Santiago de Chile is the capital and economic centre of Chile. With its many museums, events, theaters, restaurants, bars and other entertainment and cultural opportunities, it is also the political and cultural center of the country. Its central location in the country makes it a great base for visiting other areas, and it is possible to ski in the nearby Andes and later be on the beach, all in the same day.
The Basilica de La Merced in Santiago
Santiago is a fast growing city located in the central valley of Chile between the Andes mountain range to the east and the Cordillera of the Coast to the west. The metropolitan area has about seven million inhabitants.
The climate is cold and rainy in the winter. It only snows up in the Andes, which are an hour and a half from the city. Temperatures at night fall to around 0ºC. It gets progressively hotter towards the summer. Summers are fairly dry although you may experience some humidity at times. The temperature can reach as high as 35ºC. Due to the inversion effect in the Santiago basin and other factors, winter air quality in this area can be unhealthy, in large part due to high concentrations of particulate matter.
- Sernatur (State Tourism Agency), Av Providencia 1550, ☎ +56 2 7318336 and +56 2 7318337, . The main visitor information office.
Travellers from Australia, Canada, the USA and a few other countries have to pay a reciprocity tax/visa fee upon entry, but only by air. This is in response to those same countries' visa fees for Chilean citizens. The one-time charge is valid for 90 days for multiple entries and can be paid in cash (USD) or credit card. The fee for Australians is US$95, Canadians for US$132 and US$140 for US citizens. There is no fee to enter by land.
Santiago Airport (IATA: SCL) (ICAO: SCEL) is the main Chilean gateway for international flights. The travel time to the city centre has been drastically reduced recently, with the construction of a new tollway, the Costanera Norte.
First and foremost, there is no local transport from Santiago airport, so that is not an option. There are however airport buses running on two slightly different routes operated by CentroPuerto (Ch$1600 one-way, Ch$2800 return) and TurBus (Ch$1700 one-way, Ch$2900 return) (see ) which both go to the city centre, with Centropuerto running every 10 minutes and TurBus every 30 minutes. However, both buses also stop at the Pajaritos Metro station en route, and due to the heavy traffic east of Pajaritos it is a good idea to alight here and take the Metro line 1 towards Los Dominicos to the city centre (10-15 min).
Transvip runs a shared-ride shuttle service and have a counter immediately after customs, before you exit into the main terminal. A ride to the city center (as of June 2011) runs Ch$6,500 (US $13).
Private taxis will charge about Ch$15,000 for a trip to downtown or Providencia.
Please note that unofficial taxis may take advantage of unknowing foreigners and charge as much as CLP $200.000 (US$400) for a trip to Centro or Providencia. It is easy to identify unofficial taxis, most drivers will not have any type of identification, and will insist on taking you to the ATM's around the airport where they will convince you to take out the highest allowed amount (200.000 CLP). Common sense and sticking to official taxis will get you to the city with no problem.
- From Canada - Air Canada operates a flight from Toronto six days per week.
- From Europe, Air France operates to Paris, Iberia to Madrid, and LAN to Madrid, the latter also running onwards to Frankfurt. Flight time is 14h from Paris (Air France), 13h from Madrid and 18 hours from Frankfurt. Air France uses Boeing 777-200ER aircraft and Iberia and LAN Airbus A340 aircraft.
- From Oceania, Qantas and LAN operate a daily code-sharing flight from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland. It's at least 12 hours each way. LAN also operates a Tahiti-Easter Island-Santiago route.
- From the US, American Airlines and LAN operate flights from Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Some flights have layovers in Guayaquil or Lima. Delta Air Lines operates direct flights from Atlanta. Many of these flights are overnight, and most use widebody aircraft such as the Boeing 767.
Entering Santiago by car, you'll probably find yourself on the Autopista Central. To use this freeway you need a device called "TAG", or a day pass which you can buy from service stations. One day passes are Ch$4400. You can also buy it after accidentally passing through it without one.
There are bus connections to all major destinations on the continent.
The bus ride between Santiago and Mendoza in Argentina has beautiful views and takes about eight hours, depending on the time spent at the Cristo Redentor checkpoint. The border crossing is at about 2800 m in the Andes. Note that fruit, vegetables or animal products are not allowed in either direction; all luggage will get checked at the border. One way fares are listed at around Ch$17,000, but are often cheaper if booked in advance. There are also buses to and from San Juan, Argentina, with one way fares listed at around Ch$19,500.
One way fares to and from Lima are listed at around Ch$85,000.
The Principals Bus Terminals are located at:
- Terminal Alameda: Alameda de Santiago subway station, Line 1). Private station for Turbus and Pullman buses. National and international departures. Phone: 7762424. Has a hotel and a few convenience shops.
- Terminal Santiago: Alameda 3848 (Universidad de Santiago subway station, line 1; across the street from Turbus Terminal). Phone: 3761755.
A little less safer than Turbus Terminal, yet not dangerous. Beware of pickpockets and people trying to sell you robbed goods (iPods and cellphones are a common target). Has a food court with local fast food restaurants and a McDonald's. Note that prior to national holidays, it may be extremely overcrowded.
