Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some info on our trip to Chile. Before traveling to this amazing country I honestly didn’t know a lot about it. So, I made a little guide to help anyone planning to make their way down south!
HOW WE GOT THERE
There are plenty of ways to get to Santiago, Chile. Multiple airlines like American Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Delta, and United fly direct. Flight costs can vary from $800 – $1,000 or more. Spencer found us tickets for under $400 with AeroMexico (!!!). He booked way back in October through Kayak’s flexible date option. Our flight was NYC > Mexico DF (about 5 hours) and then Mexico DF > Santiago (about 8 hours). On the way there we had a 5 hour layover which allowed us to run out to Mexico City for some delicious Mexican breakfast. My sister recommended Sanborn’s Azulejos which is about a 30 min cab ride from the airport. It was perfect as we wanted a sit down meal where we could relax before our next leg.
VISAS FOR CHILE
If you’re an U.S. Citizen you don’t need to pre arrange a visa but upon entering Chile you’ll receive a paper that looks just like a receipt you would get at a restaurant. It’s called a PDI slip, and you will be asked for it at every single hotel you check into- so don’t lose it! This slip has all your information (name, passport, DOB, etc.), and should be kept with your passport as you’ll need to hand it back to customs before leaving the country.
PAYING FOR THINGS
Chile is a great balance of cash and credit card economy. As long as the credit card machine is working and you’ve pre arranged your travel with your bank you should have no problem. We each have the Chase Sapphire card, and were able to pay as little as 1,000 CHP ($1.50) when using it. No need to reach a minimum and Chase Sapphire has no foreign transaction fees so it’s perfect for travel. ATM’s are also very accessible. Our cab driver suggested using one inside a gas station or a bank just to make sure you’re safe.
The Chilean Peso is deceiving. For Americans, Chile is not a cheap country. I was expecting Patagonia to be expensive as it’s hard to get to and it’s “the furthest most part of the world”. However, I found that in general the exchange rate from USD to CHP was not working in our favor. $1.00 = 661.00 CHP which sounds like a lot but isn’t. Most things are priced just like in NYC. So, a drink could be 3,000 CHP ($4.50) for their cheapest or 9,000 CHP ($13.50) for a glass of wine. Of course you can find more price sensitive places but don’t think the food and drink quality isn’t amazing and worth it, because it is!
Most places we went to were easily walkable which became our preferred mode of transportation. In addition, every city we went to was also accessible by taxi and Uber. We used a combination of both, but mostly Uber. However, we found out that due to restrictions in the country, Uber is only allowed to take you to the airport not from. To leave, you must use an official city taxi or a shuttle bus which are reasonably priced and easy to find.
INTERNET AND PHONES
Unless you have a plan that allows you to make international calls when traveling to a foreign country I would opt to put your phone on airplane mode and just use wifi. We were able to connect everywhere we went. Most restaurants have it for free and Chile even has public wifi at airports, bus stations and different areas in the cities.
Due to the abundance of free wifi, we were able to use Google Maps easily while there. Prior to driving, we would connect to wifi and load our route on Mps which became very helpful. If you’re not familiar with this concept, all you have to do is open Google Maps and ask for directions as you regularly would and then just don’t close the app. Once you’re in the car hit the Start Navigation arrow and Siri will give you directions! The blue location dot will move along with you. Sure, there may be a short lag but nothing to be bothered by!
We were warned by our cab drivers and a few people we met to be very careful. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because we live in NYC but we never felt unsafe. Everyone we met was super sweet and helpful! Just be smart and act like you would in any major city.
We asked our server about water from the faucet the first night we had dinner and she was very honest. You CAN drink the water and most Chileans do but perhaps you wont love the taste. I tried it and have to agree, it was very minerally but it was fine for the time we were there. Spencer has a very sensitive stomach but was never upset by their water.
In a few days I’ll tell you all about Santiago!