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TRAVEL FACTS FOR CHILE FOR TRAVELERS.

Click here for Easter Island Chile Hotels, information and maps click here for Atacama Desert Chile Hotels and information. La Providencia District Santiago Chile click here for all of the ski areas of Chile, information, maps and resorts Click here for Chile Lakes District with pictures and hotels click here for Chile's Torres del Paine Park, hotels and pictures

You can make your reservation on line using the reservation form linked from the hotel of your choice If you prefer you may get more information by calling us. Our staff is thoroughly knowledgeable, all have lived there and know it. In the USA call 1-800-811-8829, or other countries 786-272-9765 (USA). Call us, we are here to help!

Visas: From the US , for US citizens you don't have to have any special visa ( you get a "tourist visa") to stay as a tourist for up to 90 days. They give you a piece of paper ( a form) on the plane or ship and that's about it. But don't lose your copy of that form, they take it back from you on the way out of Chile and if you don't have your copy it kind of fouls up their system and they frown a lot. For other countries/citizens contact your airline or travel agent. IMPORTANT, show this visa at hotels and you avoid the 18% IVA sales tax. Also important for Australian, Mexican and Canadian citizens. They pay a one time entrance tax when they arrive in Chile, one time in the sense that it is good as long you use the same passport to enter Chile. 

  • USA US$ 130, this was cancelled by the Chilean Govt. Feb 2014 and is not charged! 
  • CANADA US$ 132
  • AUSTRALIA US$ 56
  • MEXICO US$ 15
Hotels: A few tips are in order here. First if you are a foreigner then if you show your passport and the tourist visa you don't pay the IVA taxes (18%) on hotels. Also there are Cabinas ( Cabins) which are cabins for tourists and can be very nice with kitchens, etc. Hotels are hotels. Motels can be a good deal or they may be the kind of place that charges by the hour, really for locals, we have avoided listing the by the hour type. Our hotels have been carefully selected to serve the tourist. To select a city for its hotel listing  just Click here for our map of Chile.

Hostals: This is a confusing term. It really means generally a very large family dwelling that has been converted to a hotel. It may have been a ranch or simply a very large home before conversion. Don't let the word fool you, some of the Hostals are every bit as good as 5 star hotels, and some are better!

Hosteria: Again a confusing term. And like the Hostals these can be excellent and like any hotel some not so hot. It is the same as a Hostal except it usually has a more developed restaurant.

Communication:Chile has cable TV( CNN, HBO etc.), a great phone system, and one of the highest incidence of personal computers in Latin America. Chile has a definite European flavor having been settled largely by Italians, Germans and English and of course Spanish, and a few Texans ( ever check out their respective flags?). They also have Internet with a bunch of providers available.

Cellular phones: A good tip is to rent a cell phone while you are there, you can use one from almost anywhere. Sometimes your provider can set it up for you before you enter Chile. You can rent a cellular phone in Chile for a reasonable price and it works throughout the country. It really is amazing that you can keep in touch with the folks back home from almost anywhere in Chile.

Language: Spanish, a few speak English, German and Italian.

Currency: Peso (CHP), check the banks for exchange rate to your currency . Because of the stability of the Chilean economy it does not flctuate wildly now it is around 511 pesos to 1 US$ Dollar (as of April 30, 2010).  Changing money from and to most currencies is unrestricted and easy. They have what they call RedBank and they are everywhere. It is a automatic teller machine (ABM) and if you have a US bank card you can usually use it! Really. It will give you pesos at a good rate and charge your bank at home, and you don't have to carry a lot of cash. Most places will accept US currency. For current exchange rates please click here.

Credit Cards: Most hotels, restaurants and shops will take the better known credit cards like American Express, VISA or Mastercharge, but it is always good to ask first.

Electricity:220v 50c, don't plug in your 110v hair dryer unless you want to fry it and your hair!!! You can get transformers that will work depending on the amps you need. If the transformer starts sparking a smoking it is a good sign it doesn't have enough amps! The wall plugs are different but the adapters are cheap and pretty easy to find.

Water: Depends on area but generally OK. However, to be on the safe side drink bottled water with gas ("con gas" or "agua mineral"). That way you know it wasn't filled at a nearby stream or worse. It also makes brushing your teeth more exciting! It sounds like a whole 4th of July (or Bastille day if you are French) in your mouth! Of course for dining Chile does have some of the best wines in the world.

