More tips about Chile

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Traveling | Travel tips for Chile

Arrival  |  Buses and trains  |  Camping  |  Car  |  Car rental  |  Climate and travel period  |  Clothing  |  Customs  |  Domestic flights  |  Electricity  |  Embassies  |   Emergency  |  Entry  |  Health  |  Information  |  Internet cafés  |  Mail  |  Money  | Phone and mobile phone  |  Taxi  |  Time  |  Tipping  |  Women alone

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From USA and Canada:
From the USA you can get direct flights to Santiago de Chile from Miami, Atlanta, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles. The airlines offering those flights are American Airlines, Delta and LAN. If you are departing from Canada, AirCanada offers connecting flights from Toronto to Miami and Atlanta, then connecting with another airline for your flight to Santiago.

In addition, you can get the practical South America Airpass from LAN. On coupon basis you can fly all over Chile or South America (the coupon can be booked only in conjunction with your flight to Chile). A Chile-coupon costs 90-138 USD if you are traveling with LAN, otherwise it costs 107-165 USD.

From Europe:
The long flight (at least 16 hours) is not cheap, even for last-minute offers. You can choose from Lufthansa Frankfurt (change in Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo), Aerolíneas Argentinas (Buenos Aires), Air France (Paris), Iberia (Madrid) and of course LAN (direct flight via Madrid), the Chilean airline. In addition, you can get the practical South America Airpass from LAN. On coupon basis you can fly all over Chile or South America (the coupon can be booked only in conjunction with the overseas flight). A Chile-coupon costs 90-138 USD if you are traveling with LAN, otherwise it costs 107-165 USD.

Departures from Zurich are with Swiss Airlines directly to Santiago (stop in São Paulo). Travelers from Vienna will have to switch in Frankfurt/M. A less expensive, but longer journey would be to travel through an airport in the USA. U.S. airlines including American Airlines, Delta and United fly daily to Santiago de Chile.

The minimum price for a flight to Chile from Central Europe is about 700 €. Cheap special tickets can usually be transferred, but only to higher fares.

Buses and trains
Chile is covered with an excellent bus network down to the farthest village.  Modern air-conditioned buses with toilets drive on the overland routes. In general, there are three different classes: salón cama, semi cama and clase turista. For long distances we recommend the classes salón cama or semi cama. The prices are relatively low.

Bus terminal Alameda in Santiago (Metro: Universidad de Santiago):
Phone: +56 2.270 75 00
Santiago bus station (right next to Alameda):
Phone: +56 2.376 17 55

Trains only run between Santiago and Chillán (with refreshments).
Information in Santiago:
Phone: +56 2.376 85 0

For offers on a two-week train trip with the luxurious Transpacifico from Santiago to Puerto Montt:
Evergreen Express
Phone: +56 9.850 516 79

Well-equipped campsites can be found especially in tourist areas and national parks. In some protected areas "wild camping" is permitted with restrictions. Every year the Chilean travel guide Turistel brings out a leaflet with a list of campsites.

If you want to rent a car, here are some helpful tips. However, the usual and most convenient transportation in Chile is the bus. By bus you can easily travel to the farthest village in Chile.
The speed limit is 60 km/h in urban areas, on highways 100 km/h, on some motorways 120 km/h. Driving is not dangerous, as long as you follow certain rules:

1.    Whenever possible, drive in the company of another person who can share the driving.
2.    Always fill up your car completely and in isolated regions at every opportunity. The distances between gas stations can often reach 100 km or more.
3.    Inquire with the police on the condition of roads in isolated areas.
4.    Ride cautiously on gravel roads and meet other vehicles slowly (stone chips!)
5.    Avoid driving at night.
6.    Do not leave any valuables or luggage in the car.
7.    Get yourself good maps (road maps of the gas station chain Copec or travel guide Turistel).

Car rental
Generally, a national driving license is sufficient. An adequatly covered international credit card is a necessity. Prices of local suppliers range from 40 USD per day for a small car up to 90 USD per day for an all-terrain pickup. Prices of international companies are generally much higher. Before signing the contract, you should pay attention to unlimited mileage, roadside assistance and include comprehensive insurance. The condition of rental cars is often not perfect. Before driving the car, make sure that car jack, spare tyres, etc. are available.

Climate and travel period
It is hot and dry in the north. In the extreme south, however, even in summer, very cool and unsettled. The central regions have a pleasant, almost Mediterranean climate with long, dry summers and a rainy season (May to August). The seasons in Chile are offset from Europe by 6 months. The best time to travel to Central and Southern Chile is from October to April, and in the north all year round.

On the beach: as light, casual and colorful as possible. T-shirt and (long) pants with sports shoes are sufficient for almost all occasions. But in restaurants and public buildings, the Chileans put great emphasis on proper clothing. Shorts are taboo in the city, as well as sandals. In the Andes and Patagonia warm, waterproof clothing should be worn.

500 cigarettes, 2.5 liters of wine or 1 liter of hard liquor per person may be imported duty free. The following imports are forbidden: meat, dairy products, flowers, fruits and vegetables and of course, weapons and drugs.

Domestic flights
Given the long distances, flying is often the only way to reach destinations in the north or south. The market is dominated by LAN; the only nationwide competitor is Sky Airline. A flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas, located 2000 km further south, costs about 120 € or 150 USD.

Phone: +56 600.526 20 00

Sky Airline
Phone: +56 600.600 28 28

Electricity 220 volts, 50 hertz alternating current. The sockets are not suitable for safety plug. It is best to get an intermediate piece with different adapters.

