Planning Your Trip to Chile

Does Chile have any visa requirements or is there anything I need to do ahead of time to get into the country?

United States and Canadian citizens do not need a visa and do not have to pay a reciprocity fee in order to enter Chile. You should ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your trip dates, and you may also be required to show “proof of onward travel” before boarding your inbound flight (your return flight information fulfills this requirement). For minors traveling without their parent or guardian, you may be required to show additional documents. For more information, please visit the State Department website.

What immunizations and shots do I need to travel to Chile?

Chile does not have any vaccination requirements beyond being up to date on your routine vaccinations. Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations are also recommended, although not required. It is not in a malaria or yellow fever zone; however, it is recommended that travelers bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination history. Zika is not currently present in Chile.

It is a good idea to visit a travel clinic 4-8 weeks prior to any international travel. For more information, you can also visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

For specifics on Covid-19 vaccination requirements, please visit our Current South America Covid Regulations & Info page.

How do I get money and pay for things while in Chile?

The most economical way to get money while traveling in Chile is generally to use local ATMs. They distribute local Chilean pesos and use the most current exchange rate, though many ATMs do charge a small fee for foreign cards (usually $3-7 USD). Your bank may also charge an international ATM fee (usually $5 USD or under), so we recommend calling your bank before you travel. Some ATMs also have transaction withdrawal limits, so if you will need a large sum plan ahead (you are able to make multiple transactions, however any transaction fees will be assessed each time). If you prefer to arrive with Chilean pesos in hand, many banks and credit unions offer foreign currency ordering services for their account holders for a fee.

Occasionally during the high season ATMs will run out of cash, so bring U.S. dollars as backup funds for tipping, souvenirs, or meals not included in your itinerary. We recommend having $100 USD in small denominations as backup funds. You can change these to pesos at Casas de Cambio or money exchange offices. Also, bring at least one ATM/debit card and at least one credit card if you can. Credit cards are often accepted at restaurants and large shops. Problems with ATMs, such as machines that do not accept your card, are common. If you have any questions or encounter any issues, please ask your guide or hotel reception staff for assistance. Cabs and businesses marketing to tourists may accept U.S. dollars, but, generally speaking, U.S. dollars are not widely preferred.

How much should I tip while on my trip?

The recommendation for private guides is between $10-20 USD per full day of private guiding per person, and $3-5 USD for private drivers per full day per person. If the tour is a half day, approximately half of these amounts are recommended. For large groups or group excursions it is appropriate to tip guides approximately $5-10 USD per person per full day. This is a general guideline and it is Knowmad’s hope that you use it only as a framework and tip based on the level of service you feel you receive and what you feel comfortable with. Tipping recommendations are in USD because exchange rates fluctuate frequently, however in Chile the local currency (Pesos) is preferred when tipping. Large bills can be difficult to break in most of the country, so hang on to small bills and change for tips.

Tipping for services in Chile is customary: 10% in restaurants reflects very good service; spare change or small sums are customary for cab drivers and porters. Please note that for included meals tips are not pre-paid as they are at the discretion of the travelers.

Lodges have varying tipping guidelines based on their structure and service level, and will provide their own specific recommendations. Explora, Patagonia Camp and Awasi recommend tipping $30-50 USD per traveler per day, which is shared amongst all lodge staff. Awasi also suggests $20-30 USD per traveler per day for private guides. Tierra and Alto Atacama recommend tipping $25-35 per traveler per day. At Hacienda Vira Vira, they recommend tipping approximately $30-40 USD per traveler per day, to be shared amongst all lodge staff and guides.

If you are going on a Torres del Paine trekking expedition, approximately $20 is recommended per traveler per day for your private guide (in larger groups, closer to $10 is sufficient). Additionally, on your trek we suggest approximately $5 per traveler for your separate kayaking guide and a few dollars per traveler per day for any porters. For horseback riding in the Cochamó Valley, a tip of approximately $25-50 USD per traveler for the entirety of the expedition is suggested. The Australis cruise recommends tipping approximately $12-15 USD per passenger per day. Again, please tip based on the service you feel you receive and what you feel comfortable with, and don’t hesitate to ask your Knowmad Adventures Operations Specialist if you have additional questions about your specific lodge, cruise, or itinerary.

Is trip insurance included and should I purchase trip insurance?

