Quick Chile Travel Tips– A 10-Minute Read From a Chile Expert

Chile is a long country sandwiched between the Pacific ocean and the Andes mountains. I have written twelve other articles on Chile that go from covering the Chile culture to fun things to do in Chile to a comprehensive Chile travel guide — so this one is going to be a point to point informative Chile tips guide.

This travel tips for Chile list is a quick handbook to acquaint travelers visiting Chile with the country’s most important travel information.

Let’s get started.

Practical Chile travel tips to prepare yourself for a Chile trip. 

 

Fast Facts. General tips for traveling to chile.

  1. Chile’s international code is +56. Landline works.
  2. Wifi works well in most of Chile. But if you are in a truly wild place, let us say the center of Patagonia or the top of the Volcano Villarrica, don’t expect the wifi.
  3. You do not need to carry your passport when you walk out. Like in all the other countries.
  4. Chileans drive on the right side of the road.
  5. You would need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Chile.
  6. Chile is divided into sixteen main administrative regions.
  7. The two major networks of Chile are Entel and Movistar. Purchase a SIM card at any grocery or departmental store, at any kiosk, at bus stands, and at the airports.
  8. You should definitely bring a pair of jeans to Chile.
  9. You can drink tap water in Chile.
  10. If you are still wary of tap water, try LifeStraw, a water bottle with an inbuilt filter, that I have been using for more than a year now.

 

Chilean People and Culture. (I talk about the Chilean cultural conventions in this piece.)

  1. Chileans love tiny gestures: a smile, a hug, a small gift from your country.
  2. Chileans greet by kissing each other on both cheeks. Men to men: a handshake or a hug, men to women or women to women: kiss and kiss.
  3. Minga is a joined activity. Like shifting a whole house.
  4. Chileans love cats and dogs. You would find many fury street dogs. They don’t cause any problems mostly.
  5. Chile has tonnes of documentation. Be ready for a long-form for everything.
  6. The indigenous people in Chile were mostly animists. Now, most of the Chileans are Catholics. Being respectful to their religion would take you a long way (a general tip for any culture).
  7. Most of the Chileans are very helpful. You will have to only ask.
  8. Chile loves music and football. If you immerse yourself, you would be soon invited to personal events.
  9. Christmas is big in Chile.
  10. So is the Chilean independence day or the Fiestas Patrias that is a week-long celebration from the 11/12 of September to the 18th of September.

 

Chilean Food.

  1. Most Chileans love bread. You can buy many kinds of fresh bread from street bakeries.
  2. If one country could be the ambassador of avocado(palta in Spanish), it is Chile. Try it there.
  3. Oh, Chile makes amazing wines. Another affordable product.
  4. Chile is a meat-eating culture. Beef, pork, chicken, seafood — everything is welcome and loved.
  5. Countryside people and islanders might not appreciate you not eating meat. (Only relevant if you are staying with a Chilean family as part of some program, as I was.)
  6. Pisco sour is a must-try drink in Chile.
  7. Kunstmann is a local popular beer in Chile. It is a little more expensive than other beers.
  8. Chilean sushi is a must-try: loaded with avocados and cream cheese.
  9. Empanadas are stuffed savory pastries sold all over the country. Must-try.
  10. Sopaipilla is fried bread. A street favorite.
  11. Don’t expect many spices in the local food.
  12. Chileans don’t eat dinner but have once, an early supper.
  13. Mate is the local herbal tea that Chileans keep drinking through the piped pot. Try it.
  14. Look for the must-have foods and drinks in the food section of my Chile guide.

 

Transport in Chile.

