Chile is a long country that stretches along the Pacific coastline of South America. When you look at it on a map, it seems as if the country must be nothing but a beach. As you’ll discover on Chile tours, this is not quite the case.
With a rich history, strong cultural diversity, and an even more diverse climate, Chile truly is the whole package. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before booking a Chilean tour.
CHILE TRAVEL GUIDE - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The thin country of Chile, finds itself wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the rest of South America. Offering a magnificent combination of indigenous cultures, mesmerizing scenery, and a vast variety of wildlife. Chile is one of South America’s must-visit destinations.
Stretching over 3,000 miles from north to south, Chile covers over half of South America’s length. As a result of this, Chile has one of the most incredible landscapes featuring deserts, glaciers, forests, and mountains.
While Chile is long, in most areas of the country, it is a mere 100 miles wide, making the contrasts as you tour Chile even more dramatic.
Best times to travel, regions, weather, rainfall, and other useful information for tours of Chile
WHERE & WHEN TO TAKE CHILE VACATIONS
Chile’s climate varies greatly, owing to its sheer length, the variation of terrain, altitudes, and latitudes. Spring (September – November) and Fall (March – May) are our favorite times to visit Santiago and its surrounding vineyards. Summer (December – February) is the best time to visit the Atacama Desert.
Our favorite time to travel to Chile’s Patagonia is during the spring and summer months from November to the beginning of March. Despite it being the peak season with a large number of tourists in the area, the weather is ideal for exploring the Torres del Paine National Park and the Tierra del Fuego. Spring which runs from September to November is a beautiful time to visit the Chilean Lake District as the surrounding mountains are covered in colorful wildflowers.
Fall (March-May) is another time of year that we love to explore Patagonia as it springs into life with stunning autumnal reds and oranges. Both times of year have milder temperatures as well as fewer tourists.
Most attractions and activities are put on hold during the winter months in Patagonia (June-August) so we generally recommend you avoid traveling to that particular region during these months. Even if you are visiting Patagonia in spring or summer, pack plenty of layers to keep you warm from the ice-cold Patagonian winds.
REGIONAL WEATHER IN CHILE
Best times of the year to travel to different regions in Chile
Before heading out on Chile guided tours, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Make sure you have everything you need to be organized before hopping on a plane and making your way to Chile.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR VACATIONS IN CHILE
This is the section that will help you with the planning of your trip to Chile. It will give you a general idea of the region, what areas may be of interest, visas, and other great information worth considering when preparing for your journey to the region.
PASSPORT & VISA
All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following their departure date from Chile. However, we strongly recommend traveling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times.
VisaHQ can assist citizens of most nationalities with a full range of expedited passport services, including new passport applications, passport renewal, and any required visas. Chile also requires that you have adequate unused pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure.
Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Chile. It may be the case that countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa.
Traveling with your kids to Chile is an unforgettable experience as no matter what your children enjoy, there’s something to meet their needs. If your children love nature, then they’ll fall head over heels for the penguins, whales, pumas, and condors.
Should your children like to burn off energy and explore the great outdoors, there are plenty of nature treks as well as opportunities to go kayaking and river rafting in Patagonia. There are also plenty of educational moments such as learning about the Chilean gauchos (cowboys) way of life and learning about the stars while staring up at the Milky Way in the Atacama Desert.
If you take your children to Easter Island, they’ll have a completely unique travel experience as they explore the Moai culture and large stone heads. A Chile trip provides absolutely endless opportunities for you and your family.
CULTURE & LANGUAGE
Chile’s official language is Spanish although there are also a number of indigenous communities such as the Aymará (northern Andes), Mapudungún (southern Chile), and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Chileans use a mix of local, foreign, and indigenous words on a day to day basis and they speak in a quick and distinct tone, often missing off the letter “s” at the end of words. This can make it hard to understand.
Chile is a melting-pot of ethnicities featuring a strong mix of influences especially between Spanish settlers and the indigenous population. The society and culture were also influenced by waves of immigration from the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
The recent arrival of immigrants from Peru, Colombia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, and Africa has taken Chilean culture and society into a whole new, and exciting realm.
FOOD SCENE & DINING
Chile has recently jumped onto the culinary scene and is today one of the most exciting, up and coming gastronomic destinations in the world. Chilean chefs such as Rodolfo Guzmán, are putting Chilean cuisine on the map and as a result, are impacting the way the world thinks about food.
Chilean cuisine focuses heavily on local produce such as fish, meat, potatoes, and rice. The most authentic Chilean dish is called Cazuela. Using a base of chicken, beef, or turkey the soup also features corn, rice, potatoes, and squash.
The capital city of Santiago has many international restaurants serving up Japanese and Spanish cuisines as well as seafood. If you’re visiting Santiago de Chile, take a trip to the nearby town of Valparaiso, which has some of the best seafood in the region. Elsewhere in Chile, San Pedro de Atacama and Pucon are both great places to try the national favorite, empanada de queso (cheese pastry).
VACCINATIONS & HEALTH
The Chilean authorities do not require a vaccination certificate to travel to Chile, but it’s still a good idea to take reasonable precautions. Please review the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention Recommendations before traveling, and/or visit your local doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to ask for specific advice and to check what vaccinations you’ve already received.
