FAST FACTS ABOUT TRAVELING TO CHILE

GENERAL INFORMATION

VISA

No visa is necessary when you travel to Chile, only a valid passport. When entering Chile (By cruise, vehicle or plane), at customs, you'll need to fill out a Tourist Card that allows visitors to stay for up to 90 days and will allow multiple entries. You'll need to show this Tourist Card to Customs when leaving the country as well, so be sure you don't lose it. For more information on other type of Visa, go to the CONSULAR SECTION for more information.

ENTRY FEE:
There is no reciprocity fee.

TAXES:
Hotels waive Chile's 18% sales tax applied to rooms when the guest shows the tourist 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 airline ticket.

SAFETY AND EMERGENCIES
Santiago is probably the safest major city in South America. Serious violent crime is not unheard of, but it's not common either. A visitor's principal concern will be pickpockets and vandals, but even then your chances of being a victim are rare. Contact the staff if something happens to you in your hotel. For a police emergency, call 133. To call an ambulance, dial 131. Some advice for travelers:

Exercise common sense, as you would in any city in the US;

Avoid Plaza de Armas and Paseo Ahumada after dark;

While in Santiago don't accept rides from taxis with more than one passanger inside;

You should not leave luggage unattended and be particularly attentive at bus terminals, restaurants

You are advised to leave your passport, tourist card (given upon entry into Chile), most bank cards and larger amounts of money in a safe place and to carry a photocopy of the details page of your passport.

WEATHER IN CHILE
Santiago has a Mediterranean climate and well-defined seasons. Spring (Sept–Nov.) is mild, and contributes to the flourishing green color of the plants and trees. Summer (Dec.-Feb.) is dry and hot with temperatures that can reach over 87º F. At night it cools down slightly, and on the coast this temperature drop can be more extreme. Autumn (March– May), temperatures decrease gradually. In winter, mornings are cold, as low as 28º F and although the temperature rises at midday it rarely exceeds 60ºF. It begins to rain in April and reaches its highest level during June/July, then decreases gradually to almost nothing in November. The average annual rainfall in Santiago is 384 mm (14.9 in).

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
Spanish is the official language of Chile. Many Chileans in the tourism industry and in major cities are able to speak some words of basic English. Try to learn even a dozen basic Spanish phrases before arriving. Try one of several phrasebooks on the market to facilitate your trip.

BANKING
Banks are open to public from Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm, and are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

CURRENCY AND MONEY EXCHANGE
Peso Bank notes are for 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000 and 20,000. It is often difficult to change the latter two, especially in small villages.

The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile making it possible to exchange money at any established "Casa de Cambio" at market driven exchange rates. They are common in the downtown area and Providencia district as well as shopping centers in Santiago. NOTE: Visitors should avoid black market exchange rates.

All major credit cards are accepted. Travelers’ checks are least widely accepted and fetch the lowest exchange rates.

The simplest and most efficient way to carry and change money is with a debit or ATM card. These ATM machines normally give better rates than banks or money changers, and charge no commission. Only ATMs in larger cities will be compatible with international debit systems like Plus or Cirrus. Credit cards are fairly widely accepted.

ATM AVAILABILITY
All major cities and many smaller towns with a significant tourist economy have one or more ATMs. Some banks, however, charge rather exorbitant fees for international withdrawals, and per-day withdrawal limits are usually around US$300.

OBSERVED HOLIDAYS

DATE NATIONAL HOLIDAY
January 1st   New Year’s Day
April 9th Good Friday
May 1st Labor Day
May 21st Battle of Iquique
June 7th Corpus Christi
June 28th St Peter's and St Paul's Day
August 15th Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 6th National Unity Day
September 18th Independence Day
September 19th Army Day
October 12th Columbus Day (Día de la Raza)
November 1st All Saints Day
December 8th Immaculate Conception
December 25th Christmas Day (Not a recognized national holiday)
December 31st Bank Holiday

BUSINESS HOURS
Commercial offices close for a long lunch hour, which can vary from business to business.