Trip insurance is not included in your trip cost. Knowmad highly recommends insuring your trip, as the unforeseeable is just that, unforeseeable. A few days after confirming your trip, you will receive an email from our recommended travel insurance provider, Travel Guard, with a pre-built quote. The policy will be built corresponding with your trip dates, total cost including estimated international and regional airfare, and your personal information. Should you choose to purchase this recommended policy, simply click the blue “Review my travel insurance quote >” link, review the coverage, and enter payment information.

Additionally, some countries are requiring specific coverage due to Covid-19. Please see visit our Current South America Covid Regulations & Info page for details.

Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity in Chile?

In Chile you will need a plug adapter to make any charger or appliance fit the “C” style socket. The plugs are two-pronged, wider set and have round prongs (see example on right). 220 is the accepted voltage in Chile. Many higher-end electronics like cameras and phone chargers will accept this voltage, while hairdryers and curlers of 110 volts will likely fry. If your electronics do not accept 220 volts, you will need a converter. Knowmad recommends checking the labels on your electronic devices to see which ones will be compatible before you travel.

Can I drink the water in Chile?

We recommend drinking bottled water. The water in Chile is good and most locals drink from the tap, however the water has a high mineral content and may cause upset stomachs for those not accustomed to it. Additionally, in the Atacama it is not recommended to drink the water from the tap unless your lodge has told you they treat the water. In Torres del Paine National Park, although guides may say that a stream is safe to drink from while hiking, due to increased travel in the park, we recommend only drinking bottled water.

Is it safe to travel in Chile?

Chile is considered a safe country, however on occasion petty crime does occur. Travelers should take the same precautions that they would in any unfamiliar city. Be aware of your surroundings, travel with a companion (especially at night), and stay in populated, well-lit areas. To help reduce the chance of petty theft, keep a close eye on your belongings especially in airports, crowded tourist sites, and busy markets. Do not use loosely hanging bags or purses (bags that zip are recommended), avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry or watches, and when in crowds move backpacks and purses to the front of your body. Carry only the money you’ll need each day, and keep the rest in the safety deposit box in your hotel room. Keep your passport and other valuables in the safety deposit box.

Santiago & Central Chile

Central Chile has a Mediterranean climate similar to the middle parts of California, with warm days and cool nights. However, the seasons are opposite those in North America and Europe. Expect daytime temperatures between 70-90 ̊F November – March, and between 45-65 ̊F other times in the year. Coastal breezes keep temperatures slightly cooler in Valparaíso and the Casablanca wine valley.

Patagonia

The summer season in Patagonia (November – March) has daytime temperatures typically in the 50s and 60s °F. However, Patagonia’s weather can be highly unpredictable, and it can rain at any time of year as well as be extremely windy. Temperatures in Patagonia can drop to near freezing at night. Northern Patagonia (Puerto Varas, Chiloé) is similar to Southern Patagonia but a bit warmer and wetter. Springtime in Patagonia (September – November) is a little cooler than summer with temperatures typically in the 40s and 50s °F with slightly milder winds. Similarly, fall months (March – May) are a little cooler than summer, typically in the 40s and 50s °F as well.

Atacama & The North

Weather throughout the north is like most other high-elevation desert regions. Daytime temperatures average 77-86 ̊F in the summer (December – February) and 64-77 ̊F in the winter (June – August). Temperatures fluctuate greatly, depending on the sun. Mornings and evenings can have lows averaging 50 ̊F in the summer and dropping below freezing in the winter.

Easter Island

A marine subtropical climate, temperatures in winter (June – August) range between 60-75 ̊F, and hover in the mid- 80s ̊F the rest of the year. There is often a persistent breeze and it can become quite windy at times. It can downpour quickly, though usually briefly, any time of year.

Footwear

Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support or hiking shoes are sufficient for most travelers and are less bulky than hiking boots, therefore we recommend them for most itineraries. For hiking-intensive itineraries, hiking boots are also great but not a necessity. We do not recommend buying a new pair of hiking boots or shoes immediately prior to your trip, as they will not be broken in and can result in painful blisters. A change of shoes intended for leisure activities is also recommended. Note: If you are ice hiking in Torres del Paine National Park you are responsible for bringing your own traditional hiking boots or sturdy hiking shoes for this activity.

Patagonia

The recommended outfit for a day in Patagonia is layerable, non-cotton clothing designed for hiking and athletics, with an outer layer jacket and pants that are windproof and waterproof. We also recommend bringing along a neck warmer/gator and socks designed for hiking. The wind can be brisk in Patagonia, so bring a light down jacket or fleece, as well as gloves and a hat. If you will be trekking, we recommend a rain poncho in addition to a rain jacket, as it also can cover your daypack. Ideal bottoms to pack include a base layer (which many days you won’t use, depending on the forecast), comfortable athletic or hiking pants, and rain or wind pants. For your top, you should pack a base layer, an insulating layer (ideally fleece or light down), and a rain or wind layer. With these three layers, you will be well prepared.

