Chile Travel Information ~ Travel Tips
Travel to Chile Information For Business and Vacations
Do I need a Visa for Chile? Generally, tourist visas (actually a tourist card) are valid for 90 days and are issued on arrival to all travellers. Hang on to this card, as you will have to produce it prior to departure, or stay in Chile until you can get a replacement. (See the Consulate of Chile for more information and an email contact if clarification needed.)
Reciprocity Tax for Incoming Air Travelers What is harder to track down is the amount of a 'reciprocity tax' that must be paid in US dollars upon arrival at the airports, as it varies by what country you are from, and rules may change without notice. (In 2005, Canadians paid $55 USD and Americans paid $100 USD; in 2010, the reciprocity tax is shown as $132 for Canadians, and credit cards are now accepted (source: Govt Canada).
Keep the receipt stub for the reciprocity tax payment : It will be affixed to your passport, and is valid for the life of that passport or five years. Check with your travel agent or the Chilean embassy just before you travel to get the current information as amounts etc can change without much notice. This is separate from airport departure taxes.
What to pack for a trip to Chile? Packing for a trip to Chile for business or vacation can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to pack light, or if you need to pack light. Here's my short list for packing for a South America / Chile trip. Most flights within Chile limit your luggage weight to 20 kg (44 lb).Packing for Chile :If you are only planning to travel on business, and only to Santiago, in the Chilean winter, then your travel wardrobe will be quite different from mine. What you would pack for a business trip to Chile, in that case, would be what you would pack for a winter business trip to any large city in North America or Europe, i.e. just regular business clothes. See travel packing tips section : What to Pack and travel tips for all travelers.
Books, Guide books for Chile Lonely Planet Chile and Easter Island is the travel guide I took with me. There's also a new Frommer's Chile and Easter Island. You might enjoy reading Daughter of Fortune (Allende), about a Chilean woman coming to California.
What Language do they speak in Chile? In Chile, the official language is Spanish (Castillano), but English is spoken by business and tourism people. Many Chileans also speak Portuguese, or some German, and less commonly, French.
If you learn even a few words and phrases in Spanish, no matter your pronunciation, everyone seems pleased that you made the effort. (They had me at Ola! which means Hello.
I sound the 'H' -- Hola -- and give myself away as a non-native speaker every time!
Do take along one of these small phrasebooks -- you may only need to refer to it once or twice, but you will be so glad to have it! There's a new Collin's Latin American Spanish CD & phrasebook pack. I used the Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish phrasebook
Travel Maps for Chile Tourism maps are available from airports and hotels in Santiago and other cities, but they are pretty basic, as are the maps included with travel guides. If you love maps like I do, take along a Rough Guide map of Chile or this map of Chile, Argentina. Paraguay, Uruguay, etc. (Spanish) if you will be travelling around South America.
Travel Health Issues for Chile ~ Do I need shots for Chile? Check with your local travel health clinic. Chile is generally considered safe but spans a large geographic area, so for vaccinations, consider your itinerary - tropical, dry, southern, mountain hikes or seashore - and always check for any current issues (see Disclaimer page for government travel advisory links). See general vaccinations info under Passports, etc
What money (currency) do they use in Chile? Chilean peso (CLP). Rates fluctuate: About $1USD = 512 CLP. For suggestions on how to carry travel money, ATMs see Travel Currency Tips page.
What side of the road do they drive on in Chile? In Chile, they drive on the right.
Is it safe to travel in Chile? Generally, yes, if taking similar precautions to travel to any destination. For example, I would not walk alone at night at home in Toronto; nor would I do so in Santiago. I am not saying it is not safe, just prudent. And I don't adorn myself with expensive jewellery or luggage. See full comfort-safety tips here.
Is the water safe to drink? Can I drink tap water in Chile? Everywhere I traveled, the tap water was potable - safe to drink. If you have a sensitive tummy, you may want to consider drinking only bottled water, Even safe tap water can contain different chemicals that may not agree with you. When in doubt, ask the locals. And heavy rains, etc can change water safety anywhere.
What is the food like in Chile? Great!! Not too spicy, not too exotic. Have a look at the Chile foods page for pictures, selected restaurants, etc.
Chile travel information: See also Bus from Chile Argentina via Los Libertadores. If you have questions about Chile travel not covered here, do leave me a comment below and I'll find out for you. Have a great trip!