Chile

Although Chile might look a long, narrow country, it offers many things to explore. The country is located along the southern half of the west coast of South America. It is sometimes called the longest country in the world as its coastline extends over 4,300 km (2,672 miles). Chile borders with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Among the top tourist attractions that Chile has to offer is the San Marcos Cathedral in Arica, which was designed by Alexandre Gustav Eiffel (yes, the same architect who was responsible for the Eiffel Tower in Paris); the Easter Island is off the coast of western Chile, and it’s the most isolated inhabited island on earth, so you can explore not only its archeological sites, but also its beaches, volcanic craters, and famous Moai sculptures. Ojos del Saldo is also a main attraction as it is the world’s tallest active volcano, which you can hike!

SAFETY INDEX

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Is Chile a Safe or Dangerous Country?

The security environment in Chile is generally safe, and most visitors have left Chile without an incident. Nonetheless, street crime and scams are common, especially in Santiago, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, Calama, and Iquique. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city. Criminals tend to work in groups and use different ruses to distract travelers.

Crime

Chile is no different than any other destination. Most of the crimes and scams against foreigners are crimes of opportunity. Bag snatching and pickpocketing are common at crowded places such as shops, restaurants, and public transportation, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you. Although the Las Condes, Providencia, and Vitacura in Santiago are infamous for being hot spots for petty crime, pickpocketing and muggings are common in many cities throughout Chile.

Violent crime is rare in Chile but there have been reports of daylight muggings in some areas in Santiago like Cerro San Cristobal Park, Cerro Santa Lucia, and Cerro Manquehue. It is recommended to always travel in groups and avoid isolated areas and parks at night.

Transportation Safety

If you are taking a bus or a train, do not put any valuables in the storage compartment as they can be stolen. Taxis should be booked in advance rather than hailing one from the street, especially at night. Main roads are surfaced, but if you are thinking of driving in the countryside, it is recommended to get a four-wheel drive vehicle. Vehicle theft has increased, so always keep your windows closed and doors locked. Do not leave bags or valuable items in the car in plain view.

Natural Dangers

Chile is a country exposed to many natural disasters. Earthquakes are a possibility, and floods are common during the autumn and winter seasons. During summer, large forest fires occur throughout the country. There is volcanic activity in the Puyehue and Los Lagos region (last erupted in June 2011). Other active volcanos include Chaiten, Llaima, Lascar, and the Copahue volcano on the Argentina/Chile border. The smog in Santiago can become a health risk during winter.

Political Situation

Nationwide protests usually take place on the anniversary of the military coup, 11 September, and Worker’s Day, 1 May. It is highly recommended to stay away from any demonstrations as they can become violent. Police tend to use tear gas and water cannons against protesters. The largest protests generally occur in Santiago. The largest indigenous group in the Araucania region of southern Chile, the Mapuche, are engaged in a conflict over land and indigenous rights issues, so there have been some attacks targeting multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners.

Landmines

Landmine accidents mainly affect cattle and people crossing borders at unauthorized regions. Minefields are near the borders with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Most of them are clearly marked, but some signs and fences are old and/or damaged, so they may not be easy to spot. If you are traveling to these areas, check with local authorities first, do not enter restricted areas, and stick to the marked roads.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : LOW

Standard safety precautions are recommended in Chile. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for petty crime in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

Pickpocket and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Muggings have happened in urban areas. People walking alone are often the targets, especially at night. In case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : LOW

As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Overall, taxis and public transportation are safe. Make sure you book a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible as there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. Make sure that the vehicle has the logo of the company on the side.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Flooding can happen during heavy rains. Chile has some volcanic activity. The Copahue volcano, located along the Chile/Argentina border, is still active and sometimes residents need to be evacuated. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities. Air pollution during winter (June-September) in Santiago is a major problem; you may suffer from eye irritations and respiratory problems.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Chile. However, they cannot be ruled out. There are occasional acts of domestic violence by anarchist groups that may use small explosives. They tend to target banks and public transport. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Many women travel safely without any issues. However, if you are traveling alone, it is important to exercise particular care in crowds, on public transportation, in rural areas, and in isolated sections. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Women may get some unwanted attention from men.

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Useful Information

Most countries do not need a visa to enter Chile when the purpose of the visit is tourism. Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay, so no additional period of validity beyond is necessary. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Argentina is the Chilean peso (CLP). ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in main cities, but be careful of possible scamming and never leave your card out of sight.
The weather can get chilly during the middle of the year, temperatures usually don’t drop below freezing. The warmest month of the year is January with an average temperature of 86 F. July and August are the coldest months with an average of 37 F.
The busiest international airports in Chile are Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, Diego Aracena International Airport (IQQ) in Iquique, and Cerro Morenoo International Airport (ANF) in Antofagasta. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page