Chile narrowly stretches along the southern half of the west coast of South America. The bordering countries are Bolivia, and Peru in the north and over the Andes, to the east, lies Argentina. Chile has over 5, 000 km (3, 100 mi) of coast on the South Pacific Ocean. It also has a claim to a portion of Antarctica. Read more...
Who’s been here?
Latest updates from our Chile travelers
Cities and Destinations in Chile
Chile narrowly stretches along the southern half of the west coast of South America. The bordering countries are Bolivia, and Peru in the north and over the Andes, to the east, lies Argentina. Chile has over 5, 000 km (3, 100 mi) of coast on the South Pacific Ocean. It also has a claim to a portion of Antarctica.
North (Chile), Central (Chile), South (Chile), Extreme South (Chile).
Note: Argentina and Chile's claims to Antarctica overlap. However, under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, no country's territorial claims are exercised.
Please be aware that although American citizens need a valid passport to enter the country, no visa is necessary.
Citizens of four countries must pay a reciprocity fee of varying amounts. The fee is USD 131 for American citizens, USD 132 for Canadian citizens, USD 56 for Australian citizens, and USD 15 for Mexican citizens. This fee is equivalent to the amount that country requires for entry visas from Chilean citizens. The fee is only for tourists entering by plane, and the one-time charge is good for the life of your passport. US citizens should have crisp $20 bills or a credit card to pay the $131 fee. Citizens of other countries, such as the UK, do not have to pay a fee.
When entering Chile (by cruise, vehicle or plane), at customs, travelers will need to fill out a tourist card that allows them to stay for up to 90 days. Travelers will have to present the tourist card to Customs officials when leaving the country. Be aware that hotels waive Chile's 19% room tax when the guest shows this card and pays with U.S. dollars. On flights leaving Chile, there is an airport tax of US$18, or the equivalent in Chilean pesos. On domestic flights, airport tax is included in the price of the ticket. For tourism information of Chile, please visit: www.visitchile.org. For consulate information, please visit the Embassy web site: www.chile-usa.org. More info at Embassy of Chile, UK: www.echileuk.demon.co.uk/consulatevisas.htm.
From the Chile Tourism office at the Embassy of Chile in Washington DC (email@example.com)
Agriculture is very important to Chile, and it is illegal to import perishable goods.
Remember that Chile is a unitary country, so the laws are the same everywhere.
The most common entry point for overseas visitors is the international airport http://www.aeropuertosantiago.cl of the capital Santiago de Chile Santiago. There are airports in major towns, but Santiago offers the best connections. LAN Airlines is Chile's flagship airline.
If you are already in South America, a cheaper and reliable way is to go by bus to Chile. Chile borders Argentina (daily bus from Mendoza ), Peru (bus from Arequipa ) and Bolivia. Buses also originate from Brazil (bus from São Paulo, on Mondays and Thursdays).Be aware that crossing into Chile may take place at high altitude--up to 4000 m (13, 000 ft). Also, the roads from Peru and Bolivia are a bit poor in quality, so be patient. During the winter season, which begins in June and ends in August, it is not uncommon for the passage from Mendoza to close for days at a time.
Chile has a very good airport infrastructure. The main hub for flights in Chile is the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago from where several airlines serve even the remotest corners of the country. These airlines are LAN, Sky Airline and Aerolineas del Sur. When travelling within Chile, please consider reserving your tickets before entering the country: flight coupons are recommended and can be bought at LAN when you also purchase your flight to Chile with them; these can also be processed online. Unfortunately, the other two airlines do not have internet service available yet and you should consider comparing fares by asking your local travel agency or by calling around. Sky Airline now has a website where one may purchase tickets, but it's in Spanish only. Because of the shape of the country, many routes are subject to several time-consuming layovers. You might take this into account as you can have up to 4 stops en route to your destination! Domestic routes are served by Airbus 319, Airbus 320 and Boeing 737-200's when flying with LAN express and Boeing 737-200's when flying Sky Airline and Aerolineas del Sur. (The Boeing 737-200s are remarkably older and noisier!)