There have been rare outbreaks of dengue fever on Easter Island. There’s no vaccine available, but you can protect yourself by preventing mosquito bites. You can do this by taking along mosquito spray or creams that ward off these little creatures.
The tap water in Chile’s major cities is fine to drink, although it does have a high mineral content which can cause minor upsets for sensitive stomachs. Bottled water is a good idea for visitors to more rural areas.
Altitude sickness can be an issue for some people in San Pedro de Atacama and some areas of the Altiplano region. It shouldn’t be a problem on the popular W Trek or Paine Circuit in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park as these are both low altitude treks.
Chile is among the safest countries in South America, but we still recommend that in large towns and cities you take certain precautions. In the larger cities of Chile such as Santiago, opportunistic crimes do take place. We, therefore, recommend that you leave any valuables in the hotel safe and take with you only what you need for that particular day.
You will need to be careful of pickpockets using distraction techniques to pick your pockets especially when you’re in busy areas such as markets and bus terminals. Uber is available in Chile and should be your go-to for getting around at night if you’re traveling any real distance.
MONEY & CURRENCY
Chile’s official currency is the Chilean Peso and the exchange rate as in 2020 is approximately ~ CLP 768 to USD $1.00 (for up to date exchange rates go to XE Currency Converter). We recommend bringing US Dollars with you to exchange them once you arrive in Chile.
While traveler’s checks can be changed in most large towns in Chile we recommend doing so at a bureau de change, as you will get a better commission rate than at a high-street bank. You can withdraw money with your Mastercard at Redbanc ATMs while Plus ATMs can be used to withdraw money from your Visa bank card.
Visa, Mastercard, and Diners’ Card are widely accepted throughout Chile but you may have trouble using your bank card if it is American Express.
Traveling around Chile is relatively inexpensive, comfortable, and easy to do. The locals use the long-distance buses to get around the country as they are an affordable and reliable means of transport. But, we usually recommend travelers to use flights as cross-country transport as it will save you time and help you to fit more of Chile’s highlights into your itinerary.
Airfares can be quite high, and so you should keep an eye out for promotions and deals, especially from the country’s leading airline, LATAM. Offering the most extensive selection of domestic and international flights, LATAM is also the only airline that will take you to Chile’s remote and unique, Easter Island.
In Chile, there are two types of outlets, type C (two round pins) and type L (three round pins), both of which operate on 220V. If you need a plug adapter (changes the shape of your plug to fit the outlet) or voltage converter, you should first check your appliance compatibility with the voltage.
Travelers from North America are usually able to use just a plug adapter with devices such as a laptop as they generally use between 120-220V.
RELATED CHILE BLOG ARTICLES
To find out more about the culture, lifestyle, and places to travel in Chile. We’ll be looking at a range of destinations, traditions, and travel tips for this incredible country in our Travel Blog.
Learn about our favorite hikes in Patagonia, the best vineyards to visit near Santiago, or stay informed about upcoming festivals taking place across the country. Visit our Travel Blog for travel tips, inspiration, and all the latest! Some of our favorite articles on Chile:
Hi Vania, We were so happy with our honeymoon adventure that we booked through Class Adventure Travel. Marc (owner) and Vania (who is with the customer care team) were both very responsive, accommodating and helpful during the planning process. Whenever I had a question about the water or anything else at any of the hotels, Vania always reached out on our behalf and promptly got an answer. The local guides they picked for us were fluent in English and very knowledgeable. Vania checked us in to each domestic flight and sent us the tickets the day before so we didn't have to worry about anything during our travels. Vania also called ahead and let the hotels know we were on our honeymoon so we received a complimentary bottle of champagne at each hotel. We went to Manaus, the Amazon, Rio and Iguazu and each leg of the trip was top notch. We couldn't be happier with the service we were provided and we highly recommend Class Adventure Travel if you are looking to plan your own South American excursion! Thanks for everything, Amanda
Denise & Ed Laven
from the United States to Peru
Dear Class Adventure Travel, Our whole trip was wonderful!! Every transfer, every tour, every hotel was wonderful! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will definitely use CAT travel again when we travel to South America! I have told everyone how good everything was. Ingrid is fantastic—I feel like I have a new friend!! Giovanna was wonderful in Lima as well. Our guides Wilda in Cuzco and Sacred Valley, Carlos on the Hiram Bingham train and I believe it was Rosa in Lima were all knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you again for such a wonderful trip! It made our 20th anniversary very special. Denise & Ed Laven, California, U.S.A.
Helene Krumholz & Peter Muldavin
from the United States to Brazil
Hi Montserrat and Marcos, We are very happy to give you positive feedback on our trip to Brazil last month. Marcos helped us greatly in putting together a good itinerary. He was always happy to respond to all of our specific requests and in a cheerful way. The hotels we stayed in were all lovely. The transfers from airports to hotels and back again were flawless. The guides and drivers were all good... Nicole in Sao Paolo was especially knowledgeable and helpful. We felt very well taken care of! The Iguazu Falls were absolutely breathtaking. As I said, all the guides were nice and very competent. Nicole, however, was a standout. She knew so much about Sao Paolo and shared her information wonderfully. We would certainly recommend your travel services to anyone we know who is planning to travel to Brazil. You helped make this an incredible trip for us. Hasta luego, Helene Krumholz & Peter Muldavin