Country: Chile
Currency: Peso (CLP)
Peak Season: November-April
Shoulder Season: June-October
Median Temperature: 15.00 C / 59 F
Main Languages: Spanish, English, German
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, metro, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 7 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $150.00/day
Tourist Passes: Chile Tourist Card
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Santiago’s evolution as a leisure city extraordinaire was met with the usual uprisings and revolts back in its colonial and revolutionary eras. Like the rest of South America, it strongly detested oppression and embraced a more liberal form of governance, which is evoked almost everywhere once you get here. At present, Santiago is eclectically bisected into two regions: Santiago Oriente (east), which embodies easygoing rural lifestyle and sultry nightlife; fast-paced action, on the other hand, is evident within the relatively small Metropolitan Region. Downtrodden souls will, for a fact, find recluse in Providencia, Oriente’s most popular district. This side of the city is dotted with shopping outlets and restaurants; locals bill it as the Beverly Hills of South America. The two remaining districts—Las Condes and Vitacura—have their own lavish amounts of snazzy couture and savory restaurant dishes. Notwithstanding the skyscrapers, the metropolis also as a few natural gems and amusements to keep tourists preoccupied, including Cajon de Maipo and Barrio Bellavista.

The dry city is flanked by the Andes mountain range to its east and by a 1,926-mile coastal range to the west; both regions effectively buffer the city from awful coastal weather. By late autumn and winter, the mountains (and fringes) are snow-smothered, meaning one can enjoy equable skiing in nearby El Colorado.

In Santiago, getting bored is nearly impossible—there’s always a gig abound for the adventurous and classy. Whether you’re in the arid Andes region practicing cowboy skills while retiring at the haciendas, or in the business district, socializing with the middle and opulent classes—Santiago won’t make you break a sweat finding your niche.

Packing List

  • Smart, sophisticated clothing to blend in with the metropolitan backdrop; high altitude means hot daytime is met by even colder nights, and once autumn winter sets in, pack layers, jackets and sweaters
  • Duffel bags, hats, sunglasses, and extra clothes and underwear; bring trekking gear and ski equipment for hiking and snow sports in the Andes—considering many tourists stay in Peruvian territory for weeks
  • Essential medication and toiletries—if not used to hot climate, bring a sizeable water tumbler; Chile’s groceries and pharmacies have a wide selection of products from the United States, Mexico and Asia
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries—the mountain ranges offer great views, so it’s expected that serious photographers bring tripods and lenses; bring a few books/electronics to keep you company
  • Credit cards for clothing purchases and over-the-top fees you’re likely to encounter in the upscale districts; shopping bags and duffel bags will come in handy if shopping at flea markets and bazaars

Things to Do

  • Visiting La Chascona—the old, small house Pablo Neruda built for his lover, Matilde Urrutia; Neruda is a celebrated figure in Chile due to his poetry and political endeavors, and this house was his masterpiece
  • Strolling around at Parque Padre Hurtado, named after the founder of the Society of Jesus in Chile; the park is a packed picnic spot during weekends, and it’s also a preferred venue by local street performers
  • Appreciating art at the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, the oldest museum in South America; it has a vast collection of paintings, sketches sculptures and manuscripts dating back to the 16th century
  • Exploring lush Santa Lucia Hill ideally situated next to its eponymous metro station; the hill’s two most prominent attractions apart from the facades and fountains include Terraza Neptuno and Castle Hidalgo
  • Waiting for autumn and winter months to ski at El Colorado, Termas de Chillian and 12 other ski resorts; while not as USA’s Colorado, Santiago offers the same great slopes and facilities for skiing/snowboarding

DON'T

  • Don’t be too fresh talking to locals—Chileans are billed more “refined” than their fellows in South America; niceties will get you in good terms with them immediately, but don’t expect punctuality
  • Try to comprehend their language—like the Spaniards, they talk ridiculously fast even for intermediate speakers to understand; you could, however, get into their good side by trying to speak Spanish
  • Spend too much on designer clothing and accessories, especially in districts like Avenida Alonso de Cordova; it’s nearly impossible to haggle in Santiago, but good deals can be found at many artisan fairs
  • Hang around downtown after a big football game—you’re likely to encounter some overzealous, dangerous teenagers; you can still watch your favorite football game at outlying bars and bistros
  • Expect Santiago to be like Buenos Aires—each has its own bittersweet advantages/disadvantages over the other; Santiago has eclectic cuisine, but scrumptiousness can’t hide the lack of a homey ambiance