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Chile is a country in South America. Chile occupies a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean.

Chile is endowed with 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, snowy mountains, and exquisite national parks.


Map of Chile
  Northern Chile (Regions of Arica-Parinacota, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo)
Visit the driest desert in the world, archeological ruins and the Andean highlands.
  Central Chile (Regions of Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and Maule)
The heart of the country, you can visit the main cities, famous vineyards and some of the best ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere
  Southern Chile (Regions of Ñuble, Biobío, Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos)
The land of the Mapuches, lakes, rivers and the mythology-rich Chiloé Island.
  Patagonia (Regions of Aysén and Magallanes)
Fjords, ice caps, lakes and forests.
  Juan Fernández Islands
Robinson Crusoe Island and other islands
  Easter Island (Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua)
A lonely island over 3,500 km from the coast of Chile, home of one of the most mysterious civilizations in the world.


  • 1 Santiago — the capital and largest city of the country.
  • 2 Concepción — Chile's second largest city is a city rich in culture, history and beauty.
  • 3 Iquique — tourist center in Northern Chile.
  • 4 La Serena — a charming city, with beautiful, well-preserved neocolonial architecture, and extensive beaches.
  • 5 Punta Arenas — one of the southernmost cities of the world, it is an important starting point for trips to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.
  • 6 San Pedro de Atacama — visitors come in large numbers to use the town as a stepping stone to the amazing surrounding landscapes.
  • 7 Valdivia — is called the "City of Rivers", the "Pearl of the South", and the "Beer Capital of Chile".
  • 8 Valparaíso — known for its bohemian culture, brightly colored houses, and beautiful seaside views, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 9 Vina del Mar — the principal tourist attraction: beaches, casino and a music festival.

Other destinations[edit]

Llamas and alpacas are at home in Lauca National Park.
  • 1 Chiloé Island — the largest island of the country.
  • 2 Laguna San Rafael National Park — includes the San Rafael Glacier, accessible only by boat or plane
  • 3 Lauca National Park — the Lago Chungará, one of the world's highest lakes, overseen by the mighty Volcán Parinacota.
  • 4 Pichilemu — Chile's premier surfing destination.
  • 5 Robinson Crusoe Island — well known for its jungles and endemic flora
  • 6 Torres del Paine National Park — the mountains, lakes and glaciers, including the Towers of Paine.
  • 7 Valle de Elqui — a wine and pisco producing area, also known for its astronomical observatories.
  • 8 Valle de la Luna — breathtaking desert landscape with impressive sand dunes and rock formations.
  • 9 Villarrica — surrounded by lakes and volcanoes.
See also: Chilean national parks


Capital Santiago
Currency Chilean peso (CLP)
Population 19.4 million (2021)
Electricity 220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Type L)
Country code +56
Time zone UTC−03:00, UTC−05:00
Emergencies 131 (emergency medical services), 132 (fire department), 133 (Carabineros de Chile), +238-130 (wildfire), 134 (Investigations Police of Chile)
Driving side right

Chile borders Peru to the north and Argentina and Bolivia to the east. Chile has over 5,000 km (3,100 miles) of coast on the South Pacific Ocean.


Before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Araucanians (Mapuche) inhabited central and southern Chile. The Mapuche were also one of the last independent American indigenous groups, that were not fully absorbed into Spanish-speaking rule until after Chile's independence. Although Chile declared independence in 1810 (amid the Napoleonic wars that left Spain without a functioning central government for a couple of years), decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879–1883), Chile invaded parts of Peru and Bolivia and kept its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Araucanians were completely subjugated.

A view towards Torres del Paine National Park

Although relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that blighted South America until the 1970s, things took a turn for the worse in that decade. When popular communist/democratic socialist Salvador Allende won a bare plurality in the free and fair 1970 elections, he ran on a platform of social justice and bridging the (already then) huge divide between a wealthy few and the rest of the population. However, although some centre-right (most notably the Chilean Christian Democrats) parties supported or at least didn't outright attack his government, he had to deal not only with domestic opposition from some sectors of society and the military, but also a difficult international situation with the U.S. not tolerating any kind of "communist" in their "backyard". In a coup that was led by the head of the army (that Allende had picked himself, believing him to be loyal if not to himself than at least to the constitution) Augusto Pinochet on September 11th 1973, the Allende government was overthrown and Allende died of a gunshot wound, now believed to be suicide. As a result of that coup, Chile endured a brutal 17-year military dictatorship under Pinochet (1973–1990) that left around 3,000 people, mostly leftists and socialist sympathizers, dead or missing. While it is not entirely clear the extent to which the U.S. was involved in the coup that brought Pinochet to power, it is now widely believed that the coup at least had the blessing of the CIA and the American leadership. Some conservative leaders in Europe were among the biggest supporters of Pinochet's regime throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Pinochet was widely reviled worldwide for his methods, however, a centre-left Chilean administration came into power after he stepped down when he lost a national referendum. Although Pinochet's neo-liberal (deregulation and privatization) policies encouraged economic growth, they immensely hurt the poorer parts of the population and hugely increased the gap between rich and poor. The economic disparity was, much like Pinochet's tweaks to the constitution, designed to ensure him getting away unpunished (which he more or less did) and conservatives always having a de facto veto on some issues; and such problems still plague the country today. The new government of Patricio Aylwin thought it sensible to maintain free market policies, which present-day Chile still harbours.

Despite having a comparatively higher GDP and more robust economy compared to most other countries of Latin America, Chile has one of the most uneven distributions of wealth in the world, ahead only of Brazil in the Latin American region and even lagging behind most developing sub-Saharan African nations. The extreme divisions have caused a lot of uproar, and in the early 2010s, there was a youth and student protest movement to draw attention to these issues. Though some policies to mitigate the most extreme disparities have been proposed or passed, their effects seem to be minuscule as of early 2015.

Chile is a founding member of both United Nations and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and is also now in the OECD, the group of the "most developed" countries by current international standards, becoming the first country in South America with that honour.

Chile claims to be a tricontinental country, with islands in Oceania, and a claim to a 1.25 million km² portion of Antarctica, overlapping with Argentina's claims. Given the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, no country's territorial claims to Antarctica are ever recognized or permitted to be exercised at any time. However, much like Argentina, some Chileans take their claims in Antarctica and surrounding islands seriously.


Clear skies of northern Chile are an attraction in itself; the largest observatories in the world have settled there, taking advantage of its natural conditions

Chile's unusual, ribbon-like shape – 4,300 km long and on average 175 km wide – has given it a varied climate, ranging from the world's driest desert – the Atacama – in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a rainy temperate climate in the south, while the Andes have cold weather. The northern desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper.


Due to the dissimilar geographic features of Chile, cultural expressions vary markedly in different parts of the country. The northern area is characterized by various cultural events that combine the influence of Andean indigenous peoples with the Spanish conquerors, giving great importance to festivals and religious traditions as diabladas and Fiesta de La Tirana. The central area is mostly determined by the rural traditions of the Chilean countryside. As in this geographic region most of the Chilean population is concentrated, is traditionally considered the home country's cultural identity. Its highest expression is performed during the festivities of Independence Day, in mid-September. The Mapuche culture and traditions dominate La Araucanía, while German influence is predominant near Valdivia, Osorno and Lake Llanquihue. In the archipelago of Chiloé culture with its own mythology was generated, while in the regions of the southern area have also created an identity influenced mainly by immigrants from other regions from Chile and foreigners. The cultural identity of Easter Island, meanwhile, is only due to the development of Polynesian culture since time immemorial completely isolated for centuries.

