I would be rejected by the creative English writing programs I had applied to, I submitted an application to the Chile volunteer program. As part of EODP, I had to teach English in Chile for four months in exchange for food and accommodation.

Also Read: Why Do I Travel and Live a Nomadic Life


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With my students, later during the program.


Fast forward a few months — I was rejected by the English writing programs, selected by EODP, had quit my investment banking job(which inspired me as much as spinach inspires a cat), and hadn’t told anything about my future endeavors to my family. And when I informed them, havoc fell upon me, and my tiny world saw so much chaos that even Ved Vyas would have been shy that why he didn’t add more drama to the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Irrespective of the guilt that my family tried to induce in me, I booked a one-way ticket to Chile, months before applying for a visa.


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Later I realized that going to Chile was the best decision of my life.


And when I applied for the visa, the program requested the embassy to approve my visa on priority so that I could join at the earliest. By the time the Chilean embassy in Delhi sanctioned my visa, my knowledge about Chile hadn’t improved, and I was busy traveling through Southeast Asia and meeting my friends in India for I didn’t know when I would see them again.

By the day I packed my bags and boarded my 36-hour-long flight from Mumbai to Santiago, I had sold most of my belongings, packed the rest in bags, my boyfriend and I had broken up after struggling through a two-year-long failed relationship, and I had decided never to join the corporate world again and instead to write full-time (a childhood love). My family was losing it, while I was rollerblading into a new life that excited me beyond measures.

Also Read: Why Starting Over is the Answer Sometimes and How to Do it?


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A few days into the program when the volunteers competed against each other to win a treasure hunt. The smile is genuine, for I was happy.

Finishing a two-hour-long agonizing phone conversation with my mother about why she thought I was running away from my family and why wasn’t I getting married, I pushed my loaded trolley to the Emirates counter on the Mumbai airport, knowing that I wasn’t coming back soon.

Though I didn’t know about Chile much, Latin-American culture had always intrigued me, and when I heard the Latino prisoner group chatter away in Spanish in the Orange is the New Black episodes on Netflix, I had goosebumps, for such was the effect of the passionate language on me (not many people know that the Spanish in that series might have made me travel to Chile).

Months later I was to fall in love with the expressive language. 

Leaving aside all the troubles that I faced in traveling to the other end of the world(of which you would hear much about in this travel guide to Chile), my trip to South America is the best one of my life. Even today, after having returned from the continent for over a year, I reminisce over the days I spent there and cry with nostalgia whenever I hear anybody speak Spanish.

Also Read: Indian Marriage Conundrum – How I Hold My Ground as an Unmarried 30–Year–Old Woman.


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An old lady friend from Santiago who deserves a complete story of her own. For now, she is in my heart.


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Like these sunsets fired away Chilean sky, Latin-American Spanish fired away my heart.

What is the English Open Doors program?

English Open Doors Program or “Ingles Abre Puertas” (EODP) is a volunteer program run by the government of Chile in coordination with the United Nations(UN). 

Here I would limit myself to saying that as part of the program, I was to get free visa, food, accommodation with a Chilean family, a tiny stipend, a certificate of teaching English as a second language(ESL), a health insurance during my stay — all in return of teaching English to the students of a government school.

Where was this government school and who were these students? I didn’t come to know until the day I traveled to Chile.

As mentioned by EODP at the beginning, all the volunteers were assigned a location as per their preferences, mostly, and then they were sent to a school within that location, which could be remote and icy or warm and metropolitan. But this assignment happened close to the program dates. 

The day I had to board my flight, I received an email from the program which said that I had to teach in a school in Castro on the island of Chiloé in Southern Chile; My first preference had been the South and a rural place.

When I Google-searched Castro, I saw gorgeous, rainbow-like pictures of Castro in which colorful stilt houses fringed the shores of a turquoise-blue ocean.

I beamed. It looked like my sort of place, and it was.

Also Read: Teach English in Chile – All You Need To Know About English Open Doors Volunteer Program


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With my crazy friends who also volunteered for the program.


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My Chilean host mother. She absorbed so much happiness from little things in life that you would wonder what we all are aiming for.


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Views in Castro.


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Taken from a cafe in a mall in Castro. I used to write in this cafe every day while enjoying these stunning views.


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Being playful on my last day in school. Miss those little bunnies.

All of this sounds good.

But why should you travel to Chile or South America? What is so special about the place?

I grin whenever someone asks this question.

Though notorious for criminal activities and drug trafficking, South America (SA) has Windows-wallpaper-like landscapes, warm and caring people, and ancient and rich culture. And the Latin-American countries I visited, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, have none of the horrendous crime problems.

How do I know? I spent nine months in these three countries alone with only one disturbing incident (of mobile snatching) which can happen in any part of the world and which I could have easily avoided.

So let us keep aside the safety angle for a while, and I would write about it in this travel guide to Chile later.

But is it worth to travel to this remote continent which is known for rough Spanish, bold Latin-American people, long flights, unknown geography, seemingly expensive living, and who knows what else?

For those who haven’t been to SA, these are fair questions. 

Let me resolve your doubts one by one.

Also Read: 9 Months and 3 Countries – Best Experiences from my solo travel to South America


travel guide to chile
I ignored the earth, for the sky was putting on the best show with her dramatic clouds.


How is the landscape of Chile?

My friend, you are in for a treat.

Chile, as an Indian artist in Pushkar told me, is like a river that flows unhindered and pure from the north to the south on the western edge of the continent of South America. The gigantic Andes mountains shade the country from the eastern sun, while the rowdy Pacific runs parallel to the entire west coast of Chile.

So Chile is essentially a thin strip of land sandwiched between water and mountains.


Pablo Neruda, a famous poet from Chile, said the following about the Pacific ocean, that cradles Chile all her life, day and night, 

Del brazo sumergido que levanta una gota

no queda sino un beso de la sal. De los cuerpos 

del hombre en tus orillas una húmeda fragancia 

de flor mojada permanece. Tu energia 

parece resbalar sin ser gastada

parece regresar a su reposo. 


In English,

Of the sunken arm that throws up a drop of water

nothing remains but a kiss of salt. Of the bodies of mankind

along your shores a misty scent of wet flowers is all that lasts. 

Your energy seems to slip away without ever being

exhausted, it seems to circle back into your calm. 


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El Mar, the ocean.

Also Read: Peru – In the Golden Foliage of Poetry and Pictures.


The Chilean landscape is still largely untouched by commercialism, hotels, giant corporates, smoky factories, and urbanization.

Llamas and vicunas graze freely in green pastures, horses and donkeys chill next to high azure lakes, furry dogs sprint through rain-ridden streets, giant volcanoes backdrop mundane towns, deserts, as vast as oceans, host white salt-flats and salt lakes, lakes as blue as clear summer sky bedazzle throughout the country, nights are so starry that you would spend years counting the stars, dense forests are protected by the local people, rivers are sometimes as white as ocean froth for they flow straight from glaciers, snow-capped peaks are visible from crowded cities, graffiti cover uninteresting walls, and people smile and laugh. 

