If you’re planning to travel to Santiago soon, keep reading!
Santiago de Chile is a cosmopolitan city. The official language is Spanish. The monetary unit is the peso. Coins are of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos and notes are of 500, 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000. It is advised to change money in banks or currency exchange offices but not in the streets.
Every traveller who arrives to Santiago by air arrives to the airport Arturo Merino Benítez (SCL), located approximately 15 km away from the centre of Santiago.
AT THE AIRPORT
Customs and Immigration
In general, the customs and immigration process doesn’t take long, however you should be prepared for delays especially in high-season months. These delays occur because when two or more international flights arrive in a short period of time, the immigration facilities can’t cope with the massive surge of arrivals.
Once you arrive to the airport you will need to go through immigration, and only Australian, and Mexican passport holders must pay a reciprocity tax. Then you will pass through the Chilean agricultural and food control (SAG) and pass through Chilean customs.
One important thing to keep in mind: if you are entering Chile on a tourist visa, make sure you have proof of travel leaving the country within 90 days of your arrival, as the airline might not let you onto your plane. Airlines can be subject to fines if they allow passengers to board who do not fulfill correct visa requirements, so they can be significantly more stringent than the customs employees at the Chilean airport!
On your incoming flight, you will be given a little form (PDI) to fill out. This form is a tourist visa and is VERY important. You must keep it with you until you leave the country and surrender it to immigration.
Recap: do NOT lose the little piece of paper the customs officer places in your passport, as you will need it when you leave the country!
Be aware that you’re not permitted to import the following items when entering Chile: fruits, seeds, cheese, meat, vegetables or non-processed animal products, firearms, munitions, explosives or illegal drugs. If you wish to bring any of these items into the country they must be declared and authorized by the SAG inspector.
Services and facilities at the airport
– Money: there are banks, ATM machines and currency exchange offices located within the terminals. Santander operates a branch located at the Landside, on the second level of the airport from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, (Mon-Fri only).
– Food and drinks: there are numerous bars, fast-food outlets and cafés but these aren’t open 24 hrs. There are seven mini markets (operated by Mercadito, Mini Market and Maxi) located in both the International and Domestic Terminals which are open 24 hrs.
– Information desk: located at the Landside, ground floor, gate 2 or at the first floor, between gates 2 and 5. It’s open 24hrs.
– Pharmacy: Farmacias Cruz Verde are located at the Landside, second floor. Open from 6:30 am to 10:00 pm (Mon-Fri) / 06:30 am to 9:30 pm (Sat) / 07:00 am to 10:00 pm (Sun)
HOW TO GET TO SANTIAGO
There are several ways to get to Santiago: buses, shuttle or taxi. Taxis can be pre-paid at the airport with a credit card, but buses must be paid in cash and in Chilean currency so it’s convenient to change some money at the airport, yet I recommend not to change all your money as the exchange rate is not very favourable.
Taxis may be hired at the taxi company counters, located right after Customs but before the exit gates inside of the arrival halls. Several companies also have counters in the main lobby.
After purchasing a ticket for your destination, you will be given a ticket with the destination info, reference rate and the location of your taxi outside in the Via Controlada. They will direct you to the main lobby where you will see someone holding a sign of the company you have purchased with, who will take you to your taxi driver.
There are usually other taxis waiting at the airport. If you’re confident with your Spanish, you can negotiate a price. But for first time visitors, I would strongly recommend reserving at one of the counters.
– Approximate time: 20-30 min
– Approximate fare: regular taxis (painted black and yellow) run on a meter and tourism taxis (painted blue) charge a fixed rate according to your destination
– Schedule: 24 hrs
SHARED TAXIS (also known as colectivos)
This option is commonly used by those passengers who are traveling with big suitcases and do not want to spend as much money as they would on private taxis. Shared taxis can take a minimum of three passengers and up to six passengers usually. Each taxi takes people who are going to the same village but you may be the last one to get home so it’s not necessarily the fastest method. Shared taxis are also a great option for those traveling in a big group of people.
– Approximate time: 45-60 min (depending on the quantity of passengers)
– Approximate fare: CLP 7.000 (per person)
– Schedule: 24 hrs
This option can be hired at Domestic Arrivals, International Arrivals and First Level Central International Hall. There are two shuttle services:
Phone: +56 2 2677 3000
– Transfer Delfos:
http://www.transferdelfos.cl/ (more expensive)
Phone: +56 2 29138800
If you prefer to use the bus to get to the city centre, there are two bus companies: Turbus and Centropuerto.
– Tur-Bus (tel: 600 660 6600, www.turbus.cl) has several stops: Las Rejas Metro Station, Terminal Alameda – Universidad de Santiago, Pajaritos Terminal and Terminal San Borja – Estación Central Metro Station. Tur-Bus buses are available from 05:00 am to 12:00 am (every 20 min) and there are night services every hour from 01:00 am to 04:00 am. You will have to pay at the bus, CLP 1.700 for a single ticket and CLP 2.800 for a return ticket.
– The Centropuerto bus (tel: +56 2 601 9883; www.centropuerto.cl) stops at the Los Héroes bus terminal, close to the Los Héroes metro station. The fare is CLP 1.400.
I hope you have a safe flight and enjoy Chile! If you traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.
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