National holidays[edit]

The festivities in Chile correspond to religious celebrations and commemorations civilians. Because of its position in the southern hemisphere-the rental period high season of tourism locally starts in December and runs through the first week of March. The beginning of this period is marked by two major celebrations: Christmas, mainly family-owned and maintains an aspect of religiosity, and New Year, which is usually much more lively, with large parties and fireworks festivals in major cities. Celebrating Good Friday remains a religious and reflective tone, although Easter has become an eminently children's holiday. The arrival of spring marks the main civil festival of the year: Independence Day, which is an opportunity to meet Chileans to celebrate with food and drink, traditions, dances and music.

Colourful decorations for the annual Fiestas Patrias
  • 1 January — New Year's Day
  • March and April — Good Friday - Holy Saturday - Easter
  • 1 May — International Workers' Day
  • 21 May — Day of the Naval Glories (Día de las Glorias Navales)
  • 29 June — Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • 16 July — Day of the Virgin of Carmen (Día de la Virgen del Carmen)
  • 15 August — Assumption of Mary
  • 18 September — Fiestas Patrias
  • 19 September — Day of the Glories of the Army of Chile (Día de las Glorias del Ejército de Chile)
  • 12 October — Columbus Day
  • 31 October — National Day of the Evangelical and Protestant Churches (Día Nacional de las Iglesias Evangélicas y Protestantes)
  • 1 November— All Saints' Day
  • 8 December — Immaculate Conception
  • 25 December — Christmas


In Chile there is no restriction on religion. However, nearly 70% of those above 14 years of age identify as Roman Catholic and nearly 15% as evangelical.

Visitor information[edit]


Chile's main port, Valparaíso, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Spanish is the official language in the country and is spoken everywhere. Chileans use a distinct dialect called Castellano de Chile with a variety of differences in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and slang usage. Spanish-speaking foreigners won't have problems understanding it and will only think it sounds funny, but non-native speakers often struggle to understand it, even with years of practice. For example, Chileans tend to drop the "S" sound at the ends of their words. Instead they replace that sound with an "H" sound (i.e. the word "tres" is pronounced "tréh"). On the other hand, standard Spanish is not the first dialect of choice, but people would generally be fairly fluent. Chilean Spanish is recognized in the Spanish-speaking world for being one of the fastest-spoken accents among Spanish dialects and with tones that rise and fall in its speech, especially in Santiago and its surroundings. It is not offensive to ask someone to repeat what they said or speak slower if you have trouble understanding them.

Here are two of the most common Chilean expressions:

  • Huevón (pronounced usually as way-OHN) could be translated into different words according to its context. Originally a swear word meaning "jerk", it can be used also as "friend" or "dude".
  • Cachar (pronounced ka-CHAR) comes from the verb "to catch" and means "understand". Also, it is commonly used in a weird conjugated form as cachai' at the end of the sentences, similarly to "y'know".

English is widely understood in large cities, especially Santiago, and to a much lesser extent in Valparaíso, Concepción or La Serena. English is now mandatory in schools, so younger people are far more likely to speak English than older people. Most Chileans over age 40 are unlikely to speak English, unless they are tourist industry workers. English is also spoken by descendants of British settlers.

Indigenous languages including Mapudungun, Quechua and Rapa Nui (in Easter Island) are spoken in Chile but only among indigenous people, who are less than 5% of the population. Many people identifying with one of these groups are not able to speak the language of their ancestors and speak only Spanish instead; those who speak their own languages speak them as second or third language as they learn the languages later in life.

Many Chileans understand some French, Italian and Portuguese and also there are some German speakers, especially in the south of the country, where a lot of German migrants arrived in the second half of the 19th century and some around the time of World War II.

Get in[edit]

Entry requirements[edit]

Map of visa requirements for Chile. Visitors from countries shown in grey must obtain a visa before travel


Passport holders of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Chile when the purpose of the visit is tourism for up to 90 days (unless otherwise noted): Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao (30 days), Malaysia (30 days), Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore (30 days), Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Vietnam.

Citizens and residents (if their nationality is mentioned under visa exemptions applicable to normal passport holders) of the following countries can enter with their National ID card: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay

Citizens of other nationalities, including several African and Asian nationalities, will not be able to enter Chile, without applying for a special visa from a Chile consulate before entry.

Citizens of Australia are no longer required to pay a reciprocity fee, as of 2020.

Further information about tourist visa can be found on the Ministry of Interior and Public Safety website.

Entry and exit procedures[edit]

When entering Chile, you will be processed at immigration by the International Police, a branch of the Investigations Police of Chile (Policía de Investigaciones de Chile, or PDI). The officer scan your passport, asks you questions about the purpose of your visit and where you are staying in Chile, then prints out a receipt showing information drawn from your passport, your destination in Chile and a large matrix bar code. Keep this receipt safe: it is the equivalent of the old tourist card form. You will be required to present it to the International Police when you depart Chile, and you may not be allowed to leave without it. Together with your passport, it also exempts you from the 19% room tax at all hotels, making losing it quite costly.

If arriving by air, you will then be required to proceed to the baggage claim to pick up your bags. You will have to fill out a customs declaration form (which is handed out in flight), and proceed to customs inspection. Regardless of whether you have anything to declare, all bags of all international arrivals are screened by x-ray machines at airport customs stations.

On flights leaving Chile, there is an airport tax of US$25 or the equivalent in Chilean pesos for flights longer than 500km, which is normally included in the ticket price. On domestic flights, airport tax depends on the distance with distances less than 270 km costing 1,969 pesos and longer distances costing 5,570 pesos; either way, it will also be included in the ticket price.

Like most countries, Chile has immigration inspection stations at airports for both arriving and departing international passengers. The total time to clear immigration (not including additional time for customs for inbound flights or security for outbound flights) usually takes at least 30 minutes to one hour. This is why some airlines ask passengers leaving Chile on international flights to check in at three hours before departure time, to ensure they have adequate time to clear outbound immigration and security inspection.

Santa Lucia Park in Santiago

Other restrictions[edit]

Chile is a geographically isolated country, separated from its neighbours by desert, mountains and ocean. This protects it from many pests and diseases that can hit agriculture, one of the biggest national economic sources. Due to this, importation of certain fresh, perishable or wooden goods (such as meat products, fruits & vegetables, honey, untreated wood, etc.) can be either restricted or even prohibited. Upon arrival, the customs declaration form will require you to declare any product of animal or vegetable origins that you are carrying. If you are, declare so and show the form to SAG officials at the customs inspection station. If you fail to do it, fines can be quite heavy (US$170–18,000)

Prior to 30 August 2016, Chile was not a signatory to the Hague Convention on apostilles, meaning that all documents other than passports were considered legally worthless in Chile, unless legalized by a foreign Chilean consulate or embassy before coming to Chile. Since the Convention has come into effect in Chile, it is sufficient to obtain notarization or certification, together with apostilles, to ensure that foreign documents will be accepted as legally binding in Chile.

Being a unitary state, laws are uniform across Chile.

By plane[edit]

The most common entry point for overseas visitors is the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL IATA) in the commune of Pudahuel, 15 km (9.3 miles) north-west of downtown Santiago. It is the largest aviation facility in Chile and the 5th busiest of South America by passenger traffic (over 24 million in 2019). It is a major connecting point for air traffic between Oceania and Latin America.