- Terminal Los Héroes: Tucapel Jiménez 21 (Los Heroes subway station, Line 1). Phone: 4200099
Bus travel times to/from Santiago de Chile:
- 54 hours: Sao Paulo (Bus company: Pluma)
The Santiago metro system
If you are staying in town more than a few days get a bip!-card at any subway station (Ch$1200, minimum recharge Ch$800). This card is good for both subway and bus, and allows you free transfers between the two (you still have to swipe your card, but there is no deduction) in a 2 hour period.
- Metro Santiago has a metro system with five lines and 94 stations, with many holding rotating art exhibitions. Trains run between roughly 6.00AM and 11.00PM, with each station posting the exact hours for the first and last trains. Buses run parallel to subway lines after hours. As of 19 Sep 2011, tickets cost Ch$630 for peak periods (7.00AM to 9.00AM, 6.00 to 8.00PM), Ch$570 for shoulder periods (6.30AM to 7.00AM, 9.00AM to 6.00PM, 8.00PM to 8.45PM) and Ch$520 for low periods (before 6.30AM and after 8.45PM). Tickets are good for a single ride with unlimited transfers, and there is no time limit.
- Bus Buses are mostly modern and run around the clock on the main lines. The only way to pay your fare is by bip!-card. You can buy this card and charge it in any metro station or in some stores. The card also allows for travel by metro.
- Parque Metropolitano - This vast park is home to Cerro San Cristóbal. From the top there is a beautiful view over the city and, on a clear day, the Andes. The summit can be reached by funicular ($900 one way, $1600 return), cable car, or a long hike. In the park there is also a botanical garden, zoo and two swimming pools. Pope John Paul II visited its summit in 1987.
- Plaza De Armas - The capital's main plaza, also the site of the national cathedral and main post office. It's few blocks from the traditional Central Market and has its own Metro Station. During the last years, Plaza de Armas has been used as a meeting and recreation place for the community of Peruvian immigrants. This has lead to a lots of cheap international calling centers, traditional Peruvian restaurants and Peruvian spice and food stores, being an interesting place to walk during day hours.
- Santiago Centro - The Centro (Downtown) area is a nice place for a stroll down some of its major Paseos (streets turned pedestrian walkways), but be aware of pickpockets.
- La Chascona - One of three homes of the famous poet Pablo Neruda, La Chascona (meaning tangle-haired woman, after his third wife) is in the artistic Bellavista neighborhood. The house is filled with lots of quirky artifacts collected by Neruda throughout his life, as well as artwork by some of his famous friends. Tours are given in English, French ($3500) and Spanish ($2500). 
- La Moneda Palace - Presidential Palace, guided one-hour tours are free, unfortunately with a reservation of at least 7 days in advance.  (Spanish only)
- Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda - An underground cultural center under the La Moneda Palace, with rotating art and cultural exhibitions all year. Local crafts and souvenirs are available at middle-high prices in the local gift shop. A café is also within the facilities. Note that most exhibitions are not free of charge, however, prices are very affordable.
- Parque Forestal - A long park that runs parallel to the Mapocho River, also site of the National Museum of Fine Arts and Modern Art Museum.
- Theatre & Dance - Santiago offers much in the performing arts, most takes place Friday & Saturday, check listings in El Mercurio. $500-5000 CLP, most offer discounts with student ID, even to foreigners, just ask.
- Centro Cultural Matucana 100 - Inaugurated in 2002, Matucana 100 is an excellent exhibition venue for a variety of arts. From Metro Quinta Normal, walk south on Matucana (towards Alameda), M100 is on the left hand side. 
- Teatro Municipal - Historical performance venue, including international dance and opera, worth a visit even if just from its outside. 
- Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) - An impressive-scale cultural center built on the former military Diego Portales building which was destroyed in a fire. The center has a art and film focused library with free WiFi, a theater, concert halls, a restaurant, a café, and public spaces for resting. Located on Universidad Católica metro station (Line 1). 
- Jazz Clubs - Santiago is home to an impressive jazz scene, with several intimate clubs scattered throughout the city. The Club de Jazz de Santiago is arguably the best. Located in the northern part of the Nunoa neighborhood, this small club routinely brings in some of the best local, national, and international artists specializing in everything from latin jazz to blues to bossa nova. Check music listings in El Mercurio.
- Festival de Jazz de Providencia - A very good jazz Festival takes place during summer (typically each February) in Providencia. The Festival de Jazz de Providencia takes place each year in Mapocho's riverside and showcasts the best local bands and some international guests. Tickets are cheap (from about 3 USD in the 2007 edition), so it's a good alternative for summer nights.
- Cerro Santa Lucia, Junction of Santa Lucia and Bernando O'Higgins (Santa Lucia metro station).
A park with fountains and stairs leading up to a fort and viewpoint the top. The summit has a great view of all but the skyscraper-obscured city center. Charles Darwin visited this peak at one point in his travels; his words are immortalized in a plaque at the summit. Free; registration at entrance required.