TELEPHONE AND COMMUNICATIONS
Each carrier has its own prefix, which you must dial when placing national and international long distance calls. Telephone centers use their own prefix, and there is a list of prefixes in telephone booths -- all offer virtually the same rates. The prefixes are CTC (188), Entel (123), BellSouth (181), and Chilesat (171) among others. To place a collect call, dial a prefix and then 182 for an operator. The country code for Chile is 56. A local phone call requires 100 pesos, and better rates are had with a phone card sold from kiosks, but verify that a particular company's phone card works with any phone and not only with its own public phone.

Cellular phones are prefixed by 09, and are more expensive to call.

To reach an AT&T operator while in Chile, dial tel. 800/800-288. The access numbers for MCI are tel. 800/207-300 (using CTC) and tel. 800/360-180 (using Entel). The access number for Sprint is tel. 800/360-777.

ACCESS TO INTERNET
No matter where you are in Chile, chances are there is an Internet station, either in a cafe or at the telephone centers CTC or Entel. Most hotels have their own Internet service; if they don't, they'll be able to point out where to find one. Expect to pay $2 to $4 per hour. Major hotels are wireless enabled.

VACCINATIONS
No other vaccination is required to enter Chile. International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever required if arriving from infected area within 5 days.

ELECTRICITY
Chile's electricity standard is 220 volts/50Hz. Electrical sockets have two openings for tubular pins, not flat prongs, so you'll need a plug adapter.

TIPPING
Tipping Diners leave a 10% tip in restaurants. In hotels, tipping is left to the guest's discretion. Taxi drivers are not tipped.

DRINKING AGE
The legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol is sold every day of the year, except during elections.


EVENTS CHILE

· Derby de Viña del Mar 2004: The Derby take place at the Valparaíso Sporting Club on February of every year.

· Festival de la Canción de >Viña del Mar: Takes place in the city of Viña del Mar, at the end of February. Festival de Viña del Mar is the largest music festival in Latin America, an annual celebration that attracts some of the biggest names in the music industry. This is quite a huge event on the City of Viña del Mar, when popular singers and music bands from all over the world and Chile, come to Chile to perform. Thousands of people come to the city to watch, sing and dance. The Festival is broadcasted to 21 countries, and 150 international journalists cover this week-long extravaganza. Vina del Mar, part of greater Valparaiso metropolitan area, is considered to be one of the most beautiful city of Chile. A seaside resort endowed with fine beaches and modern buildings, the city charms surprises visitors. Valparaiso, recently named World Heritage by Unesco, is Chile's principal seaport, and is only 10 minutes away and has a unique urban character.

· Tapati, Easter Island: In late January to early February the islanders celebrate Tapati, a festival honoring the Polynesian cultural heritage of the island. Today's sophisticated productions feature native dance, chant, and song, and competitions such as horse racing, woodcarving, fishing, Kai Kai (string figures), traditional body decoration, a parade, and a queen contest. The festival has become so popular that it has now been extended into a two-week event. More information on:

· El Ensayo, Club Hípico Santiago: The most important Derby in Chile, takes place in October in Santiago.

· Champion of Rancagua (National Rodeo): The Rodeo is the traditional and folkloric sport of the Chilean Huaso, similar to the US cowboy. Visit www.justacriollo.com/  search for Chilean Criollo.

· Carnaval de Valparaíso (Valparaíso Carnival, third week of December): This is a cultural Carnival that takes place in Valparaíso, the cultural capital of Chile and World Heritage of Unesco. This is a Carnival sponsored by the government and has live music, dance, literature, theatre, cinema, fireworks, etc, and it ends at new year's eve with the fireworks at the Valparaíso Bay, know to be one of the most impressive in the world.