Santiago International Airport is served by several non-stop international service, mainly from Europe, the Americas and Oceania. LATAM Airlines is the largest national carrier and flights from the main cities in the Americas, Sydney, Auckland, Papeete, Frankfurt and Madrid. Other airlines serving SCL are Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Iberia, KLM, Level, Qantas and United Airlines.

With the opening in 2019 of the expansion to the international terminal, Santiago's airport finally has enough space to park several planes, the downside is that now it is in the farthest part of the airport, so you have to use a series of stairs or belts to migration. This problem is expected to be solved with the new phase of the airport

Other airports with international services are in Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Calama, Concepción, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, all of them to neighbouring countries. The Mataveri International Airport in Easter Island receives only LATAM Airlines flights from Santiago and Papeete.

By bus[edit]

If you are already in South America, a cheaper and reliable way is to go by bus to Chile. Buses from Argentina depart daily from Mendoza, Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes, and even from Buenos Aires weekly. From Peru, there are several buses from Arequipa; some taxis also cross the border between Tacna and Arica, departing from the 'Terminal Terrestre International' in Tacna. There are also several buses from Bolivia to northern cities and Santiago. Also, there are Brazilian buses from São Paulo, on Mondays and Thursdays.

The crossing from Bolivia or Argentina through the Andes takes place at high altitude, up to 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Also, the roads from Peru and Bolivia are a bit poor in quality, so be patient. During the winter, which begins in June and ends in August, it is not uncommon for roads from Argentina to close for days at a time because of snow.

By boat[edit]

Boat journeys from neighboring Argentina exist, with companies like Cruceandino offering "cruise" style trips across the border from Bariloche, with different lengths of journey. One-day (12-hour) journeys cost around US$300.

Get around[edit]

Cycling in Las Torres del Paine

By plane[edit]

Chile has a rather good airport infrastructure. The main hub for flights in Chile is the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL IATA) in Santiago, from where several airlines serve even the remotest corners of the country. These airlines are the three Chilean airlines: LATAM Airlines, Sky Airline and JetSmart. Although LATAM is by far the largest company, Sky and JetSmart offer good services to the main cities.

Since 2016, when low-cost airlines started serving Chile, the prices have dropped, so you can fly some routes for as little as 6,900 pesos one way, but with no free carry-ons except a small bag. Use the Chilean page of the airlines because they charge in pesos, which is a lot cheaper than the English version with U.S. dollars. Subscribing to the airlines' notifications is also recommended as many of the promotions come in the form of a code. You can find cheap prices four months before the flight and especially if you fly between Tuesday and Thursday or on Saturday.

Almost all flights start or finish in Santiago, so many routes between other cities are subject to time-consuming layovers in Santiago Airport. An exception is the so-called "Rutas Smart" by JetSmart which avoid Santiago; most of them are from Antofagasta, Calama, La Serena or Concepción. Domestic routes are served by Airbus 319, Airbus 321 and Airbus 320 planes when flying with LATAM, and Airbus 320Neos when flying Sky Airline or JetSmart

The only airline flying to Easter Island is LATAM Airlines from Santiago. Other remote locations are served by regional airlines. In the Extreme South, Aerovías DAP offers daily routes (in summer) from Punta Arenas to Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego and Puerto Williams. Between November and March, DAP offers very limited and expensive flights to Villa Las Estrellas in Antarctica; this flight can be taken only as part of a tour and requires a 5-day stay in Punta Arenas. To Robinson Crusoe Island, there are weekly flights from Santiago and Valparaíso.

By bus[edit]

The bus system is sophisticated and provides a cheap and comfortable way to get from town to town. Local companies will usually stop at many stations along the way. If you prefer, you can always ask if there's a non-stop or directo service. Companies that cover almost the entire country include Turbus and Pullman (websites in Spanish only). In Santiago, you can find both terminals and more companies on Universidad de Santiago metro station. Companies that cover the North of Chile and Argentina (Salta) include Geminis. FlixBus connects Santiago with Viña del Mar, San Antonio and Coquimbo.

Prices vary on a daily basis, so are usually more expensive on weekends and holidays tickets than on weekdays. Ticket prices are also almost always negotiable: don't be shy to ask for a discount, especially if you are in a group. Always ask at different booths and make sure the vendors see you are shopping around.

The quality of service varies quite a lot. Check if the bus is "cama" (bed), "semi-cama" (heavily inclining seats) or ejecutivo (executive: slightly inclining seat). Toilets are not always available and if available not always working, especially at a later stage of a long journey (such as Arica–Santiago).

Buses are almost never full, so you can buy your ticket at the bus station without reservation, except during Chilean holidays (January–February, Easter and Fiestas Patrias). Moreover, most bus companies don't have websites – and those that have mostly require a Chilean ID number to buy a ticket.

Some companies have their own private bus station but can operate from another bus station and this is particularly true for Turbus, so check in advance where you need to take your bus.

By train[edit]

Tren Central, the passenger section of the government railway company, regularly operates trains between Santiago and Chillán, as well as occasional service between Santiago and Temuco, which occurs when holidays cause a long weekend. It also operates the last remaining ramal, or branch line, between Talca and Constitución, as well as a wine-tasting train through the central valley for tourists.

By micro[edit]

Tourists with micro, Petrohué

Micro = transit/local buses. The word is the contraction of microbus. Larger cities have cross-town bus routes at affordable prices. Only Santiago's system, called "Transantiago", have maps (Map as of September 2020) with all the routes, so a little bit of Spanish and the audacity to ask around can get you places effectively in other major cities.

To travel by "micro" in Santiago you will need to buy before a smart contactless travel-card called "BIP" and charge it with money. You can do so in any subway station, in most supermarkets and in some smaller stores. This card also allows you to travel by subway in Santiago. Be careful! You won't be able to travel by bus without money in your BIP card. The card costs 1,550 pesos, and a ticket costs a little over 700 pesos, which allows you to make up to four transfers between metro and buses within a 2-hour time period. You only need to scan the card at the beginning of your journey and at every transfer. You should hop off the "micro" through the back doors.

By colectivo[edit]

A mix between a micro and a taxi. These small cars have routes and get around quicker and more comfortably. Fares are similar to those on the Micro, and depend on the hour. Cash only.

By metro[edit]

A metropolitan railway system operating in metropolitan areas of Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción. A reliable way to move around in the city. You must pay the fee only once (when you enter the system) and you can ride as much as you want. There are now more stations in Santiago because of the construction of two new lines. Visit the website for more information.

By car[edit]

Main article: Driving in Chile
Desert road near Paranal
Countryside unpaved road with T-crossing sign

Chilean roads are generally good compared to most of Latin America. Expressways are virtually always well-maintained, paved, painted, signed, and largely free of potholes, cracks, litter and debris. However, many older streets in cities are in poor condition, and drivers must be alert to avoid cracks, dips, drains and potholes. Country roads are also sometimes in poor condition; they are not paved to the same thickness as in some countries, and even slight deterioration may cause the underlying dirt base to show through.

Chile has relied upon privatized toll concessions to build and maintain major highways since the early 20th century. If you plan on driving around Chile, plan on paying lots of tolls.

Driving is to the right, and the left lane on expressways is for overtaking, not "the fast lane". There is no right turn on red, except where explicitly signed (which is rare). It's mandatory to always have the car lights on, even during the day.

Chileans generally obey red lights, stop signs and other traffic control devices, and their driving is much more sane than most of Latin America. However, some visitors find their driving to be more aggressive than at home. Despite steep fines and frequent use of radar guns, photo radar, and speed traps, speeding is rampant.

