Chile Driving Guide
Chile is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.
Chile, a country of extremes. A home to the driest place on earth, glaciers the size of small states, towering mountain ranges, and cosmopolitan cities. Double-decker buses sharing the never-ending asphalt roads with men horseback and fire erupt from the ice as ancient volcanoes refuse to go quietly into the night.
The very geography of Chile can make traveling a challenge in itself but, take the time, ride buses, planes, boats, or even rent a car, and you will discover places and panoramas that will take your breath away.
How Can This Guide Help You?
Driving in a foreign country can be both exciting and terrifying, especially if it is your first time. This guide will cover everything you need to know for you to have a smooth and hassle-free journey in Chile. From the general information about the country, rental cars, and the things you can do here in Chile! Rest assured that after reading this article, you will be ready to hit off the roads in Chile.
This will also give you the guide on the different road rules you need to know for driving in Chile, and of course, the documents you need before you can drive in the country.
Chile is the country that ranks Latin American nations competitively for income per capita, globalization, peaceful state, freedom of economy, and low perceived corruption.
Chile is located between the east of the Andes and the west of the Pacific Ocean. The country borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the south. It also claims around 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 square meters) of Antarctica under the Chilean Antarctic Territory.
The country's primary language is Spanish and is quite unlike the neighboring South American countries due to how final syllables are dropped, and particular consonants have a softer pronunciation. They have different accents that vary slightly from north to south and are more noticeable in social class or whether the person lives in the city or the country. Some larger cities or in a small country in southern Chile still speak German as a second language.
In 2003, the Chilean Ministry of Education (MNEDUC) initiated the "English Open Doors” program and mandated by Chile's government for students in fifth-grade and above public schools. As of today, common English words have been absorbed and allowed into everyday Spanish speech. Other minor languages spoken in Chile are Mapudungun, Quechua, Aymara, Rapa Nui, some now extinct or close to extinction.
Chile covers 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 square meters) of the area. They also have Antarctica's territory under the Chilean Antarctic Territory, about 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 square meters).
Spain ruled Chile from the mid-16th century until some time in 1818, which is also the year Chile declared its independence from Spain. The country emerged in the 1830s as a relatively stable authoritarian republic. Chile saw significant economic and territorial growth in the 1880s and gained its current Northern Territory in the 'War of the Pacific' in 1879 - 1883, after defeating Peru and Bolivia.
Today, the country is a World Bank high-income economy with high living standards. It is part of South America's most economically and socially stable and prosperous nations, leading Latin American colonies in rankings of competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, state of peace, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.
Jaime Guzman drafted Chile's current Constitution in 1980 and was approved by the national plebiscite in September 1980, under Augusto Pinochet during the military dictatorship, and entered into force in March 1981. The constitution also allowed a two-chambered legislature, consisting of an upper chamber, or Senado, and a lower section of representatives, or Cámara de Diputados, to be elected by direct popular vote.
Local government is conducted through 15 administrative regions, including the metropolitan area of Santiago. Other areas of the country are divided into provinces, divided into communes, that the intendants (intendentes) lead together with its administrations. The intendants govern with a regional council's aid, including the provinces' governors and representatives of multiple other private and public institutions within the area.
Tourism in Chile is part of a primary source of income in the country since the mid-1990s. It grew by 13.6% generating more than 500 million US dollars, equivalent to 1.33% of the national GDP. It was the eighth most popular destination for foreign nationals visiting America in 2010, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), after the United States, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
The country generated revenue of 1,636 million US dollars in 2010 when the country had 2,766 million tourists. The majority of these visitors are mainly from Argentina; however, there has been a massive growth of visitors from Europe, especially Germany, in recent years.
International Driver’s Permit FAQs
An International Driver's Permit is a travel document organized by the United Nations and is a requirement if you plan self-driving while touring other countries. It can also help you if local authorities may need identification from you.
It does not replace your original driver's license; it is only a translation of your native license for that specific country you want to visit. Also, having a valid international driver’s permit does not allow you to drive in the country you visited if you do not have your original driver's license and passport with you.
Is a Local Driver's License Valid in Chile?