Santa Lucia Park in Santiago
- Iglesia y museo de San Francisco, Av. Lib. Bernardo O'Higgins 834, ☎ 6398737. Museo: M-F: 9h30-13h30 15h00-18h00, Sun: 10h00-14h00. The oldest church in the city. In the plaza, in front of the church, there is a Moaï from Easter Island. Museo: $1000. No pictures inside.
- Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art), Bandera 361, at junction with Españia (Plaza de Armas metro station), ☎ 56 2 9281522, . Tu-Su, 10.00AM to 6.00PM. The well put together Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art houses various artefacts from Mesoamerica and South America, featuring cultures such as the Olmec, Maya and Inca civilizations. Descriptions on the artefacts and the ancients' way of life are well-written and in both English and Spanish. Highlights include a Mayan stone stele and Andean mummies, which precede their Egyptian counterparts. Ch$3000; Ch$1000 for ISIC (International Student Identity Card) holders and children.
- Palacio Cousino, 438 calle dieciocho, . M-F: 9h30-13h30 14h30-17h00, Sa-Su: 9h30-13h30. Old palace owned by a wealthy spanish-portuguese family. The architecture is a mix of spanish and french style. $2100. Guided tour only. No pictures inside.
- Parque Bicentenario, Bicentenario Avenue, vitacura. Parque Bicentenario, Bicentenario Avenue. Beautiful park, still in construction. Large extension of grass, children games, dog games, a very nice pond with black neck swans. There is also a restaurant, a cafe (Le fournil) and Vitacura's city hall. Trails for walking and bikes
Santiago skyline in winter
- Spicy Chile - Free Walking Tours, (Meet in front of La Moneda Palace, at Alameda´s path between Morandé and Teatinos (just in front the big chilean flag)), ☎ 9 - 3423307, . 10:00, 14:00. Great way to experience all that Santiago has to offer from local markets, old neighbourhoods and the tourist spots. They have 3 different free walking tours that mixes tons of info with funny anecdotes. The guides are hillarious and knowleadgable, they are local and speak perfect english. Its all for free as they work for tips, you pay what you think the tour is worth! Can´t go wrong.
- Mountain climbs. Many mountains are found in and all around Chile that are great for climbing.
- Skiing. Santiago is not too far (around 1.30-2 hours from downtown depending on the centre) from some great skiing. Not too expensive and they hire out all the equipment you need at the resorts. Some of the tour companies offer the service.
- Wineries, at the end of line 4 (Las Mercedes and Puente Alto station)
- Alternative City-Tours Try local food/drinks, get to know the most typical Chilean places and be sustainable - City Trekking Guide just uses public transportation and it's own feet. Small groups accomponied with guides who speak Spanish, English, German & even Italian. Create your own personalized tour on their website: http://www.citytrekkingguide.com/create-your-own-tour.html
- Free Tours Santiago, Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile (Meet in front of the cathedral), ☎ 9 - 236 87 89, . 10:00, 15:00. Free (well...tips are karmically required) walking tour of Santiago. English speaking guides, with tons of information and advice on food, museums, etc. One thing - the restaurant they stop at for lunch allows you to eat your own food, but will charge a 10% service on anything you DO order. That said...an excellent and very powerful Pisco Sour to be had there... Free + tip.
In order to work in Chile, a working permit needs to be obtained, which can be accomplished with the sponsorship of an employer. However, numerous people work illegaly, but it is obviously best to obtain a permit.
Santiago has a lot of shopping centres or "Malls", as known by the locals. The main ones are:
- Mall Plaza Vespucio
- Mall Plaza Oeste
- Mall Portal La Dehesa
- Mall Parque Arauco
- Mall Alto Las Condes
- Mall Florida Center
- Mall Plaza Norte
In the malls you can find a variety of retail stores and Falabella, París and Ripley, the most famous department stores in Chile. The biggest ones are Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes, they both have good restaurants and the former has a good agenda of free music and shows. You can get to the former from Escuela Militar metro station and to the latter from Los Domínicos; ask locals for directions if you're unsure of how to take buses.
Alonso de Córdova Street and Nueva Costanera Avenue are very exclusive areas where you can find high fashion and luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermés or local designers. In this area you find great restaurants and art galleries.
If you prefer buying handcrafts, the ones in the Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia are good and relatively cheap compared with other handcrafts stores. Other handcrafts centres are in Bellavista (though a bit more expensive).
Close to Los Domínicos metro station is Pueblito Los Domínicos steps from Los Domínicos metro station; it is more expensive but has a wide variety of local handcrafts and antiques, as well as a small exhibition room and a bonsai exhibition behind it. It is very pretty with an artificial stream in a colonial-looking atmosphere. Half of the people there are usually tourists during the summer, so you won't be alone!
Plaza Nuñoa has some small shops in the plaza where you can buy books from Latin America (Neruda, Allende, Cortazar) and also handcrafts.