In big cities, it is a good idea to avoid rush hours, 07:00–09:00 and 17:00–20:00. Chileans sometimes follow the "European" model of gently bumping into other vehicles while parallel parking, in order to squeeze into very tight spaces. Thus, many Chilean vehicles have chipped or scratched paint from such close encounters.

Carjackings are rare compared to most Latin American countries.

Car rentals[edit]

Car rentals are widely available throughout most major cities, but not in smaller towns. Usually a credit card, a valid driver's licence and a passport, all three issued to the same person, are needed to rent a car. If your driver's licence is not in Spanish, you also need an International Driver Permit (IDP). Many rental car companies will not ask for an IDP, but it's a good idea to have one, just in case you encounter the police.

Rental rates in Santiago are very similar to those in the U.S., but prices can be much higher in other cities. Manual transmission is the norm; if you are not certified to drive with manual transmission, or not comfortable with it, you should be prepared to pay up to US$100 per day for a standard-size sedan. Smaller cars are often not available with automatic transmission.

If you want to bring rental cars across South American borders (as part of a road trip), you will need to notify the rental car company in advance, pay additional fees, and obtain extra paperwork.

By thumb[edit]

The concept of hitchhiking as a form of travel is not common or well comprehended. Nevertheless, many people will stop to take you for a ride, either because you are a tourist or they believe the bus is not very frequent and you might be stuck. Thus, hitchhiking in Chile is not difficult, given enough time and patience. It is seen as a common form of travel for tourists and young, adventurous Chileans.

On large highways such as the Panamerican Highway, hitching is really great and easy because there are many trucks going between big cities. Also, more often you will be lucky with workers traffic and less with (local) tourists. Hence, depending on the region, a holiday or Sunday can sometimes be difficult. Smaller, more scenic roads such as the Carretera Austral in the south, can leave you waiting for half a dozen hours in the more remote sections but the rides will generally get you a long way and are worth waiting for. If you are a tourist be sure to show it with your backpack, flags attached to your backpack, etc. The locals love chatting with foreigners.

Due to the lack of budget accommodation in many regions and even larger cities off the touristy routes, as well as because of the large distances, it is advisable to carry a tent with you. There are many opportunities along the coast or backcountry to put it up. However, along the central Ruta 5, it is advisable to rather take a bus as a last resort.

Along larger highways always wait somewhere convenient at the ramp towards the highway where cars enter. Waiting directly at the highway can be highly unsuccessful, as most cars will not be willing to slow then. Ruta 5 becomes more and more difficult to hitch-hike the closer you get north to Santiago, because then it is mostly local traffic that often takes exits to cities that are contrary to the direction you travel. E.g. entering the city in the south because this is where you come from. However, you actually want to go north, so most traffic north leaves at the northern entry to the highway. Therefore, get to the coast from Temuco or at least Concepción if going north, even though Concepción might be difficult to cross. Traffic along the Ruta del Mar is less frequent but more gracious, and camping opportunities are more frequent and less worrisome. South of Valdivia things are more bearable, because there is just one entry and exit at towns and cities.

On foot and navigation[edit]

Chile is an excellent place for hiking and trekking, both in the (volcanic) mountains and the lush forests, providing many interesting trails. However, due to the often remote nature of these trails, it is important that you are well prepared and have a proper and reliable map with you. Using GPS navigation adds an extra layer of safety, in cities as well as in the countryside. For reliable (offline) maps and comprehensive trails and map information, consult OpenStreetMap, which is also used by this travel guide, and by many mobile Apps like OsmAnd or Or just download the according GPX or KML files through Waymarked Trails for such trails on OpenStreetMap. (Note, you just need to change the OpenStreetMap relation ID to download the GPX or KML files through the same link.)


Miscanti lagoon near San Pedro de Atacama

Stretching from 17°S in the north to 55°S in the south, Chile is latitude-wise among the longest countries in the world, with several climate zones and types of nature. High mountains are present everywhere in the country. On the Chilean mainland you can visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Old Valparaíso, the Sewell mining town in Rancagua and the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works outside Iquique. Just off the coast are the churches of Chiloé Island, and five and a half hours by plane across the Pacific Ocean will get you to maybe the most famous "Off the Beaten Path" destination in the world: Easter Island.


  • Hiking and trekking. Chile is a great country to seek out the nature, glaciers, lakes and mountains for a couple of days with a tent, sleeping bag and cooking ware. Many of Chile's (southern) sights are spotted with beautiful hiking trails of varying quality and level. Often you will have to climb up a mountain to see a glacier or a lake, just to return later – in that case consider leaving your (heavy) luggage where it cannot be found and enjoy the trail without the burden, but remembering where you left your backpack before. Also, see the general Hiking and Wilderness backpacking guidelines of Wikivoyage. Check out the following great destinations:
    • Chiloé Island and its beautiful coastal national park with mostly flat hikes
    • Valdivia, the Reserva Costera Valdiviana and many other destinations around Valdivia with flat to rolling hills
    • Cochamó Valley, the Yosemite of Chile and the huge area south of it, even into Argentina, for medium to advanced hikers
    • Talca and everything to its east, for advanced hikers
    • Torres del Paine National Park, impressive, touristy and expensive
  • Surfing. Everything between Cobquecura and Pelluhue, like Curanipe, Cardonal, Tregualemu and Buchupureo are exceptional surfing destinations and mirror the shape and conditions of the Californian coast on the northern side of the continent. This region is still a hidden gem and is receiving a lot of state support for development. However, beaches and breaks are far from overrun and you can find many lone opportunities to try out your board.
  • Chile is home to the second largest recreational pool in the world (the largest until its builder finished an even larger pool in Egypt in 2015) at the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo. You will want a sailboat to complete its 2 km length.



Exchange rates for Chilean peso

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ 880 pesos
  • €1 ≈ 975 pesos
  • UK£1 ≈ 1120 pesos

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from

A post on a Ferias libres

Chile's currency is the Chilean peso (ISO code: CLP), denoted by the symbol "$". Wikivoyage uses the notation "pesos" for clarity. Other currencies are not widely accepted, but most cities have exchange bureaux with reasonable rates for euros and US dollars. The rates should be published on widely visible boards.

Coins of Chile are issued in denominations of 10, 50, 100 (yellow ring with silver center) and 500 pesos (silver ring with yellow center). Banknotes of Chile are issued in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. The current issues of the banknotes of Chile consist of the lower three denominations produced entirely in polymer, while the two large denominations are produced entirely on paper.

The colloquial term luca is used for 1,000 pesos, so for instance "tres lucas" is 3,000 pesos.

The 5-pesos and 1-peso coins were discontinued in 2017. Most prices are in multiples of 10 or even 100, but if you end up needing to pay an amount that isn't and your amount ends in 5 or less, your amount will be round up to the lower multiple of 10, in the opposite case your amount will be round up to the higher multiple of 10 (example: 1,664→1,660 pesos; 1,666→1,670 pesos). This rule only applies when you pay by cash.

Credit cards[edit]

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most of the independent commerce of major cities and in all chain stores, no matter where they are. The PIN security system has been introduced for credit cards, so you will mostly only need your personal PIN (four digit code) as it exists in other parts of the world. For some cards you will not be asked for your PIN and they will use the four last numbers of the credit card entered manually and you will have to show a valid ID.

