Chile occupies a long strip of land in the south west of the South American continent. The country is shaped like a long and narrow ribbon and is the longest country in the planet; its coastline along the Pacific Ocean stretches for 4,300 km or 2,700 m. Chile’s total surface is 756,950 sq. km or 292,183 sq. m (excluding claims on Antarctica), with its territory twice as big as Japan or Germany. Chile borders Peru in the north, Bolivia in the north east, Argentina in the east, and the Pacific Ocean in the west and south sides.
The nation is occupied by more than 16.3 million inhabitants, of whom nearly 6 million live in Santiago. Chile also claims Easter Island, Robinson Crusoe Island, and a slice of Antarctica as part of its territory. Hanga Roa, the main city on Easter Island, lies about 2,350 miles (3,780 km) west of Santiago.
The Chilean unit of currency is the peso (CH$). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coin values are one, five, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos, although one-peso coins are fast disappearing, and even fives and 10s are uncommon.
There are direct and stop over flights to Chile from Singapore. Some of the airlines which offer flights to Chile are – Qantas, KLM, LATAM Airlines Group, Emirates, Air France and British Airways.
If you enjoy travelling by air, you will be happy to learn that traveling from northern Chile to the south via plane is actually quite easy. It also saves you time compared to traveling by car or bus. In order to reach isolated regions in Chile’s south, flying is often your only option. The drawback, however, is that flying isn’t cheap. You will also be charged a departure tax for domestic flights of between 6 USD and 8 USD. After Aerolineas del Sur filed for bankruptcy in 2008, Chile was left with two domestic airlines: Lan and Sky. Both offer a large network of routes, with Lan even offering flights to Easter Island. In addition, you can use smaller, regional airlines and air taxis to reach secluded islands like the Juan Fernández archipelago.
Entering Chile is a straightforward process for most tourists. For a stay of 90 days or less, visas are not required of tourists entering Chile from most countries in the Americas and Western Europe, regardless of whether they enter through the Santiago airport or arrive in Chile overland from a neighbouring country.
Singaporeans can visit Chile for up to 30 days without a visa. As immigration requirements can change at short notice, travellers are advised to check with their travel agent or the Embassy of Chile in Singapore for the latest information.
Visitors entering Chile may also bring in no more than 400 cigarettes, 500 grams of pipe tobacco, or 50 cigars, and 2.5 litres of alcoholic beverages per adult.
Do not bring in any fruit or produce into Chile. The Andes form an amazing natural barrier to pests and infections. Customs are very stringent about maintaining this barrier at the airports and will fine you if they find any fruit or fresh produce on your person. Either leave it on board the plane or you will see large apple shaped bins on arrival for disposal of fruit.
Northern Chile: A geological wonderland of geysers, hot springs, salt lakes, astounding desert formations and snow-tipped volcanoes, the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama provides the perfect base for exploring this region. Situated in the dry, arid Atacama Desert, the average daytime temperature here is between 68°F and 77°F (20°C-25°C) – but be prepared for a maximum temperature of 32°C (90°F) that can plummet to -2°C (28°F) at night.
Central Chile: This region surrounding the capital city of Santiago enjoys a temperate, Mediterranean-type climate, with the amount of rain increasing considerably and progressively from north to south. In the Santiago area itself, you’ll find an average monthly temperature of 30°C (86°F) in the January-February summer months, and 15°C (59°C) in the June-July winter, though night-time temps drop to near zero. So, don’t rule out skiing; in fact, several world-class resorts have existed outside of the capital for over 80 years.
Southern Chile Lakes District: The clear blue or even turquoise waters of the lakes of the “Zona Sur” are remarkably beautiful, especially with the snow-covered Andes forming a backdrop. In fact, this region possesses more lakes than any other region of the country. Though enjoying a Mediterranean climate, Southern Chile is cooler and wetter than Santiago and the Central Region to its north.
Chilean Patagonia: Pounding westerly winds, spectacular seascapes and the ragged but inspiring spires of Torres del Paine – this is the distilled essence of Patagonia. A region of famed natural beauty, the “Zona Austral” is best visited from November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere), when the daily high temperatures reach the 50s. But no matter when you visit, remember to dress in layers and pack a sturdy windbreaker to shield yourself from Patagonia’s chilly year-round winds.
Easter Island: A five-hour flight off the Chilean coastline lies the remote Easter Island, one of the few places in Chile where you’ll find the combination sun, sea, sand and palm trees. Though the biggest draw for travellers here are the mysterious moai statues that scatter along the coastline. Easter Island enjoys a humid, subtropical maritime climate and you can head to here any time of year.