The wine producing, self-sufficient and the richest country in South America. Chile is a country that has a desert, towns and the beautiful outdoors as well as home to the tallest building in South America (984 feet).
Chile is a massive country and offers A LOT for any type of trip (but mostly outdoors) however, I only had a short time here and I was surprised how cosmopolitan Santiago was and mystified by the Southern lights in the desert.
–ENTRY TO THE COUNTRY – this is SUPER important and doesn’t matter if your entering via bus or plane. Customs will give you a slip of paper that you require to show hotels/hostels so you do not pay tourist bedroom tax AND you need this slip if you leave the country. Otherwise they will charge you a fine of $$$ to leave the country. I didn’t know what this paper was until I checked into my hostel at 11pm and luckily, I had a nice receptionist who explained the importance of this slip and that I need to try to look for it – in which it was scrunched up with other bits of paper.
-ATM’s – Majority of banks here charge to withdraw cash. The only banks that I found (with great difficulty) was Scotiabank and Banco Estado that didn’t charge me. However, I’ve read that they may start charging so check on this whilst you’re out there and let me know how you get on.
–Underground train – very frequent and cheap. You can buy a card that you can top up and tap in, tap out.
– Card machines – most places have a card machine where they do not charge a fee.
– Some basic Chilean slang – whilst I was here, I noticed some slang that they used including calling money currency as ‘Lucas’ so something would be ‘dos lucas, tres lucas etc’. So now you know if they say this to you whilst shopping.
– Pis-cola – this is the drink that Chileans made with their Pisco’s (and a lot of students drink this as it’s cheap). What they will ask if you want Pis-cola negro or blanco. Which means Pisco with cola or Pisco with lemonade. Either way, it’s going to be a messy night if you get this.
– Food and drink is becoming a thriving scene here so there’s lots of new things popping up. But one of the things I was surprised about was the lack of Cocktail bars or Speakeasy bars compared to the UK (as it’s such a thriving scene here). I only found two hidden bars and there is a famous mixologist Nicholas Cornell who runs the ‘Hidden Bar’ where it’s behind a bookcase at a hotel basement. As you know, this cocktail lover had to try this place and see the man in action. I took my Chilean friends who have never come across the Speakeasy concept and they absolutely loved it; as they described that it’s so different from what they have seen and would come back again. Although, this is a cool bar serving some great and strong cocktails – it is on the pricey side but luckily they accept credit cards too.
- Sim cards AKA Chip pago – Claro. OH MY DAYS. Getting a phone sim is such a LONG winded task that took me and another traveller an hour to get. You have to get a ticket number to speak to someone, who then tells you to join another queue to pay for the sim, then you have to bring the receipt back to this teller (and if it’s busy, you have to get ANOTHER TICKET number). Then, they give you the sim BUT if you want to top up, they have to give you a voucher that you have to pay at the payment counter THEN come back to this person again (maybe another ticket number too) who will then activate this voucher.
Since this experience, I’ve never taken it for granted that we have people that will do the full transaction, payment and sim activation quite quickly and efficiently. Make sure you have the patience and time to go to get a sim card as this took more time than I realised.
I selected Claro as this is a big network in Latin America but I did not realise that they work as separate entities in every country so if you cross border – it cuts out COMPLETELY.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit Patagonia however, without a doubt – I will come back to Chile and spend some weeks there.
Patagonia is a place that you do not want to rush and have a chance to relax.