For credit cards that require signing, there are two differences to be aware of:

  1. There is a line below the signature line labeled C.I. (cedula de identidad or identity card). Foreigners are expected to write down their passport or national ID number. Not all locations will require CI to be filled. Even fewer will ask to confirm the number with your ID.
  2. Credit cards machines will ask sin cuotas or con cuotas. As a foreigner, you should always select sin (which means without). Cuotas literally translates to fees and is a way for Chilean banks to offer a payment plan over the period of months.


The automatic teller machine (ATM) network in Chile is respectable in coverage—they're all connected to the same service and enable standard transactions. Different banks will charge you different amounts of money for extracting cash—you will be advised on the screen of the surcharge. Banco Estado does not add a surcharge for MasterCard. However, as of 2018, Banco Estado charges 4,000 pesos and Banco de Chile charges 6,500 pesos on Visa cards. Withdrawals of up to 200,000 pesos are possible with Banco Estado. Some travellers were even able to withdraw 280,000 pesos, which brings down the percentage of fees further.

Criminals sometimes install hard-to-detect skimmers and micro-cameras in some less surveiled ATM facilities. These devices are meant to read your card's information to produce a clone. Several international crime gangs have been arrested for this. Always check if the card slot looks suspicious or is easy to move or detach and always cover the keyboard with your hand while punching your PIN.

Money exchange[edit]

Never exchange money on the street, especially if a "helper" indicates you to follow them. Rates at exchange bureaus are too good to take this risk.

It's not advisable to exchange currency in the hotel or the airport as the rates are awful. Just be patient. Banco Santander has a monopoly on the ATMs of the airport and will add a surcharge of 2,500 pesos for retrieving cash but it is still better than the exchange bureaus.

Money exchange, accommodation, VAT, etc[edit]

Considering the withdrawal fees at ATMs, it is a good idea to bring some US dollars or even Euros to Chile. Money exchange rates are quite competitive with an included fee of around 1%—the fee is 4% when withdrawing 100,000 pesos from an ATM.

Nevertheless, having US dollars is also handy for paying at your accommodation, because if can paying in foreign currency as foreigner, you do not have to pay VAT. This is true also for credit card payments in foreign currency, but most smaller places will often not support US dollar credit card payments or even just credit card payments, because it needs to be registered with the tax office of Chile (SII) for this purpose. But sometimes you are lucky, and they will not charge the VAT at all, even if paying in local currency, which is kind of illegal.

When using US dollars, make sure to always have and receive proper notes. US dollar notes that are flexed too much, have writing on them or discoloration or stains are barely accepted. Even though, banks seem to be more forgiving than smaller money changing offices. Which is fine, because banks have quite competitive rates. However, exchange office can sometimes even beat these rates, e.g. in Valparaíso.

You might decide to generally pay with your credit card, in local or foreign currency, due to the competitive exchange rates of your bank and the low 0-3% payment fee. However, credit card fraud in South America is not uncommon, and you are better off to only use your card with respected businesses.


Tipping is not obligatory but is generally expected. It is usually assumed that customers will leave a tip of 10%, if the service is considered satisfactory. Sometimes restaurants automatically add it to the bill.

It's also important to tip the baggers at grocery stores; 300–500 pesos is fine.


Basic supplies[edit]

For basic supplies like groceries, there are many convenience stores and corner grocery stores. Large supermarkets such as Lider, Jumbo, Tottus and Santa Isabel are often found both as stand-alone stores and as mall anchors. Lider will seem a little familiar to North Americans in that it is owned by Walmart and has reconfigured its store signage to look somewhat like Walmart stores. However, Chile's strong consumer goods economy is dominated by local brands, which means almost all the brands on the shelves will be new to most visitors from outside South America.

The dominant pharmacy chains in Chile are Cruz Verde, Ahumada and Salcobrand. Only cosmetics are kept in the public area. All drugs and supplements are kept behind the counter and must be asked for by name, which can be tricky if you cannot speak Spanish.


Nowadays, the word artesanal is used in inflationary manners in Chile and Argentina mostly without any added value. It has become a marketing term used by many places in hope of selling things at an inflated price, pretending extra quality where there is none. Generally, you are better off ignoring this term and skipping goods, food or places that emphasis this wording.


Chilean cuisine has a wide variety of dishes that emerged from the amalgamation of indigenous tradition and Spanish colonial contribution, combining their food, customs and culinary habits. Influences from German, Italian and French cuisines are thanks to immigrants who arrived during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Chilean Creole food in general is presented as a mixture of the meat and agricultural products of each area. In the north and south fishing is a major economic activity and this is reflected in the variety of dishes: the desert area's ceviche (fish seasoned with lemon and onions) and curanto (cooked seafood, meat, sausages and potatoes made in a hole in the ground) are the ultimate expression of chilota kitchen. The potato is also key in other chilota preparations as milcao and chapaleles. The central area uses corn (maize) and beef for foods such as tamales. Pie pine casserole and charquicán are some of the most recognized within the region. The roast, meanwhile, stands as the main preparation for informal gatherings and family; take this opportunity to learn more about Chilean society. Desserts include alfajores and Curicó cakes, while German immigrants introduced the kuchen and strudel pastry.

Chile's extensive geography allows development on its shores of several varieties of seafood: the top highlights are the croaker, pomfret, conger eel and salmon, which is produced industrially in the south of the country. For shellfish: oysters, as well as certain crustaceans such as crab and lobster. Beef, chicken and pork are the main meats, although in the Patagonian area one can easily find lamb. Chile is a major exporter of fruit, so you can find a variety of apples, oranges, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and custard, in good quality and much cheaper than in Europe or North America.

Despite this wide variety of dishes and products, normal food in a Chilean home is not very different from any other Western country; during your stay you will certainly see more dishes with rice, meat, potatoes or pasta than corn pies or cakes.

In Santiago and major cities, you can find a wide range of restaurants serving both local and international food. Although optional, it is customary to add a gratuity of 10%, delivered directly to the waiter. He or she will always welcome more. Not giving a tip is considered quite rude, performed only when there has been very bad service.

The major fast food chains in the world have several branches in the country. If you resort to fast food, it is better to have one of the wide variety of sandwiches that exist in the country: the Barros Luco (meat and cheese) and Italian full (hot dog with tomato, avocado and mayonnaise) are the most traditional. If you are in Valparaíso and have good cholesterol levels, do not waste the opportunity to try a chorrillana. On the streets you can find many stalls selling buns (fried pumpkin masses) and the refreshing mote with ossicles. Food prepared in stalls will generally give few problems, although don’t try if you have a weak stomach.

Cazuela comes in many ways
  • Pastel de choclo: corn casserole filled with ground beef, onions, chicken, raisins, hardboiled egg, olives, and topped with sugar and butter.
  • Empanada de pino: a baked pie filled with ground (minced) beef, onion, raisins, a piece of boiled egg and a black olive. Watch out for the pit.
  • Empanada de queso: a deep-fried pastry packet filled with cheese. Found everywhere, including McDonald's.
  • Cazuela de vacuno: beef soup with a potato, rice, a piece of corn and a piece of squash.
  • Cazuela de ave (or de pollo): same as above, but with a piece of chicken.
  • Cazuela de pavo: same as above, but with turkey.
  • Porotos granados: stew made with fresh beans, squash, corn, onion and basil.
    • con choclo: with grains of corn.
    • con pilco or pirco: with corn thinly chopped.
    • con mazamorra: with ground corn.
    • con riendas: with thin sliced noodles.
  • Curanto: lots of seafood, beef, chicken and pork, potatoes, cheese, and potato "burguers," prepared in a hole in the ground ("en hoyo") or in a pot ("en olla"); a dish from Chiloé.
  • Southern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, with no pumpkin in its dough (see Northern sopaipillas in the desserts section). They replace bread. They are known South of Linares.
  • Lomo a lo pobre: a beefsteak, fried potatoes, a fried egg (expect two in restaurants) and fried onions.

