Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in South America. It’s known for its natural beauty and incredibly diverse culture. It’s a well-developed country with many modern amenities that western travelers have at home.
The most significant appeal of Chile is its natural beauty. Chile has deserts, lakes, remote islands, and some enormous mountains. Additionally, the urban areas have a unique flavor unlike anywhere else.
Chile has the longest coastline in the world. With over 4,000 miles of coastline, there are many incredible beaches, vistas, and secluded spots for travelers to enjoy their vacation.
Additionally, Chile includes part of Patagonia, perhaps the most famous outdoor area in the world. Chile is safe for travelers. Of course, as with any travel destination, there are always safety concerns to be aware of.
This article covers everything you need to know about visiting Chile safely.
It outlines the various safety concerns facing travelers. It also includes tips and tricks to maximize safety while visiting Chile and how to make the most of your vacation there.
Is Chile Safe to Visit in 2022?
Chile is an extremely safe country to visit. In fact, it’s one of the most stable countries in South America. Chile was a top 20 country in the global peace index until recent political instability caused it to drop into the 50s.
However, it still ranks higher than countries like the US, Panama, France, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. Chile has one of the lowest crime rates in South America and one of the lowest poverty rates. Chile has rapidly improved in the last twenty years and has become much safer as a result.
The US Department of State has no travel advisories against traveling to Chile. Travelers, however, should always check the latest travel advisories before any international travel.
Crime in Chile
The crime rate in Chile is very low. The vast majority of crimes are nonviolent and involve things like pickpocketing and theft. Violent crime is relatively rare, but it does happen.
Travelers should take precautions when traveling to remote areas or after dark. It’s always advisable to be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts when traveling. If something feels off, it’s probably best to avoid that area or situation.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Although Chile is a safe country, there are always areas to avoid. The majority of these locations are in the capital city of Santiago. In Santiago, the capital of Chile, visitors should avoid the neighborhoods of Vitacura, Las Condes, and Providencia.
These neighborhoods are well known for their pickpockets and thieves. These areas can be hazardous at night, and travelers should avoid these areas.
Additionally, travelers should be careful when visiting Cerro Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal, the Lake District, and Cerro Manquehue. These are more popular tourist areas, and there are pickpockets and scammers.
When traveling outside the city, it’s best to research the area before heading out. Travelers best avoid many remote regions of Chile. These areas are usually rural and lack any tourist infrastructure.
If you’re planning on hiking or camping in a remote area, it’s best to let someone know where you’ll be and when you expect to return.
Political Protests and Demonstrations in Chile
Chile has been going through a period of political instability since October 2019. The mass protests have been against inequality, the cost of living, and other social issues.
The protests have been mostly peaceful, but there have been some instances of violence. Travelers should avoid political rallies and demonstrations. These can quickly turn violent, and travelers should avoid them.
If you find yourself in the middle of a protest, it’s best to leave the area and find a safe place to wait it out. It can be difficult to avoid political demonstrations because they can begin at a moment’s notice.
However, travelers can protect themselves by checking the news and staying aware of the political situation in Chile before their trip.
If political demonstrations are happening when you arrive in Chile, you can avoid the protests. The vast majority of the protests occur in Santiago and other major cities. You can easily avoid the demonstrations and still enjoy your vacation.
Baggage Theft in Chile
Baggage theft is a common problem in Chile, especially in Calama. Travelers should avoid leaving their belongings unattended in busy areas. Baggage theft is most common in bus stations.
When transferring between buses, keep your bags on you at all times. If possible, travelers should keep their valuables with them at all times. If that isn’t possible, travelers should lock their bags and use a luggage strap.
Natural Disasters in Chile
The most significant safety concerns facing travelers in Chile are natural disasters. Chile is in an area of high seismic and volcanic activity. Several big earthquakes have occurred in recent years, and more are expected.
Chile is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and earthquakes come with the territory. A massive 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2017 hit the city of Valparaiso.
Thankfully the Chilean government has an excellent earthquake warning system, and no one was injured in the disaster. While visiting Chile, visitors must constantly be aware of the possibility of an earthquake.
It’s wise to follow Chilean news sources and the Chilean government to receive updates in the event of an earthquake. Chile is also home to several active volcanoes. The most recent volcanic eruption was in 2015, and it caused significant damage to the surrounding area.
Most of the volcanic activity is located in the south of Chile and poses a substantial risk if you plan to visit Patagonia. Like earthquakes, it’s impossible to predict volcanic eruptions.
Any traveler going to Chile should be prepared for the possibility of a volcanic eruption. Another natural feature that travelers should be aware of is geysers. Geysers and thermal vents are prevalent throughout the country and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Many of the popular outdoor destinations in Chile have some thermal activity. Thermal features are stunning and can inspire a sense of wonder. However, they’re also incredibly dangerous.
Geysers can spew hot water and steam into the air at a moment’s notice. Additionally, the water often contains harmful and poisonous gases. If you’re visiting an area with thermal activity, you must follow all posted signs and warnings.
Travelers shouldn’t venture off the beaten path and never go near a thermal vent or geysers. Falling into the water can be fatal at worst and give you terrible burns at best. Travelers should check the news for updates on any natural disasters before their trip.
