Chile is a Latino country full of culture, great hiking opportunities, wineries, deserts, mountains, volcanoes, salsa, beaches, skiing, great food, and great hostels. The country is situated on the coast of the South Pacific ocean, and borders Argentina to the east, Peru to the North, and Bolivia to the North East.
Santiago is the country's capital city and the largest city in Chile. Santiago is a vibrant city, with many good hostels, restaurants, bars, and cafes. The city also has many beautiful hispanic buildings and churches. There are also a number of good museums in Santiago, as well as a good lookout point, which can be hiked up or driven to. The city does have a smog problem due to the large number of cars.
Not far from Santiago is Valparaiso, a UNESCO world heritage site and old port town. It's definitely worth a visit. Also nearby is Vina del Mar, a popular resort town.
Easter Island is also apart of Chile. The island is a world heritage site, situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The mysterious ancient "heads" are iconic for Easter Island, and provides clues to the ancient civilisation that once resided there. There are daily flights from Santiago to Easter Island.
Many people also visit San Pedro de Atacama, which is the entrance to the famous salt flats. This desert is one of the driest deserts in the world, making it a unique habitat and environment.
Local Chilean food is very similar to other South American countries. It includes a lot of rice (arroz) and chicken (pollo). Empanadas are also great lunchtime snacks to try. Empanadas are pastries filled with a variety of different fillings. Empanada de pino (beef, onion, raisins, eggs, and black olives) is a classic Chilean flavour. For drinks, there are loads of fruit smoothie vendors that make delicious juices from native and local fruits.
The tourist areas in Chile all have a number of different accommodation types, including hostels or backpackers, resorts, hotels (both budget and luxury), guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts. Hostels are great options for solo travellers and travellers wanting to immerse themselves into the culture. In hostels, the staff can usually communicate in English, and sometimes French and German (the level might not be fluent, but it's conversational - either way it's recommended learning a little basic Spanish before heading to Chile).
Chile is a relatively safe country, however petty crime is still an issue. Make sure you use your common sense. Don't carry all your valuables with you, don't flash your money, or expensive gear, and don't walk alone at night. Also be careful when changing money or paying for things. The Chilean peso is in 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 note denominations. Many people misunderstand the exchange rate and end up paying over double for things. Unfortunately, some locals take this for granted, so just take care.
If travelling from a neighbouring country, you will notice Chilean Spanish is very different to other Latino Spanish languages. Chilean Spanish is known for using a lot of slang. It is also common for native speakers to drop the last letter of a word when speaking. Usually you can ask the Chilean person to speak "neutral Spanish" if you are having a hard time understanding them.
Hi, I'm Kelly Sheldrick,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Chile hostels. Welcome.