Besides typical foods, you should expect food normally found in any Western country. The normal diet includes rice, potatoes, meat and bread. Vegetables are abundant in central Chile. If you are concerned about the portions, consider that the size of the dish increases the farther south you travel.

With such an enormous coastline, you can expect fish and seafood almost everywhere. Locals used to eat bundles of raw shellfish, but visitors should be cautious of raw shellfish because of frequent outbreaks of red tides. Chile is the world's second largest producer of salmon, as well as a number of other farmed sea products, which include oysters, scallops, mussels, trout and turbot. Local fish include corvina (sea bass), congrio(conger eel), lenguado (flounder), albacora (swordfish), and yellow fin tuna.


  • Hotdog or Completo (meaning 'complete' in English). Not similar to the US version. This one includes mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato or sauerkraut (chucrut), mashed avocado (palta) and chili (ají). These ingredients make a full sandwich, called un completo. With mayonnaise, tomato and avocado it's un italiano (an Italian) with the colors of the Italian flag.
  • Lomito. Cooked pork steaks served with anything that can go in a hotdog. Italiano is the preferred form but German purists prefer it with sauerkraut (chucrut).
  • Chacarero: a thin beefsteak (churrasco) with tomato, green beans, mayonnaise and green chili (ají verde).
  • Barros Luco: Named after President Ramón Barros Luco. Thinly-sliced beefsteak with melted cheese.
  • Choripán: Bread with "chorizo", a highly seasoned pork sausage. Named that way because the contraction of "Pan con Chorizo" or "Chorizo con Pan".

A common combination is meat with avocado and/or mayonnaise, e.g. Ave palta mayo (chicken with avocado and mayonnaise) or Churrasco palta (thinly-sliced beefsteak with avocado). The strong presence for avocado is a Chilean standard for sandwiches that influences the fast food franchises to include it in their menus.


  • Northern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, which includes pumpkin in its dough, and normally is eaten with chancaca, a black treacle or molasses. It's customary to make them when it rains and it's cold outside. Sopaipillas as a dessert are only known north of San Javier. From Linares to the South, they are not dessert and pumpkin is left out, so, when it rains, Chilean Southerners must cook picarones. In Santiago, Sopaipillas can be served covered with a sweet syrup as a dessert, or with spicy yellow mustard.
  • Kuchen (or cújen, pronounced KOO-hen) is German for pie. In the South ask for kuchen de quesillo, a kind of cheesecake.
  • Strudel (pronounced ess-TROO-dayl). A kind of apple pie.
  • Berlín. When they translate John Kennedy's famous quote (often mistakenly thought of as a gaffe) they say it's a “jelly doughnut”. The Chilean version is a ball of dough (no hole) filled with dulce de membrillo, crema pastelera or manjar. Powder sugar is added just in case you have a sweet tooth.
  • Cuchuflí. Barquillo (tube of something crunchy like a cookie) filled with manjar. The name originally comes from cuchufleta which means deceit or trickery, as they used to be filled only at the tips of the barquillos, leaving the middle part empty.


Central Chile is a major tempered fruit producer, you can easily get fruit for dessert, including apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, watermelons, strawberries, raspberries, chirimoyas and several other varieties.

Temperate fruit is of very high quality and prices are usually much lower than in most of the U.S. and Western Europe, while tropical fruit is rather rare and expensive, except for bananas.


Chilean beaches can get rather crowded in summer.
  • Wine: Chile produces some excellent wines, competing with France, California, Australia and New Zealand on the world market. Notable are the Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere in red, along with whites from the Casablanca valley.
  • Mote con Huesillo: A delicious summertime drink made of wheat seeds (mote) and dried peaches (huesillos) boiled, sweetened, and served cold. Typically sold on sidewalk or park stands.
  • Chilean Pisco: Brandy made from Muscat grapes. Popular brands are Capel, Alto del Carmen, Mistral and Campanario.
  • Pisco Sour: One of Chile's most popular mixed drinks, this consists of Pisco mixed with lemon juice and sugar. It has a delicious tart sweetness.
  • Mango Sour: Pisco mixed with mango juice.
  • Piscola: Pisco mixed with Coke.
  • Borgoña: Red wine and strawberries.
  • Terremoto: ("Earthquake"): a typical Chilean drink that consists in a mix of pineapple ice cream with pipeño (like white wine).
  • Schop: Draught beer.
  • Fan-Schop: Beer mixed with orange Fanta or orange crush soft drink. A refreshing alternative on a hot summer day.
  • Beers: Cristal and Escudo are the most popular (light lagers). Royal Guard is tastier, Kunstmann is on pair with European beers.
  • Jote*: wine and Coke.
    • There's disagreement between Chile and Peru about the origin of Pisco. Although Pisco was registered as a Chilean drink for some countries in the last century, it is historically Peruvian in origin for much longer. Further, Chilean and Peruvian drinks are not the same product, they have different manufacturing procedures, different varieties of grape and not the same taste.

Unlike other Latin-American countries, in Chile it's illegal to drink in unlicensed, public areas (streets, parks, etc.). The laws also restrict vendor hours depending on the weekday (in no case after 03:00 or before 09:00).

Chileans drink a lot of alcohol – don't be surprised to see one bottle per person.


Chile has many types of hotels in the cities: some of the most prevalent chains are Sheraton, Kempinsky, Ritz, Marriott, Hyatt, and Holiday Inn.

There are also hostels of varying quality. On the backpacker trail, a local hostel version can be found in every small city residential. However, as soon as you are off the backpacker trail, you will find it hard to find hostels, which unfortunately is true for many nice and interesting places around Chile. Contrary to the believe of locals and common marking of accommodations (e.g. on OpenStreetMap), hospedaje and hostal is not to not be confused with hostel, i.e. they do not offer dormitories. If a generalisation is possible, hospedaje generally means guest house, and hostals are small hotels. Hence, the frequency of real hostels is very low.

There is also a variety of accommodations in the mountain ski centers, such as the world-class resort Portillo, 80 km (49 mi) north of Santiago; "Valle Nevado" in the mountains approximately 35 km (22 mi) away from Santiago, and the Termas de Chillan ski resort and hot springs, which lies about 450 km (280 mi) south of Santiago.

Many camping places are available officially with amenities, and backcountry along the coast or near hiking trails. So, if you bring a tent the scarcity of hostels can be dealt with in this way. Consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd or use, to find sites which have been tagged by other people as possible camping sites.

Walking in without reservation is not recommended during high season and will generally not give you a better rate than online.

Motels vs hotels[edit]

A quick word of caution; in Chile a "motel" is not the same as in most Anglophone countries. The term motel in Latin America usually refers to a place of accommodation where the rooms are rented on a short term basis, typically for romantic assignations. Hotels, by contrast, are places of accommodation for travelers and are typically family friendly. Many hotels will not permit persons who are not registered as guests to go beyond the reception area. This is for the safety of both the guests and hotel staff and also to protect the hotel's reputation in what is still a culturally conservative and Catholic country. So visitors looking for a place to enjoy the physical company of another, will often use motels. Also privacy is something of a premium in Chile, with children often living at home until they are married. For this and other practical reasons, couples, even married couples desiring a little intimacy, sometimes rent a room at a motel. These motels are common in Chile and do not carry the social stigma that used to be associated with so called "no tell motels" in the United States or Canada. The quality and price of motel accommodation varies, sometimes drastically, with most being clean and well kept. Rooms are engaged anonymously with the tariff and any associated charges usually being paid on a cash only basis.

