Like a hot Andean pepper, Chile is a slow burn but stick around and you’ll find plenty of Insta-worthy salt flats, massive glaciers and cuisine that packs a punch.
Deceptive Chile is South America’s trickster. The country reveals itself slowly, but once the fog lifts you’ll be amazed you didn’t visit sooner. One day you’re in a desert surrounded by nothingness, the next in a city of millions. And on a clear day, you’ll be scratching your head wondering where that massive mountain backdrop came from? (Hint: it’s the Andes and even more spectacular up close).
Discover what it would be like to walk on Mars (without having to buy a one-way ticket to the Red Planet) and travel to the Atacama Desert. Venture to the end of the earth and trek magnificent glaciers at Torres del Paine, or head to Santiago and stuff yourself with shellfish at one of Bellavista’s many hip restaurants.
Chile may leave you with more questions than answers but whatever you do, wherever you go, expect the unexpected in Chile.
Chile travel highlights
This gritty, bohemian city has been attracting artists, poets and eclectics for years. Its colourful hillside houses, street art scene and buzzing nightlife just might inspire you too!
Ever wonder what the world looked like before humans? Probably something like Patagonia – where penguins and pumas roam glacier-chiselled landscapes.
San Pedro de Atacama
This charming town is surrounded by some of Chile’s most incredible sights. Base yourself here to see steaming geysers, extra-terrestrial landscapes and salt flats (complete with flamingos!).
Hillside parks, trendy eateries and thriving beer halls compete for your attention in Chile’s metropolitan capital, although you might find yourself just staring at the Andean peaks that dominate the city’s skyline.
Articles on Chile
Chile holiday information
Local Culture of Chile
Food and Drink in Chile
Festivals and Events in Chile
Geography and Environment
Shopping guide to Chile
Chile travel FAQs
Australia: No – but required to pay a reciprocity fee in advance
Belgium: No – not required
Canada:No – not required
Germany: No – not required
Ireland: No – not required
Netherlands: No – not required
New Zealand: No – not required
South Africa: No – not required
Switzerland: No – not required
United Kingdom: No – not required
USA: No – not required
Visitors from most nations do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, though travellers from Australia are required to pay a reciprocity fee of around USD 117 if they are entering Chile via its international airport in Santiago. This fee must be paid in cash in US dollars or by credit card. On arrival, you will receive a tourist card that is valid for 90 days. Keep this is a safe place, as you will be asked for it when leaving the country.
It’s generally a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months after your arrival date in Chile. For the most up-to-date information regarding visa requirements or reciprocity fees, please contact your local embassy or consulate.
It is customary to add a 10% tip to restaurant bills in Chile.
Internet is easy to access at internet cafes and hotels in large cities and towns, but is limited in rural and remote areas.
Mobile phone coverage is good in Chile’s cities, but may not be available in rural and mountainous areas. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.
Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in Chile’s cities, large hotels and tourist areas, although you’ll find squat toilets in rural areas and when camping. Either way, it’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as they are not always provided.
Local beer at a bar = USD 1.50
Simple lunch = USD 3
Sit-down dinner at a local restaurant = USD 13
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Chile, though some may get an upset stomach from the different mineral content. If you have a delicate stomach, you may want to opt for filtered water to avoid this. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle that can be filled with filtered water. Your leader or hotel can tell you where to find filtered water.
Major credit cards are widely accepted in Chile’s large cities and towns, but may not be accepted by smaller vendors such as family restaurants and markets stalls in small towns and rural areas. Make sure to carry enough cash when visiting these parts in case credit cards are not an option.
ATMs are widely available in larger cities but are less common in small villages or rural areas. Make sure you have enough cash before leaving urban areas.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Geckos are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Apr 14: Good Friday
Apr 15: Holy Saturday
May 1: Labour Day
May 21: Navy Day
June 29: Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul
Aug 15: Assumption
Sept 18: Independence Day
Sept 19: Army Day
Nov 1: All Saint’s Day
Dec 8: Immaculate Consumption
Dec 25: Christmas
For a current list of public holidays in Chile go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/south-america/Chile/public-holidays/
As a whole, Chile is a relatively hassle-free destination for LGBTQI-travellers. Though traditionally a very Catholic and conservative nation, attitudes are increasingly changing. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 and people are now more open about their sexuality. Santiago hosts an annual gay pride parade and has an active gay scene, particularly in Barrio Bellavista. Beach resorts, such as Vina del Mar, also have a number of gay clubs. Check Guia Gay Guide for a list of gay clubs throughout Chile.
Most people start to experience altitude sickness when they are more than 2,500 metres above sea level. Santiago is well below this elevation, but travellers heading to San Pedro de Atacama and the northern and central Andes might experience symptoms including shortness of breath, headache, nausea and loss of appetite. In order to avoid or reduce these symptoms, stay away from alcohol and exercise before your body has adjusted, drink plenty of water and talk to your doctor about possible medication. Chileans also have their own method for treating the effects of altitude – try chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea.
No vaccines are required in order to enter Chile but some are recommended for protection against disease. Visit your doctor or travel clinic for advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
1. Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
2. Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)