There is a saying in Chile that translates roughly to this, “God made the entire world, and when he was finished he had a little bit of everything left over, so he threw it down, and made Chile.”
From mountains to wine vineyards, beaches to glaciers, and everything in between, Chile has it all. You’ve made a wonderful decision to travel to Chile, now here’s what you need to know before you leave.
The official language in Chile is Spanish. However, the Chilean dialect is extremely unique and even native Spanish speakers from other countries will find difficulties trying to communicate with Chileans. Along with the many unique words and expressions that the country has developed, they talk extremely fast, tend to aspirate the ‘s’ sound in words, use a lot of filler words like “po” or “pue” in the middle of their sentences, and have created their own tú conjugation for verbs which sounds like a singular version of the vosotros form. All of this takes some getting used to, so while you brush up on your formal Spanish, take a look at these “Chilenísmos” as well.
The visa required to travel to Chile will depend on your country of citizenship, length of your stay, and the purpose for your travels. Visas applications are available for people looking to work, volunteer, travel, and even permanently move to Chile. Call the nearest Chilean consulate to get all of the details based on your particular trip.
It’s pretty simple to find a place to stay in Chile, from cheap hostels, to lavish beach resorts, you can find whatever it is you are looking and book ahead of time online. If you are planning on taking a longer trip, you may want to rent an apartment, if your particular visa will permit it. If that is the case, wait until you arrive in Chile to find a place. You can find a cheap hostel to stay in for your first week or so while you house hunt. Many available apartments and homes will not be advertised very well, especially over the internet. Your best bet is to walk around, look for signs and ask the locals, everyone seems to know someone who has a place for rent. Don’t stress too much about where you are going to stay before taking off.
Chilean culture comes from a mixture of Spanish and Mapuche influences. If you haven’t heard of the Mapuche yet, you will once you arrive in Chile. They are the indigenous people of Chile, and their influences are still widely visible throughout the country. Chilean people are generally extremely welcoming, and have the happiest hearts. Many people you encounter will be keen to invite you to their home to cook for you, or to show you their things. The best advice I can give is to just say yes. Try all the foods offered to you, learn how to dance Cueca, and drink that terremotto. Culture is the richest part of traveling, especially in Chile.
Quick tips before you leave:
- Call your bank before leaving to let them know you will be in Chile.
- Getting money converted into Chilean pesos ahead of time isn’t crucial, as there are plenty of money exchanges around. However, do some research to find out what exchange rate you should be getting, you don’t want to get ripped off just because you didn’t know any better.
- Call your cell phone carrier and discuss nationwide plans with them, if that is something you might be interested in. If you plan to purchase a plan and SIM card for your phone in Chile, be sure to get it unlocked by your carrier before you leave.
- Visit your doctor and get a general physical to make sure you are in good health before taking off, especially if you plan on taking a longer trip to Chile.
- Take photocopies of your passport, visa, medical clearance, travel information, and any other paperwork that might be important.
Written by: Twitter @Jendunkin