Visitors in Chile with a U.S. license are valid just as long as they have their tourist permit with them. However, if your local license is not from the United States, authorities will require you to have an international driver’s permit to rent and drive a car in Chile with your foreign license.
Is an International Driver’s Permit Required in Chile?
Having an international driver’s permit is essential if you want to drive in Chile, whether it's a European driving license or a US license. It is for you to have the option of car insurance to have a safe drive in Chile. Also, having an international driver’s permit will translate your native license so that Chile's authorities would better understand your driver's license if they would require you for such documents.
Visitors that have plans on driving in Chile will need an International Driver's Permit. The person whose name is on both the driver's license and the international driver’s permit is the only one allowed to drive in the country. If you are caught using another person's international driver’s permit or driver's license, you may get fined at least 100 US dollars and be required to go to court to pay for it.
Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License?
An International Driver's Permit does not replace your native license. It is an additional requirement by the United Nations if you wish to drive in Chile with your native license. However, tourists with a U.S. license may drive in Chile without an international driver’s permit as long as they have their tourist permits. Still, there is no guarantee that car insurance will be available if the license holder does not have a driving license for Chile or an International Driver's Permit.
If your native license expired, you would not be able to use your international driver’s permit. If your license expired before your international driver’s permit, you need to make sure to renew your license before going on your trip so that by the time you get to Chile, you can take advantage of your international driver’s permit.
How Do I Get an International Driving Permit in Chile?
Everyone that wants to self-drive in Chile may apply for an international driver’s permit just as long as you have a valid driver's license and a passport-style photo. You can easily apply for an International Driver's Permit online. Some companies like the International Drivers Association offer an international driver’s permit bundle plan (digital and print copy) with a three-year validity at a low price.
All you need to do is to fill up the necessary details for your application and, of course, your mode of payment, either credit card or PayPal. And after purchase, you can quickly get your digital copy within 6 hours by email.
Applying for an International Driver's Permit as early as three years before your vacation, just make sure that you will still have a chance to use it throughout your trip. Having a three-year allowance on your international driver’s permit can give you plenty of time to plan on your journey, whether to explore Santiago or go on a road trip to Chiloe Island.
How Long is an International Driver’s Permit Valid in Chile
Your International Driver's Permit validity will depend on what you paid for. If you paid for a one-year validity, then it will be for one year. Just make sure to use it before it expires so that you wouldn’t have wasted your money. .
You can use your international driver’s permit the moment you start to drive in Chile, but before driving, make sure that you have your native license and passport with you every time you drive. Having an international driver’s permit will not replace your domestic license, and if the police catch you without your driver's license, you may get fined or spend the night in jail .
Renting A Car in Chile
Many visitors in Chile choose an organized tour option, visiting some of the country's best attractions, but others want to explore the country on their own at their own pace, and there's no better way to do that than renting a car. Hitting the open road and having an adventure into the great unknown is exhilarating, and for us being your online tour guide, we have outlined the things that you need to know for you to rent a car in Chile.
Car Rental Companies
Many visitors in Chile choose an organized driving tour option, visiting some of the country's best attractions, but others want to explore the country on their own at their own pace, and there's no better way to do that than renting a car. Hitting the open road and having an adventure into the great unknown is exhilarating, and for us being your online tour guide, we have outlined the things that you need to know for you to rent a car in Chile.
Before you start driving in Chile, you would first need to know what company would be best to rent your car. Many car rental options are ranging from locally run companies to internationally known brands, and for you to know some of these, we have listed some of the top car rental companies in Chile.
It offers a wide variety of vehicles from a 4-door to SUVs - it is a car rental company that is well-known in Latin America with over 41 years of experience and 530 locations. Localiza is very accessible because they have ten different pick-up locations in the country and have available rates daily to monthly.
Automóvil Club de Chile
The company has 33 branches in most of Chile's major cities and offers many great benefits if you are a member of an auto club in Chile, the USA, and the UK. They offer car rentals, free towing, and roadside assistance for their customers.
