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Practical information

Questions about Chile? Find the answers in our FAQs
Travel Coach Chile > Practical information

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For more region-specific information, check out our travel guides

This page covers practical information on Chile. You will find useful information to travel to Chile, such as visa, insurance, vaccination, health, travel requirements, money, language speaking, and security. If you need more information or if you have a question, send a message to your travel agent.

We look forward to welcoming you here soon!

Do I need a visa to travel to Chile?

American, Australian, British and Canadian passport holders do not need a visa to enter Chile. A valid passportis sufficient. It must be valid foranother 6 months after your return date. You will be delivered a touristic card valid for 90 days upon arrival. This will be delivered by the PDI (Investigation Police). It is essential to keep it in a safe place, as it will be required every time you leave the country (including when you travel to Uyuni or Patagonia in Argentina),otherwise you will not be able to cross the border.

Are vaccinations required to travel to Chile?

There is no specific shots required to enter Chile. As with any international travel, it is recommended to get vaccinated against tetanus, hepatitis A, rabies and typhoid, and to be up-to-date with routine shots.

There is no malaria or mosquito-borne illness in Chile.

We recommend consulting CDC Travel Center for Disease Control and Preventions website for medical advice and the vaccination-related modalities for traveling to Chile.

Do I need to arrive in the country with local currency?

The national currency is the Chilean peso ($ or clp). You can use your credit card in Chile (don’t forget to tell your bank you are traveling abroad as they may block it!). You have to enter your pin at each payment. Park entrances are paid in cash. So it’s best to always have some cash on you.

Beware, on Easter Island, on the Carretera Austral, as well as in small isolated communities, there is very few (or sometimes none) ATM. That is why we recommend always having some cash with you. We mention these kinds of recommendations in our itineraries. In big cities, and tourist spots, ATMs are found about everywhere. Consider that your bank may charge you a fee for withdrawing money in Chile in addition to the 10 USD fee per withdrawal charged by the local Chilean ATMs.

You can also go to a currency exchange office to get Chilean pesos. Avoid doing so at airports or hotels. In Santiago, we recommend Pedro de Valdivia Street in Providencia or streets adjacent to the Presidential Palace (Augustinas Street for example). You should always be very careful before and after doing the exchange as ill-intentions people could try to take advantage of you. Avoid changing large amounts of money and walking around with too much cash.

Is it standard to tip in Chile?

In Chile, expected tips are 10% of the bill in restaurants and bars. It is not mandatory but it is common and strongly suggested to tip it if you have enjoyed your meal and the service. It will be suggested on your bill and you will surely be asked if you want to include it or not.

What about altitude sickness ?

In northern Chile (particularly in the Atacama Desert and in the Altiplano or Bolivia),you may experience altitude sickness and symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or difficulty breathing. This is called Soroche, altitude sickness, that may occur from 9.800 ft elevation. In order to limit the adverse effects of altitude when traveling in the country, avoid drinking alcohol 24 hours before going high and drink plenty of water on a regularly basis. Chewing dried fruit can also help.

You should avoid running, and we advise you to adopt a slow pace during your journeys. To encourage natural acclimatization,we organize our trips considering progressive altitude in the tours.

To release the pain, you can take aspirin, and enjoy infusions of coca leaves!

Before going to Chile, it is always best to do a check up with your doctor, who may also prescribe pills for acclimatization.

What sort of plugs do I need for Chile and what is the voltage?

Electronic devices (phone and camera) and appliancesneed an adapter to plug in Chilean socket. Chilean sockets are C-type but the L-type is also used. You should either buy an adapter before arriving to Chile or get one here. Adapter can be found in supermarket or specialty stores. The voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

What is the time difference in Chile?

Chile is not located in the same time zone as Europe or United States. To be exact the time in Chile is UCT//GTM – 3 in northern summer and – 4h in northern winter. From April to September the time change is GTM/UTC – 4 hours whereas from September to April it is GTM/UTC – 3 hours. On Easter Island the time zone is different than in continental Chile (in general 1 or 2 hours less). And in Patagonia, there is no daylight saving time (starts in April and ends in September).