The bus system is pretty sophisticated and provides a great way to get from town to town. Bear in mind that, for the most part, going from one city to the next will take longer than expected because they stop at many bus stations along the way. Companies that cover the entire country include Turbus and Pullman (websites in Spanish only). In Santiago, you can find both terminals and more companies on Universidad de Santiago subway station.
Micro = transit/local buses. The word is the contraction of Microbus. Larger cities have cross-town bus routes at very affordable prices. There are no maps with all the routes, so a little bit of Spanish and the audacity to ask around can get you places effectively. Recently changed to a new more modern system in Santiago only; see http://www.transantiago.cl for the finer details. To travel by micro in Santiago you will need to buy before a travel-card called BIP and charge it with money. You can do so in any subway station and in some stores. This card also allows you to travel by subway in Santiago. Be careful! You won't be able to travel by bus if you don't have money in your bip card. The ticket costs almost 1 US dollar.
A mix between a micro and a taxi. These small cars have routes and get around quicker and more comfortably. Fares are similar to those on the Micro, and depend on the hour.
A metropolitan railway system operating in Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepcion. A reliable way to move around in the city. You must pay the fee only once (when you enter the system) and you can ride as much as you want. There are now more stations in Santiago because of the recent construction of two new lines. Visit http://www.metrosantiago.cl for more information.
Hitchhiking in Chile is not difficult, given enough time and patience. It is seen as a common form of travel for tourists or young, adventurous Chileans. On large highways such as the Panamerican Highway, hitching becomes nearly impossible. Smaller, more scenic roads such as the Carretera Austral in the south, can leave you waiting for half a dozen hours in the more remote sections but the rides will generally get you a long way and are worth waiting for. If you are a tourist be sure to show it with your backpack, flags attached to your backpack, etc. The locals love chatting with foreign travelers.
When to go
As most big cities, Santiago suffers from a high rate of pickpocketing and muggings. It's advisable not to travel in the downtown area wearing expensive-looking jewelry or watches, even during the day. Stay alert and be really careful in all crowded areas in Santiago.
For tourists or other beginners lacking experience in over-the-counter transactions with hard Chilean currency, you can reduce the chance of your wallet getting stolen by following some advice:
Separate coins and bills. Coins are frequently used when paying the (micro) bus and colectivo. Store them in a small handbag so that your bills will remain concealed.
1000, 2000 and 5000 peso notes should be easily accessible. Bills with higher value should be stored in another, more secure place in your wallet so you don't accidently pay 10000 pesos instead of 1000, for example.
Do not reach for your wallet until the vendor tells you the price.
If a souvenir costs, 1300 pesos, pay with a 2000 peso bill or two 1000 peso bills. Don't pay with, a 1000 peso bill and 300 pesos in loose change.
Chilean Carabineros (National Police) are very trustworthy--call 133 if you need assistance. If you have a GSM mobile phone, call 112. Some municipalities (such as Santiago or Las Condes) have private guards; however, they usually don't speak English.
Do not try to bribe a carabinero-it will get you into serious trouble! Unlike other south american police corps, Chilean carabineros are very proud and honest, and bribery would be a serious offense against their creed.
Regarding driving conditions: Chilean drivers tend to be not as erratic and volatile as those in neighboring countries.
Since Chile is almost racially homogenic, Chileans get curious and may stare at foreigners. If you are blonde, black or asian, be prepared. There have been reports of racial attacks, but they are infrequent, and the police (carabineros) have become better at handling such situations. If you are from the Middle East, it will be easier to blend in and will not get the same level of attention as a black or asian would, for instance.
Be careful if you are dressed like an emo. They are called pokemons because the haircuts remind them of the Japanese animated series. Chileans may disapprove of the hairstyle and clothing. There have been an increase in attacks against them by skinheads and few Chileans have sympathy for them. You will experience less problems if you embody some other genre like rock or hip-hop, for example.
Diplomatic representation from the US : embassy: Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago mailing address: APO AA 34033 telephone:  (2) 232-2600 FAX:  (2) 330-3710.
Having relatively good standards in medicine throughout the country, it is not difficult to stay healthy. However, one will usually find more refined resources at a private medical facility.
In case of emergency, call 131, but don't expect an operator fluent in English.
No vaccinations are necessary.
Don't drink tap water! Always drink bottled water to avoid water-borne illnesses and help keep your visit to Chile problem-free.