· Fiesta de la Vendimia de Colchagua (Harvest Festivity of the Colchagua Valley): Chile is the third largest exporter to the United States and the 9th producer of wine in the world. This takes place on the city of Santa Cruz, on the Colchagua Valley , and is the most important harvest festivity in Chile. Santa Cruz is a small town about 2.5 hours southwest of Santiago in the vicinity of several vineyards. Santa Cruz is the starting point of the Colchagua Wine Route. Some outstanding Chilean wineries are present such as Bisquertt, Casa Lapostolle, Casa Silva, Luis Felipe Edwards, Montes, MontGras, Santa Laura, Siegel, El Crucero and Viu Manent. It takes place on the main plaza of Santa Cruz. Some of the activities to take place are wine tasting from the 2002 harvest, and typical gastronomy tasting. Some typical local dishes will be Grilled lamb, Ostrich, Pastel de Choclo (corn and beef casserole), Cebiche from nearby Pichilemu (dish of marinated raw fish), wild boar meat, local deserts and sweets, such as manjar and the Mote con Huesillo, a sweet apricot nectar served with hydrated barley, very refreshing. Handcrafts are a highlight of the festivity with near 15 stands and include the hand made Chupalla (Chilean cowboy's hat), leather and silver goods, alpaca wool and soaps of sheep milk! There are also a few competitions, such as the Races on wine barrels, races on Gamelas (where the grapes are harvested), Cueca contest, typical Chilean dance, the traditional Grape Stomping contest and the election of the Harvest fest princess.

· 18th of September - Independence of Chile: In September Chileans celebrate the countries independence from Spain. From September the 18th till the 19th, Chileans celebrate with food, music, local beverages. Much of the drinking, music and dancing occurs in the ramadas, open air restaurants with a dance floor under tent roof. The gastronomical offer includes a variety of national food favorites such as asados, or open pit barbecues, Chilean style empanadas, and others, besides the Chilean wine, and grape made 'chicha'. Music, particularly the patriotic sounds of the national anthem and other favorites, is everywhere. Cueca competitions are a ritual. Medialunas, the semi-circular arenas used in the rodeos, fill with spectators cheering the huasos (Chilean cowboy) who demonstrate their skills. No matter where you are in Chile during the September Independence Celebrations, you'll hear Viva Chile! Enjoy the festivities, music, food and dance, and have a great time.

DISTANCE CHART

 

Arica

Castro

Coihaique

Iquique

P. Arenas

Pto Montt

Santiago

Temuco

Valdivia

Valparaiso

Arica

 

3245

4075

301

5203

3078

2062

2739

2903

2020

Calama

596

2749

3579

387

4707

2582

1566

2243

2407

1524

Castro

3245

 

1376

3036

2504

167

1183

506

377

1303

Coihaique

4075

1376

 

3866

3334

1209

2013

1336

1207

2133

Chillan

2469

776

1606

2260

2734

609

407

270

434

527

Iquique

301

3036

3866

 

4994

2869

1853

2530

2694

1811

Pto Natales

5453

2648

1742

5244

254

2481

3285

2608

2479

3504

Pto Varas

3058

187

1189

2849

2313

20

996

319

190

1116

Pto Montt

3078

167

1209

2869

2337

 

1016

339

210

1136

Pta Arenas

5203

2504

3334

4993

 

2337

3141

2464

2335

3261

Puyehue

3046

347

1029

2837

2305

180

984

307

178

1104

Santiago

2062

1183

2013

1853

341

1016

 

677

841

120

Temuco

2739

506

1336

2530

2464

339

667

 

164

797

Valdivia

2903

377

1207

2694

2335

210

841

164

 

961

Valparaiso

2020

1303

2133

1811

3261

1136

120

797

961

 

Villarica

2814

527

1357

2485

360

752

75

185

872

 

VIna

2012

1302

2132

1803

3260

1135

119

796

960

 

Distances are in kilometers. To convert to miles, multiple by .61.

BOOKS AND GUIDES ON CHILE

  • Chile, Including Easter Island, Wayne Bernhardson - Moon Handbooks.
  • Chile & Easter Island, Carolyn Hubbard, Brigitte Barta & Jeff Davis - Lonely Planet Publications.
  • Chile Handbook, Tobey Green - Footprint Handbooks.
  • Chile Experience Travel Guide, Josh Howell, Turiscom publishing
  • Travels in a Thin Country, Sara Weller.

Copyright © 2005- Embassy of Chile, Washington, DC and GlobeScope, Inc.