CHILE

Chilly, great seafood, larger cities, and the desert…

Chile

Spectacular landscape and experiences everywhere you go.

Where I’ve Been

Chile Placeholder
Chile

Currency = Chilean Peso.

Find Yourself Rating

So-so. The country feels huge and vast and has so many different experiences to offer. You can take the tourist path, or immerse in days of hiking in Patagonia. You can try out long bus rides, or fly. There’s abundant nature and animals you’ve probably never experienced. Just gazing at the lakes, the glaciers and the mountains can inspire deep thoughts and ideas and relaxation.

Female Solo Travel Ranking

Moderate. Overall I think Chile is pretty safe for female solo travelers. However, cities like Santiago require you to be aware of pickpocketers and in most areas you should not be walking around alone at night. Compared to Argentina where it seemed mostly safe, I found myself being more vigilant in Chile. I don’t think it’s dangerous, it’s just a bit more risky. I did find boutique hotels and hostels lovely, and the owners made me feel safe.  Check out my Female Solo Travel tips page for ideas to stay safe.

Touristy vs Authentic

Depends. Most of the places you will likely visit will be touristy – Santiago, Torres del Paine, the Atacama – all are quite touristy. However, apart from San Pedro de Atacama, which was made for tourists, it doesn’t feel like life has changed for tourists. You get a sense of authenticity, but you’ll do it with lots of other tourists.

Getting Around / Transportation

Planes and buses. The easiest way to get around Chile is to fly because of the large distances. I did survive a 16-turned-20-hour bus ride from La Serena to San Pedro de Atacama when we got a flat tire in the middle of the night! However, you will also go through high altitude changes up north and a bus is not pressurized. Research airfare for long distances as it may be more advantageous to fly, especially if you don’t have a lot of time. 

Negotiating

Only in artesanal markets. Chile is not a big country of negotiating, however you can definitely ask local artesans for a price if you’re buying several items from the same person.

How to Save Money

Moderate. Chile is definitely more expensive than it’s South American neighbors. You’ll pay up the nose for getting money out of an ATM, so withdraw the max, which is about $300, depending on the current exchange rate. Stay in hostels, guests houses, and boutique hotels to avoid paying top dollar. Bus travel is quite affordable, and in some cities you can get an Uber or an inexpensive taxi. Eating empanadas is a fabulous way to save money – they are about $2.50 and so huge you won’t be able to eat more than one. (You probably won’t want to, either, as they tend to be fried.) Otherwise, restaurants will run you $10 – $20 a meal, and that’s at a lower-end place.

Tipping

BOLDLY expected. It’s almost impossible not to tip everyone because they are quite in your face about asking for “propina?” and you’ll feel like you can’t avoid leaving a tip. Standard tip is 10% and is not required, but, like I said, you’ll feel like it’s an obligation even if the service is terrible. Don’t tip taxis though, not required.

WiFi Access

Decent. Apart from San Pedro de Atacama, where most restaurants either have no WiFi or are stingy giving the password, you will find fairly decent WiFi in most hotels, restaurants, and even some public areas.

SIM Cards / Cell Phone Service

Claro or Movistar or Entel. I didn’t get a Chilean SIM card as I was told it would take roughly a week to get registered because of adminstrative rules.

Toilets

Mostly excellent. All toilets are Western, clean, have toilet paper and soap. 🙂 BUT especially in public areas, toilets may be minus a moveable seat, toilet paper may or may not be available outside or inside the toilet area and soap conditions vary and dryers don’t always work and there usually isn’t any paper. Then again, they do seem conscious of the environment and prefer that paper not be flushed in many places.

Insects, Rodents and Reptiles

Not bad. I traveled in colder weather months and didn’t see any creepy crawlies.

Passport, Visa and Entry/Exit Rules

Easy. It’s always a good idea to check the US government website (or your country’s local government if not the US) for in-depth information as well as the embassy of embassy of Chile website or the US Government travel website. You’re allowed 90 days in the country. I traveled from Argentina, by bus and had no visa and no issues. They are very strict, however, about fruits and raw nuts not being allowed.

Health, Water, etc.

Excellent. I don’t drink tap water most places as a general rule of thumb because different bacteria can cause stomach issues. However, I was led to believe it was ok to drink the tap water in most places. I did brush my teeth with it and didn’t have any issues.

Weather

Cold. Mostly colder because of its proximity to the ocean, so bring layers. Remember seasons are also opposite those of the US.

Essentials to Pack

Layers – especially if you go into higher altitudes, be ready to be cold and most hotels just don’t seem to have good heating.

How to Make Friends

I’ve met fabulous people by dining at the same places but also because I’m solo, if I get a table for more than one, I’ve invited others to join me when there aren’t any other tables available. Honestly, strike up conversations with people at your hotel, hostel or restaurants, people are super friendly!

What to Do and See

Torres del Paine in the South and the Atacama Desert in the North are highly recommended!

Where to Stay

Guest House Mery – in Santiago – note that the entire city feels like a bad area and I would not recommend walking around alone at night. The owners of this place are lovely and it’s very affordable and has a kitchen where you can cook.

Hostal Terracota – in San Pedro de Atacama. The owner is LOVELY and breakfast will amaze you. Also off the main street so you’ll sleep well!

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