If you're already kinda familiar with Santiago, you can also go to Patronato which is located near to the downtown area and it's easy to reach by metro (Patronato metro Station). There you'll find cheap clothes, food and products of all kinds, as well as some foreign stores (mainly Chinese, Koreans, Peruvians and from the Middle East), thus allowing you to save quite a bit of money. It would be better to go alongside a local, though, since it's easy to get lost due to the very short and slim streets and the very high quotient of visitors. Beware of pickpocketers.
Similarly, those who want more surprises and know the basics about Santiago can go to the famous Persa Bio Bio located in the Franklin area, also not too far from downtown and near to the metro (Franklin station). It can be described as a giant flea market that opens every weekend and offers antiques, tools, handmade furniture, many food stores, etc. Again, it's not a place for novices: a local's presence would be desired.
- Boulevard Lavaud, Compañía de Jesús 2789 (Cumming underground station), ☎ +56 2 6825243 ([email protected]), . M-Th 10AM-1AM, F-Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 11AM-5PM (from 31st October 2010). In Barrio Yungay, Boulevard Lavaud is more than a coffee and restaurant, is part of Santiago history. Better known as La Peluqueria Francesa, is part restaurant, part antique store and part hair salon Ch$1000-7000.
- Amadeus, Av. General Bustamante 50 (Between Buquedano and Parque Bustamante metro stations), . Tasty wood fired pizzas that start at Ch$3500-4000.
- Anakena, Av. Kennedy 4601 (in the Hyatt Regency Hotel), ☎ +56 2 3633177. Designed to look like an outdoor market with a number of dishes that combine Asian, European and South American cooking styles.
- Aquí Está Coco, La Concepción 236 (Providencia), ☎ +56 2 2358649, . M-Sa 1PM-3PM and 8PM-11PM. Seafood is this restaurant's specialty and its menu has a wide variety of fish and shellfish to choose from. There are a number of other dishes for the non-seafood lover as well. Currently under renovations following a fire, will reopen sometime in January.
- Bar Nacional (Matias Cousiño 54), Paseo Huérfanos 1151, ☎ +56 2 6965986. Offers hearty Chilean meals and a range of local and imported drinks.
- Café Dante, Jorge Washington 10 (Ñuñoa). A meeting point for friends, with a lot of history and nice service.
- Plaza Café, Av. Brasil 221 (Barrio Brasil). Pleasant place to eat a cheap three course lunch.
- Ocean Pacific, Ricardo Cumming 221 (Barrio Brasil), ☎ +56 2 6972413. Stylishly blue decorated restaurant that has a broad range of seafood. The take-away parlor next door with the same name, has excellent empanadas.
- Santa Isabel, Ricardo Cumming and Compañia (Barrio Brasil). Big supermarket where you can gather the ingredients for your own meal. It also has simple take-away items such as chicken or rice.
- Los Buenos Muchachos, Avda. Ricardo Cumming 1031, ☎ +56 2 698 0112, . 12.30PM - 01.30AM. great food and great entertainment, what more does one need for a succesfull restaurant dinner.
- Ciudad Vieja, Constitución 92, Providencia, ☎ +56 2 2489412, . M 12:30-18:30, Tu 12:30-00:00, W 12:30-01:00, Th-Sa 12:30-01:30. A great "sanguchería", where you can have some of the most gourmet sandwiches in the city. Its located in the hip Bario Bellavista, and you can also have a drink with friends at very economical prices.
Nightlife choices vary widely across the city and their location usually reflects their price and style.
- Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil are popular spots close to the city center. Bellavista can be reached by Metro to Baquedano, or by bus to Plaza Italia. Cross the bridge will bring you to Pio Nono, which probably has highest density of bars in Chile. Bellavista has a wide range of choices from popular places to upscale, such as a jazz bar. In addition, there are discos with all kinds of music, from contemporary eletro-pop to salsa and merengue. This is probably the only barrio where you can find a disco that has a predominately gay audience. It is a fun atmosphere and features drag-queen shows during Saturday nights. Moreover, Bellavista is the area that lasts the longest during Friday and Saturday nights, with most places closing at 4-5AM, and a few places (so called "after hours") run till 6-7AM.
- Plaza San Enrique is a park located in Lo Barnechea (at the far north-east of the city) which is surrounded by nightclubs. The most popular one is Sala Murano (it can get very crowded!). People who attend are mostly 18-25 and it is one of the safest places to party. Most people there are from upper-middle to high class, so it is more expensive than other neighbourhoods. Typically, females get in for free, while males pay around 3k-5k CLP. You can get there by micro, but though buses do pass later on, you might have to wait up to an hour for it.
- Boomerang, General Holley 2285 (Providencia). High scale pub and cocktail bar.
- La Casa Club, Santa Filomena 11 (Providencia), ☎ +56 2 7350503. Five level club with each floor catering to different musical tastes, laser show, bar and special events, highly recommended.
- Barrio Manuel Montt has a small and unique atmosphere with mid-range prices. It can be reached at Metro Manuel Montt (line 1).
- Isidora Goyenechea is a very nice and safe neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants, albeit expensive ones. Take the Metro to El Golf.