Families still have farms, people live on picturesque islands and herd cow and make wine at home, and some shore-side residential hills are so dreamy that when new year lights shoot out from the ocean, you are sure that you are dreaming.

I have not even mentioned the treacherous icy mountains, sinewy fjords, and the deep-blue glaciers hung atop hills of the South. 

If you don’t have goosebumps by now, then either you are devoid of emotions, or maybe I am a terrible writer. Let us believe the latter is true. For a lot of travelers agree that Chile is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world.


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In the desert part of Chile.


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Even the urbanization looks pretty in Chile.


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From a hill in the middle of Santiago. Notice the snow-capped Andes in the distance.


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The sheep grazes, while smoke fumes out of the house chimney (not literally but that was how it was mostly)


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Regular scenes in the country.


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An everyday sunset.


What are the natural disasters of Chile?

But all the natural beauty comes with its own hazards.

Situated at the triple junction of the Geologic plates, the country suffers frequent earthquakes, which also result in tsunamis and floods because of the long coast that runs along the entire country. Due to this frequent shaking of Chilean earth, high volcanoes have sprouted out of the land and now stands tall at almost every turn of Chile.

While walking around, I was surprised by the omnipresent tsunami, earthquake, and volcano evacuation signs. But soon I got used to them because when I was in Chile many such earthquakes hit us, and the house shook, and the roads were blocked, and the ferries were stopped, and all my friends from Chile called me to check where I was and if I was okay. 

Though we could feel the earthquakes shaking the house, Chileans were pretty cool about the mild tremors for they have seen much worse.

So do not worry much about these calamities because the people of Chile know how to deal with them. Also, who can ever control nature?


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Look at the smoke fuming out of the mouth of the volcano. The volcano Villarica, the most active one, again.


We have discussed the landscape, but that wouldn’t make much sense without understanding Chilean geography.

The Geography of Chile (Along with the things to do in Chile).

As per Chilean administration, Chile is divided into 16 regions, and each one of them has its own rules, geography, climate, culture, food, and specific things to do and places to see.

But for this travel guide to Chile, I would divide it into four main divisions that I think describe the country’s geography best. And to make the guide an easy read, I will combine the geography with the best places to visit from each region. 


travel guide to chile


The North.

The Northern end of Chile is the Atacama desert that marks the boundaries of Chile from its neighbors, Peru and Bolivia. When I visited the Atacama, the surreal landscape of this part of Chile blew my mind.

Snow-capped volcanoes play hide and seek with you as you drive along the dusty roads that wind through the driest desert which ironically hosts salt and freshwater lagoons. Pink flamingos settle around these dazzling blue beauties, which are not the only water bodies as hot natural geysers and thermal pools are strewn throughout the desert. Deep moon-like valleys, that were once under the ocean, shine white amidst the arid land, and the dry and least polluted air of the desert puts up the stariest show at night.

And, the whole Atacama is at a minimum height of 2500 m making it challenging to cruise through and adding nauseated drama to the already crazy journey of world travelers who travel to Chile.


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Clouds hover above active volcanoes, a scene only local to Chile.


Please note- Though the things to do in Chile list is numbered, it doesn’t signify any priority or order in which you should visit these places. 

# 1 of the things to do in Chile.

Chill in the quaint San Pedro de Atacama (Antofagasta Region as per Chilean administration) — This tiny village is a gateway to the Atacama desert.

The houses in the village are made of abode, a mixture of mud and other organic material, and so is the village church that was constructed by the Spanish conquerors in the 17th century. Next to the church is the Plaza de Armas or the main square where you can sit at twilight and sip wine at one of its many posh restaurants while watching the budding jugglers throwing around clubs whose ends are on fire.

You can only guess how cool this wifi-enabled main square is until you see it yourself.

Though thousands of tourists travel to Chile and visit the Atacama desert and tonnes of hostels, tour companies, and restaurants are spread throughout the tiny village, none of those have been able to disturb its serenity.

Visit this village for its centuries-old culture and to immerse in a perfect fusion of the contemporary with the traditional. 


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The artisanal market of San Pedro.


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The adobe church.

Read my comprehensive travel guide to San Pedro and the Atacama desert for more details.


# 2 of the things to do in Chile

Wander in the Atacama Desert, the driest desert of the world—

The Atacama desert is not the flat desert valley you think it would be. Snowy volcanoes, emerald lagoons, cavernous valleys glittered with salt, and flocks of pink flamingos would welcome you as you tread in this fathomless desert.

As I told in the guide above, at whichever hotel or hostel you stay in San Pedro, it would offer tours to the many natural wonders of the Atacama. Or you can hire a car and drive around in the desert at your pace.

Read and see my photo-poetry essay from the Atacama here.


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When clouds become the crown of the mountains.


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The meditative mood was inspired by the serene and high surroundings.


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The Central Valley.

As you move south of the desert, you find yourself in the central valley of Chile; the major cities here are Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, and Concepcion.

While I visited these cities I was influenced by the art and the the self-involved tattoo artists, amazed by the fluffy street dogs even in the busiest part of the town, watched the residential hills that light up like a star-studded sky at night, drank homemade delicious red wine and visited lush vineyards throughout the countryside, ran around in big farmhouses and apple farms, listened to the seagulls flying down to the shoreside houses to pick the food thrown for them in the balconies, clicked the thoughtful graffitis, and talked to the contemporary artists that bustle through these towns and simmer down the metropolitanism with their art.


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At a friend’s farm near Viña del Mar. This is her father trying to tame a horse.


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And this is me.


travel guide to Chile
Graffiti, somewhere on the walls of Valparaíso, the city of hills popular for wall art.


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My favorite from the collection of graffitis.


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Or maybe this could be my favorite, for the creepy eyes.


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Urbanization, at its best.


# 3 of the things to do in Chile.

Visit Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, and Concepcion — If you fly to Chile, you will land in Santiago, and all these cities are easily accessible from there.

Stay in the central valley for a few days to observe the culture, immerse in the art, taste some good Chilean wine, chill at some warm beaches, and soak in urban Chile, for this part of Chile is the most urbanized and a lot of people and students speak English.


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View of an urbane town of Chile.


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In Mercado Central or Central Market, Santiago.


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Cooking Indian food for my Airbnb hosts in Santiago.


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View from the balcony in Valparaiso.


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One of the residential hills of Vina.


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My naughty and trendy students in Santiago.


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Enjoying fancy Sushi in Santiago. Do try Chilean sushi which is loaded with cream cheese and avocado.


You can check out or book my Santiago Airbnb here. I stayed at this Airbnb for two weeks, and Victor is an amazing host.


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View from that Airbnb window in Santiago.


The Lake region of Chile.

