Chile is an unforgettable place to embark on a solo traveling experience. The country’s dramatic landscape plays host to majestic mountains, vast deserts, and huge glaciers. However, the stunning landscape isn’t the only thing the world’s longest country has to offer. Chilean cities are vibrant and cosmopolitan, with the capital Santiago boasting excellent cuisine and exciting nightlife. On top of all this, Chileans are some of the warmest and hospitable people you’ll ever meet – which makes the country a particularly great place to travel solo.
However, solo travel comes with its complications; for instance, there are added security concerns and potential extra costs. So, in order to prepare you for your solo traveling experience in Chile, we’ve put together this handy guide. Covering everything from safety, to language, to weather, this crash course will ensure you’re fully prepared before embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. So, without further ado – read on to discover our comprehensive guide to traveling alone in Chile.
Spanish is the official language of Chile. However, if you are more familiar with Castilian Spanish from Europe, you may notice some differences. Like every other country, Chile has its own dialect and accent that first-time visitors may need to get used to. Furthermore, very few people speak English, so prepare to put those Duolingo lessons to good use. As well as Spanish, some Chileans will speak indigenous languages, and in small pockets of the Lake District, German.
The national currency of Chile is the Chilean peso. Bear in mind that many places outside of the capital don’t take credit cards, so be sure to take enough cash. Another thing to remember is that merchants like taxi drivers and grocery stores won’t accept large notes, so make sure you have change.
Chile is a country of enormous geographical diversity. The north of Chile is desert, where temperatures can vary from scorching hot to freezing cold. Santiago is hot and dry, with an average summer temperature of 30°C (86°F). However, as you head south, the weather becomes wetter and colder. Once in the southerly region of Patagonia, the weather can be so unpredictable that visitors can feel like they’re experiencing four seasons in one day. Therefore, whichever region you visit on your Chilean solo traveling experience, it’s a good idea to bring a good selection of clothes.
Chile is well-equipped for tourists, so there are plenty of hotels and hostels near the main attractions. Furthermore, in the Torres del Paine solo travelers can stay full board at Refugios, which are dormitory-style lodgings in the national park. This means that if you’re taking on a long hike like the W trek, you can get two square meals a day and a comfy bed. When you’re in the cities, Couchsurfing is popular and a great way to meet people.
Safety and security
Statistically, Chile is the third safest country in South America. Therefore, compared to traveling solo in other Latin American countries, you can be fairly confident about your security. However, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take precautions. In Santiago, there are incidents of petty crime involving tourists, particularly bag snatching. For instance, some thieves will create a diversion whilst an accomplice steals a phone or wallet. Therefore, you should never display valuables, always lock car doors, and keep your wits about you.
Santiago has a high-functioning public transport system, so you should have no issues using the metro. To board a train or local bus, you need to buy a multi-use Bip! ticket and top it up with cash. Taxis are also easy to flag down, although it’s important to know how to identify legal cabs – registered taxi drivers will have a yellow roof and orange number plate. Furthermore, Uber is technically illegal in Chile, although this is a grey area. People do use it, but often the driver will ask you to sit in the front seat to avoid police checks.
From Santiago, you can travel pretty much anywhere in the country by bus. However, the bus system is can be a little confusing for first-time travelers. There are seven main terminals in the center of the city, so make sure you double check which one your bus departs from. Although buses are inexpensive, flying is by far the fastest way to travel. LATAM is Chile’s largest airline, followed by Sky Airline, both of which fly to the key domestic airports. However, bear in mind that convenience comes with cost – flights are far more expensive.
Start planning your solo travel experience in Chile
Chile is a magical country, with so much to do and see. From spectacular scenery to delicious cuisine, to friendly locals, Chile is a fantastic place to embark on solo travel experience. So – now you know the basics, all that’s left is to start building your perfect itinerary.