- Plaza Ñuñoa is a district east of the central area and is another popular spot nightlife spot.
- The Santiago Pub Crawl, . . Your night is planned out for you so you don't have worry about where to go, you meet people from all over the world, cover a lot of ground and it's great value for your money. 10,000 pesos.
- Batuta, Jorge Washington 52 (Plaza Ñuñoa), ☎ +56 2 2747096, . A good spot to see mainstream Chilean rock and metal bands, although it is expensive by Chilean standards.
- Suecia is roughly located at Providencia and Suecia, in between Metro Tobalaba and Los Leones (line 1). It is a boulevard of bars and discos about 3 blocks long. It used to cater to a foreign and upscale audience, but it seems now that the most entertaining bars moved to Manuel Montt.
- Vitacura is located pretty far east (towards the Andes). It is composed of bars and some places where you can dance. The places are nice and although they certainly lack cohesiveness as nightlife (since bars only recently started opening there) it can be fun to go. It is more expensive that other areas of Santiago and frequented by people that live in the eastern (wealthier) side of the city. Although you can get there by bus, it will be hard to leave on anything but a taxi since buses don't run late.
- Bar Catedral, Merced 395, . Nice bar downtown between between lounge bar and more folklorica. Good rock bands often come to play.
- El Candil, Providencia 1421 (metro Manuel Montt). til midnight. A quiet bar/restaurant in Providencia. The traffic outside is noticeable but not excessive and drinking outside here has a genuinely pleasant urban flavour. If you fancy making a night of it, Bar Liguria is practically next door.
- Pio Nono. til 5AM. Pio Nono in Bella Vista has an intense feeling, bars line the street on either side. The area has a very youthful quality but older visitors shouldn't be intimidated. One of the most lively areas of the city at the weekend.
- Bar Liguria, Av Providencia 1373 (metro Manuel Montt). This bar looks like a 1950's American diner and plays music ranging from classic 1950s rock to what you'd hear in a mid-2000's London pub. For all that, it's clearly no tourist trap and the clientele are mainly local. At the weekend the bars on Pio Nono are probably a better bet, but for a mid-week drink this is well worth a visit. It is also a great restaurant during the day! It serves many local dishes and drinks, including great wines.
- La Leyenda, Alameda con Santa Rosa (metro Santa Lucia). til 5AM. This Peruvian restaurant/bar plays music from all over Latin America at weekends until 5AM to a diverse crowd of locals with roots all over South America. Unpretentious and entertaining. CLP3000/litre Heineken.
- Andes Hostel & Apartments, Monjitas 506 (In front of the Bellas Artes metro station), ☎ +5626329990 ([email protected]), . Dorms (4-6 bed) mixed and women only, private rooms and apartments. Price includes breakfast, Wi-Fi and daily cleaning service. Great staff and fun weekly events.
- Hostal Romandia Román Díaz 1403, ☎ +5628913188 Located in a quiet residential district, the Hostal Romandia is a central Santiago de Chile bed and breakfast style accommodation perfect for business travelers, students, or guests who want to get a good night's sleep in order to discover the fascinating city of Santiago's attractions during their stay.
- Atacama Hostel Roman Diaz 130, , ☎ +562264201. Hostel is close to bars, restaurants, clubs and both the bus and subway station. Newly remodeled rooms are cozy and colorful, large common room with lots of places to hang out and TV and DVDs, the terrace is a great place for a BBQ and views of the city. The water temperature in the showers here can be a bit temperamental.
- Hostal Santa Lucia 168, Santa Lucia 168, . Looks toward the Santa Lucia hill and just blocks away from the centre. Great personal staff and good breakfast with fresh fruits.
- Hostal del Barrio General Ekdhal 159, Barrio Bellavista. Hostel in a quiet area but nonetheless quite near to the hotspots of Barrio Bellavista. The rooms are not huge but very clean, including the bathroom. The German owner cares very well about his clients. C$15,000 for a single with own bathroom. Breakfast is included and is rather big for Chilean hostels.
- Hostal de la Barra, José Miguel de la Barra 451 (near to Museum Bellas Artes and Parque Forestal) , ☎ +56 2 6392384 This hostel is run directly in a old building in the middle of Neighborhood Bellas Artes, it has high quality infrastructure and also has a very nice coffee shop next door where the breakfast is served: The drawback is the 6 lane road outside which is rarely quiet and the early morning revellers returning home. Sleep is at a premium here. Good points are the staff, the location and the nearby park areas.
- casAltura Hostel, San Antonio 811 (near Parque Forestal, Santiago Centro), ☎ +56 2 6335076, . Spacious hostel in a beautiful old building with a roof terrace. The interior is modern, comfortable, and always clean. It opened just a few months ago so it can be a little quiet at times, but if you're not looking for a party hostel you're sure to enjoy the laid back atmosphere. Very friendly and helpful staff. Free internet and Wi-Fi. Dorms from Ch$10,800. (50,)
- Castillo Surfista Hostel Maria Luisa Santander 0329, ☎ +5628933350 url="http://www.castillosurfista.com/" Opened by a California surfer in January 2012, this rapidly up and coming hostel is a new and rare accommodation that is located a short walk from everything, but the neighborhood is safe and quiet (close to Metro Baquedano in Barrio Providencia). Private rooms, shared dorms, SURF TRIPS, in house Spanish classes, and student housing in Santiago are available.
