Traveling in Chile
Chile was our final stop on our 2014 South America trip. By that point we had been travelling for over 6 months straight and were all but completely burned out on most tourist activities. We crossed over into Santiago and went down to Valpariaso first. We spent one week hanging out in Valpariaso and Vina del Mar before heading back to Santiago where we spent another week. The cities in Chile are very modern and the cost of living is pretty high. Most people are educated and happy to talk to you. There is a lot of art in the cities, the museums, on the streets, and in people’s homes. Art and literature are important pieces of the history and culture of Chile. Transportation is easy, but expensive, as are the hotels. I would say Chile is among the more expensive places I have traveled. It is a stop you should absolutely make, though.
The Cost of Travel in Chile
- Currency: Chilean Pesos
- Exchange Rate: $1 US Dollar = $650 CLP
- Hotel: $30-$40 (private)
- Hostel: $15-$20 (dorm)
- Food & Drink
- Breakfast: (bread, coffee/tea) – included at most hostels and hotels
- Lunch/Dinner: $9,750 CLP and up, or empanadas $1,140 CLP
- Vino: $3/bottle on average for Frontera or buy a box for cheaper
*Chile is a fantastic country with a lot to see and do. It is challenging to say the least to make it happen under a tight budget though. Couples will end up in hostels and you will end up cooking for yourself most of the time. If you can penny pinch though I think its a great place to be.
Tips for Traveling in Chile
- Make sure your hostel or hotel provides breakfast and has a kitchen. Most all restaurants are too expensive for the backpacker budget.
- The grocery stores are your friend for budget meals. Think ramen and sandwiches when you are planning your budget.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. A lot of people speak English just fine despite their reluctance to speak to.
- Museums are cheap if not free and contain a lot of important information on Chile’s history.
- Chilean bakeries are really good and could rival many German bakeries I’ve been to.
Things to do in Chile
- Easter Island (if you don’t go to the island you should go see one of the famous heads at the museum in Viña del Mar) They also have shrunken heads from Ecuador. Go see some heads.
- Escalators in Valpariaso are a really cool part of the towns history and a great way to get up high and see the city
- Free walking tours in Valpariaso and in Santiago
- Firing of the canon in Santiago
Viña del Mar
You can take the light rail from Valparaíso right down the coast to this town. It’s a popular beach destination during the summer and a nice area to hangout. The museum here not only has some of the only Amazonian shrunken heads on exhibit, but they also have an actual Maui rock sculptures from Easter Island, which Chile owns. We asked the museum if they had a student discount and they told us no, but when they saw that we weren’t going to go in otherwise they were nice enough to let us only buy one ticket. We stayed at a pretty decent hostel in town and you could easily walk to the beach, but it wasn’t the right season for swimming then. There are several good restaurants in town too, but we opted for buying food at the grocery store and preparing our own meals in the kitchen at the hostel.
This stop is a must for anyone going through Chile. The city supplies paint for anyone that want’s to paint their home a bright color. That is on top of it being ranked one of the best cities in the world for street art. Valparaíso is also a major sea port for the country and you can watch gigantic freight ships coming in and unloading. Much of the city is positioned on a steep hill, so you can take escalators up to the tops of neighborhoods for a good view. Try visiting some of the local bakeries for breakfast. There are several different walking tours you can go on to get shown around town. This town has the most street dogs per capita, than anywhere else I’ve ever been. We saw a lady that feeds a pack of about 30 of them in the park one morning.
The capital of Chile, Santiago has plenty to
offer. When we visited we were at the tail end of a long trip and really just concerned with saving money, so we mostly just walked around the city all day, every day, for about a week straight. There are several giant markets worth visiting, including a famous fish market that serves fresh lobster and oysters and anything else you can imagine. There are also several cool breweries worth checking out. You can hike to a lookout point and see most of the city and if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time they fire a canon off every day at some point. Santiago also had a great free walking tour we went on. The national art museum was also very cool and they have a free day once a week.