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 US, 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. This is reciprocal, the amount charged is the amount those respective countries charge Chileans for a visa!
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.
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