The company offers a unique vehicle rental in Chile. They specialize in cheap, unusual, brightly-painted camper vans, each fully equipped from a roof rack to cutlery. You have a variety of vans to choose from that can accommodate anywhere from 2 to 6 people.
Wicked Campers can save you a lot of money because they can beat the price of any other campervan rental in Chile. Even if it's cheaper than their offered price, and you don't have to pay for additional accommodation since you can sleep in the van.
LYS Rent A Car
The company is the first in Chile to start offering online rentals. It is a local company that has decades of experience renting cars to foreigners that visit Chile. They also provide a 24/7 English help desk, no matter where and when you run into trouble, you can contact the company by phone, email, or WhatsApp.
To rent a car in Chile, you would need to have your driver's license, a credit card under the driver's name, and your international driver’s permit for Chile. In Chile, the US embassy remarks that you may not get insurance if you don't have a Chilean or International Driver's Permit. Also, you need to be at least 20 years old to rent a car, but some car rental agencies may require you to be 21 or 25; better check the age requirement first of the company of your choice.
You can choose from different varieties of vehicles in Chile. Selecting a car will depend on how you want to travel; maybe you want to rough it in a camper, explore with a 4x4, or travel comfortably with a 4-door vehicle. And most car rentals have all the different vehicles that you may want to consider, like:
- City Car
- Mid-range car
Car Rental Cost
If you plan on renting a car, expect to pay at least 24,000 Chilean pesos (USD28) per day, depending on what type of car you're renting. Also, extra insurances in the event of grave injury, fuel, and a 19% IVA (value-added tax) will be added considerably to the cost of renting.
To start driving a rental car in Chile, you would need to be at least 20 years of age (this will depend on the rental car company). Although the driving age in Chile is 18 years old, so if you are of that age and have 1 year of possessing a driver’s license, you can drive a car if the car rental company allows you to do so, just as long as you're traveling with someone who can rent a car.
Car Insurance Cost
All vehicles must carry Seguro Obligatorio (minimum insurance) to have a safe drive in Chile, but additional insurances are advisable. Rental agencies offer essential insurance, and major credit card holders sometimes include car-rental insurance coverage. And if you want to visit Argentina, special insurance is required, that would cost about 20,000 Chilean Pesos for one week.
Car Insurance Policy
Car rental companies include the mandatory insurance in the rental fee. The mandatory insurance types are Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection. Remember that the car insurance you purchased from the car rental company will be void if you let another driver maneuver the car without informing the car rental supplier beforehand.
Road Rules in Chile
Self-driving in Chile is perfect for your holiday because it has a good network of motorways and highways - good quality, tarmac surface, private, and frequent toll points. But before driving, it is worth checking with the car agency conditions carefully as some car companies do not cover the costs of damage or overturning a vehicle. Also, knowing some of the important driving rules in Chile will surely help you on your journey around the country.
Knowing some of the important rules when driving in Chile or any other country can make your trip and your self-drive journey a lot safer and could save your life. Before driving your rental car in Chile, they would require you to know some important driving rules in the country, and for you to know of these driving laws in Chile, we have listed some of the most necessary rules that should always be practiced while driving.
Driving Under the Influence
The alcohol driving limit in Chile is very low, about 30 mg (0.05%). If you are caught exceeding, a hefty fine and driving license cancellation will be the minimum punishment, but most violators often result in imprisonment for having high alcohol intake. So make sure to avoid drunk driving in this country as much as possible.
For foreign drivers, all documents (i.e., IDP, driver's license, passport, and car rental documents, if applicable) should be with you at every drive. In Chile, there are many checkpoints around the country and would require all documents stated. If you fail to do so, your native driving license would simply be invalid, and a hefty fine will be given. Preparing the needed documents during your journey in the country could save you from unnecessary inconveniences.
Wear Your Seatbelt All The Time
The seatbelt law is part of Chile's standard driving rules, where seat belts must be worn at all times when driving in Chile. This may be pretty common in all countries, but in Chile, although there is a complete lack of traffic police, when rules are violated, police officers will not hesitate to stop you and give you a ticket for not following their rules. Traffic on the country's roads is quite fast, that's why they always recommend following local traffic regulations no matter what and paying close attention to road signs.
