CHILE IS MY FAVORITE COUNTRY OF ALL TIME!!!!
Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but not by much! Chileans have a very distinctive Spanish accent that is hard to understand, but Chile and its people are gorgeous! If you’re in South America, I would highly recommend stopping by. There’s never a shortage of things to see. Check out this tag to find more about Chile! Go to this tag to find more “Everything You Need to Know” posts!
Each metric is given an overall score between 1 and 10, and the ratings are briefly explained.
Go here if you are looking for: incredible natural landscapes, distinct cultures and cities, and great people
This explains the prevailing sort of experience you might have in this country.
Overall experience: 7.14/10
What your travel experience might revolve around.
Natural and landscape views: 10
- How beautiful and unique are the landscape and nature views?
- These views are incredible and photos cannot capture their beauty. The first stop that I went to in Chile was San Pedro de Atacama, which is this tiny town in the center of the Atacama Desert. It is more a hub out to the sights in the area than anything else, but it’s worth a trip because the attractions are some of the best natural landscapes in the world. In the larger cities, Chile is mountain on one side and ocean on the other, making for stunning views. In my experience, it is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited, and I didn’t even make it to Easter Island, southern Chile, or Patagonia!
Historical attractions: 6
- To what extent can you see physical evidence of the country’s culture?
- Chile has several good historical sights to see, and has some very interesting recent political history (a country that has a similar situation is Cambodia). In the Cold War era, Chileans elected their first socialist president, Salvador Allende. Not everyone was happy with the introduction of socialism to the country, so in 1973 the CIA backed a coup d’etat by Augusto Pinochet, who ended up founding a military dictatorship and persecuting those who had supported Allende and believed in socialism. During this time, there were many human rights violations and destructions of culture. Many of the events are documented in the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, which is a powerful place.
City culture: 5
- How should you expect locals to react to you? How does it feel to be in the city?
- Certain cities in Chile, especially Valparaiso, have a special flare of character. In other cities, people are used to seeing foreigners and will leave you alone. While I personally felt safe throughout my stay, a guy on a walking tour with me said that he and a friend were robbed at gunpoint at Cerro San Cristobal, which is the main hill in the center of Santiago.
- How unique is the local food and how available is food from home?
- Chile has all kinds of food, and the ice cream is apparently quite famous! Valparaiso is home to Emporio la Rosa, which is an internationally-ranked ice cream parlor. It has some really interesting flavors, like banana or dulce de leche, which were the ones that I tried. Yum, yum. They also serve a palta reina dish (“Avocado Queen”), which is chicken salad and avocados and is delicious. And even though I would much rather eat chicken alfredo than fish, the seafood dishes there were AMAZING. I wanted to go back several times in the span of three days because they were so good. You can get international food pretty easily if you prefer.
- How much do souvenirs cost relative to everyday items and how representative are they of the local culture?
- Chile doesn’t have as many souvenir stands as countries like Peru and Bolivia, and things in general will be a bit more expensive here. Instead, most souvenirs can be found in markets, and you can get some items like sweaters that are uniquely Chilean.
- How clean is everything, including trash along the streets, water, and food?
- Don’t drink tap water. This goes for all of South America. The food and streets, though, are fine. I went with my dad to eat several times at the seafood market in Santiago and never had to worry about getting sick.
Tourism services: 9
- Are there people who specifically serve tourists outside private hotels and accommodation?
- In most cities, there are designated tourist information offices that have plenty of brochures and maps that they will gladly give you if you ask for them. These are wonderful places to get quality information, but some may be in Spanish only. In that case, just grab the maps that have English versions. In Valparaiso and Santiago, there’s a Tours for Tips company that offers free walking tours of the two cities, and you pay them depending on how much you think the tours were valued.
[Recommended Read: How to Pick the Perfect Travel Accommodations]
- Are you going to freeze or sweat to death?
