Plan Your Trip to Chile
Every country has own habits and not knowing them as well as not respecting cultural differences may cause some problems during our trip. It is therefore always useful to know a little bit about a country before we travel. Here you have a few tips I gathered during my 7 months in Chile. Some of them I have learned the hard way, some things I have observed or heard from locals.
What you should know before going to Chile
Not knowing enough about vaccine requirements caused me some problems in the past, so it is always important to check it out what vaccinations you need well in advance. Fortunately, there is no medical tests or vaccines required before entering Chile.
Earthquakes are frequent in Chile, however most of them are just temblors. I didn’t expect so many of them before going to Chile and my first experience of a temblor of 5.2 Richter was a bit stressful for me. It seems that locals don’t even notice them. So if you are experiencing your first ever shake, stay calm and observe locals. They are likely to know whether it is a big threat or not.
You might need an adaptor for all you electrical devices and the chilean plugs have three holes. You might manage with some devices with two, but some of them are too big and do not fit in Chile.
Citizens of EU, Canada, other countries of South America, USA and Australia do not require a tourist visa. If you are a citizen of a country that belongs to EU you will get a stamp at the border that will allow you to stay in the country for 90 days. Some countries (except EU) need to pay a fee when entering Chile.
The currency of Chile is chilean peso (CLP) and $US 1 is equivalent to approx. 620 pesos and € 1 to 670 pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted, but you might find it difficult to pay with travellers checks.
Chile is not a cheap country, so be prepared.
TIPS IN RESTAURANTS
Leaving the tip in restaurants is optional and it is usually 10%. After moths of living in Chile I realized that the tip is almost always included in the bill and you are given two quotes. It is your choice whether you want to leave some extra money or not. If you pay with a bigger note and don’t specify this, most of the time the waiters believe that you want to leave a tip (propina). I have seen some people tipping for coffee and juices too.
WHEN TO GO TO CHILE
Every season is beautiful in Chile and offers you different experiences. Nevertheless, since the country spreads through the length of almost the whole continent, different climates and temperatures will welcome you.
If you go to the south of Chile, the best time is between November and April. Between June and September the freezing temperatures are not very pleasant (for a heat lover like me), although there’s still plenty to do there. If you like cold, go.
Middle part of Chile is most pleasant in spring and autumn (November-December and March-April) with nice warm temperatures. In Summer the temperatures in cities are impossible to bear, especially in Santiago.
The north of Chile can be explored any time of the year. Even in summer, it seems much hotter in Santiago than in Atacama desert. In winter the temperatures are cooler, but pleasant. Of course some parts are very cold, like El Tatio or Altiplano lagoons, because of the altitude. The landscape is always beautiful, but so far I must say that the winter colours make it magical.
If you head to Andean regions you might need to prepare yourself for altitude sickness, drink plenty of water, take it slow and avoid excess of alcohol.
The sun is very strong in Chile, especially on the north. It might not feel strong at times, but the radiation is still high, so always (but always!) use sun screen or wear clothes that cover your body even if you normally don’t burn easily.
BRINGING FOOD INTO CHILE
Chile has a strict policy on bringing food and plants into the country. Check for details before crossing the border as you might get fined. Some food items such as chocolate are acceptable though.
You don’t speak Spanish? Don’t worry, you will do just fine. Even native Spanish speakers struggle with understanding Chileans, it is like knowing English and going to Scotland for the first time. You can read a little bit more about the secrets and mystery of this language here. But seriously, learn some of the words and phrases to survive as not that many people speak English here and it is always nice to learn a local language, which will make your trip easier and your experiences richer. Being able to communicate with locals is great as they will tell you so many nice stories and tips that will teach you so much about the culture of the country.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED TO SEE THE COUNTRY
Chile is 4300 km long, so it takes time to explore it all, plus if you want to visit Ester Island it is a 6-hour flight each way. I would say that 3 weeks would be enough to see the most interesting places, for example:
Santiago and Valparaiso: 4 days is enough to see the cities and their highlights. Of course you won’t be able to explore it in depth, but there’s so much more to see in the country and only in 3 weeks.
If you travel in winter months and want to do some snow sports, you will definitely need to stay there a couple of days longer to enjoy it at least a bit.
For Easter Island you need around 4-5 days or a day longer if you really want to explore it. Only LANchile goes there, and you can flight there from either Santiago de Chile or Lima (Peru). The flights are pricey and the whole trip to the island is usually the most expensive part of the holidays, but if you already pay so much for the flight, just enjoy the place, don’t rush. It’s worth it.
To explore the highlights of the north you need around 8 days. Only for San Pedro de Atacama you should reserve at least 4 days as there is so much to see around there and as we know the distances are big.
If you really want to explore Chile you will need more than 3 weeks. If apart from sightseeing you would like to do some trekking, winter sports, dune sandboarding kayaking etc. you definitely need to reserve a bit more time.
The quickest way, of course, is flying from place to place. This option might not be cheap, but if you plan well in advance to can get good deals. Buses are much cheaper but they take time. I traveled by night buses to save the time and they are comfortable and you can sleep. If you chose this option often though for long distances, you will notice the tiredness building up.
DRIVING AROUND CHILE
You won’t meet many crazy drivers on chilean roads (in comparison to some other countries), which makes moving around a bit easier.
What you need to remember, always, that in some parts of the country there is not many petrol stations. I learned it hard way. I have no experience of that on the south of the country, but exploring north by car might be stressful. At times we drove for 400km without a petrol station and if you need to go back- then you might be in trouble. What locals recommend is to carry a container with petrol in the car, just in case. Moreover, since some of the road are off road-like and you might be passing salars (salt cristals are like knives), you need a spare wheel. You should also always have with you in the car water and a blanket.
One more tip: don’t expect to always find a petrol station in avarage size towns, sometimes they are located in tiny places and in the middle of nowhere. We always calculate how much petrol we have and top up at every station we meet on the way as you never know where will be the next one.
Ohhh….and one more thing:
Have you traveled to Chile? What would you add to that list, so others can benefit from? Don’t keep it to yourself and share it with fellow travelers. All lovely tips and ideas are always much appreciated.
Artículo extraído de la siguiente página http://www.postcardsfromtheworld.com/go-to-chile-what-you-need-to-know-before-your-trip/