Regarding Montreal, there is about 1 hour difference almost all year round with an exception of a few months in the autumn mid-season.

Can I drive in Chile and Argentina?

If you rent a car in Chile, there are a few rules to know. For example, it is mandatory to have your crossing lights on, outside the cities, even in the middle of the day. Another important thing to know (for Europeans at least) is that traffic lights are often on the other side of the intersection, as in the United States. Be careful not to stop in the middle of the lane!

The international driver license is not mandatory in Chile (or Argentina) for tourists.

Road infrastructure is generally well developed and in good condition. Driving in Chile is like driving in France or in the US, + Santiago’s traffic jams, country roads, and mountain trails.

Note: Chilean highways have toll. Around Santiago, there is an automatic system related to the car (working thanks to a small box called TAG) and in the rest of the country, you must pay in cash directly at the toll booth.

What about telephone calls in Chile?

In Chile, the country code is +56. Thanks to a massive transition to mobile network, the main cities of Chile offer 4G network. However, remote and rural areas may often be off any network connection.

Important numbers are:

  • The United States Embassy in Chile is located avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, Región Metropolitana, and can be reached on +56 (2) 2330 3000.
  • All emergency numbers start with 13.
  • For an ambulance call 131.
  • For the fire department call 132.
  • For the police call 133.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Chile?

In Chile, tap water is safe everywhere. Some did not find it very good in remote villages, it is up to you to see according to your tastes. It often contain a high concentration of minerals, which may lead to stomach pain. We recommend bringing a filter bottle for itinerant trekking.

What about phone calls and mobile data while traveling in Chile?

Because using your roaming data may be very expensive or unreliable, we recommend buying a prepaid Chilean sim card. For optimal coverage throughout Chile, prefer an Entel sim card, which can be easily found everywhere (airports, train stations, metro stations, etc.). Small budgets will also opt for the low-cost operator WOM, which offers 1Gb at lower prices but with a smaller coverage. Prices are around 5.000 pesos for 1 Giga or 60 minutes. For 1 Giga of 4G mobile data, prices are estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 pesos.

How much money does it cost to travel to Chile?

Chile is a beautiful country but also one of the most expensive country in South America. According to Lonely Planet Guidebook , a trip to Chile costs more than a trip to Peru, Bolivia or even Brazil. Prices in Chile are comparable to those of European capitals such as Madrid.

There is no standard budget for a trip to Chile. We usually say that a breakfast costs around 8 USD, a typical lunch would be 15/17 USD and you will probably spend at least 20 USD per person for a dinner.

To find out how much a trip to Chile costs,we recommend you read our blog article dedicated to this topic on our Blog.

Is Chile safe to travel to?

Compared to its neighboring countries, Chile is very safe to travel to. Exceptions exist, as in any other countries, mainly in the city center of big cities such as Santiago, Valparaiso and Calama, or in slums. It is recommended to avoid walking alone at night in those specific areas and not to let any valuable item in the car. As with any other destination, it is useful to have photocopies of your official documents in case of loss or theft.

Moreover, urban crime increased following the protests related to the social crisis of October 2019. For that reason, we do not recommend long-term stays in the capital. Be aware that the historic city center suffered some degradations, so it is less interesting for wandering around anyways. Although a visit of the city center is not dangerous, we recommend going with one of our guides,who can help you understanding the complexity of the social crisis that the country is going through. In addition, we also suggest listening to our podcast recommendations,some of which are related to this topic.

International travelers should consider notifying their presence to their respective embassy.

How is Chile's climate?

Chile is 3700 miles long, and has a multitude of different climatic zones. For detailed information regarding the best season to visit Chile,read our related Blog post.