No Illegal Parking
Parking spaces are provided for every tourist driver in the country. As for a major metropolitan city, parking spaces are designated.
General Standards of Driving
General standards of driving are as important as the essential driving laws in Chile, even if most of them are already common in your home country and many countries worldwide. Examples of these are using mobile phones, smoking inside the car, listening through your headset while driving, and seat belts.
The difference is that even with these standard driving rules in Chile, police officers in the country are active and aware of drivers who violate these laws and can lead to severe consequences, including driving license suspension.
In Chile, you can drive to three different types of places with different kinds of speed limits. In a city drive, the maximum driving speed is usually 50-60 km/hr (31-38 mph); on highways, it's usually 120 km/hr (75 mph); and on rural roads is 100 km/hr (62 mph).
All of these speed limits can be exempted if there are posted speed limits by the road. And if caught overspeeding while visiting Chile, you will be heavily fined, but if you're a local, there is a possibility that you will also be imprisoned, depending on how fast you're traveling.
Traffic Road Signs
Chile uses the “Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.” It is a multilateral treaty made to increase road safety and support on international road traffic, meaning its signs are compliant with international standards. The country uses a yellow diamond for warning signs, common with most US citizens, and a red circle with white background and black writings for speed limits and prohibitory signs.
Right of Way
Vehicles on the right side of the road have the right of way unless there's a driving post that says otherwise. Moreover, pedestrians will always have the right of way unless stopped by a traffic light, and emergency vehicles that have the right of way. Regularly practice this every time you drive around Chile to avoid major road accidents.
In more populated areas of downtown, the biggest problem is how some drivers are aggressive. A reason why some tourists are apprehensive about going for a private rental car company. Should accidents happen, always remember the following emergency services number in Chile:
- In case of accidents dial 131
- To call the police 133 (or you can dial 911)
Legal Driving Age
Locals in Chile should be at least 18 years old and have a valid Chilean driving license for them to get behind the wheels, but if you're a visitor that wants to drive around the country, you should be at least 20 years old to rent a car. But what if you have an 18-year-old companion? It will depend on the car rental company if they will allow it and also on their license.
They need to have at least held their license for at least a year to drive in Chile. If one or most of these doesn't meet the requirements, they can not drive inside the country. Also, fun fact, if you're driving to Chile from the US, you may do so. There are passable roads to pass if you want to have a driving tour to Chile and if you have the time to drive from the US to Chile.
Do note that you will need to plan your trip. Some roads, particularly in the south, are shut down due to snow in the winter and wet season.
Laws on Overtaking
If you're from a country that operates on the car's right side, then your driving experience in Chile will be no different. Because, like in your home country, they overtake on the left side of the road but remember that vehicles on the right still have the right of way unless driving posts say otherwise.
Overtaking may be a risky thing to do but if you need to do it there are certain things you need to know. Before overtaking, it is essential to know that there is a wide free space in front of the car you are overtaking. Make sure that the car behind you is not planning to overtake at the same time as yours, you also have to assure that there are no incoming cars ahead of you to avoid getting involved in an accident.
Driving in Chile is on the car's right-hand side, but right-hand turns are generally restricted at red lights unless otherwise posted. They also operate on the right side of the road and overtake on the left. You must keep this at the top of your mind, especially if you are from a country that drives on the left-hand side. Confusion could lead to possible accidents.
Driving Etiquette in Chile
Like many other countries, Chile has roads that are in bad condition, some are due to natural calamities, and others were just worn out from cars passing every day. So when driving across the country, be sure to take extra care when driving on some of the roads (i.e., mountain and smaller roads).
Also, the driving range in Chile can be long, so make sure that you refuel at roadside gas stations when you can because there might be a few of them when going to each destination and have long distances between them.
If your rental car breaks down, the first thing you need to do is stop at the side of the road if possible so that you wouldn't cause any traffic. The next step is to turn on your vehicle's hazard lights and use warning triangles if the company is providing you with an auxiliary kit and call the rental company and tell them about the incident.