The central valley then enters into the lake region which is called as as Los Lagos. This region marks the beginning of Patagonia. The major towns in Los Lagos are Puerto Varas, Osorno, and Puerto Montt which then leads their way to Chiloé, the island that was my home for five months. 

The lake region is full of lakes (how genius), imposing and active volcanoes, thick rainforests, treacherous mountains, and invites cold and rainy weather due to its location and geographic nuances.


In Puerto Varas.


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The purple and yellow Church of Castro, Chiloé.


# 4 of the things to do in Chile.


Visit the legendary island of Chiloé —

If I say that I left my heart on the island when I returned to India, I wouldn’t be exaggerating.

The lush-green island, its open pastures on which stout sheep and cows graze freely, its deep-blue beaches and national parks, its antique wooden churches, its “palafitos” or stilt houses, its unique culinary history, its apple trees, its seafood markets and countryside bars, and its humble people who stop their car for every pedestrian and open their home for every traveler made my stay on the island once in a lifetime experience.

I taught English, practiced Spanish, ate Chilote food and cooked Indian delicacies, danced with the islanders, shopped for fish in the morning Saturday markets, and soaked in this puddle of goodness called Chiloé. 

Chiloé people believe in natural powers, and the many legendary stories that are passed onto Chilote generations made my just-for-a-few-drinks visit to the cozy bar into all-nighters. 

You can take a bus directly from Santiago to Chiloé or fly to Puerto Montt and then board a bus from Puerto Montt to the island. The island has many Airbnb’s, hostels, and hotels.

The bed-and-breakfast of my host mother is centrally located in Castro. If you tell her that you went to her after reading my blog, you will get special treatment. Though she only speaks Spanish, you wouldn’t face a problem as she is used to conversing with foreigners who only speak English. But she hasn’t listed her place online yet. So go to 471 Los Carrera, Castro and ask for lodging. She lives in the back of a blue house and has the warmest home in town.

Another lovely friend’s Airbnb in Castro – Private domes amidst nature, and the warmest hosts ever who make amazing pisco sours and seafood preparations.



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The famous stilt houses of Castro.


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With my host mother in Chiloe.


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A local food market of Dalcahue, Chiloé.


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Crossing the canal to get to the Puerto Montt city, the nearest town from Chiloe island.


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In a fancy dress party on the island.


# 5 of the things to do in Chile.

Go to Hornopirén, the majestically beautiful and serene town—This breathtaking town is a landscape painting of the most imaginative kid who painted volcanoes, lakes, mountains, jungles, hot thermal pools, rivers, and flocks of birds and all of that came to life and is called Hornopirén now.

I spent my birthday in this quaint town, which I started with mate, a hot herbal tea, watched horses grazing on vast pastures and ran to the flocks of thirsty birds that descend down to the many swampy pastures, hiked through the Hornopirén national park and biked up the peaks of Andes, watched the Blanco river (the white river) melting away in its milkiness, flew down the mountains on my bike, and ended the day with another cup of mate and cheese empanadas at a local artisanal restaurant.

What a birthday!

The day wasn’t clear so we couldn’t hike the volcano Yate or volcano Hornopirén. Though both the hikes are challenging so prepare for a tough day.

Stay in one of the many wooden cabins that Hornopirén offers and ask your host for a bike and explore like a child.


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Regular views in Hornophiren, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

# 6 of the things to do in Chile.

Spend a week in Pucon (Araucanía Region, but just above the lake region) — Pucon is a travel hub and a solo travelers’ heaven. Pucon offers so much to do that you might find it hard to rest, though there are many tranquil options for that, too.

Here my Canadian friend Alison and I went crazy and hiked the active volcano Villarrica, kayaked in the quiet Villarrica lake to find remote beaches, jumped in it and swam there with the stunning volcano in the backdrop, and hitchhiked to the deserted Leon waterfalls.

You can also ski in the Centro de Ski Pucon (ski center of Pucon) and hike to the tallest peak of the park Santuario el Cani for stunning views, but we didn’t do any of this as at that time the snow wasn’t deep enough for skiing, and we forgot about the park. 

Having done tonnes of activities, we chilled in our hostel, cooked and hogged on enormous amounts of chicken and mushroom curries, spaghetti, and sandwiches, and relaxed at the Caburgua lake beach while gulping down a few beers and talking about our travel and life plans.

We stayed at the Chilli kiwi hostel which was comfortable and had everything that we needed.



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Balancing myself while posing in front of a waterfall near Pucon. We walked to this place, and then hitchhiked our way back.


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On top of the 3000 m high active volcano, Villarica, with Alison. It is known as Rucapillán in Mapudungun language, which means devil’s house – Quite right for the volcano is one of the most active in Chile and erupted in 2015.


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Doesn’t she resemble a bunny?


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Living life.


# 7 of the things to do in Chile.

Spend a few days in Valdivia, the city of rivers (Region Los Ríos or the Region of Rivers, just next to Los Lagos) — During my volunteer program, I went to Valdivia, which is set at the junction of Calle-Calle and Cau-Cau rivers and was the fourth city founded by the Spanish when they conquered Chile. 

The Spanish built many forts and castles in and around Valdivia. I took a day trip to the Niebla fort, one of the many forts, and visited the war museum, took a walked on the beach (playa grande), clicked pictures with canons, ate chicken and pork anticuchos (grilled skewers) and drank chicha, a homemade fruit juice with an insignificant alcohol content, in the Niebla market. If you fancy, you can also get your ears or nose or cheek pierced by one of the many professional ladies in the market(not speaking with experience.)

My favorite place has to be the Mercado Fluvial or the local grocery market of Valdivia which was a colorful assortment of street food, fresh fish, local vegetables and fruits, and handcraft artwork and wooden artifacts. And while we admired the fresh avocados and drooled over the salmons and trouts, the sea lions basked in the sun in the Valdivia river, while seagulls flew around to sneak out a fish or two from in front of the fish sellers.

Mercado Fluvial is also the starting point of a boat ride through the network of waterways that are spread through the many rivers of Valdivia. I didn’t take the boat ride, but I have heard that you can visit many more forts and historical places through these waterways while cruising along with a refreshing view. 

My Chilean friends would kill me if I talk about Valdivia and don’t mention the brewery of Kunstmann beer, one of the oldest and popular Chilean brands, where you can sip the frothy beer while watching the brewing process. Honey flavor was my favorite. 


travel guide to chile

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A local market in Valdivia. Notice the sea lions just chilling on the shore.

The South. 

After the Chiloé island, the country divides into tiny islands scattered near the coast, and the Andes rise on the mainland forming Patagonia, the icy and tall nomad terrain that is home to endemic animals,  national parks, hanging glaciers, deep blue and turquoise rivers, fjords, and lakes, marble caves, and vast wilderness.

The proximity of this region to Antarctica makes it the coldest area of the country. 

