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Travel Guide

Travel Guide to Chile with Local Expertise

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Chile at a glance

The long, 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, forest and, mountains. While Chile is long, it’s certainly not wide by any means, and in most areas of the country, it is a mere 100 miles wide, making the contrasts as you travel down Chile even more dramatic.

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Chile’s dramatic environment is home to a vast variety of species including alpacas, pumas, and foxes. With the giant Andean Condor and adorable Magellanic Penguins, bird spotting in Chile is just as exciting. Explore the Mars-like landscapes of the Atacama Desert, recognized as the driest place in the world, and encounter natural wonders such as flamingos enjoying the salt lagoons, surrounded by volcanoes and steaming geysers. In the south of Chile is the wild, open plains of Patagonia, featuring huge glaciers, snow-covered peaks, and thunderous glacial waterfalls. Chile’s Lake District situated in the Andes is rich in both flora and fauna and is a joy to explore. From the wild, barren Patagonian landscapes to the beautiful world-class vineyards, Chile has miles upon miles of incredible travel experiences to suit the needs and wants of every type of traveler.




This is the section with a basic road map to help you in planning your trip to Chile, hopefully to give an idea of a general time to travel, what areas may be of interest, visas and other great information worth considering when preparing for your journey to the region.


All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your 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 application, passport renewal, and any required visas. Chile 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.


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 the 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 which 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 of Chile were also influenced by waves of immigration from the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Recently it has been the arrival of immigrants from Peru, Colombia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan and Africa that have been taking Chilean culture and society into a whole new, and exciting realm.


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 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 with 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 to the national favorite, empanada de queso (cheese pastry).


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 criminals 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.


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 although there has been no sign of it since the last outbreak in 2002, there’s no vaccine available, but you can protect yourself by preventing mosquito bites. 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’s official currency is the Chilean Peso and the exchange rate as in 2018 is approximately ~ CLP 660 to USD $1.00 (for up to date exchange rates go to XE Currency Converter). We recommend bringing with you US Dollars 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 to 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.


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 or 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: 


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