- I was there during August, which is South American winter. Because of the proximity to the ocean, it was generally cool but never too cold.
Currency: Chilean Peso
- What currency is used? (Not a rated category)
Cost: 6 (higher rating means lower cost)
- Overall, is this country expensive or not?
- Chile is one of the higher standard-of-living countries in South America, and the prices of food, housing, transportation, etc. reflect that. The good thing is that most of the things you need will also be of higher quality, which means you pay more and get more than you would in Bolivia, but you do still pay more. In context, it’s still a cheap place to be.
Approximate time needed to visit the whole country: a month!
- How much time do you need to devote here? (Not a rated category)
- I don’t normally advocate long stays in countries unless they’re really worth it, and I honestly think Chile has a lot to offer. While I was only there for 2.5 weeks, I only went from the northern tip of Chile to Santiago and flew out from there. I think you could easily spend a week at San Pedro de Atacama, a week in Valparaiso and Santiago, a week in Patagonia, at least a couple days at Easter Island (which you can only reach by plane from Santiago) and have some time to spare.
Speed of Wi-Fi: 5
- How fast is the Wi-Fi?
- If you need to get something done, you probably can.
Accessibility of Wi-Fi: 5
- Can you connect to Wi-Fi when you need it?
- Unless you’re in your accommodation, there’s not a lot of options for free Wi-Fi. I remember having to go to at least three different coffee shops in La Serena before I found one with Wi-Fi.
[Recommended Read: Everything You Need to Know About Peru]
Culture and Immersion: 7.25/10
- What language do locals speak? (Not a rated category)
English level of the typical local: 4
- If you really needed help, how much could a typical local help?
- English is not all that common, but you can find people who understand super basic words if they want you as a customer.
Approachability of locals if you can’t speak the language: 8
- If you can’t speak the local language, how willing are locals to patiently help you?
- People will be really nice to you in general! It’s not easy to understand Chilean Spanish, which has a lot of uniquely Chilean words and many letters aren’t pronounced (Como estas is pronounced como e-ta). If you are patient, you should be able to get the message, though.
Signage for an English speaker: 10
- If you can’t read the local language, can you read the signs?
- Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you can read the signs. In museums, there will often be English signage and/or English audio guides.
- If you buy something (especially at street markets), how much do you need to haggle?
- There isn’t a lot that you need to haggle for, but if you can get a better price especially on tours and small trinkets, do it.
[Recommended Read: Everything You Need to Know About Bolivia]
Intercity buses, trains, and planes: 7
- How easy is it to get from one city to another? How understandable is the system?
- Accessibility is high but since not all buses leave from the same place in some cases, it may be hard to get multiple quotes and compare options. In cities like Santiago or Valparaiso, everything is centralized and you’ll be able to find your way easily.
Taxi reliability: 8
- How many taxis are there? Are they to cheat you? How friendly are the drivers to foreigners, especially if you don’t speak the local language?
- Generally, taxis are reliable but there’s enough public or semi-public transportation to get you just about anywhere you want to go. I rode taxis only if I really needed them and they had meters.
Intra-city transportation: 8
- How easy is it to get where you want to go within the city?
- In many cities, you can ride collectivos, which are little vans or sedans (depending on the city) that take you around town with other passengers. For La Serena and Iquique, some cars basically function like multi-person taxis, which means they pick you up wherever you are and drop you off according to the destinations of people in the car. In those and other cities, there are numbered cars that follow a basic set route that you can ride like a bus without set stops. They stop whenever you want – just tell the driver. In Santiago, there’s a subway system. In Valparaiso, there’s a trolley system around the historic center of the city.
- If you want to get some exercise, how easy it is to walk from place to place?
- If you mix walking in with the public and semi-public transportation, you can get anywhere! In some cities, you can hike up some of the smaller hills that are in or very close to town and get fantastic views of the city.
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Did this help you plan your trip? What else do you want to know? Leave a comment below!