  1. In the South of Chile, collectivos — shared taxis are abundant. They charge a fixed price as per the destination.
  2. Micros or small buses run in the South of Chile, too. You pay when you get out. Keep coins.
  3. Chile doesn’t have trains.
  4. Long-distance, interstate buses run smoothly in Chile with full-bed or half-bed options.
  5. Full-bed in bus=almost complete bend back, half-bed in bus=half bend back.
  6. Bused can be booked online or at the bus station. Pullman, Cruz del Sur are the two popular companies amongst many others.
  7. Chilean interstate buses have toilets but micros don’t.
  8. Uber is not legal in Chile but functions in Santiago.
  9. The most popular airline in Chile is LATAM. Book online but double-check the currency. Most of the websites use a dollar sign for Chilean peso. I lost a bit of money because of this once.
  10. Taxis charge about 300 pesos as a base price and then 1000 pesos per mile.

 

About Chilean Spanish. (Pay special attention to these travel tips Chile)

  1. Chilean people speak fast slang-studded Spanish.
  2. Download the offline Spanish file in Google Translate.
  3. Use the audio version of Google Translate.
  4. Read my list of important Spanish phrases to manage your way through Chile.
  5. Or print the list from here.
  6. Try learning Spanish with these 24 tips on how to learn a language on your own: the practical tips that helped me learn Spanish in a few weeks.
  7. Indians means the indigenous in Chile. If you are an Indian, say soy de la India(I am from India). 
  8. Chileans suffix ito at the end of every person name’s or relation or thing to express love or call it more cutely. So Juan becomes Juanito, pescado(fish) becomes pescito, and linda(cute) becomes lindita.
  9. J is pronounced as H in Spanish. So Javier is haa-vier.
  10. Beer is Cerveza(sir-way-za) in Spanish.
  11. Refer to an elderly man as Señor and a woman as Señora (considered respectful). Señorita is used for a younger woman.
  12. Boyfriend is pololo and husband is noveo.
  13. To make any noun or verb feminine in Chile use “a” at the end of the word.
  14. Pololo becomes polola and novio becomes novia.
  15. Saludos or salu in short is cheers in Chilean Spanish.
  16. Not a lot of people — sometimes even the waiters and cab drivers and hosts don’t speak Spanish.
  17. One thousand Chilean pesos are known as mil or luca in casual language. Say to impress.

 

About Money and Cost of traveling in Chile.

  1. Chile is financially stabler than most of the other countries in South America. It would be costlier to travel in Chile as compared to Peru or Colombia or Ecuador or Bolivia.
  2. You generally tip 5–10 percent in Chile.
  3. ATMs are dependable. Banco Estado is a government bank and has a lower fee than other banks(for my card it was lower).
  4. Ten USD is 8000 Chilean peso approximately.
  5. An entire day’s food would cost about 15,000 Chilean pesos if you try to be economical.
  6. Prices of backpacker hostels depend on the location —Expect to pay between 5,000 Chilean pesos to 15,000, depending on the popularity of the city.
  7. All other kinds of accommodations would cost higher than 5,000 pesos and can go up as per the luxury and facilities. Browse places to stay in Chile here on Booking.

 

About Chilean visa and immigration.

  1. Chile gives a 90-days free visa or a Tourist card to citizens of most countries. India is not one of them. But if you are an Indian with a valid US or UK visa, you can get free entry, too. Check my Chile visa for Indians article for more details.
  2. Chile shares a border with Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia so you can enter via land into these neighboring nations.

 

Weather in Chile.

  1. Chile is in the Southern zone so the weather is opposite to the US or Europe or India. Summer is from October to January. The coldest months are June, July, and August.
  2. The South of Chile receives heavy rainfall for a large part of the year. Bring rain jackets, strong hiking shoes, and warm jackets.
  3. The best time to travel to Chile is different for each part of the country. But you can see most of the best places in Chile if you explore Chile in the summers.

 

Patagonia.

