Natives of most countries do not require a visa to enter Chile. Upon entering, a tourist card is issued free of charge and is valid for 90 days. In some instances people may have to pay for this card. It is advised that you contact your nearest Chilean embassy to make sure you have the correct entry requirements.
Chile’s official currency is the peso (Ch$). Notes come in denominations of Ch$500, Ch$1000, Ch$2000, Ch$5,000, Ch$10,000 and Ch$20,000. Coins used are Ch$1, Ch$5, Ch$10, Ch$50, Ch$100 and Ch$500.
The official language in Chile is Spanish.
As the country is so long and narrow, Chile’s climate varies. The north of the country experiences a desert climate, the central lowlands sees more rainfall than in other parts of the country and in the south there are areas with polar ice as the southern tip is level with some of Antarctica.
There are no vaccinations required to enter Chile. Hospitals and doctors are more readily available in the bigger towns and cities. As some of the activities you may engage in such as trekking through the Andes cam prove to be risky, it is strongly advised that you take out travel insurance that covers you medically before travelling.
Pharmacies are open 24 hours a day in Santiago and some other cities.
Chile is four hours behind GMT and one ahead of EST most of the year but this changes during daylight saving months by two hours.
Shops in Chile are generally opened between 10am and 8pm, with malls and supermarkets staying open until 9pm. These can vary throughout different cities and towns.
Business hours are from 9am-7pm and banking hours are from 9am-2pm Monday-Friday.
The national tourist board in Chile is Sernatur and has offices all over the country in regional cities and larger towns.
In Chile there is a value-added tax of 18% on all goods and services.
The most commonly found places to exchange money in Chile are called “Casa de Cambios”. They offer rates competing with those in banks. Both cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged widely, although cash sometimes have better rates.
Money can usually be changed in hotels, travel agents and some shops also.
There are many public telephones found all over Chile, particularly in the cities and bigger towns. Phones are operated by coins or cards which can be bought at kiosks. When dialling overseas you will need an international calling card or a local pre-paid phone card. You can use coins but you will need a lot and it is very inconvenient.
Chile’s international access code is +56. When dialling overseas from within Chile dial 00, the country code, the area code (dropping the 0) and the local number.
Chilean post offices open from 9am-6pm Monday-Friday and from 9am-12pm on Saturdays. The postal service operates on a guaranteed delivery system and sending letters to the US and Europe takes approximately two weeks.
Tipping is customary for most services in Chile from gas attendants to the people who pack your bags in the supermarket. A typical amount is 200 pesos. When tipping in restaurants the normal amount is 10%. Whether or not to tip taxi drivers is at your own discretion.
Chile’s national holidays are New Year’s Day (1st January), Holy Week (end of March/April), Labour Day (1st May), Naval Battle of Iquique (21st May), Corpus Christi (30th May), St Peter and St Paul’s National Day (29th June), Assumption of the Virgin (15th August), National Reconciliation Day (1st Monday in September), Independence Day (18th September), Army Day (19th September), Columbus Day (12th October), All Saints Day (1st November), Immaculate Conception (8th December) and Christmas Day (25th December).