The Carretera Austral or the Southern highway runs along this nomad land from Chaiten till the Tierra del Fuego or the land of fire which culminates in Cape Horn, the last stop before Antarctic Peninsula — Patagonia leads our way into the end of the world. 


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Showing you the colors of the water in the South. No editing with the color.


# 8 of the things to do in Chile.

Visit Patagonia, the end of the world— Patagonia is a collection of jugged, icy mountains with glaciers atop, turquoise-blue lakes, labyrinthine fjords, and impenetrable ice sheets. 

The only significant occupants of Patagonia are the generations of the early European migrants from the nineteenth and twentieth century who came here to find a new life.

I couldn’t go to the interiors of Patagonia, but I did enough research to suggest you the right places.

The central attraction of this treacherous landscape is the Torres del Paine National park. The famous, 100-km-long W circuit goes along the park through its mountains and jungles. You would have to book the limited camping sites and the food packets that the camps offer to the hikers beforehand as they get sold out. You can also book the W trek with some tour company, but most of my friends did it on their own while just booking the food and night stays. 

I came across this brilliant guide to the campsites of Torres Del Paine while doing my research and am sure this information would help you in your planning and booking Patagonia and the treks within.

After completing your treks, you can picnic at the Laguna Azul, a shiny blue lake with snowy mountains in the backdrop and guanacos grazing on the golden grass nearby.

Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales are the two major cities of Patagonia which are connected by air. From Punta Arenas, you can visit the Isla Magdalena which the penguins have colonized unabashedly. Visit before March as then they start their swim to the Brazilian side.

Should you book Patagonia in advance? Patagonia is a popular destination amongst travelers from around the world, especially in the summers (Nov-Feb). You can either go to Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas and then find a tour company there which would take you into the Torres Del Paine and other natural wonders of Patagonia. Or you can look online and book the tours beforehand. 

If I were you, I would research about Patagonia before going there, book one or two nights at a hotel in one of these cities, walk around, explore, talk to the many tour companies, and then see which one suits me the best as per the prices and the itinerary. Also, you can go to most of the places on your own and hire a local guide for a hike or a glacier trek, if needed. Else explore on your own.

To travel through Patagonia freely, you should think of getting Argentina visa, too, for you have to cross many times between the two countries due to the geography of the mountains. Else you would be limited in what you can do.

I also found this great list of things to do in Carretera Austral by backpacker Steve. I don’t know the guy, yet, but his personal and hardcore experience through the stunning nomad’s land looks authentic.  

If you are coming down from Chiloé, you can take a ferry to Chaiten and then enter the Carretera Austral or the Southern Highway from there. 


travel guide to chile
Source: Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash


I have marked all the places I visited on my travel to Chile in this map.



Now, these are all my recommendations. But Chile is so amazing that in whatever direction you turn, you will find unadulterated beauty.

The landscape is breathtaking. But what about your other doubts?

Chile is far. What about the long flights and the insane timezone shifts?

South America is far from Europe, India, the UK, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Except for the US, we are all in for a treat if we decide to travel to Chile.

From India to Chile, I changed my flights twice, spent a night at the Dubai airport, a few exhausting hours in the Sao Paulo airport, flew a 14-hour-long plane, and all of this combined cost me thirty-six hours of my life.

Do you know what I did throughout these 36 hours? I slept.

My trick? I carried this memory foam pillow which fit around my neck and made me cozy, and given how flights are all about food, TV, sleep, and cramped legs, I was more than comfortable.

What about the jet lag? Whether you are young or old or an infant or just married or divorced, jet lag behaves differently with everyone. My 4-year-old nephew gets jet-lagged and doesn’t sleep until it is 10 in the UK which makes it 2 pm for us, or rather for my brother.

For me, I was happily sleeping throughout the flights like a kumbhkaran (read the Ramayana to know more about this sleeping devil who didn’t even wake up when drums beat up in his ears), woke up to eat, and then dozed off again at my window seat. I slept so much on the recliner chairs at the Dubai airport that I even didn’t use my food coupon, and the airport chairs would die with my ass prints.


travel guide to chile
But isn’t Chile worth it?

Is that all to long flights and insane distances? No.

How to stay connected with family?

The 17,000 kilometers between India and Chile and the time difference of 8-9 hours further strangled my relationship with my angry parents. Mostly I used to call when I just woke up or before going to bed, which is what most of the travelers did.

But this distance also meant that I wasn’t expecting any calls during the day, and sometimes I didn’t even look at my phone for hours. If you are visiting for a few weeks or a month, the distance isn’t a problem. For a longer visit, remember that video calls make you feel that your family is sitting right there and is struggling with the Spanish as much as you are.

For making international calls, try the app Rebtel which lets you buy unlimited international credit for 10 USD. When I visited Chile, I didn’t know about the application, and I used Skype credits and Whatsapp calls; the later you should avoid for even the FB messenger video calls have better connectivity than Whatsapp (believe a girl who video-called for hours to save her long-distance relationship recently).


travel guide to chile
Enjoy, while you are in Chile.

Didn’t I feel homesick or lonely that far away from my home country and friends?

South Americans, especially Chilean people, are the nicest and the warmest people, and they opened their homes and hearts and made me a part of their families. 

But the beginning was tough because I didn’t understand even one single word of Spanish and every person I met and each place I went to seemed strange. To get over my awkwardness and stop imagining what people were talking about me, I put my energy into learning Spanish, and then I couldn’t be more at home(I speak about the challenges I faced with Spanish later in this guide).

You shouldn’t worry if you are traveling to Chile for a few weeks, but if you travel to Chile for longer, you should learn Spanish when you are there. Believe me, the rewards are much more than the effort. 

Needless to say, when you travel solo, you meet a lot of solo travelers who share the same fears and anxieties, so you never feel that alone.

Having said all this, I admit that I was out of my comfort zone for the first few weeks in Chile — but isn’t getting out of the comfort zone a dictionary meaning of travel? And once I started hanging out with the local people and start communicating in broken Spanish, I had the time of my life.


travel guide to chile
Hanging out with another family on Diwali while mine was back here in India.


Why do I say that Chile people are the nicest?

Chileans grow up amidst the strong forces of nature and see many natural calamities happening around them from early childhood. These natural disasters and the extreme climate teach them how to be helpful and also signifies the importance of living in the present without worrying too much about the future – My Chilean friend said this to me, and she seems right.

While traveling through Chile, Chileans directed me to the right place when I was badly lost, listed down the gorgeous places I should visit, gave me their spare phone to me when mine was stolen, talked to me using the voice feature of the Google translate, stopped their car for us pedestrians to cross the road, enquired every morning about how I had slept, wished me to enjoy fully every time I went out, helped me translate my CV into Spanish, translated Spanish words and hand gestured from early morning to late drunk evenings, invited me to their homes and opened their best wine and cooked sumptuous meals, and I can go on and on.

Chileans are one of the most passionate and helpful people on the planet. They won’t shout at you if you forget getting the visa to their country. Instead, they would request their senior officers to process a temporary one for you and let you go in.

