Among other Latin American cities, Santiago looks like it might have been the favorite place for Spanish conquerors. The buildings, monuments, churches and architectural sights are very European, ancient but well-maintained, and very sophisticated. The streets remind you of Paris, as it is home to many restaurants and cafes.
We flew in from Cancun, Mexico, taking the 7.45 hour flight on-board LAN Airlines.
If you are planning to go straight to Chile from the UAE, you will need connecting flights as both Emirates and Etihad don’t have direct flights. We recommend going via Sao Paolo, Brazil, just because there, we get visa upon arrival.
Where to Stay
Stay within the city. Do not book a hotel near the airport as it is quite far from the city. We stayed in Lastaria Santiago Suite which is along Padre Luis de Valdivia in the heart of the metropolis, just walking distance from Plaza de Armas and other tourist spots. Do not expect too much from their 4 star hotels. It is more of just a place to sleep, nothing else. Anyway, you don’t really need a fancy hotel if you plan to be out and about most of the time.
Must Do and Must See
Since Chile is known for producing some of the best wines in the world, you have to visit at least one of their vineyards. Go to Casillero del Diablo, Chile’s oldest winery. Along the way you will be astounded with the wild roses and other flowers that are a plenty on the highway. We even pulled-over just to enjoy the fresh fragrant air. Plaza de Armas is a place Filipinos can relate with, it’s like a more sophisticated Baclaran. The Metropolitan Cathedral in the middle of the plaza is one of a kind. Its baroque decoration with ornate frescos on the ceiling, chandeliers and gilded columns will keep you looking up when you visit. The plaza is also known for the flea markets, as well as international restaurants in the area.
FILIPINO Chile: Chino & Kylene Batin in Santiago
The City’s Best Kept Secret
Don’t miss visiting San Cristobal Hill, the counterpart of Christ the redeemer of Rio in Brazil. Instead of Christ standing on top of the hill, here it is the Immaculate Concepcion, a 22 meter statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the entrance, you can go uphill via tram, in your own car or mountain bike or job like the locals through the 800m rise above sea level. When we reached the top overlooking Santiago, we experienced an overwhelming sense of peace. Here’s the perfect place to reflect, pray and give thanks.
Do It Like the Natives
Exercise your Spanish skills by using common greetings like hola, buenas dias, como esta, and always say por favor, if you need something and gracias if you get what you want. These simple words make you feel like you belong when you hear locals respond warmly.
Try eating in their karinderias and you will be surprised to see familiar food just like the ones we have back home in the Philippines like longganisa, mechado, ensalada, bistec (beefsteak) even our famous bulalo, which they call calzuela de vacuno. This is because we are both colonized by the Spaniards.
How to Dress
Pack clothes depending on where you plan to go in Chile and which season. If you go up north, you will need to gear up as it is freezing in the Andes Mountain even during summer. If you are going to Valparaiso, wear beach attire. We went during spring (October) and the weather was still chilly. The sun shines in the morning, then you have cold breeze during evening. In the city, casual wear is fine. You can wear any comfortable dress. Just note that in the evening, a jacket is must.
What to Avoid
Taxis are a bit expensive and are hard to deal with, as the drivers mostly don’t speak English. To give you an idea, the airport taxi will cost 8,000 Chilean pesos (roughly AED88). If you don’t want to rent a car, the more affordable option is an airport bus to the city costing 1,500 Chilean Pesos. Airport to city is approximately 1hr by bus and 30-45minutes by taxi.
Flights per head, round trip – Cancun, Mexico to Santiago, Chile: AED4,089; visa – AED110 per person; hotel – AED240 per night Lastarria Santiago Suite thru booking.com; car – AED190 per day; fuel full tank – AED113; road toll fee – AED60 roundtrip; food and other basics – consider AED250 per day depending on your lifestyle.
Good to Know
Though they have four seasons, note that in this part of the world, summer is from December to February and winter is in June to August – yes it’s the other way around!
If you have a UAE driver’s license, don’t forget to bring if you are planning to rent a car. It is acceptable anywhere in South America. One more thing, make sure you have google map app. In your mobile and ensure you apply for a data roaming package.
Apply for a visa to Chile, at least one month before your travel date.
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