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Whether you are in the early stages of planning your travel or have booked your trip and are looking for some last minute information our Chile Travel Guide will help advise you and cover any questions you may have.

Chile is the longest thinnest country in the world, and from north to south is a total of over 2600 miles long, which means that the weather can vary considerably depending on which region of the country you are visiting so it is important to factor this in when planning your trip. Santiago is a year-round destination although does experience higher rainfall in the winter months, the northern regions including the Atacama desert are hot and dry throughout the year, and the southern region of Patagonia is best visited during the summer months from October to March when the temperatures are milder. To find out about the best time of year to visit each of the regions and what weather to expect during your travels see below:

chile santiago climate chartWeather in the Santiago:

Santiago is Chile's modern capital city, famous for its views of the Andes mountains in the distance.

Located near to the western coast of South America Santiago enjoys a relatively moderate climate. Summers are typically warm and sunny with minimal chance of rain, while winter months are milder. The rain does increase during the winter months, but Santiago is a year-round destination so don't be put off by the odd shower.

chile atacama climate chartWeather in San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a town near to the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth.

The Atacama desert has minimal rainfall all year round, but does have fluctuations in temperature with the hotter summer months seeing temperatures upwards of 30 degrees while during the colder winter months temperatures can drop to around 20 degrees. If you are travelling from this region into Bolivia and the Salar de Uyuni it is worth checking the weather in that region which, although directly adjacent to Chile, does have a distinct wet season.

chile punta arenas climate dataWeather in Patagonia

The Patagonia region in Chile is large and the weather within the region can vary from one region to the next due to differences in altitude, latitude, and the micro-climates created by the countless valleys and mountains dotted throughout the region. This chart shows the climate for Punta Arenas, one of the most popular visitor regions in Patagonia.

Due to its southerly location Patagonia has mild summers but cold winters. The most popular time to visit is during the summer months, from October to March/April, when the daily temperatures are milder and daylight hours are longer. During the winter months, from May to August, temperatures can regularly reach below zero, there is minimal daylight hours, and snow can mean access to some of the more popular attractions is simply impossible. Rainfall occurs throughout the year.

The currency in Chile is the Chilean Peso ($).

The currency is available in a range of coins (1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos) and notes (1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 pesos). The smaller denomination coins are now rare and most shops will round payments to the nearest 10 pesos.

Chile is a modern country and one of the most developed in South America and ATM machines are common in towns and cities. If you are travelling into very rural areas cash machines may be less available so it is always advisable to take cash with you in these instances.

Most restaurants, hotels, cruise vessels, and other businesses will accept payment by Visa, Mastercard and American Express, although check before you make your purchase.

Inform your bank of the dates and destinations of your trip prior to travel. We recommend you save a copy of your credit card details and the international contact number to telephone in case your card is lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.

We highly recommend you visit a medical professional before your holiday and inform them of exactly when and where you will be travelling to make sure you are given the correct immunisations, medication and medical advice for your trip.

It is also important you carry with you any of your own medication you may require during your trip, and it is recommended you also carry some form of suitable medication to ease headaches and upset stomachs.

Be aware that some parts of Chile are at altitude, including the Atacama desert region and parts of Patagonia, so altitude sickness is something you need to be aware of if travelling to regions at altitude. To reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness and to help you acclimatise as quickly as possible stay hydrated by drinking water, avoid alcohol at least for the first few days at altitude and try to avoid energetic activities. If you are concerned about this further we recommend that you discuss your travel plans with your doctor prior to travelling.

The Zika virus has been reported in countries across South America, and if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant we advise that you speak to your local GP and / or travel health clinic and seek professional medical advice before travelling.

The NHS travel website has further useful and helpful information: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

We are not medical professionals and medication should only be taken following professional medical advice.

Spanish is the national language of Chile and it is spoken throughout the country, although the accent and pronunciation make it slightly different to Spanish spoken elsewhere.

In addition to Spanish there is a number of other traditional languages spoken in Chile including Mapudungun (the Mapuche language), Quechua and Aymara (also spoken in parts of Peru and Bolivia - they are traditional Andean languages), and Rapa Nui spoken on Easter Island.

We recommend that you try to learn at least a few basic Spanish words prior to your trip to increase your enjoyment of your holiday and to help immerse you more in the culture of South America.