Be outspoken about your troubles and happiness, and Chileans would join you as they are always open about their lives.


travel guide to chile
Luciano, my friend’s grandson. His innocent face speaks on behalf of a lot of nice Chilean people.


Also, read how Chilean people love physical proximity in my article on Chile culture.

 Is Chile expensive on a traveler’s budget?

Chile is one of the financially stable and economically strong countries of South America, and so, also one of the expensive ones on the continent.

As per currency conversions, 10 US dollars is about 7,000 (7k) Chilean pesos, and 1000 Indian rupees are 9,400 or approximately 10,000 (10k) Chilean pesos.

Chile’s purchase power is higher than India, so even though the conversion rates seem to make Indian rupee more valuable, the everyday things, such as chips, towel, shampoo, oil, bread, snacks, fruits, vegetables, et cetera, cost slightly higher. For the people from the US and the UK, the prices were lower or almost similar. 

You can drink tap water, so don’t spend money on buying water bottles.

Chilean wine is delicious and cheap; a good wine bottle would cost you around 2-3 k Chilean pesos which is less than 5 US dollars. So while you are there, get drunk often on the finest wine in the world, which caused a few blunders for me, and say hi to the cheap El Gato, the cat wine.

A meal at a local fair or in a food market would cost you around 3-4-5 k Chilean pesos or $5-$8. But a dinner in an elegant restaurant could make you shed more than 10k Chilean pesos or $15.

The prices for one night’s stay would depend on the location and timing of your visit. On the Chiloé island, I got a room with meals included for 10k Chilean pesos or 15 US dollars. But that was in the home of my host mother from the program, so definitely cheaper. You would get a dorm bed with breakfast included for the same price if you go to a hostel or local hotel. 

Big cities like Santiago and touristy places like Pucon were more expensive. A night’s stay in a Santiago Airbnb cost me the same(15 US dollars) without home-cooked meals, and a dorm bed in a good hostel in Pucon was around 20 USD. 

The local micros or buses within a town would cost you between 2-4k Chilean pesos depending on where you are going. The long route buses cost higher, for example, my semi-cama or half-bed bus from Santiago to Castro or vice-versa cost me around $50. 

Overall, among the many South-American countries, travelers considered Chile and Argentina the most expensive ones.


travel guide to chile
1.26 k Chilean peso would be 130 INR or almost 2 USD. That is definitely expensive for a packet of ready to eat pasta or noodles as per Indian standards. And almost at par with the US standards.


What about the rough Latin American Spanish?

When I landed in Chile, I couldn’t speak even a single word of Spanish except for cat, cow, dog et cetera, for that is what DuoLingo taught me.

When my cab driver picked me up at the airport, he conversed with me in the car with the voice feature of Google translate, which is how I talked with many tech-savvy Chileans later on. But when I went to Castro, a small town on an island, I was clueless as most of the islanders didn’t speak English and also didn’t use Google translate or any such application which could help me understand what they said in their superfast Spanish (an awful truth about Chilean Spanish.)

I sat like a hen who turned around her neck whenever someone spoke without understanding a word. Soon I started learning Spanish, and within a few weeks, I spoke conversational Spanish.

Also Read: Learning Spanish in South America

Traveling in South America and Chile would be tough in the beginning as you wouldn’t understand much and would need constant help. You wouldn’t find any signs in English, and most of the people, including cab drivers, bus drivers, shopkeepers, won’t speak English.

But that shouldn’t deter you from traveling for the people are helpful, and Chile people don’t expect you to speak any Spanish or understand what they say, for they are aware that they talk fast, eat some words and alphabets, and pronounce almost everything in their unique style while throwing in a few colloquial sayings or as they say Chilenismos in between. 

Ask any Chilean, and he or she would tell you that Chilean Spanish is the worst on the continent. But I met tonnes of travelers who started speaking at least the essential Spanish in a few weeks, and the ones on shorter trips were managing without any Spanish.

Download Google Translate and the offline file of Spanish and use the voice feature. Try DuoLingo but don’t expect too much as it would teach you how to say avocado and chili and cheese but you wouldn’t still be able to say “I want to go to the toilet.” You can also download Spanishdict, an app that gives all Spanish noun and verb forms.

Also to help you learn Spanish or any other foreign language, I have aggregated the ways which helped me learn Spanish in Chile. Read my experiential guide on how to learn a foreign language yourself. These 25 tips are my tried and tested language-learning methods that saved me in South America.

Or read my list of the essential Spanish phrases you need to know before traveling to Latin America. You can also download the list of these phrases and the English and Hindi phonetics would come along the download.

If nothing else, start using your hands and face for making expressions. Believe me, Chile people would never get tired of you. 


travel guide to chile
These two, my host mother and my British friend, taught me so much Spanish and were so patient with me.


What about the tourist visa for Chile?

Chile gives free visa for ninety days to most of the countries. But not to India, of course. I was stuck on the Chilean-Bolivian border once because I thought that I could also get a free access. And then I had to go back all the way to La Paz, Bolivia to apply for a Chile tourist visa. (I would publish this story soon on the blog.)

If you apply for a tourist visa from India, go through my Chile visa guide in which I have written down the visa process in detail along with the application screenshots. Let me know if you have any questions.

Read More: Getting a Peru Visa on an Indian Passport – From India and South America


travel guide to chile
When I was stuck at the Chile-Bolivia border.


How much did the tickets cost for the flight to Chile?

I booked a one-way ticket to Santiago 2-3 months before the travel date, and when I had to return I booked another ticket to Mumbai (both from I booked the to and from Mumbai because the flights were cheaper from there and the flights from Delhi were also going via Mumbai.

Use Skyscanner to compare the ticket prices and never forget to click the “Add nearby airports”  option. Though you would have to fly for longer with this option, you would get cheaper flights, and you can also see a new place as you fly to a connecting destination first.

I would write on traveling for cheap in a separate post.


travel guide to chile


In total, the tickets cost me around 1,800 US dollars for the return flights. The Emirates flights from Mumbai to Santiago cost me about half of the Ethiopian return flight from Santiago to Mumbai and was much better. I would strongly suggest avoiding the Ethiopian airlines which is a frequent flyer on this route. If you can choose another flight for maybe 50-100 dollars more, do pay. 


What is the best time to travel to Chile?

As Chile is in the Southern zone, our summer is Chile’s winter and vice-versa. So when New York is buried under snow and trains are canceled in New Delhi due to the fog, heat waves strike the North of Chile (that’s how Chilean newsreaders call those hot days in Santiago.)

The coldest months of Chile are June, July, August, and September during which the Lakes region and Patagonia are freezing and wet, and that is when I landed in Castro.

October brings in the spring which is followed by the shining summer which lasts until March. Visit Patagonia and the lake region during the summer, mainly from November to February, for the mild weather and friendly sun.