  1. Patagonia is the coldest and most inaccessible part of Chile. So if you head there, make sure you have the right gear.
  2. Go to Patagonia in the summer months.
  3. Chile shares Patagonia with Argentina. You might be crossing borders, too, if you plan to cycle or hike.
  4. In Patagonia, you will not find ATMs in the interior part. Withdraw in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.
  5. Carretera Austral or the Highway Carretera is the one you have to take if you wish to travel through Patagonia — it runs from Chaiten to the Cape Horn in the South.
  6. Even though W trek is one of the popular treks in the Torres del Paine park, the most popular park in the South, the park has many other treks for all kind of trekkers.
  7. Read the rest about Patagonia here.

 

Some extraordinary things about Chile. (Chile tips for adventurers)

  1. You can climb active volcanoes in Chile.
  2. Chile is one of the best places to stargaze. The Atacama desert is the best place to do it.
  3. Pablo Neruda is Chile’s most popular poet. You can visit any of his three houses.
  4. Chile doesn’t have the Amazonas but has other national parks open for tourists.
  5. Chile has amazing places to surf and hike and ski. So if you love any of these sports, bring your equipment or rent there and have fun.
  6. Chile’s legendary Chiloe island is one of the best places to visit in Chile.
  7. You can see pink flamingoes in the Atacama desert in Chile.
  8. You can see penguin colonies in Patagonia and from the Los Lagos region of Chile.
  9. You can see migrating humpback whales near the Chilean coast.
  10. Chile respects artists. You can get a tattoo there, buy paintings, or immerse in jewelry making.
  11. Read all the places to see and experiences to have in Chile.

 

Travel Logistics/Booking Resources.

  1. I have listed many great GetYourGuide tours in Chile here in my Activities in Chile guide, but you can browse some of the tours here, too.
  2. You don’t need to book everything beforehand in Chile.
  3. You can rent an Airbnb or an apartment or a room or a dorm or tents or camper van or wooden cabins or anything else that comes to your mind. Go adventurous in Chile.
  4. A lot of Chilean accommodations have gas geysers in the bathroom. So when the host explains you, pay attention.
  5. Browse for prices and availability for a hotel here.
  6. See my packing list for Chile that helped me thrive through six months of winter, summer, and rains in Chile.

 

Teach English in Chile.

  1. You can teach as a volunteer in Chile with the English Open Doors program.
  2. You will get food and accommodation with a Chilean family.
  3. You have to pay for the tickets. You get some allowance.
  4. Only native or near-native English speakers can apply for this program.

 

Santiago.

  1. Santiago isn’t safe. Avoid getting out of the airport at night. Don’t wander alone in deserted streets even during the day. Keep your belongings close to you in the Subway and on the bus. (One of my most important Santiago Chile travel tips).
  2. You can read about when I got mugged in Santiago to understand the possibilities.
  3. Santiago has a fully-functional Subway.
  4. If strangers approach you in Santiago about paint on your dress or some other issue, become extra vigilant. Don’t leave your bags on the floor.
  5. A fanny pack is a must in Santiago.

 

Safety in Chile.

  1. Chile suffers from frequent earthquakes because it lies at the triple junction of tectonic plates. If you feel a tremble, please don’t panic as it could be one of the frequent, low-intensity tremors. Ask the locals for help.
  2. After the 219 and 2020 protests, Chile is up for tourism but be careful when you visit. I know a lot of travelers who were in Chile during the protests and their travel opportunities were limited. My Chilean friends told me that they won’t settle until the current Chilean government gives up. Read here about the entire issue.
  3. Check for the current news about the protests when you travel to Chile.
  4. I suggest staying in homestays as much as you can so you have locals’ help.
  5. Apart from Santiago, Chile is mostly safe to travel.
  6. If you follow the general travel guidelines, you should be safe in Chile.

 

All right. As I promised, I kept these travel tips to Chile quite compact. I have linked many Chile guides above. But if you are lost, visit my South America page where all the travel articles for the continent are listed. And if you are planning a South America trip, read my comprehensive backpacking South America guide.

a latam plane in a car window chile travel tips.jpg

a latam plane in a car window chile travel tips

 

Do you have any other travel tips for Chile? Please share in the comments.

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