Kayaking

Required gear such as a lifejacket, a wetsuit, and a dry bag will be provided. For this activity, we recommend wearing a long-sleeved non-cotton shirt, and lightweight quick-drying pants. If it is a cool day don’t forget a windbreaker, and if you like having gloves for paddling you should pack your own.

Biking

Required gear such as helmets will be provided. For this activity, we recommend wearing tighter fitting pants or shorts, layers on top, your raincoat just in case, and sunglasses.

Rafting

A wetsuit, splash jacket, and helmet will be provided. You will need to wear your swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel, along with a complete set of clothes to change into afterward. Don’t forget sunscreen as well.

Horseback Riding

For this activity, wear jeans or thicker pants and comfortable athletic shoes. It is also nice to bring a fleece or sweater that is a full-zip or button-down, as it can be difficult to pull a sweater over your head while on a horse! We also recommend bringing a hat for the sun, sunscreen, lip balm, and a water bottle.

Cochamo Valley Riding Expedition

Wear your base long underwear layers, your fleece mid-layer top, pants, hiking or tennis shoes, and rain jacket. Tuck your gloves in a pocket. Poncho, rubber boots, and helmet are provided. Pack your extra insulating/mid layers, 2 extra shirts, one comfortable pair of pants for relaxing at the mountain lodge, hiking pants, hiking/tennis shoes, socks, underwear, camera, toiletries, and basic first aid kit. Also, pack an extra set of long underwear for pajamas or in case the ones you’re wearing get wet. A dry bag tied behind your saddle will carry all these items.

Airline Baggage Policy

Please check with your carrier and refer to your ticket booking details for information on baggage restrictions and fees, as your fare category may determine your baggage allowance. Most flights within Chile will be on LATAM airlines. LATAM Plus Fares include one piece of checked luggage, while Promo and Light Fares do not include checked baggage (bags can be checked for a fee). LATAM checked baggage must not exceed 50 lbs. If you are flying on Sky Airlines, please refer to your ticket booking details to review what’s included, as checked baggage can have an additional cost. Overweight baggage may be subject to additional fees.

Knowing a lot about a country before you visit can enrich your travels, help you meet and relate more to local people, and have a deeper appreciation for historical and cultural sites. To learn more about Chile’s history, culture, and people we recommend consulting travel guide books, online websites, and travel blogs.

Recommended Restaurants

Meals in Chile are more leisurely and on a later schedule than in the United States. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It doesn’t begin until 1-2:00 p.m., and can last a few hours. During this time many businesses, including banks, will be closed.

Dinner times in Chile are much later than in most of the United States, and many restaurants will not open until after 7:00p.m. On weeknights, dinner for most Chileans begins after 9:00 p.m., and on weekends even later. Meals are meant to be enjoyed and expected to be unrushed. You will have to ask for the check, as it is considered rude to provide a check without the patron having requested it. If you would like that Knowmad to assist you with making restaurant reservations, please note that we must be notified at least 2 weeks prior to your dates of travel, especially if traveling during December or early January.

Price guide for the approximate cost of a main dish at each restaurant (please note that prices and restaurant hours are subject to change without notice): $ = Under 10 $$ = 10-25 $$$ = 25-50 $$$$ = Over 50

Covid-19 has affected restaurants’ hours of operation in South America as in the United States. Please refer to their websites for additional information and to make a reservation, as doing so may require you to enter payment information to confirm the reservation. We recommend making reservations at least 2 months in advance for the Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter holiday dates; and further in advance if looking to dine at a particular restaurant. If calling or making reservations outside of Chile dial +56 before the complete phone number.

 

SANTIAGO: LASTARRIA / PROVIDENCIA / DOWNTOWN

  • BARRICA 94 – Price: $$$ Located in the heart of buzzing Patio Bellavista, Barrica 94 offers a wide selection of Chilean wine and the food ranges from tapas-style ‘picoteo’ to modern twists on Chilean classics.
  • ZEROFORTY (040) – Price: $$$$ This sleek restaurant serves inventive dishes that are inspired by molecular gastronomy. Don’t miss out on visiting Room 09 – a secret rooftop bar that only restaurant diners and members are allowed to enter.
  • LIGURIA LASTARRIA – Price: $$ -$$$ Made up of three floors with different ambiences, this restaurant offers great chilean food along with a variety of wine to choose from.
  • PEUMAYEN – Price: $$$ “Ancestral” food, a well known Chilean/Argentine chef has created an innovative and modern menu based on food eaten by different indigenous groups throughout Chile. An adventure for the palate, but still a filling, tasty meal in an elegant and well attended space in the Bellavista area.