If putting the car on the side of the roads is not possible, make sure to inform the other drivers as much as possible to avoid any arguments. Ask for their help if possible. But if it's only a minor problem, let's say a flat tire, if you know how to fix it and have the right tools, it would be quicker to fix it yourself than wait for roadside assistance.
If ever you got the police’s attention, do not worry, Carabineros are very polite, especially to foreign drivers. You need to do only two things if you ever get stopped by the police, listen, and cooperate. Be respectful in conversing with them and don’t act rude. If ever you got stopped because you violated a law, be honest about it and be willing to pay for the fines. Don't ever try to argue and convince officers to waive the fine; doing so will only lead to a more severe problem.
After everything is settled, thank the officers for their service and move towards your direction. Be willing to take the officer’s advice or instructions, especially if it applies to your direction or situation.
Chilean in common are very friendly and welcoming, so if you ever need to ask for directions, they would be happy to help. Unfortunately, instead of admitting that they don't know the directions or place, Chileans will still proceed to give you one anyway, so just be cautious when asking them. If you want to have an accurate explanation, it is best to ask the Carabineros. Here are some words you can use when trying to speak to them:
- Wéon - ok / good / hi
- Bacán/la raja/filete - awesome
- Cachai? - Do you get me?
- Cómo estás? - How are you?
- Hola - Hello
- Buenos días - Good morning
- buenas tardes - Good afternoon
- Buenas noches -Goodnight
- Gracias - Thank you
- De nada. - You are welcome
- Adiós - Goodbye
- No entiendo. - I don’t understand
- Hablo un poco de español - I speak a little Spanish
- Por favor, hable más lente - Please, speak a little slower
- Puede repetir. - Can you say that again?
- Hablas inglés? - Do you speak English?
- Disculpe - Excuse me
- Lo siento - I’m sorry
- Necesita(s) mi pasaporte? - Do you need my passport?
- Izquierda - Left
- Derecha - Right
- Salida - Exit
- Por favor, lléveme a esta direcccion - Please take me here
- Ayuda, por favor - Help, please
- Estoy perdido - I am lost
Checkpoints in Chile are everywhere. Police will randomly stop you not because you're overspeeding or didn't follow their driving rules; they just want to check your documents and that you are legal to drive in their country. When approaching a checkpoint, slow down your speed and roll down your windows a little bit enough for you and the officers to hear each other.
Be respectful with them if ever a checkpoint happens. All you need to do is co-operate and give any requested documents, even if it may happen multiple times. After settling all the needed things, thank the officers for their service and move towards your destination.
Aside from those mentioned above, there are other tips that can be useful during your driving in Chile. You might encounter some situations especially if you’ll be traveling during the holidays or is traveling from another country. Here are some of the things that might help you for your journey in Chile:
What if I drive from Chile to Argentina?
Driving from Chile to Argentina is possible, but there are a few things to keep in mind. There is an international border between the two, so be sure to have your passport and driver's license with you. Also, special insurance is required when crossing the border.
When renting a car, the company will provide you a special permit to drive to Argentina at an additional price, including all the necessary paperwork to cross the border. When requesting a permit, it should be filed several days in advance before the day of the rental, and the rented car must be returned to Chile. The permit is valid for one exit to Argentina and one entrance to Chile, and the typical border crossing includes the route from Santiago to Mendoza and Valdivia to Bariloche.
Where to drive during the holidays in Chile?
During your visit, driving around the country during your holiday may be part of your bucket list. Chile's driving experience is incredible. It may be zig-zagging between volcanoes and crystal blue lakes or enjoying the scenery and freedom of the open road, stopping when and where you want along the way. Either way, if you want to enjoy your time, you may want to consider driving a rental car around Chile.
Is it common to drive from Canada to Chile?
While it seems relatively simple to make this road trip, driving from Canada to Chile isn't as expected and as easy as it may seem. First of all, there is a Darien Gap on the way to Chile. It is a section of untouched wilderness in Panama that prevents drivers from going entirely through to South America. And second, many of the main highways that go through Mexico and Central America and lead to South America are also major drug routes for cartels.