At the time of writing UK nationals with a British passport do not need to apply for a visa in advance of travel to Chile and will be issued with a 90-day visa upon arrival.

Some nationalities will be required to apply for a visa in advance of travel. In all instances we recommend you check with your local embassy before travelling.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the completion date of your trip. We also recommend you take a photocopy of the photo page of your passport.

Please note that in some instances we will make certain reservations for your holiday linked to the specific details on your passport (including name, passport number) so it is important you do not renew your passport or any details on your passport prior to travelling. If you need to renew your passport after booking but before travelling this is usually possible and we would recommend you travel with both your new and old passports just in case, however check with us in advance to confirm. If you have any questions regarding passports please just get in touch.

For all nationalities, including if you are travelling on a British passport, it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation to ensure you can enter Chile and all other countries included in your holiday.

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Chile and we recommend you only consume bottled water and carry a bottle of water with you at all times. For similar reasons avoid ice in drinks (unless you are confident it has been prepared using sterilised water) and if you are eating salads or fruit check they have not been washed in tap water.

Chile isn't as famous for its food as some of its South American neighbours, however Chile does have some fantastic dishes and excellent wines.

Chile's cuisine is vast and the dishes served can vary significantly depending on which region of Chile you are visiting. Typical dishes to expect are similar to those found in other South America countries, and include staple dishes such as empanadas, roasted meats, chicken and rice, various types of soups, roasted meats (particularly lamb in the Patagonia region, and alpaca in the northern Andes region), mixed seafood platters and seafood soups.

With such a large coastline it comes as no surprise that seafood plays a large role in Chilean cuisine and sea food platters, dishes, soups and meals are very common throughout the country. The country has a very active fishing industry and the main fish to expect on menus include clams, cod, hake, salmon, tuna, swordfish, crabs, prawns, oysters, lobsters and squid.

The main dishes we recommend you try during your trip are Sopa de mariscos (mixed seafood soup), Cazuela (a traditional name for a thick soup or stew made with beef, chicken or fish), Cordero asado (barbecued or grilled lamb, particularly popular in Patagonia), and Valdiviano (a traditional soup of onion, potato and dried meat).

Western style meals and fast food takeaway restaurants are popular across Chile and it is easier to obtain Western style meals in Chile than it is in some of the other countries in South America.

Like much of South America vegetarian cuisine isn't as developed as it is in Europe or the UK, although most restaurants will offer up at least one vegetarian dish.

Wine is grown throughout Chile, from as far north as the Atacama region to the far south, although the most well known and largest region is the central valley region near to Santiago, and Chile has become famous over the past 20 years or so for the high quality of its wines. The majority of the wine produced is red wine and the most popular grapes used are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Malbec. For white wine production the grapes used include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc among others. Chile and Argentina are the only two countries in South America that have really succesfully developed a wine industry and that produce high quality wines in the New World, and the best region to experience wine here is in the region around Santiago with a wide selection of wineries offering tours and tastings in the foothills of the Andes.

Never travel without suitable travel insurance. Travel insurance is a requirement of our Booking Terms and Conditions and it is your responsibility to ensure you have travel insurance applicable to your personal circumstances and holiday. Advise your insurance company of any pre-existing medical conditions and ensure you are covered for all activities included within your trip.

We recommend you take a copy of you insurance policy and a copy of your policy and terms and conditions with you on your holiday.

We are able to provide the contact details of a Travel Insurance company if required.

The key things to pack are your passport (we also recommend you email yourself a scan of the relevant pages), money, suitable luggage including a day-sack, water-proof clothing, your camera and memory cards, and your flight e-tickets.

Deciding what clothes to pack really depends on what time of year you are travelling and which region of Chile you are visiting. In the southern Patagonia region if you are travelling during the winter months you will need very thick clothing including thermal hat and gloves, and if you are travelling to this region during the summer months the weather can still be windy and mild so layers of clothing are recommended including scarf, jacket, hat and gloves and appropriate waterproofs.

Other items to pack include a suitable personal first aid kit, binoculars, a torch with batteries, an electricity adaptor (a typical international plug converter is usually suitable), toilet paper (carry a small amount with you at all times on your trip as some restaurants and cafes in South America don't always provide toilet paper), a travel guide book, strong sun lotion, sun hat and sun glasses, insect repellent, plastic bags (to keep things dry), earplugs, strong insect repellent, a lightweight towel, toiletries, and an alarm clock. Suitable footwear is also vital, with trekking shoes or trekking boots perfect for general travel and a must for trips to Patagonia.