I also visited the Atacama desert in the scorching sun of February, and got the best views of all the places, though the nights were chilly.

For the central valley, the temperature ranges from 0-13C/30-50F in winter and 16-35C/60-90F in summer. The locals from the central valley go for holiday to the colder parts of the country in summer, and everything is cheaper (something to remember if you are traveling to Chile in summer.)

Though the best time to travel is different for each part of the country, you can make the most of your visit if you travel to Chile in the summers.


travel guide to chile
Christmas in Castro. The temperatures were pretty decent even in the generally cold island of Chiloe, and I could survive in a sari even in a non-insulated home. But this same island gets extremely wet and cold from June to September.


travel guide to chile
And in February beginning, I was in the Atacama desert, where on this early-morning tour to the hot geysers(basically water fuming out of the desert), I was almost frozen into an ice cream cone.

I would say choose your battles wisely.

What to pack for Chile?

As you have read about the colorful Chilean weather, you must be already thinking about carrying a range of clothes from summer essentials to winter jackets. You got it right, but you can also buy some of the woolen clothes for affordable prices at the local artisanal markets. (Like if you stopover in Chiloé, you can buy homemade llama-wool sweaters, gloves, and caps.)

I carried dresses, shorts and skirts, shirts, jeans, tops, yoga pants, a travel towel, undergarments, a bikini, a sturdy pair of shoes, and other hiking gear that I am listing below. 

Here are some of the things you should carry to Chile for a comfortable and adventurous stay.

  • A couple of dresses and Skirts for women – For the Chilean outgoing culture and wine bars. Chilean culture is very cool with clothes, so you can wear whatever you like without worrying about being out of place.
  • Short for women and shorts for men – For everyday travel in Chile.
  • A good pair of jeans – Even though I am not a big fan of wearing jeans and love many other more comfortable bottoms, sturdy jeans can keep you pretty warm in Chile and the surrounding countries. I wore mine frequently.
  • Swimwear for women and swimwear for men – Most of the beaches would be too cold to get in, even in the summers, but you can definitely jump in the beaches in central Chile.
  • good hiking shoes for women and good hiking shoes for men – A must-have in South America.
  • a rain jacket – Don’t go to the South of Chile or Patagonia without a rain jacket.
  • warm jackets for men and for women – You might even need these on a rainy day in the summer.
  • warm and waterproof gloves – essential for hiking and the outdoors.
  • woolen socks for women and for men – For hiking and to survive the chilly winds of Chile.
  • a woolen sweater – Or buy one from Chile.
  • a scarf for women and for men – You can buy woolen ones from Chile but I could only find the hand-woven ones in San Pedro de Atacama or on the Chiloe Island.
  • a pair of warm leggings or thermals for women and for men (I wore them under my dresses to stay warm.)
  • yoga pants for women and for men – suitable for long buses, which you will take many in Chile, and flight travel, too.
  • A fanny pack to carry your passports and money. (I bought one from the San Pedro de Atacama market and loved its local feel. But until you find a locally made one, you should carry one fanny pack especially when you are in Santiago. Read my story about getting mugged in Santiago to know why.)
  • Also, bring a strong backpack as you would travel in weird weather and on rough routes – I have been using a North Face backpack for about four years now and have no complaints.
  • A travel towel – Carry a light travel towel like this one for it will save you a lot of space.
  • A first-aid kit – Always carry one while traveling. Carry essential medicines as in Chile you only buy medication with a doctor’s prescription.
  • Lifestraw water bottle – Comes with an inbuilt filter, and you can fill it anywhere.
  • Memory foam travel pillow for a good sleep while traveling
  • A good camera – Nikon D3400 is a very good choice for the price. I use Nikon for all my photography now (the pictures in the article though has been clicked with my phone for I have been using Nikon only for the past nine months). This camera comes with two lenses, and the one with the higher resolution if perfect for bird photography if you are interested.

(I have selected only the good brands in the above links as you shouldn’t trust the cheap, local brands when you are trying to survive in icy winds of the South that can even blow apart huge trees off their roots.)

I have a piece of special advice for my Indian readers —Take your favorite snacks along as you wouldn’t get any of those in Chile. I took along Indian spices, too, which helped me cook Indian food, and then I gave them away to a 70-year-old Chilean friend who relished them. 

Also, take along some affordable Indian things such as bindi, henna, bangles, small jewelry like earrings, rings, and bracelets, light-weight sweets, incense sticks, and other such small artistic items that you can gift to your Chilean friends or Airbnb hosts.

Chilean people love Indian stuff, and you can’t find any of these things easily there. I searched an entire island and all the shops of Santiago but couldn’t find good henna. Your gifts would cheer up your hosts, and they would go out of their way to help you, for such are Chileans.

And last but not the least, if you plan to work in Chile then bring your degrees and mark sheets in original, for you would have to get them notarized from India or from Chile to show them to the ministry for the visa. 


travel guide to chile
This thick coat that I had bought from the Camden town market of London saved my life.

How to move around in Chile?

Intercity travel.

Chile doesn’t have trains, and most of the intercity travel happens by buses, cars, ferries, and flights.

You can book the major buses, which are Pullman, Turbus, Cruz del Sur, online. I generally checked the timings and purchased my ticket from the counter.

The buses have two options – half bed(semi-cama) and a full bed(salon cama). The full bed means that you can recline the seat a bit more than in the half bed, but it isn’t a full bed similar to the one you get in Indian buses. All the buses in Chile have toilets, except the local short-distance micros that run within a city or on an island.

To explore the Carretera Austral and the Atacama desert, you can also hire a car and drive on your own. I met a lot of travelers who were driving their caravan vans and paid a small amount to a camping place or a hostel and then parked their van inside. These self-sufficient vans are a cheap and fun way to travel, and if you want to experience them, South America is a good place to start for the distances are long, routes are extremely scenic, roads are good, and plenty of places to stay with the van.

Carretera Austral, which is mostly gravel, also has scheduled buses and is also a popular cycling route.

I only flew once during my entire stay in Chile, and I picked LATAM airlines for it is well known.


Intracity travel.

Buses and taxis run within bigger cities such as Santiago and Valparaiso. Santiago also has Uber.

On islands, you have micros or local buses, that stop frequently and you pay when you leave, a custom that I couldn’t get enough of and appreciated it when it happened recently in Pushkar, too. When the bus has to go to another island, it gets onto a ferry, and you sit on your bus and enjoy. Or get out of the ferry and enjoy the dancing dolphins in the water ( a regular scene on the ferry from Puerto Montt to Castro.)

travel guide to chile
These tiny boats also wiggle their way in the vast waters of Chile.

How should you carry money when you travel to Chile?

Though I carried a travel card and some US dollars, I wouldn’t suggest you do so. The card didn’t help much for it always applied conversion rates and some transaction charges, too. For most of my trip, I withdrew with my debit card from the BancoEstado government bank ATM. The US dollars helped, but were not necessary.

