Traveling to Chile? Congratulations, you won’t be disappointed. In this article, I will help you with some handy tips to plan your trip to Chile. What to do, when to come and good reasons that instead of asking yourself Why travel to Chile, you will start planning a trip right the way.
I was born and raised in this beautiful country. As a professional travel writer, I make a living creating content for the Official Promotion of Chile. I also work for a travel agency so yes, I know a few secrets about this beautiful country, the best destination in South America —and the world— for adventure tourism.
For the third year in a row, the South American country was chosen as the best adventure tourism destination 2018 by the World Travel Awards, over world-class destinations such as New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea.
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You will have the chance to discover this amazing country and provide global recognition it deserves so let´s get into it with some facts about Chile before your trip.
What to know before traveling to Chile
How to get to Chile
The main getaway to Chile in Santiago, at Arturo Merino Benítez Airport (SCL). Most tourists are allowed to stay 90 days in the territory and they don’t need a tourist visa. Australians have to pay a reciprocity fee.
You can get to the city by public transport, taxis, Uber, etc. For more details check how to get to Santiago from the airport.
Take advantage of your time in Santiago! Chile is well known for its variety of red and white wines, so It’s your opportunity to learn about wine. Take your time and head to this tour.
You can also go up to the Costanera Center and have a panoramic view of Santiago. I would recommend taking a tour to see the highlights of the city.
Want to go skiing? Well, you can do that too. And if you feel like going to the coast, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are only one hour and a half away from the capital.
It’s your opportunity to learn about wine.
When is the best time to travel to Chile?
Chile has four seasons and you can visit all year round. Summer is hot and dry, but it gets colder as you approach the south.
The best time to visit the National Park Torres del Paine in Patagonia is in Spring and Summer. Atacama desert at any given time, but I would recommend you to visit in winter to avoid the Altiplanic winter. It is not that bad, but in January 2019 was rough for the visitors.
Basic things you should know before arriving in Chile
Telephone code: 056 + city code + number. Example: my mobile number is 56 930 81 8xxx
Time zone: Chile has two time zones, one for the mainland and another for Easter Island and Salas y Gómez islands
There is a change of time in May and August to take advantage of the light. Usually, it is between UTC -3 or -4 depending on the time of year. https://www.timeanddate.com/time/change/chile
Best hotels in Chile: where to stay
You can find hostels, luxury hotels and, of course, Airbnb in Chile.
Please check Booking to find out the hotel that best suits your necessities.
No special vaccines are required to enter Chile but are aware of Hanta Virus, altitude sickness, and the Chilean recluse spider.
Hanta its acquired through exposure to the infected excretion of wild rodents in rural areas in the southern and central parts of Chile. Don’t worry, only sporadic cases have been reported, just be aware if you go camping.
If you travel to the Northen parte of the country, be aware that altitude sickness may develop in those who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500m, like in the Geysers del Tatio nearby San Pedro de Atacama.
Symptoms may headaches, nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, and loss of appetite. If symptoms are severe or persistent, descend immediately.
The best option is to acclimatize to higher altitudes and drink plenty of fluids before going to great altitudes.
Chilean Recluse Spider
The Chilean recluse spider is found all over the country. In Spanish, it is called araña de rincón. It is not aggressive but its venom is very dangerous. Reactions can include renal failure and even death. This spider is brown, about 8mm to 30mm long.
Just before putting on clothes and shoes, shake them before. If bitten, put ice on the bite and get immediate medical attention.
Customs and regulations
Chile has very strict border controls for the entry of products of animal or vegetable origin, so avoid having to pay a fee by not bringing fruits, vegetables, and non-treated wood. Check this website. Check this National Customs document to see what you can’t bring to Chile.
For more detail about Customs and Regulations, check this link.
The official language in Chile is Spanish but minorities speak languages as Mapudungún, Quechua, Aymara, and Rapanui.
Chilean people don’t speak fluent English, in general, but you will always find someone willing to help you.
Just keep in mind that Chilean Spanish differs a lot from other Latin countries and Spain. We speak very fast, with a lot of idioms. We are like the Scottish of the Spanish speaking world.
Typical Chilean words:
Hueón: there are a variety of meanings for this word. It basically translates as big balls. It means friends, idiot, a guy. Confusing, isn’t it.
Cachai (Catchei): apparently, it comes from the English “to catch”. It means “do you understand?”.
Safety in Chile
Chile is a safe country for South American standards, therefore, the chances that you will be kidnapped are murdered are very low. Use common sense and be aware of your belongings, especially mobile phones, computers, and expensive cameras, since there are pickpockets in places like Valparaiso and Santiago.
Other than that, traveling in Chile is easy and safe in general. Especially in the South.
If you are a traveling solo woman, I would suggest not to walk through dark allies late at night.
Chileans greet each other with a kiss on the cheek (woman to woman and men to woman), even if you don’t know this person. You can still shake hands if you prefer on very formal occasions.
Punctuality is not a virtue in South America in general and Chile is not the exception. Been 15 minutes late is totally acceptable (not for me though which I happen to be super punctual!).
Tips are 10% of the total. If the service is super good, you can leave more. Some restaurants include the tip in the bill.
Food and drinks
Make sure you try some delicious empanadas, pastel de choclo, and are particular version of the hot dog: completos.
For more details, please check this list of typical Chilean dishes you should try.
Most visited spots in Chile
San Pedro de Atacama
One of our most popular touristic spots in Chile in San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world. Take a plane to the Nort of Chile and amaze yourself with the Valley of The Moon, Geysers del Tatio, among a lot of incredible and unique landscapes. Take a look at my guide for the Best things to do in San Pedro de Atacama.
Heading to the coast of Chile? Don’t miss Valparaiso, the South America capital of street art and a bohemian port full of patrimonial spots. Check How to get to Valparaiso from Santiago.
Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And it’s huge! It takes almost 40% of the Chilean territory. Take a road trip to the Aysen Region and you won’t be disappointed. Continue your trip to Chile and go down south to Torres del Paine.
Rapa Nui or Easter island (Spanish Isla de Pascua) is an island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, famous for its nearly 1,000 statues called moai. Since 1995, Easter Island is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Check the requirements to travel to Easter Island.
Do you need any more reasons to travel to Chile? If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments of sending me a DM through Instagram. I will be more than happy to help you with your travel to Chile.
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