SANTIAGO: VITACURA / LAS CONDES

  • BORAGÓ – Price: $$$$ Chile’s top ranked restaurant run by chef Rodolfo Guzman, and only one in Chile included on the World’s 50 Best. Experimental seasonal foraged dishes in insanely presented 8-18 course tasting menus, with optional drink pairing. More of a sensory experience than a regular meal. Reserve well in advance
  • LA MAR – Price: $$$ La Mar offers traditional and contemporary Peruvian cuisine. Its specialty is a fresh ceviche, and it is the third restaurant opened in Chile by renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio.
  • KARAI – Price: $$$ Located within the extremely stylish W Hotel, this sophisticated restaurant creates dishes that fuse Peruvian flavors with those of Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Reservations are strongly recommended.
  • TIRAMISÚ – Price: $$ Serving pizzas, seafood, salads, and delicious dessert, Tiramisú is a popular local restaurant perfect for a casual meal. They do not take reservations so wait times can vary.
  • AMBROSIA – Price: $$$ This high-class restaurant offers a changing menu based on the imagination of its chef Carolina Bazán, who reinvented her family’s traditional restaurant into a regional standard. Also check out their more informal version Ambrosia Bistro located in Providencia.

VALPARAÍSO

  • MARALEGRE – Price: $$$ – $$$$ Enjoy a delicious contemporary meal made with local ingredients on the outdoor patio overlooking the city and harbor.
  • CAFÉ TURRI – Price: $$$ Café Turri has an elegant yet trendy atmosphere, and creative dishes that feature the best of Chile’s traditional cuisine Menu favorites include the well-known Pastel de Jaiba (crab pie), Chupa de Locos (shellfish au gratin), and a fresh seafood lasagna.
  • RESTAURANT LA CONCEPCION – Price: $$$ Located on top of Cerro Concepción, with a stunning view, La Concepción offers a variety of cuisine paired with local wines.
  • SABOR COLOR RESTAURANT BAR – Price: $$ – $$$ An artistic, contemporary restaurant with a wide range of food including vegetarian friendly choices.
  • PASTA E VINO – Price: $$$ A revered option among Chileans, features a blend of fresh, made-in-house pasta dishes combined with the incredible variety of seafood that Chile’s coast offers, great wine options, and has a nice view of the bay below. CLOSED TILL MARCH 2023

VIÑA DEL MAR

  • LE BISTROT MERCI – Price: $$ For a taste of Paris in Viña del Mar, try Le Bistrot Merci. Save room for the macaroons!
  • RISTORANTE SAN MARCO – Price: $$$ Enjoy the delicious pasta, made fresh everyday and covered in a wide range of sauces, at this local favorite.

PUERTO VARAS

  • FOGÓN LAS BUENAS BRASAS – Price: $$ Tucked out of the way at the end of the street, arrive early at this favorite for meat and seafood.
  • CASA VALDES – Price: $$$ The best place in town to get fresh seafood while enjoying the beautiful view of Lake Llanquihue.
  • CAFÉ DANE’S – Price: $$ This café is a fantastic place to try the delicious Chilean empanadas or German pastries.
  • BRAVO CABRERA – Price: $$ Enjoy huge portions of wings, burgers, or tasty pizza at this cantina where you can feel like a local.
  • CAFÉ MAWEN – Price: $$$ A lovely spot to stop for a snack, lunch, or a coffee, right in the center of town.
  • MESA TROPERA – Price: $$ Enjoy delicious pizza and pub fare, and a fun atmosphere at this popular location.

CASTRO / CHILOĖ

  • EL MERCADITO – Price: $$ Down by the Unicornio Azul hotel is the best seafood in town where you’ll enjoy the freshest, local cuisine in the area.
  • CAZADOR – Price: $$$ Offers a truly incredible fine dining experience with the Chef dedicated to serving the best locally produced food with dishes that celebrate the season.