VAT issues[edit]

Rates on the common reservation website(s) are often quotes without VAT (19%), which has to be added when paying. As a tourist you might be exempted from paying the VAT when paying in foreign currency, but many accommodations do not support payment in foreign currency (either in cash or credit card). On the other hand some accommodations will give you the price without VAT even in Chilean pesos because your are a tourist. The situation is highly confusing and sometimes frustrating. It is nevertheless a good idea to have some US dollars with you and ask before paying.

A potential way to avoid the discussion, if you want to pay in US dollars without VAT, is by reserving your accommodation online and immediately sending a message to the place asking them to cancel the reservation in case they do not accept US dollars without VAT payments. Mostly always, prices are quoted in dollars, and this way you save the time and trouble of understanding the place's actual VAT policies besides the ones quoted online. Accommodations will barely make the effort to demand money in case your reservation is cancelled unexpectedly—often you can even reserve without a credit card.


Along with Mexico and Argentina, Chile continues to grow as a preferred destination for studies abroad. It is not uncommon to find groups of European or North American students taking interdisciplinary studies in Spanish language or latinamerican culture and history in one of its many reputed universities:


Foreigners need to apply for a work visa before arriving (it can be done after, but it is a lot harder to get one). Temporary permits are issued to spouses and people with a contract. Under-the-table jobs are normally not well paid, lack the mandatory health insurance and retirement plans, and are a reason to get deported.

Volunteering (and learning Spanish at the same time) is big in South America and thus also in Chile—check out the general information on the South America article.

Another way to volunteer in Chile is for the English Opens Doors Program. It is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the Chilean Ministry of Education and places volunteers in schools throughout Chile to be English teaching assistants. The program provides volunteers a home-stay with a Chilean family, meals, a participation bonus of 60,000 pesos for each month of completed service, health insurance, TEFL training, and access to an online Spanish course. There is no fee for participation.

Stay safe[edit]

The Atacama Desert is a prime place for astronomical observations.
Chile offers some pretty extreme hiking and climbing experiences. If you're interested, make sure to come prepared.
Marking of tsunami evacuation routes is clear and present in all coastal communities.
Volcano activity warning sign

Compared to other countries in South America, most have considered Chile the safest country in the continent. Have in mind that the situation has changed rapidly the last five years. Gun violence, robberies with guns and car hijacks have increased. Cartels from Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia have established themselves in the country and the police force together with authorities, were not prepared for this. This has caused a problem and it has worried a lot of locals and sometimes, resentment against foreigners.

If you go out and explore a city, it's better to go out in group. Most thieves tend to target people walking alone, but have in my mind that being in group is not a guarantee against being robbed. If robbed, do as you are told and if you don't speak Spanish, avoid eye contact and give them your valuables like phone, wallet and watches for example.

It's advisable not to show expensive-looking jewelry or watches, even during the day. Stay alert and be especially careful in all crowded areas in Santiago, Viña del mar, Valparaíso and Antofagasta. It is recommended to wear your backpack at the front of your body in crowded areas. Laptops and the newest mobile phones can be lucrative for thieves, so remember to be on your guard once using them in public places.

For tourists or other "beginners" lacking experience in over-the-counter transactions with hard Chilean currency, you can reduce the chance of your wallet getting stolen by following some advice:

  • Separate coins and bills. Coins are frequently used when paying for public transport (except in Santiago buses, where you need to board with the Bip card), newspapers or snacks, store them in a small handbag so that your bills will remain concealed.
  • 1000-, 2000- and 5000-peso notes should be easily accessible. Notes of higher value should be stored in another, more secure place in your wallet so you don't accidentally pay 10,000 pesos instead of 1000, for example. All notes have different sizes and they all are very differently colored and designed.
  • Do not reach for your wallet until the vendor tells you the price.

Chilean Carabineros (National Police) are trustworthy: call 133 from any phone if you need emergency assistance. Some municipalities (such as Santiago or Las Condes) have private guards; however, they usually don't speak English.

Do not try to bribe a carabinero, since it will get you into serious trouble! Unlike other South American police corps, Chilean Carabineros are very proud and honest, and bribery would be a serious offense against their creed.

Regarding driving conditions: Chilean drivers tend to be not as erratic and volatile as those in neighboring countries.

Some parts of Chile are still racially homogeneous and locals will be curious if they see a person who is either Asian or black. Being of Middle Eastern origin and wanting to blend in amongst Chileans, getting dressed as a local will help you, though naturally, if you speak with a foreign accent, people will pick up on that right away. Cities like Santiago, Viña del Mar or Antofagasta have become more multicultural in the last few years with immigrants from Haiti, Colombia, China, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, so being a foreigner in those places will not be met with curiosity. Some Chileans who have a low opinion of foreigners might yell "negro" (Spanish for black) or "chino" (Spanish for Chinese), but only report to Carabineros if you are physically assaulted by someone. Racist attacks are infrequent in general but the Carabineros know how to deal with such crimes, so don't hesitate to report if something happens.

Immigration from countries where Islam is the state religion is very small compared to countries in Europe. There are mosques in the country, but the average Chilean is not used to seeing a woman in a hijab or burqa, so many will stare or make a comment. There have been reports of verbal harassment by Chileans of women who are dressed traditionally, and some have even reported boys or men dragging them by the hijab. Though this is infrequent, if it happens, report it to the police. Some people will also defend your right to be dressed with a hijab or burqa, so do not assume that all Chileans are Islamophobic. There is a sizeable Palestinian community, but most of them are Christians.

Be careful when taking photos in areas with military buildings or where you see soldiers guarding an entrance for example. They have the right to arrest and confiscate your camera. Be prepared to spend time answering questions and having every single photo examined by a soldier or marine. You will avoid imprisonment due to the fact that marines/ soldiers will understand that you did not understand the warnings being a foreign tourist and interrogation is done because the soldiers are expected to do that when such situation occurs. But it's better to avoid such situation and instead ask if you can take a photo. Some marines or soldiers might speak a little English, otherwise point at an object and say "si?", while showing your camera so they understand that you want to take a photo. If they reply with a "no", then respect their decision.

Stay out of political protests in any city, especially Santiago. The Carabineros are always on the alert as soon as there is a political demonstration and some people join only because they want to cause violence. Also avoid celebrations of sports like Chile winning a tournament for example, since they can end in violence. Under Chilean law, foreigners are prohibited from participating in protests or other political activities, which is punishable with imprisonment and deportation.

If you go out to bars or clubs, be careful when ordering a drink. If you want to be safe, order beer in a bottle or pay for a bottle of wine or hard liquor if possible. Problems with spiked drinks have increased so make sure to always have an eye on your drink when ordering. Places for young people or students tend to have cheap drinks, wine and beer which should be avoided altogether since they are poorly made and can be dangerous for you. Instead, order well known brands like Cristal or Casillero del Diablo in a bar or nightclub.