Carry at least two working debit cards and inform your banks that you are traveling internationally. Else they might block your card like they blocked mine, and you would wonder if you went bankrupt.

Also, check the international withdrawal limits as I couldn’t withdraw any money after a few weeks, and when I enquired the bank, the phone banker told me that I had exceeded the international withdrawal amount.

Keep a working Indian mobile number for you would receive all the one-time bank passwords on it, without which you cannot do online transactions ( a thing specific to India, I guess). Only HDFC allowed me to enter my online pin instead of the one-time passwords. 


travel guide to chile
No money, no drinks.


Is Chile Safe?

Chile is one of the “safest countries in South America” for its economy is stable, and people have basic work and money, mostly, and believe in making their ends meet by working. 

The simple rule that you should not walk alone at night in any part of the world, unless it is Singapore, still applies in Chile. Most of the cities of Chile were safe during daylight, except Santiago which is known for drugs and delinquency. 

The young and some old, crowd of Santiago deals in drugs for easy and quick money. So be careful while walking around in Santiago where some people would pretend as if you had some paint on your shoe or your trousers, and then while showing it to you, someone from their group would run away with your bag.  

Chiloé was extremely secure, and I even walked around alone at night, when I returned from some late-night parties. 

Apart from the limited instances of Santiago, I didn’t hear of any other crime or robbery during my entire stay from any volunteer or local.

Also Read: My Worst Travel experience in Santiago, Chile

How is Chilean food?

I have written about Chilean food in the cultural guide to Chile, but a lot more has to be said.

Chileans are mostly non-vegetarians with their favorite meat being beef, pork, chicken, and seafood (hello, the 4,300-kilometer-long coastline). They eat these meats in steaks or grill them or prepare soups which they eat along with potatoes and rice or bread. Kurkuma(turmeric), oregano, and paprika(similar to chilly but milder) are the only spices I have seen them using, along with the occasional garnishing of coriander and lemon.

Chilean people eat a lot of bread, mostly made from white flour, and buy it every day or once every 2-3 days from the local bakery. They pair the bread with cheese, ham, eggs, butter, and tea or Nescafe filter coffee for breakfast. 

Generally, Chileans don’t eat a lot of vegetables, and as you go to the colder parts of the country and islands, the consumption of vegetables decreases further giving way to meat.


travel guide to chile
Don’t let this scare you away.

Most of the foods that I mention below would be served along with pebre — the finely chopped onion, tomato, green chili, garlic, oil, and coriander mixture would save your life when you miss some chili in your food.

Not to miss preparations of Chile: 

    • Sopaipilla – Fried flatbreads which are eaten with pebre or ketchup. 
    • Empanadas – Empanadas are brothers of samosas because they are fried and stuffed. Some people also prepare empanadas in the oven, and then they are called as empanadas de al horno. The most popular is empanadas de pino or beef empanadas. But my favorite was the mariscos(seafood) or pollo(chicken) empanadas.
    • Pasta del choclo and humitas – Both are made with corn. Pasta del choclo is like a corn paste, while humitas are prepared by stuffing corn paste in corn leaves and then boiling the stuffed leaves. 
travel guide to chile
Humitas. I prepared them with the mother-in-law of my Airbnb host. The process was so much fun, and my hand almost broke while trying to grind the corn kernels with an old style grinder. Sadly, I don’t have a video.
    • Cazuella – Cazuellas are soups of seafood, chicken, or pork, made by simmering the meat with peas, pumpkin, onion, ginger or garlic, corn on the cob, tomato, carrots, oregano, and other vegetables.
travel guide to chile
Cazuela de Pollo or Chicken soup.
    • Completos — The Chilean hot dog that comes overloaded with avocado, tomatoes, and mayonnaise — a Chilean favorite. 
    • Porotos Granados Red or white beans made with mashed corn, onions, pumpkin, garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Though this dish is more popular in the countryside, I loved how my friend in Santiago made them, and I ate bowls of them every day. 
    •  Churrasco – Grilled beef or beef steaks extremely popular in Chile and eaten in a sandwich form. I didn’t try this. 
    • Chorizos – Pork sausages. A favorite of Chileans. 

I drooled over all the above preparations, except for the extremely meaty ones such as churrasco, chorizo, completo, or asados (barbequed meat). But if you are a meat lover, you should try all of them.


Not to miss preparations of Chiloé, known for its unique culinary

You could find all the above food items on the island, but some exquisite preparations were only local to the island. Also, the size of every dish was bigger on Chiloé, and if the food could have a deep-fried version, Chilote people took out their woks and oil.

If you visit the island, definitely incline towards trying the seafood whenever you can. Chiloé people have come up with exciting and yummy seafood preparations.

    • Cazuella Chilota – The Chiloé preparation of cazuella. The seafood version of this soup was nowhere better than in Chiloé. And even better if my host mother made it. 
    • Milcao – A grated and mashed potato preparation that is stuffed with pork and other ingredients and is then deep fried. I will admit that this yummy bowl of carbs lured me a few times.
    • Algas or algae soup – You can only find it in Chiloé. It has a very explicit sea smell and taste but is delicious and healthy.
    • Ceviche – A preparation of raw mussels, clams, and salmon, red and green peppers, onion, coriander and lemon.
    • Curanto – Curanto is generally prepared in an activity called as “minga” in which a group of friends come together and dig a hole in the ground, make a fire, and then place a huge dish full of mussels, clams, Chilote potatoes, white wine, pork, and then just let the ingredients cook. Then they dig out the dish and share it with friends. 
travel guide to chile
Curanto, notice the purple potato. Colorful potatoes were popular from the island of Chiloé, and they tasted yummy.


Don’t forget to taste the papa Chilota or colorful potatoes from the island.

Go to the local markets on the islands and in the cities, look for seafood restaurants, try food from streetside stalls, buy empanadas and sopaipillas wherever you see them, and bite into some purple and pink potatoes. 

Surviving as a vegetarian is a bit tough in Chile and South America, but definitely manageable. You can always go to a supermarket, buy some fresh bread, and eat it with fresh avocado, the first love of all Chileans. 

Insider Tip: Do read the Spanish phrases in the cultural guide to Chile that help you say your food preferences. 


travel guide to chile
Asados, or the popular Chilean barbeques.


Now let’s get real – the drinking scene of Chile.

If you have read through the article, you would know by now that Chileans love to drink. Otherwise, why would they all make delicious wine and store it in ten liters containers at home?

Pisco sour, wine, navegado (wine boiled with orange and cinnamon), terremoto (literally earthquake), beer with chili and lemon, wine with strawberries, wine in pomelo shell – Chilean get high on all of these, and I joined them because they always invited me with love.

I didn’t see many people drinking hard drinks such as whiskey, vodka, or tequila, except in the big bars of Santiago. 

As I said above, don’t miss the Kunstmann beer. Though Kunstmann is a little more expensive than the regular beers, it is worth the price. 