PUNTA ARENAS

  • LA YEGUA LOCA – Price: $$ This convenient and delicious spot has homemade Chilean dishes of meats and vegetables and is inside the hotel by the same name.
  • DAMIANA ELENA – Price: $$$ A favorite in Punta Arenas, this restaurant makes local cuisine such as steak, pasta, and seafood with fresh, local products.
  • EL FOGÓN DE LALO – Price: $$$ If you’re in the mood for meat, get delicious cuts of beef in large portions at El Fogón de Lalo.
  • LA CUISINE – Price: $$-$$$ French cuisine with a Chilean twist, La Cuisine is a popular choice due to its classic and seafood dishes.
  • SOTITOS RESTAURANT – Price: $$$ Try the delicious centolla (king crab) at this local favorite that offers many traditional foods from fresh seafood to steak.

PUERTO NATALES

  • CANGREJO ROJO – Price: $$-$$$ Venture a short walk (or taxi ride) outside of the center for incredible crab, meat dishes, and desserts.
  • AFRIGONIA – Price: $$$$ Completely unexpected, and a darling of local and international food critics. Founded by a Zambian chef who has created a unique fusion of African cooking using local Patagonia ingredients like lamb and salmon.

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

  • ADOBE – Price: $$$ The cozy setting, good service, and a range of tasty Chilean dishes and wood-grilled pizza make this a nice casual favorite.

EASTER ISLAND

  • TE RA’AI – Price: $$$$ Te Ra’ai meals are also ethno-cultural events and include an interactive folklore show describing the myths and legends of Rapa Nui. Shows are bilingual (Spanish and English).

Further Reading

  • DEEP DOWN DARK by Héctor Tobar tells the collective story of the 33 miners involved in the 2010 mine collapse, and how the event has changed their lives.
  • MY INVENTED COUNTRY by Isabel Allende explores how the Chilean and American 9/11 events have affected the popular author’s life.
  • THE STATUES THAT WALKED by Terry Hunt is a highly informative history chronicling the accomplishments of the people’s of Easter Island.
  • TRAVELS IN A THIN COUNTRY by Sara Wheeler is the travelogue of one British woman as she travels the length of Chile.
  • BY NIGHT IN CHILE by Roberto Bolaño is the fictional, winding deathbed confession of a Jesuit priest presented as one, long stream of consciousness.
  • BONE AND DREAM by Lake Sagaris is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, showcasing the way of survival and preservation in the world’s driest desert.
  • THUNDER SHAMAN by Ana Mariella Bacigalupo recounts the author’s experiences with a thunder shaman of the Mapuche culture in southern Chile
  • HIDALGO: THE DESERT DIARIES by Elly & Nathan Foote is the true story of a couple who crossed the Atacama desert on horseback.
  • EASTER ISLAND by Jennifer Vanderbes is a historical-fiction romance, where stories of two women in two different eras take place within the mysteries of the island.

Helpful Spanish

PHRASES

  • Buenos Dias (BWEH-nohs DEE-ahs) – Good morning, Good day
  • Buenas Tardes (BWEH-nahs TAR-dehs) – Good afternoon
  • Buenas Noches (BWEH-nahs NOH-chehs) – Good evening
  • Por favor (POHR fah-VOHR) – Please
  • Gracias (GRAH-syahs) – Thanks
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta esta? (KWAHN-toh KWEHS-tah EHSS-tah) – How much does this cost?
  • ¿Dónde está ____? (DOHN-deh ehss-TAH ___) – Where is ____?
  • ¿Habla inglés? (AH-blahs een-GLEHS) – Do you speak English?
  • ¿Qué recomienda? (KEH reh-coh-mee-EHN-dah) – What do you recommend?
  • Soy alérgico/a a ____ (soy ah-LEHR-hee-coh/-cah ah____) – I’m allergic to ___

 

AT THE TABLE

  • la carta (lah KAHR-tah) – the menu
  • la cuenta (lah KWEHN-tah) – the check
  • agua (AH-gwa) – water
  • café (kah-FEH) – coffee
  • cerveza (sehr-VAY-sah) – beer
  • vino (VEE-noh) – wine
  • pescado y marisco (pehs-KAH-doh ee mah-REES-kohs) – fish and seafood
  • pollo (POH-yoh) – chicken
  • carne (KAHR-nay) – meat
  • vegetariano/a (veh-heh-tah-RYAH-noh/-nah) – vegetarian
  • sin gluten (seen GLOO-tehn) – gluten-free

Have a question that you can’t find an answer to on our site? Or if you’d simply like to ask a real, live person your questions instead of browsing through these FAQ sections, we are more than happy to help. Just give us a call at 612-315-2894 or email travel@knowmadadventures.com.