Diplomatic representations
Chilean embassies in foreign countries

1732 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Washington DC 20036
Phone: +1 (0)202.785 17 46

1801-2 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario, M4W – 3E2
Phone: +1 416.924-0106 / 924-0112 / 924-0176
Fax: +1 416.924-2627


Piso 13°
390 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Phone: +61 3.986 640 41
Fax: +61 3.986 679 77

Great Britain
37-41 Old Queen Street
London, SW1H 9JA
Phone: +44 20.722 223 61
Fax: +44 20.722 208 61

Mohrenstr. 42
D-10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30.726 20 35
Fax: +49 (0)30.726 20 36 03

Lugeck 1
A-1010 Wien
Phone: +43 (0)1.512 23 53
Fax: +43 (0)1. 512 92 08 33


Eigerplatz 5
CH-3007 Bern
Phone: +41 (0)31.370 00 58
Fax: +41 (0)31.372 00 25


US embassy in Chile
Av. Andrés Bello 2800
Las Condes, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.330 30 00
Fax: +56 2.330 37 10

Embassy of Canada in Chile
Nueva Tajamar 481 - Piso 12, Torre Norte
P.O. Box 139-10,
Santiago (Edificio World Trade Center)
Telephone: +56 2.652 38 00
Fax: +56 2.652 39 12

Australian embassy in Chile
Isidora Goyenechea 3621, 12 and 13th Flrs
Las Condes, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.550 35 00
Fax: +56 2.331 59 60

British embassy in Chile
Avda. El Bosque Norte 0125
Las Condes, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.370 41 00
Fax: +56 2.370 41 60

German embassy in Chile

Las Hualtatas 5677
Vitacura, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.463 25 00
Fax: +56 2.463 25 25

Austrian embassy in Chile
Barros Errázuriz 1968
Providencia, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.223 42 81
Fax: +56 2.204 93 82

Swiss embassy in Chile
Av. Vespucio Sur 100, piso 14
Las Condes, Santiago
Phone: +56 2.236 42 11
Fax: +56 2.236 40 94

Police emergency number (carabineros): 133
Ambulance: 131

Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa as well as citizens of EU countries do not need a visa, just their passport. At the border you will get a tourist card which is valid for 90 days and extendable. The copy of the form must be kept in a safe place until the departure. If the form is lost, you will need to get a new one (Policia Internacional in Santiago, General Borgoño 1052, or any other police station).

In an emergency, you can find private hospitals with first class medical standards in all major cities. Many doctors speak English. Pharmacies (farmacias) are often open until late at night or indicate the nearest emergency service. In Chile, all common drugs are available. Special vaccinations are not necessary.
Take care with ice cream, salads, fruit juices, fried food or unpeeled fruits on dingy markets as well as raw fish and seafood.

National tourism agency with many branches
Headquarters in Santiago:
Av. Providencia 1550
Phone: +56 600 73 76 28 87
Mo-Fr 9.00-18.30, Sa 9.00-14.00

Internet cafés
In the center of major cities you can access your mail at every corner. Often shopping centers, airports and coffee chains also provide wireless Internet access.
A tip in Santiago: Café Melba (Don Carlos 2898, Las Condes), also serves the best breakfast in town.

A standard letter to Europe or North America costs about 0.60 € or 0.50 USD and takes 5-8 days. Mailboxes are not common, the postal service (correos) maintains offices everywhere.

The currency is the peso. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos and bills of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000 and 20 000 pesos. One Euro is worth about 645 pesos and one US dollar about 490 pesos (as of March 2012).
A cup of coffee costs the equivalent of about 0.90 € or 1.20 USD, a beer 1.70 € or 2.25 USD and a dinner starts from 5 € or 6.50 USD. Banks are open from 9am to 2pm. Changing money is cheaper in one of the exchange offices (casa de cambio) in Santiago. In the province exchange rates are worse, also for traveler checks (preferably in US dollars). At ATMs with the logo Redbanc you can withdraw cash with your debit or credit card (about 400 € or 500 USD per day in pesos). Larger hotels, restaurants and shops accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard). For traveling in remote regions always take enough cash with you.

Phone and mobile phone
Chile (country code 0056) has a modern telephone network with multiple providers. Ask for a low-cost carrier and the dial-in for international calls. Rates often change, usually hotels or public telephone centers (centros de llamadas) have a contract with a special provider. If you are calling a lot, you will benefit from buying a prepaid phone card (available on newsstands). However, it is cheaper to make calls from an Internet café from Skype.
Mobile phones are widespread, but the digital networks break down quickly in remote areas. Most of the foreign mobile providers offer roaming for Chile. You need a tri-band device. Check the rates in advance; often they are not cheap. Replacing the SIM card of your mobile phone against a Chilean prepaid chip is possible and similar price as buying a prepaid cell phone with local calling credit. Chilean mobile phone numbers start with a 7, 8 or 9. When dialing from a landline you have to predial 09.

Do not drive off without having negotiated a flat fee or without the meter being turned on. Taxis are cheap, but often troublesome, because the drivers are often not familiar with some routes. If possible, call a "radiotaxi": These companies offer more security, more modern cars and moderate fixed prices.

Standard time zone UTC/GMT minus 4 hours. During daylight saving time it is UTC/GMT minus 3. Daylight saving time in Chile starts on the second Sunday in October and ends on the second Sunday in March.

About 10 percent tip is expected in restaurants - you just leave a portion of your change. Porters, shoe shiners (with fixed rates), chambermaids, etc. expect some pesos, because they have to live from it.

Women alone
The Chilean machismo is relatively harmless. Therefore, women traveling alone  have little to fear except the occasional "compliments". Avoid revealing clothes, bra is a must, nude or topless on the beach is not common.

© kindly supported by MairDumont Ostfildern (2009)

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