If there’s a natural disaster risk, travelers should consider postponing their travel. When natural disasters occur, travelers should follow the instructions of the local authorities.
Don’t try to sightsee or take pictures during a natural disaster because this can put you and others at risk. If you’re in a natural disaster, find shelter and wait for it to pass. Once the danger has passed, you can resume your trip.
Safety While Exploring the Outdoors
Many people travel to Chile to enjoy the incredible outdoor scenery. Patagonia is one of the most scenic destinations in the world and is worth the visit.
However, if you plan on exploring the outdoors while in Chile, it’s crucial to consider the various hazards associated with hiking and backpacking. One of the most significant dangers while exploring the outdoors is getting lost.
Getting lost can happen even if you’re familiar with the area. Make sure to bring a map and compass with you on your hike.
If possible, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Hiking in Chile can also be dangerous because of the wildlife. There are several species of animals that can pose a threat to hikers.
The bite of a Chilean Recluse can cause necrosis and skin ulcers. Meanwhile, the Black Widow’s bite causes terrible pain, cramps, and muscle spasms that can last weeks. Fortunately, the bites from these spiders are rarely deadly.
Additionally, Chile is home to several species of large mammals, such as pumas and foxes. Although pumas are alpha predators, there’s not much history of them attacking people in Chile.
Foxes aren’t dangerous to people, but they can be a nuisance. They’re known to steal food from campsites and trash cans. If you’re camping in Chile, make sure to keep your food in a secure place. The final and perhaps most serious danger to people hiking in Chile is the weather.
The weather can change very quickly in Chile, especially in the mountains. Hikers should always prepare for extreme weather conditions, such as high winds, rain, and snow.
If you’re hiking in Chile, dress in layers and bring appropriate gear for the conditions. Additionally, hiking with a partner in an emergency is always a good idea. Preparing yourself is the best way to avoid getting hurt while hiking.
Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to any warning signs. If a spider bites you, seek medical attention immediately. Generally, as long as you take the necessary precautions, hiking in Chile is safe and enjoyable.
Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Patagonia in 2022
Health Concerns in Chile
Due to the harsh climate and cold weather, Chile does not have many mosquito-borne illnesses that plague many popular tourist destinations. However, there are still some health concerns for travelers in Chile.
The biggest concern is diarrhea. Diarrhea is caused by several different things, including contaminated food and water. To avoid getting diarrhea while in Chile, make sure to only drink bottled water.
It’s also essential to be careful about what you eat. Avoid eating street food and only eat washed fruits and vegetables. You can be even more cautious by only eating cooked vegetables. Another concern for travelers in Chile is altitude sickness.
This condition can occur when traveling to high altitudes like the Andes Mountains. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can be fatal.
If you plan to visit the Andes Mountains, take the necessary precautions to avoid altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water and take it easy when arriving in the mountains. If you experience any symptoms of altitude sickness, descend to a lower altitude immediately.
The Safest Places in Chile
The safest place to visit in Chile is the capital city of Santiago. This city is home to most of Chile’s population and is the country’s largest city. As a result, Santiago has a large police force and a low crime rate.
Additionally, most of the city’s tourist attractions are in well-lit and safe areas. Santiago is the best place to start your trip. This city has something for everyone and is relatively safe compared to other cities worldwide.
Another safe place to visit in Chile is the Lake District. This region is located in southern Chile and is known for its beautiful lakes, mountains, and forests. The Lake District is a popular tourist destination, so the police presence is high.
Additionally, most hotels and other tourist infrastructure are in safe areas. If you want to experience the beauty of Chile’s nature without worrying about safety, the Lake District is the perfect place.
Things to Consider
These are some essential things to consider when visiting Chile:
- Chile is a thin vertical country. Travel times between locations can be high, and in the case of natural disasters, there may not be alternative routes to your destination.
- Chileans speak Spanish, but it’s different than the Spanish spoken in other parts of the world. There are many different slang words.
- The weather in Chile changes dramatically based on where you’re in the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions that travelers ask about traveling to Chile.
Is Chile safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, Chile is safe for solo female travelers. In general, Chile is a safe country with a low crime rate.
Is Santiago, Chile, safe?
Yes, Santiago, Chile, is safe. This city is home to most of Chile’s population and is the country’s largest city.
Is Chile expensive?
No, Chile isn’t expensive. It’s one of the most affordable countries in South America.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Chile?
No, it’s not safe to drink tap water in Chile. Just like in any country, your stomach is not used to the bacteria in their water supply. Make sure to only drink bottled water.
Is Chile safe for American tourists?
Yes, Chile is safe for American tourists.
Do you need a visa to visit Chile?
No, you don’t need a visa to visit Chile. US and EU citizens can stay in Chile for up to 90 days without a visa. It’s also relatively easy to renew your visa. Contact your embassy for visa information if you aren’t a US or EU citizen.
So, Is Chile Safe to Visit?
Chile is a beautiful country with a lot to offer travelers. However, there are some safety concerns that travelers should be aware of before their trip. By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Chile. Happy traveling!