For the last week we have been travelling through Chile with our friends Janine and Moroni. These are our first thoughts on arriving in Santiago and travel in Chile.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 144 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:


We arrived in Santiago from Auckland, with Janine, after an eleven-and-a-half hour flight on the longest Wednesday in the world. There were some customs declarations to fill out, which was heavy on biosecurity — which means it was illegal to bring in a lot of natural products such as honey, seeds and meat. This was patrolled by dogs and scanners — similar to entering New Zealand.

chile santiago cathedral
The Cathedral in Plaza de Armas, Santiago
From the airport you can catch a TurBus or CentroPuerto bus into the centre of Santiago for around 1,700 Chilean pesos; buy your tickets onboard.


For transport within Santiago, you can buy single-use tickets for the metro (subway) but there’s no cash payment options for buses in the city. You need to buy a tarjeta BIP, which is a smart card you prepay. Journeys made within two hours count as one 400 peso credit. We recommend you load around 6,000 pesos on the card for a 4-5 day stay, around three credits per day.

Despite guidebooks giving Santiago a “two-day” recommendation, we enjoyed our time there and would happily stay for a few weeks while travelling … or six months if Linda has her way! There was plenty to do and there’s plenty more we want to try in our next two-day stop when we return in a few days.

Intercity buses

Intercity buses, which we’ve used to travel from Santiago to Chiloe (where we’re recording), are clean, safe and comfortable. There is a little food available for the longest journeys and a few people come onboard to sell snacks and, only once, coffee. Take your own snacks and drinks.

The normal seats recline quite far, but the “full cama” option is a lie-flat seat, which is much more expensive. It’s been highly recommended but so far we haven’t been able to justify the price.

Food and drink

chile valdivia craig at kunstmann brewery square
Craig tasting at the Kunstmann Brewery, Valdivia
We’ve been making use of the menu del dia to have a big lunch for 2,500 – 4,000 pesos, then eating fresh bread with avocado and pebre — a mix of tomato, onion, coriander and chili pepper — for most of our breakfasts and late evening meals.

Street food mainly revolves around snacks like popcorn and nuts, rather than buying meals like kebabs or hotdogs. One thing to look out for is mote con huesillos, which is a local meal in a glass: half a cup of wheat, a dried peach and topped up with peach juice.

chile santiago mote con huesillos
Linda delighting in mote con huesillos
Bar drink prices are similar to in New Zealand — around 3,900 pesos for a couple of beers on “happy hour”. During happy hour (which often lasts all day) you get two drinks for a reduced price, but they bring them out one by one, so you can’t save money by sharing drinks. Kunstmann is the best beer we’ve found so far (and had a great few hours in their brewery near Valdivia), while the pisco sours (and mango sours) are delicious and really live up to their reputation.


We’ve been Couchsurfing for a lot of our time here so far. People have been so welcoming and — although we’re a large group — we’ve managed to string together several nights so far. Having learnt some Spanish, We’re currently applying for Couchsurfing opportunities north of Santiago and into Peru so let us know if you’re around there … or you have space for five (we’re leaving Moroni in Santiago and adding two more friends — Angela and Mark — in Lima) in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay or Argentina.


We (Craig and Linda) have spent around NZ$700 over our first week. This has been cheaper than most would pay, as we haven’t been paying much for accommodation and we have been eating quite a few meals with the families that have hosted us. It’s more than we have though, so we’re hoping Peru through to Paraguay will be cheaper or we’ll be out of money before we hit Europe in July.

Earthquake Update

Between recording this show and publishing it, Chile experienced one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. We were far away from the epicentre, in Puerto Varas where we’re now marooned for a few days. Water and gas have been running since the 3-5 minutes of tremors we felt last night. Electricity and internet came back on a few hours ago. Mobile phone networks are still sketchy. As far as we’ve been able to find out, Moroni’s family in Santiago and Temuco are all safe and well, although there’s been damage to their house. We’re trying to check with our past Couchsurfing hosts too. Those we’ve heard from are all well.

Thanks for the massive outpouring of questions on Twitter and Facebook about our safety. There were dozens of messages and people asking after us. We’re blown away, and our sincere thanks.

chile chiloe group colo colo photo
Colo-Colo supporter Moroni with Linda and Janine -- touring central Chile


This episode of the Indie Travel Podcast is sponsored by provides great value global travel insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online, even if already travelling. All World Nomads get free travel blogs, safety advice and language guides for your iPod. You can also support a Footprints community development project when you purchase online. – keep travelling safely.

Your thoughts on "First thoughts on travel in Chile podcast"

  • Hey Craig and Linda, I knew you guys were there in Chile....was a little worried. Glad to hear you were far from the epicenter. Cheers, Greg

    on March 1, 2010 at 6:17 am Reply
    • Cheers, Greg - we're safe and sound.

      on March 1, 2010 at 8:36 am Reply
  • So happy to hear your safe as well as all of your hosts! Keep updates coming!

    on March 1, 2010 at 8:56 am Reply
  • Good to hear you are safe - thinking of you.

    on March 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm Reply
  • Very cool podcast. Just a bit of being in the right place at the wrong time with the earthquake, it seems. I really liked hearing your description of couchsurfing. Glad to hear you're ok and my thoughts go out to others affected by this natural disaster. -Keith

    on March 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm Reply
  • Hey Guys, Glad you are OK! When I heard about the earthquake you were the first to come to mind. I hope the rest of your journey is safe and amazing. Best. -paul

    on March 1, 2010 at 9:00 am Reply
  • Hi guys, I'm a newcomer to your podcasts but have grown fond of your voices of the past couple of weeks :) - glad to see you are both okay!

    on March 2, 2010 at 3:12 am Reply
    • Thanks everyone, we really appreciate your thoughts and best wishes. Tonight we're heading north to Temuco, then hoping to get up to Santiago a few days after that.

      on March 2, 2010 at 9:30 am Reply
  • Glad you guys are OK. It's interesting to see the prices of the menue del dia. We are in Chile too and I miss paying $1.25 in Peru for a full meal versus $5-$8.

    on March 3, 2010 at 5:57 am Reply
  • Glad to hear your group is safe and sound! And it's amazing that you can couchsurf with such a large group, I was wondering about just the two of us doing it!

    on March 4, 2010 at 6:55 am Reply
  • Aracely, you give hope to my budget! We're going to be out of money in 8-10 weeks at this rate :( Aly, it's been amazing -- I'm really surprised and happy that it's working out. The people we've met couchsurfing have been the highlight of the trip.

    on March 4, 2010 at 7:15 am Reply

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