- Dominica Hostel  Dominica 24, Bellavista +5627327196 This newly restored old house was especially design to receive travelers. Full of common spaces and with a practical design of the dorms rooms. Located close to Cerro San Cristobal.
- Hostel Bellavista, Dardignac 0184, Barrio Bellavista, ☎ +56 2 7328737, . Hostel located in a great area for dining out and nightlife but can be loud on the weekends. The staff is friendly with some glaring exceptions. There are several computers and free Wi-Fi, large common room equipped with a TV, DVD player, plenty of seating, pool table and a guitar. Very popular with young international backpackers and independent travelers.
- Hostal Providencia  Vicuña Mackenna 92-A, Providencia +562 6352536 Rooms with private & shared bathrooms a house with an antique Chilean style with a modern twist. Staff is very helpful. Breakfast, BBQ, common areas with free internet and Wi-Fi, cableTV, books and DVD library. Located only 3 min walking from Metro Baquedano, Plaza Italia and walking distance to Bellavista neighborhood.
- Hotel Angamos, Angamos 367, ☎ +56 2 2222849. Small hotel with clean and tidy rooms, double beds and hot water on demand. If there is none, you simply ask the owners to turn it on. Family run business and you can turn up to at any time of day/night. Close to the centre and safe. There is no hotel sign, just ring the bell. C$10,000 per double room, includes breakfast.
- La Casa Roja, Av Agustinas 2113, ☎ +56 2 6964241, . Hostel located in an old renovated mansion. The shared kitchen is huge and excellent. Its a party place, so it can get a bit noisy. Run-down area. Pool. Dorm rooms Ch$7,000. One night free every six nights if paid beforehand.
- La Chimba Hostel, Ernesto Pinto Lagarrigue 262, Barrio Bellavista, ☎ 735.8978, . Small award-winning budget hostel in Santiago's trendiest barrio. Friendly staff and great facilities. Near metro station, La Chascona Cerro San Cristobal and the city's best bars and restaurants. C$70.
- Plaza de Armas Hostel, Compania 960, dpt 607 (South side of the Plaza de Armas, Santiago Centro), ☎ +56 2 6714436 ([email protected]), . checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:00. On the central square with a great view out over the plaza near the subway and museums. Small (located on an upper floor of a building) but lively place with good staff. Free internet with 3 computers, Wi-Fi throughout the establishment, common room equipped with a two TVs and a DVD player. US$12-16 dormitory, US$34-38 double with shared bathroom, US$48-50 double with private bathroom.
- Pure Lounge, Ernesto Pino Lagarrigue 160, ☎ +56 2 732 22 73 ([email protected]), . A cozy hostel, very nicely decorated. Clean and quiet. US$16 for a bed in a 8 bed dorm.
- Residencia Tabita, Príncipe de gales 81 (off Moneda between San Martin and Amunategui), ☎ +56 2 6715700 ([email protected]). Cosy, friendly and quiet, but right in the middle of town. C$2,000 for unlimited internet access during your stay using Tabita's computer or Wi-Fi. Singles from 8000 pesos, 15000 for doubles.
- Ventana Sur Hostel, Claudio Arrau 0340, Providencia (Close to Santa Isabel Metro station), ☎ +56 2 8950768 ([email protected]), . Chilled out hostel but there's always something going on. Good location with friendly staff who always go the extra mile and are great fun to hang out with. Pool, free internet and WiFi, continental breakfast included, Friday night BBQs, Wednesday free wine nights. Duvets in the dorms. US$11-12 Dorms, US$21 Single with shared bathroom, US$36-44 Double with private bathroom. (33.444996,-70.627241)
- Furchi E.I.R.L -Furnished Apartments-/ Bilbao3561, Av Francisco Bilbao & San Juan de Luz (in Providencia, one block from Bilbao metro station), ([email protected]), . Furnished two bedroom apartment, 58 square metres that sleeps up to four people. Includes full kitchen, washing machine, LCD TV , Cable, Desktop Computer with Internet, WiFi, DVD player, stereo, Chilean Cell Phone and free phone (local, national and international calls). The service also includes local access numbers in many cities around the world to call directly to the apartment as a local call. (Also other apartmensts available in Santiago) $80/night + $30 cleaning fee (USD).
- Casa Bonita Bed&Breakfast, Pasaje Republica 5 (in Santiago Centro, 100 mts. from the Republica metro station), , [email protected] Established in a national monument in a protected historical neigbourhood, opened at the beginning of 2009. It offers single and double rooms with or without private bathroom and also has rooms for three or four persons. All rooms have central heating, cable TV and Wi-Fi signal. Rates start from US$58 for a single and US$67 for a double. A varied breakfast, internet access and cable TV are included. This B&B is personally run by its owners, a Dutch-Chilean marriage.