Weather:Follow this link for Chile's current weather. Because of the extreme length of Chile it varies a lot by region. In general it is of course the reverse of the US August being winter there and December being summer. It can be quite Chile (or is it chilly?) in the winter, I mean June to more or less September so be prepared. The summers, October to May, can be very warm. UV sunglasses are also advised the UV here is very high. You can click here for the current weather.

Local Time: GMT minus 5 hours ( During Chile daylight savings time -4hours). During our (US East Coast) winter there is 2 hours later than the USA East Coast. In summer Chile and the East Coast US are on the same time.

Telephones: For telephone the country code is 56, Santiago is city code 2 so you would dial 56-2-xxxxx, other cities have different city codes.

Transportation: 

  • Air: Chile has very frequent flights from most countries in the world, all international flights go to Santiago's Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Pudahuel about 23 KM. from the city center. Most larger cities (over 150,000 population) have daily air service. 
  • Santiago Airport: We get lot of questions about this. The Domestic airport terminal is 200 meters from the International terminal. Really the same airport with different terminals. There are 2 airport area hotels. Great for a traveler connecting for a domestic flight, on their way to Easter Island, or just wanting to relax before their next flight.  For a hotel in Santiago (30 minutes to 1 hour from the airport depending on time of day) click here. The Santiago (Pudahuel) airport hotels are:The Diego Almagro Airport and the Holiday Inn Express Airport Hotel. 
  • Airport Tranfers: For as little as $14.00 US per person you can take a safe, clean, new, professionally driven Delfos shuttle bus from the airport to your hotel. Delfos also has direct service from the airport to the Santiago ski areas and the costal area of Vina Del Mar. The fares are guaranteed so why hassle with a taxi driver over fares! To reserve one click here.
  • Cabs: Taxis: Taxis in town are fairly cheap. In Santiago if you pay much over $5US to go anywhere you probably took a VERY scenic route. If you see the same statue twice that should give you a clue! By law they are all supposed to equipped with meters. Quality of the cars varies from escapees from demolition derbies to nice modern cars. Two cautions: make sure the meter is running and started at the base (about 220 pesos) and you have small change. Tipping taxis is not customary but appreciated. 
  • Subway: Called the METRO, it is clean, effecient and safe. It is a great and very inexpensive way to get around Santiago.
  • Train: There is a train system that links Santiago and the rest of the country. It is both cheap and reliable. It isn't an Orient Express but it isn't full of goats and chickens either.
  • Roads: The Panamericana, also called route 5, goes almost the entire length of the country with helpful Carabinero (police) stations about every 75 kilometers. It is a divided highway from Santiago to about 400 miles South. It is in very good condition generally with numerous gas stations (Texaco, Mobil, Copec) and they have usually the dreaded quick stops for Cokes, sandwiches etc. A car trip through much of Chile is both practical and enjoyable. There are also lots of pretty good quality motels along major roads that also can add to the fun of a car trip. You can drive with a valid foreign driver's license. Note that wearing of seat belts in Chile is mandatory, and in any case a darn good idea anywhere. Hertz has 17 locations throughout the country and provides good quality vehicles at good rates. As a plus they have 24 hour emergency service and even vehicles specially equipped for all sorts of terrain. To know more click here.
People:People in Chile are really genuinely friendly and helpful. They alone make a trip to Chile worthwhile.

Santiago: Just a few words to answer some common questions we get about the capital city. It is about 15 miles from the airport, about a 20 to 30 minute drive. It has a number of districts but in most cases they are all part of the city. Providencia and Las Condes and Vitacura districts are very fashionable with good hotels, shops, restaurants, bars. They are only minutes by cab from the "downtown" area. Most major businesses are located in these districts. For a map of Santiago and a more in depth description please go to our Santiago page using this link.

Safety: Chile is actually a pretty safe place for the tourist. But in Santiago, like any big city in the world, reasonable prudence is always a good idea. Don't wear a solid gold Rolex, a Timex will do, don't carry a large amount of cash, don't leave cameras and valuables exposed in an unoccupied car...just be smart. 

Police: Well every country has to have them. In the case of Chile they are really very good in spite of the somber military style uniforms. They are called Carabineros. You will find the Carabineros very helpful and honest. If you do have a problem they will assist. In Chile seat belts are mandatory. One or two points: They frown on drunk driving a lot so don't do it, the the cabs are cheap enough. They also use radar and laser for traffic speed enforcement so be forewarned.