Generally, tourists have been safe on these roads, but it's still something to keep in mind, and it might prevent you from a lot of hours at night.
Is it possible to drive from Alaska to Chile?
Like starting in Canada, you would need to go through the Darien Gap if you want to drive to Chile from Alaska. You would need to leave your car from the Darien Gap, take a flight, and continue your journey on the other side. You may, of course, bring your vehicle with you, but that would be expensive. It would be cheaper to rent a car when you get to the other side.
Also, when you're crossing through countries, you need to consider the means of going through immigration and customs at each border, especially if you're bringing your own car.
Can I use my European driving license in Chile?
Yes, just as long as you have your passport, visa, and international driver’s permit with you every time you drive because there are many Carabineros around the country that would potentially pull you over for a checkpoint and ask for the necessary documents. This will happen a lot during your drive, especially if you're a visitor to their country.
Driving Conditions in Chile
When driving in Chile, some major expressways (out of Santiago and some parts of the Pan Americana highways) have toll highways. Many stations are electronic, but some new highways dispose of an electronic system, so it is advisable to assure your car has a TAG, an electronic device used for paying tolls and have Chilean Pesos at hand to pay frequent highway tolls.
Chile registered 1,955 road deaths in 2018, a 1.6% increase on a record-low fatalities total in 2017. Pedestrians continue to account for more than 36% of Chilean road accidents. But, the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications announced road safety strategies, which will set a goal of 30% fewer annual road fatalities by the year 2030 that will be compared to the average number of casualties between 2011-2019.
After four consecutive months, registering a loss above 45%, 31.84 units have been sold since September, reporting a loss of 5.7% from sales of 164.99 (42.7%). Nevertheless, Chevrolet performed slightly better than the market, while its competitor Suzuki grew by 27.3%. Meanwhile, Morris Garages (MG) reported the best in the top 10 performance, with a tremendous 45.6% increase in sales.
Chile also has many Toll Roads, the reason why you can expect that the conditions of the major roads there are paved in good conditions. Depending on your route, you should prepare to have cash ready for payment on tolls. Outside Santiago, cash on hand can be used for payment in its toll roads, but in Santiago, all tolls must be paid using TAG. This is an electronic device used for paying the tolls.
Roads in Chile can be difficult; may it be driving from the north of Chile to the south or zigzag across the border with Argentina, the choices are endless and will depend upon your travel plans. Typically, you'll drive on good roads in Chile, but some streets in the southern part of the country are in the process of being paved, which you'll be able to see every 5 km with distance markers on the Pan-Americana and the Carretera Austral.
You may also be surprised at the number of gravel and dirt roads that pop up unexpectedly in Chile. They are not shown on maps, and typically road construction can slow you down significantly and cause your drive to be muddy and bumpy.
Chilean drivers are sometimes characterized as emotional and short-tempered. You would see that some don't signal lane changes, exceed speed limits, and don't maintain safe distances, but most of the local drivers give each other specific signals with their hands to help each other when maneuvering in the flow of cars.
To not get confused, it is also important to know the type of measurement unit used in measuring the speed in Chile.
Are they using Kph or Mph?
There are two types of measurement units in the metric system: the Mph (miles per hour) and Kph (kilometers per hour) used by different countries worldwide. And Chile is part of the 179 out of 196 countries that use Kph as their speed measurements. In contrast, the other 17 (9%) countries use Mph.
Is it safe to drive at night in Chile?
Driving at night in Chile will depend on where you're going and how far your destination will be. If you're driving in Santiago, it would be a safer choice to make than taking public transportation, but if you plan to take your road trip at night, it is highly advised to avoid a night drive. Since some rural areas tend to have heavy fog, that can lead to vehicle accidents.
What destinations can you drive to from North to South in Chile?
If you want to have the road trip of a lifetime, driving from north to south of Chile might just be the one for you. If you'd plan every rest stop and destination on your way to the southern part of Chile, it may take you at least a month, depending on how long you'll be staying in each destination.
But if you're unsure where to go during your road trip, here are some places that you might like: Patagonia, Atacama Desert, Calama, EcoCamp, Lake District, Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Punta Arenas, Santiago, and Torres del Paine.