- Inmoba Apartments & Suites, Dr Ramon Corvalan 8 (corner Av Libertador, metro Baquedano or Universidad Catolica), ☎ 56-2-4195233, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. Serviced apartments on the top floors of this primarily residential tower block on Av. Libertador between Baquedano and Universidad Catolica metro stations. Excellent views over the city from the balcony and a daily cleaning service. The apartments have kitchens with microwave, oven and hob but no meals are provided, although there are many restaurants nearby to suit all budgets if you prefer not to cook for yourself. Internet access (ethernet cable provided, no wi-fi) is included in the price. There is a certain amount of noise inherent in the location, although no worse than in any other city centre. Good value for money and almost like having your own flat in the city. USD60/night single. (-33.43805,-070.63522)
- Meridiano Sur, Petit Hotel, Santa Beatriz 256 Providencia, ☎ +56 2 2353659, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: Noon. Five double rooms and two singles with private bathroom, satellite TV and Wi-Fi. There is also a loft with room for five. with a lot of partying Rooms $72-135, Loft $260 (rates cheaper May-Aug).
- MG Apartments, Pedro de Valdivia 263 (near Av 11 de Septiembre, metro Pedro de Valdivia), ☎ 56-2-83927177, . . Nice views over the city, towel changes must be asked. The apartments have complete kitchens with microwave, oven and hob but no meals or breakfast are provided, although there are many restaurants and cafes like starbucks nearby. Internet access (wi-fi) is included in the price. Furniture are modern and well conserved as the bed and pillows. There are cable TV and LCD monitors. Good cost-benefit and localization in the city. USD65/night double.
- NH Ciudad de Santiago, Avda. Condell, 40, . Elegant hotel located in the centre of the city, a short distance from the primary metro line. The hotel contains 122 suites with private bathrooms, and separate bedroom and living room. Rooms contain sofa, minibar, television and Wi-Fi while the hotel itself offers a gym, sauna and swimming pool.
- Hotel Fundador, Paseo Serrano 34, ☎ +56 2 3871200, . Newly renovated hotel that is conveniently located for sightseeing in the historic centre of the city. It also has a good quality restaurant. Rooms $145-$185 and Suites $205-$260 (Apr, Oct - Nov); $30-$50 cheaper at other times.
- Grand Hyatt Santiago, Av Presidente Kennedy 4601, ☎ +56 2 950 1234 ([email protected]), . Has a 1000sq foot lagoon style pool, health club and several restaurants.
- Meridiano Sur, Petit Hotel, Santa Beatriz 256 Providencia, ☎ +56 2 2353659 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Five double rooms and two singles with private bathroom, satellite TV and Wi-Fi. There is also a loft with room for five. $72-135, loft $260 (rates cheaper May-Aug).
- The Ritz-Carlton, Calle El Alcalde No. 15 (Las Condes district, near the El Golf metro station), ☎ +56 2 4708500, . The hotel is, as expected, very nice. There are restaurants and bars nearby, a small park across the street and the neighborhood is modern and organized.
- Santiago Marriott Hotel, Av Presidente Kennedy 5741, ☎ +56 2 2462000, . A popular business hotel in the city, the Santiago Marriott Hotel is in the Las Condes district, near excellent dining and shopping. Offers comfortable accommodations, a Lobby Bar, two first rated restaurants, meeting space and other modern amenities and services.
Santiago is notoriously infamous for the smog and it's worse during the winter (May-September). The locals welcome the rain which falls during winters as it cleans the air. Be sure to carry bottled water with you during the summer and avoid food or drink from street-vendors. Be prepared for sauna-heat on the metro during summer.
By South American standards Santiago is a safe city, but visitors should be aware of pickpocketing and other petty crimes. Avoid parks at night and don't wear expensive looking jewelry or watches even during the day, unless you are in Las Condes or Vitacura. If you're alone, avoid large crowds of people, especially downtown.
If you happen to have bad luck and get robbed, do as you're told by the criminal and if you don't understand Spanish, give away the wallet. Not doing so can provoke an attack until you give away your wallet. Don't try to stand up to them and once again: do as you're told.
Don't flash your camera, take a photo and hide it while not using it. If you're getting robbed and the criminal has spotted the camera expect to give it away too if you want to stay out of trouble.
If someone approaches you on the streets and promises to get you better chances at changing your dollars/euros into Chilean pesos, NEVER accept their deals. They're con-people who take advantage of foreigners not knowing the details about currency and confuse them with big words to take their cash away. Only change your money in legal currency exchange centers, which may take more time but are much more trustworthy. There's one in the Airport, but they are also easy to find in the downtown and financial areas, or in the malls.