Don’t shy away from drinking when you are in Chile, because Chileans don’t, and they are even more fun when they are drunk.


Also Read: A Memoir on Chile Independence Day – Or As The Chileans Call It, Fiestas Patrias.



travel guide to chile
My friend in Santiago trying to open a wine bottle. This must be difficult for her as she was used to storing wine in big bottles of 5 or 10 liters.


travel guide to chile


Some closing FAQs and tips.

Do you need to carry your passport when you go out? No. And this is universally true for all countries and all nationalities. If you like, bring a printout or a soft copy on your phone. 

Can you teach English in Chile? Yes.

Would you be a millionaire by teaching English in Chile? No. I talked to and interviewed many English teaching institutes in big towns and small cities and even with schools and colleges. No one would have researched as much as I did. So if you are looking forward to just staying in South America, especially Chile, and want a work visa with some money, go ahead.

Most of the teaching jobs, except the online ones, involve traveling throughout the city to teach business clients, students, and homemakers. The pay was between $6/8 to $15 per hour (though finding the $15 ones would take time.) 

Does Chile have the Amazon jungle? No.


travel guide to chile


I hope that with this travel guide to Chile, I have done justice to my long travel through this beautiful country of some even more beautiful people. Hope you enjoy the guide and use it to the fullest when you travel to Chile.

Que Disfrutes! Enjoy!

Follow Up reads:

My one-stop experiential travel guide to Bolivia – Based on my experience of traveling for a month in Bolivia.

My backpack Peru travel guide – Based on my month-long solo travel through Peru.


It took me a week to write this exhaustive and honest travel guide to Chile. So if you like it, please pin it!




chile travel guide pinterest image




Excited to visit Chile?

Read this guide and now you are excited to visit Chile?

I have written too much?

Have I missed something?

Let me know in comments 🙂


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I like; if you choose to click through and make a booking or purchase a product, I will earn a little bit at no extra cost to you.  Thank you.


  1. Dipika November 17, 2019 at 3:52 am

    Hi Priyanka, loved your in depth article on Chile travel! I am heading their soon with my family. A little nervous due to the political situation there, and also the fact that our Spanish is muy basico! 😉
    My kids are very excited too. Fingers crossed, it will be a wonderful experience! 🙂

  2. Roger Jacobs October 18, 2019 at 9:17 am

    From always I am fond of visiting the chile. I will follow your guide so how I can visit the Chile without any problem and hardship.

    1. Priyanka Gupta October 18, 2019 at 10:55 am

      Thank you, Roger. I hope you have lot of fun in Chile. Do let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  3. Pravin July 24, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    fantastic and really nice blog and chile travel information thank you

  4. Narayanan Hariharan March 18, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Super informative Priyanka. Ended up bookmarking and going back to the link multiple times in the last three days. Looks like you had an amazing time!

    1. Priyanka Gupta March 18, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Narayanan. Glad you liked the guide for it took me a long time to write and compile the information. Let me know if you have any other questions about Chile or in general about South America. Enjoy your trip and tell me later how it goes 🙂

  5. Musthafa March 14, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Hello Priyanka,

    Wonderfully and nicely written and really informative to anyone willing to visit Chile. I’m planning to visit Chile in couple of months, but as per information in your blog, Jun to Sep is too cold which is not suitable for me, I think I have to postpone. Anyway, thanks a lot Priyanka. Where are you now? want to know more about Chile, any direct contact no?

    1. Priyanka Gupta March 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you, Musthafa, for your comment and reading the detailed article. June to September is definitely cold. But after September the weather starts to improve. I am in India currently. Please reach out to me via comments and questions on the blog articles (I always reply). Or if you have something specific to ask, you can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Instagram at priyanka_onmycanvas. Thanks.

  6. Diptarka February 1, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Wonderfully written and extremely detailed with a lot of information

    1. Priyanka Gupta March 18, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you, Diptarka. I am glad that the information helped you. Let me know how your trip goes.

  7. Taylor December 14, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Whoa, that just about covers the length of it 🙂 Makes me nostalgic to remember how much there is to do there! Also, love that you cooked Indian food for your Airbnb hosts in Santiago! What a great way to say thanks for their hospitality.

    1. Priyanka Gupta March 18, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you, Taylor. The country is beautiful, and people were so nice that I couldn’t skip over any information. I cooked Indian food so many times that I have lost count. haha. Look forward to hearing from you more 🙂

  8. Maartje Hensen December 2, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    This blog post is so informative and handy! Chile is definitely on my bucket list and I even got more excited after reading this.

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 3, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Thank you, Maartje. I am glad you found the guide helpful. You should definitely go. Chile doesn’t disappoint anyone. Buen Viaje!

  9. Helena December 2, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Wow, so amazing that you got to spend 6 months exploring Chile and really comprehensive post about it, thanks for sharing! I’ve wanted to go to Chile for a while, so was interesting to read your experience.

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 3, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Thanks Helena. I am really lucky that I spent six months there. I want to visit again. When are you visiting?

  10. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs December 1, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Wow, that is a really impressive and massive guide to Chile. I have been in Chile and loved it but there is so many things you discuss in length that I had no idea about! Time to pay a visit again!

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 3, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Thank you, Marysia. I am glad that you found the guide helpful and even discovered some new things. Chile is gorgeous; please visit again 🙂 I am sure you will enjoy. Stay connected.

  11. Lizzie December 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Chile is so high up on my bucket list. And this is such a detailed post, I will certainly be saving it for later.

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Thank you so much, Lizzie. Please visit Chile. I adore the country, as you would already know by now 🙂 Save it, and let me know if you have further questions.

  12. Valentini December 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous! You have put so much effort in this post! I loved your insights as Indian, it’s always special when you are the first traveller/representative of your country ☺ I have yet to go to Chile but your guide is going to be really useful for me, thank you!

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 1, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      Thank you, Valentini, for this appreciative comment. I worked so hard for this post. 🙂 Haha. yeah at a lot of places I was the first traveler here. Definitely visit Chile. You would love it. Thank you for saving my guide. Also, let me know if you have any questions when you go.

  13. Anya December 1, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    This is such a comprehensive guide and I am so happy I found it. I really want not only to visit but live in Chile at least during some time. I have been looking for different opportunities how to teach English but wasn’t able to find many options. I have never heard about the English open doors program and now can’t wait to get in touch with organizers and possibly to apply. Thank you for this information! I am bookmarking your post and will be referring to it later!

    1. Priyanka Gupta December 1, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you, Anya, for such a thoughtful comment and appreciating my hard work in this post. This is a straight-of-the-heart kind of article, and everything I have written is based on my experiences. Definitely visit Chile. You would love it. It is easy to apply to the English Open Doors program, and I will publish another detailed post on the program. Thank you for bookmarking this, and let me know if you have more questions. Would be happy to help 🙂


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