  • The Norte Grande has a warm and dry climate. It is mostly sunny and temperature ranges from 20°C to 25°C, whereas Atacama desert has a more intense weather. In the desert the high temperature can reach 30°C to 50°C and drop at -15°C at night The area is extremely dry but rain falls can happen from January to February (because of Altiplano winter). Overall, when it comes to the Highlands (Altiplano) temperatures drop due to the altitude. The nights can be cool.
  • Santiago and the central region have a Mediterranean climate with dry and hot summers as well as cold and humid winters. Temperatures range from 30°C in January and 1°C in July. Be aware than on the coast, like in Valparaíso, it always is less warm than in Santiago and that morning can be misty.
  • The “Sur Chico“, with Lakes District, Araucania and Chiloé Archipelago, have a rather cold and humid climate. Rain falls are very common, especially in winter.
  • Patagonia, located at the southern tip of the planet, has an oceanic polar climate. Wind, cold and rain falls are severe, and cities can be covered by snow in winter. Variations in weather occur frequently.
  • Easter Island is subtropical, heat and sun are common in summer with sporadic rainfalls whereas winter is mild.

Not to be forgotten, in Chile, seasons are opposite to the ones of the Northern Hemisphere.

What about earthquakes in Chile?

As far as natural disasters are concerned,it is true that Chile is experiencing significant seismic activity. Indeed, Chile is located at the junction of 2 tectonic plates : the Nazca one and the South American continent one. The oceanic plate slides a few centimetres under the continental plate every year, this is called the subductionphenomenon. Nevertheless, modern architecture has adapted to withstand seismic tremors. The last two notable earthquakes occurred in 2010 and 2015.

In the event of a major earthquake, the usual recommendations are: open the doors, and get under a table, or in door frame. Stay away from the windows. If you don’t have any of these furniture in your environment, lie on your stomach along your bed and place your hands to protect your head. We reassure you, for the 5 years we have been living here, none of the members of our team had to practice these security measures!

Do I have to travel to Chile with a health insurance?

Yes ! When traveling, it is necessary to have medical insurance to cover your medical expenses and possible evacuation in case of an accident. It is important to have insurance that covers your possible hospital expenses. Indeed, private clinics, doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash, paid upfront, regardless whether you have a travel health insurance. Modern facilities in Santiago, like the ones of Clinica Las Condes, provide very good services, but is very expensive. In remote areas, like in Eastern Island, San Pedro de Atacama, Carretera Austral and Patagonia, medical care is very limited.

It is also recommended to have a comprehensive travel insurance, which covers cancellation, medical evacuation and a wide range of risks. You will find a list of Insurance companies on the website of US State department(www.state.gov).

It’s important to know that your travel with TravelCoachChile doesn’t include any insurance. You must enter into a travel insurance contract and have a close look at insurance policy.

What guidebooks do you recommend ?

The best way to organize a trip to Chile is to call your travel agent at TravelCoachChile. By choosing our agency,you are guaranteed seamless trip,and we will provide all the practical information necessary for a wonderful trip to Chile.

Nevertheless, for historical information,a guidebook can be interesting to have a comprehensive documentation. In this case, we recommend the Chile Handbook published by Foot Print and the guide on Chile published by Lonely Planet,both of which are more focused on practical aspects. That’s why we suggest watching documentaries on Chile or reading novels, so that you can have a cultural immersion beforehand.

Can you travel to Chile without speaking Spanish?

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish! All our travelers survived, even without speaking the local language! On the street, it’s unlikely that a passer-by will be able to help you in English, but Chileans will probably do everything they can to help you anyway.

In tourist areas, speaking English is more frequent. Good standing hotels usually have an English speaking staff, whereas mid range hotels staff will manage speaking a basic English. In rustic or family run accommodations, staff likely only speaks Spanish. But there are many ways to communicate anyway, and we are convinced that this will not be a hiccup to your journey.

We work with English-speaking people all over Chile, and if we have plenty of English-speaking guides who will lead you during your visits.

Finally, in our welcome guide, we include a lexicon, so that you have the necessary keywords to survive the Chilean slang.

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