If you are going to see a football match, be careful with the "barras bravas" who are the most fanatic but also dangerous fans. They are often involved in troubles with the police both inside the stadium and outside. Avoid buying tickets in the sections where the bravas dominate which it often does behind the goals. The middle section is the safest but if you have a friend who wants to support Colo-Colo and another Universidad de Chile for example, avoid showing it. Even if the middle section is safe, showing different shirts can cause you trouble. Either go with the same shirts or dress neutral. Other football matches not being the "Superclásico" between Universidad de Chile against Colo-Colo should be pretty safe.
Walking to the stadium you will find people begging for some pesos so they can see the match. Avoid giving them if you want to stay out of trouble.
The barrio where the Estadio Nacional is located is a place which is normally peaceful, but you have to walk with precaution and keep your eyes on other people when it's crowded. It's better to take a taxi to the arena, or a rental car if you can find a place to park it.
There are some neighbourhoods/barrios that should be avoided. Even if few carabineros and locals speak English, they are the ones who know which areas are to be avoided since some of them can actually be accessed by metro. Some people at local Starbucks are more likely to speak English.
If you see fewer tall buildings and more houses with locked windows and entrances, then turn back. The changes happen very slowly, unlike some other Latin American cities, so you'd have to travel quite a lot from a wealthy safe neighbourhood to a dangerous ghetto. Avoid especially La Legüa (not to be confused with La Ligua in the V Región) which is famed in Chile for its high crime rates and single police cars won't even enter the area.
Try staying away from the following comunas: Lo Espejo, La Pintana, Puente Alto (especially the Plaza de Armas), La Cisterna, San Joaquín, San Bernardo, El Bosque (not to be confused with a neighbourhood located around metro El Golf, which is in Las Condes), San Ramón and La Granja unless you know exactly where you're going. Though these places are not completely unsafe for the most part, they can have a few unsafe spots and don't have much touristic significance.
The safest comunas are Providencia, Vitacura and Las Condes. All of them have lots of local security guards, besides Carabineros, and locals are more likely to speak english, especially young people. They are not completely safe, though: petty theft still takes place, so keep your eyes open in the streets. Lo Barnechea can be tricky as it is the only comuna that has both extremely wealthy and extremely poor neighbourhoods ever since Pinochet's dictatorship; "La Dehesa" is wealthy and safe, "Cerro Dieciocho" is as dangerous as La Legua.
Overall, Santiago is very safe if you travel by car.
The metro is regarded as safer for travelling amongst the locals, even though security has increased in the buses after the introduction of TranSantiago. But some locals still prefer using the metro especially when it gets darker, since almost all the stations have guards. Don't expect the staff to speak much English.
In any situation, you can trust in the Chilean Police (Carabineros). Although you can hardly find one who can speak English, they will try to answer your questions, solve your problems or give you orientations. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BRIBE Chilean Police. Also remember that the Chilean police is a militarized police. Therefore they can be violent or unreasonable, be careful.
If you wish to mail a letter or postcard, the biggest one is Correo Central on the North Side of Plaza de Armas, a neoclassical building with French influences. There are several smaller post offices spread in the city, often close to the bigger avenues.
However, Chilean mail has become infamous for not getting things delivered or mailmen opening the letters trying to find money or any valuable items (mostly on mail coming from abroad).
The largest and most trustworthy private mail company is Chilexpress, which has agencies on almost all mid-sized cities. Prices are a bit higher though.
- Australia, Isidora Goyenechea 3621, 12F, Las Condes, ☎ +56 2 550 3500 ([email protected], fax: +56 2 331 5960), .
- Canada, Nueva Tajamar 481 - Piso 12, Torre Norte, Edificio World Trade Center, ☎ +56 2 652-3800 ([email protected], fax: +56 2 652-3912), .
- China, Pedro de Valdivia 550, Providencia, ☎ +56 2-2339880 ([email protected], fax: +56 2-2341129), .
- Japan, Av. Ricardo Lyon 520, Providencia, ☎ +56 2 232-1807 ([email protected], fax: +56 2 232-1812), .
- United States, Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, ☎ +56 2 330-3000 ([email protected], fax: +56 2 330-3005), .
- Beaches are 90 minutes to the west in Vina del Mar
- Isla Negra, a village in the coast, south of Valparaíso. The main and most beloved house of Pablo Neruda is there. This is probably the most interesting of his three houses to visit and the best conserved as it is the only one that the military didn't sack during the coup of 1973. To get there, you can take the Pullman bus ($3700, 2h) from Santiago Alameda station (metro Universidad de Santiago). You can also take the Turbus bus to San Antonio ($1000 - $2000, 1h30) from Alameda as well, and then take a local bus in front of "laPolar" ($450, 30min) that goes along the beautiful coast. Tours in the house cost $3000 and last 30min. Then you can go to the beach.
- The ski resort of Portillo is 2-3 hours away on the road to Mendoza
- Rancagua is 85 km to the south and has some thermal springs and hiking opportunities nearby.
- Cajon del Maipo , beautiful in spring, some 75 km south east of Santiago, day trip.Some nice places for lunch and tea; many of them only open on week-ends.
- Sierras de Bellavista (150 Kms south of Santiago), wonderful little mountain village, especially after a rainy day. Alpine scenery.
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