Travel to Chile
It is important to be aware that January is the peak season for air travel to Santiago and Punta Arenas. Thus it is advisable to make travel arrangements as early as possible.
Chile is a rapidly developing country with a educated middle class and a robust free-market economy. Tourist facilities are generally good.
ENTRY & EXIT REQUIREMENTS
U.S. citizens entering Chile must have a valid passport. In addition, visitors will be issued a tourist visa/card consisting of a single sheet of paper placed in the passport. The visa document must be retained and surrendered to immigration upon leaving Chile. Visitors from other countries should be aware of visa requirements.
More information see http://www.gochile.cl/en/guides/chile-guide/visas-and-consulates.html.
BANKING, CURRENCY AND MONEY EXCHANGE
Banks are open to public from Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm, and are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Peso Bank (CLP) notes are for 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000 and 20,000. It is often difficult to change the latter two, especially in small villages. The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile making it possible to exchange money at any established “Casa de Cambio” at market driven exchange rates. They are common in the downtown areas and Providencia district as well as shopping centers in Santiago, and in the Santiago airport. NOTE: Visitors should avoid black market exchange rates.
Most major credit cards are accepted. Travelers’ checks are least widely accepted and fetch the lowest exchange rates. The simplest and most efficient way to carry and change money is with a debit or ATM card. These ATM machines normally give better rates than banks or money changers, and charge no commission. Credit cards are fairly widely accepted. All major cities and many smaller towns with a significant tourist economy have one or more ATMs. Some banks, however, charge rather exorbitant fees for international withdrawals, and per-day withdrawal limits are usually around US$300. Chilean banks limit withdawals to 200,000 Chilean Pesos.
BUSINESS HOURS AND COMMERCE
Outside of Santiago, commercial offices generally close for a long lunch hour, which can vary from business to business, but is frequently from 1pm – 3pm.
Tipping Diners leave a 10% tip in restaurants. In hotels, tipping is left to the guest’s discretion. It is not necessary to give tips to taxi drivers.
TELEPHONE AND INTERNET ACCESS
Since 2014, long distance calls do not exist between regions within Chile. To make a call, it is necesary to but the región code before the telephone number. The región code for the Metropolitan (Santiago) región, is the number 2. The code for the Magallanes región is the number 61. For calling to Chile, the country code is 56. To place a collect call from Chile, dial 800 200 188 from fixed lines, and 188 800 200 188 from celular phones. The call should be accepted by an operator. A local call from a public pay phone call requires 100 pesos. To call from a fixed line to a cellular phone, dial 09 before the number. Cellular phones are more expensive to call.
No matter where you are in Chile, chances are there is an internet station (limited access in more rural areas), either in a cafe or at the ciber centers. Most hotels have their own internet service; if they don’t, they’ll be able to point out where to find one. Expect to pay $2 to $4 per hour. Major hotels are wireless enabled.
Chile’s electricity standard is 220 volts/50Hz. Electrical sockets have two openings for tubular pins, not flat prongs, so you’ll need a plug adapter.
Crime rates are low to moderate throughout Chile and are moderate in Santiago and other major cities. There have been few violent crimes committed against foreigner. However, tourists are at a heightened risk for pick-pocketing, purse or camera snatching, and theft from backpacks and rental cars.
The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Chile are:
131 – AMBULANCE (SAMU)
132 – FIRE DEPARTMENT
133 – POLICE DEPARTMENT
Medical care, though generally good. Although emergency rooms in some major hospitals accept credit cards, many doctors and hospitals in Chile expect immediate payment in cash. Prescriptions written by local doctors and over-the-counter medicines are widely available. The ozone layer is especially thin at the bottom of the world. Travelers should take proper precautions to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation. No additional vaccinations are required to enter Chile. International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever required if arriving from infected area within 5 days. The Department of State strongly urges foreinger to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
It is advisable to avail yourself of one of the medical insurance policies that are especially designed for travelers. Any reputable travel agent will have details of such schemes.
*** More information can be found at http://www.gochile.cl/