Walking in the streets in many cities, you will see a lot of stray dogs. They are probably carrying diseases so avoid touching them. They are everywhere and places popular with tourists are full of stray dogs. Don't get involved in an argument if you see local people being aggressive to the stray dogs. They see them every day and will not take kindly to a tourist who has only been in Chile for a couple of days, having an opinion on how to treat the dogs that they feel are aggressive towards the local people. In addition to stray dogs in the cities, in rural areas many places and farms have dogs, but they generally do not tend to leave their premises, which can still happen and they might block your way. In either case, if you feel a dog is getting too close for any reason, even if it looks harmless, pick up one, two or three stones, and most dogs will understand the gesture, back down and disappear into the distance. If this does not help and a dog is running towards you aggressively barking, use the stones for your defence.

Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, all of Chile is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.

Stay healthy[edit]

Chile is home to a number of impressive waterfalls.

Having relatively good standards in medicine throughout the country, it is not difficult to stay healthy. However, one will usually find more refined resources at a private medical facility. In case of emergency, call 131, but don't expect an operator fluent in English.

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers. Other potential vaccines, depending on your travel situation include: Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Rabies and Influenza.

Tap water is safe to drink. Just know that water is produced from the mountains, so it might be harder for foreigners. In that case, it is advisable to buy bottled water.

The atmospheric ozone layer in Chile has thinned considerably, so the ultraviolet radiation, which is harmful to health, is very strong. The ozone problem is at its worst during midday and afternoon hours in spring from September to November and in summer from Christmas to March. It is advisable to protect your skin with clothing and to use products that protect against ultraviolet radiation.


Chile has both a public and a private health care system. Public hospitals are often poorly equipped. However, doctors are professional and highly qualified. The same doctors often work partly in the public and partly in the private sector. Private clinics and hospitals in Santiago are of a high standard. Private hospitals are called clínica, and public ones are called hospital. When travelling to Chile, you should take out comprehensive travel insurance.

The two largest private hospitals in Santiago are Clínica Alemana and Clínica Las Condes. The clinics' websites provide more detailed information about their health services, which are aimed at foreigners living in Chile. Medical care in private institutions is expensive. Most major hospitals generally accept credit cards, and sometimes payment can be made by bank transfer. Cash payments in hospitals are becoming less common.

Chile has two health insurance schemes. Both health insurance schemes can be accessed with a Chilean identity card and number (RUT). FONASA (Fondo Nacional de Salud) is the government's public health insurance scheme, which is only available to Chilean citizens and residence permit holders. FONASA covers both public hospitals and private clinics. The private scheme is called ISAPRES (Instituciones de Salud Previsional) and is made up of several companies providing ISAPRE health insurance. ISAPRES is somewhat more expensive and of higher quality and less congested than FONASA. Both schemes provide emergency care when needed.

Dental care in Chile is of high quality and often somewhat cheaper than in Western countries. There are several private dental clinics offering dental services. Public health centres (consultorios) also provide dental services, but these are mainly for permanent residents.

Prescription and over-the-counter medicines prescribed by local doctors are widely available from pharmacies. These medicines are generally expensive, but pharmacies also sell much cheaper generic medicines on request.


Although the Roman Catholic Church has historically played a major role in Chilean society, Chile has become increasingly secular since the mid-20th century. For example, divorce was legalized in the mid-2000s, the Catholic church was separated from the state in the mid-1920s, and an increasing number of Chileans identify as irreligious. When visiting sites of religious importance, you should always act and dress respectfully. As is the case everywhere, proselytizing, or anything hinting at it, is neither welcomed nor appreciated.

Chilean politics are highly polarising and emotive; there have been a lot of protests against the Chilean government since 2019 and a lot of ordinary Chileans tend to express feelings of anger and frustration with the government. As is the case anywhere, stay neutral and listen carefully if and when people discuss politics, even if you happen to know a thing or two about Chile's politics.

The Pinochet military regime, which ruled the country from 1973 to 1990, is very much an open wound in Chile's national consciousness and discussions about it should be approached with absolute respect and caution. The regime tortured, imprisoned, executed, and mistreated thousands of Chileans, and many others had to flee the country for their safety. That being said, do not assume that every Chilean views Pinochet with disdain and contempt; some Chileans (emphasis on some) feel there was more stability under his rule and may be offended by negative remarks about him and his regime.

Don't be offended if you're called a gringo (male) or gringa (female). They are not offensive terms; Chileans often use them to address foreigners they've just met for the first time. Black or dark-skinned people may be called negro (male) or negra (female). Again, they are not offensive terms.

Football is taken extremely seriously in Chile. It may be an icebreaker and a great way to connect with others, but be mindful of positively talking about or wearing jerseys of rival teams or national teams.

Although Chilean-Bolivian relations have improved over the years, many issues ― historical interpretations of the War of the Pacific (1873-1883), Bolivia's desire to access the Pacific Ocean through land that's now a part of Chile, and territorial disputes between the two countries ― continue to negatively affect relations between the two countries. Keep all this in mind when discussing Bolivia; some Chileans may not appreciate positive talk about or enthusiasm for the country.


Other travellers[edit]

Facebook has the Argentina & Chile Backpacker / Traveler group, where you can find other travellers and up-to-date information on the country. In general, also see South America#Cope.

Natural reserves[edit]

Many national parks and reserves have strange visiting times, only allowing entrance between 09:00 and 15/17:00 for instance, requiring you to leave before sunset. The reason for that is that Chile had some negative experience, mostly with locals, leaving the national parks in terrible conditions when allowing them to overnight. This circumstance can be a little off-putting, especially if you are used to travelling with a tent. However, there are often great alternative routes nearby that you can visit instead. Some people even suggested an entrance before or after opening hours, because office are often not staffed all the time. Either way, leave nothing but footprints and take all you rubbish back with you.



  • Public phones on streets are very likely to be tampered or vandalized, so it's better to use a phone inside a business or a station.
  • Prepaid cards for mobile phones and landlines are sold at most newspaper kiosks, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and phone dealers.
  • Mobile GSM networks are ubiquitous in all major cities and most of the territory of central and southern Chile.
  • A basic prepaid cellular phone usually costs about 15,000 pesos, most frequently charged with 10,000 pesos worth of prepaid minutes. No ID is required to buy a prepaid phone.
  • GSM SIM cards from ENTEL, Movistar or Claro are usually available for 5,000 pesos, but without credit, so you'll need to buy some prepaid minutes to be able to call.
  • Money can be charged into a cellphone from almost any ATM using a credit or debit card and from some pharmacies (Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salco Brand) on the counter and in cash. Also, one can charge money directly into the phone by using a credit card through an automated service operator, with directions in Spanish or English.
  • Chilean phone numbering scheme is simple.


Since 2015, TV broadcasts in Chile are digital in the Japanese ISDB standard (also used in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina). The main free-to-air television networks are the public TVN (Televisión Nacional de Chile) and the private national networks Mega, Chilevisión, Canal 13 and La Red. 24-hour free-to-air channels are rare; most signs-off around 2 am. On the other hand, many Chileans have access to pay TV and streaming, which are available 24/7.


Due to an initiative of the government, many rural towns nowadays have free WiFi somewhere in the centre (plaza) or near the bus station. However, the reliability of the Internet can vary.

Also, check if there are other Wi-Fi hotspot around. They're usually in metro stations, airports, malls, cafes, public buildings and several public spaces. (Check for the ones that say "gratis"—for free.)

Furthermore, there are cybercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. Some libraries are in a program called Biblioredes, with free computers and Internet (they may be very sensitive if you plug in your camera or something like that). In some remote locations, public libraries have internet satellite connections.

Go next[edit]

The land border can be crossed to Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

For entering Peru on land you could fly to Arica near the border. Near the land border to Bolivia are the airports of Calama, Arica and Iquique.

This country travel guide to Chile is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!