When you book we provide you with a full packing list in our Welcome Pack.

South America is a relatively safe continent in which to travel, and Chile is one of the safest places within South America to travell and the vast majority of people that visit Chile travel without problems.

South America in general does have lower standards of health and safety and is a poorer continent than other parts of the world and even though Chile is more modern than other parts of South America opportunistic petty crime can still occur, particularly in the poorer areas of larger cities like Santiago, so an element of common sense is required to reduce the chances of you having a problem. Always stay within tourist areas and do not stroll along quiet streets or away from the tourist areas of towns, particularly at night. Avoid carrying large amounts of money with you, only carry what you need for that particular day and use a money belt if possible, ensure money and other valuables are left in the safety deposit boxes in your hotel. Keep the personal possessions that you have with you during the day, such as your bag or camera, on your person at all times and avoid leaving them on seats or under tables at restaurants. If you need to travel by taxi during your trip avoid flagging taxis down in the street and make sure to only ever use an official taxi organised through your hotel.

In the service industry, including in restaurants, hotels and other establishments, wages in Chile can be proportionally lower than would be expected in other countries and tipping is common as a consequence of this.

Restaurants: Although tipping is entirely discretionary a tip of around 10% of the value of your bill is very common, particularly in tourist restaurants. Some moderate and high-end restaurants might include a service charge on your bill (so check before tipping).

Hotels: It is common to tip the staff in the hotel that are helping make your stay that little bit extra special, this includes the maids or the staff that change your sheets and clean your room each day, the porters that help with your bags, and the waiters, doormen and other staff in the hotel. A small tip of around £1 to the porters or £1 per day to the maids is a reasonable amount.

Guides: Tipping tour guides is common right across South America including in Chile, but the amount to tip depends on the length of your tour and how much you enjoyed the tour. If you feel your guide was good at their job, spoke clearly with good English, was engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about the destinations you visited and created a very enjoyable experience then you would typically be expected to tip your guide in Chile. For a typical half-day tour a tip of the equivalent of around £3.00 per person is a good starting point, or £5.00 per person for a full day tour. Of course you can increase or decrease this amount for longer / shorter tours.

Tipping is optional so you should never feel obliged to tip.

In our holidays excursions, accommodation, transfers and domestic travel including flights are all included (on self-drive holidays excursions and entry fees may not be included), so really the only additional costs you will incur when in Chile will be for things like drinks or meals that are not included, tips, and other costs such as souvenirs.

Chile is a more modern country than most of its neighbours, and as a consequence it can also be a more expensive country to visit, however this doesn't mean it is expensive compared to UK standards. The more expensive regions of Chile are the larger cities such as Santiago, and additionally costs can get substantially more expensive (+30% for food) in the southern Patagonia regions due to the rural location, lack of agricultural land (which means most foods are transported into the region) and the isolation.

In general it is possible to find a moderate restaurant and pay anything from £6.00-£15.00 for a good meal depending on how many courses you choose and the standard of the restaurant. Alcohol, particularly local beer and wine, is good value and can cost around £1.20-£2.00 per beer or glass of wine. Imported food and drink and global brands (western fast food chains, coffee shops etc) charge a premium, and food in Patagonia can be relatively expensive. In general eating in hotels can be a more expensive choice and food and drink costs will typically be cheaper in the restaurants and bars nearby.

Unfortunately not all airlines operate the same luggage requirement standards, so it is difficult for us to specifically advise what the luggage allowance will be for your holiday.

Typical luggage allowance for international flights is 20kg or 23kg depending on your airline, and this can be confirmed by checking the relevant airlines website. Please bear in mind that your Chile travel will likely involve domestic flights within Chile or South America so it is important you comply with the airline that has the lightest requirements to avoid issues. Some domestic airlines within South America do have luggage allowance restrictions as low as 15kg that are lighter than international flight allowances, so it is always advisable to check in advance and keep below the lowest limit to avoid fares at the airport. Your airline will be listed on your booking confirmation documentation, and if you need assistance with this please let us know.


The information on this page is intended as a helpful guide only. If you have any further questions regarding Chile please contact us - we are always more than willing to help.