How long will it take to drive to Bolivia from Chile?
If you want to drive from Chile to Bolivia, it will take you approximately 31 hours in 2481 km. It will depend on your pit stops and if you have planned any tourist spots along the way. Some travelers that planned their road trip would take a week before they get to Bolivia.
Things To Do in Chile
From Santiago's rich cultural scenes and driving to Valparaiso, Chile's fascinating art to the wilderness in Patagonia, and imposing natural masterpieces like Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, there are a variety of things to do in Chile. If you prefer to stay longer than your original plan, some things should be considered, like having a Chilean driving license, renting a place to stay, and having a job in Chile if you prefer to stay for good.
Drive as a Tourist
Driving as a tourist in Chile could be a fantastic experience that you can do here. Just make sure that you have all the needed requirements like your international driver’s permit, local driving license, and passport. With all these, you can enjoy the freedom of having to go anywhere you want anytime you want to.
Work as a Driver
To work as a driver in Chile, you must obtain a Chilean driver’s license and a work visa first. The most common places to find a driving job are Santiago, Puente Alto, Antofagasta, Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, Talcahuano, San Bernardo, and Temuco. And the most common job that you could get is a truck driver in Chile with an average salary of 730,000 CLP(Chilean Pesos) per month, which is about 962.68 US dollars.
As a truck driver, your pay is sometimes based on how long your driving range is around Chile and how dangerous it is. If you're driving from Valparaiso, Chile, to Argentina, you will be part of the employees earning more than the average salary value.
Work as a Travel Guide
If you enjoyed your tour in Chile and would like to do it as your occupation, then working as a travel guide in the country would be best for you! But, understand that before you can work there, a working visa must be obtained first. After applying for a job, directly apply for a working visa. This visa will only be applicable to your current job. If you are planning to change your job, you must apply for a change in working visa.
There are many types of working visa you can apply for here in Chile:
- Retirement and periodic income visa: This visa is for anyone who wants to live and work in the country. It is also the most commonly used visa in Chile.
- Professional visa: This visa is for anyone that has a professional degree and has enough income to support themselves in Chile
- Contract work visa: To obtain this visa, you must have a contract with a Chilean employer. You need two years of temporary residency under this visa before you can apply for a permanent residence.
- Independent worker visa: Anyone who has this visa can work for various employers and allows them to obtain their permanent residency faster than a contract work visa
Apply for Residency
If you fell in love with this country and want to stay permanently, you could apply for a permanent residency. But there are things to consider before you can apply for it. You must have either a “subject to contract” work visa held for two years, a temporary resident visa held for one year, or a student visa held for two years, given that you’ve completed your professional or secondary studies.
Staying in the country and not leaving it for six months is also a requirement. If you have all these prerequisites, then apply for a permanent residency within 90 days before the expiration of your temporary visa.
Other Things to Do
There are also options if you have no plans to stay permanently or work in Chile. If you want to stay there and enjoy the country longer than the allowed duration for your international driver's license and local license, here’s what you can do:
What are the driving-related requirements for long-term stay?
So you decided to stay longer in the country, well, having a Chilean driving license is one requirement once your visa expires to drive legally in Chile. For you to apply for a driver's license in Chile, you would need to pick up the application and file it at the motor vehicle department of the municipal building in your home district, and to be qualified for the license you need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a Chilean Identification Card
- Have a school record that shows you've completed at least the 8th grade or higher. If you're from the US, your documents must be verified by a Chilean Consul in the United States. US consular officials are not allowed to verify US-issued documents that will be used in another country.
- Pass the written and practical driving test as well as a medical exam. The written test is given in English or Spanish, depending on your liking, but the practical exam will be Spanish.
The Top Destinations in Chile
This Patagonian country has a rich tapestry of mountains and plains, jungle and ocean. The country's unusual long shape has given it various climates with one of the world's driest deserts in the north, and cold weather in its southern tip, home of creatures like penguins. Chile is one of the closest nations to Antarctica, along with Argentina and New Zealand
The south has a strong history of explorers visiting, as everyone sailed around the world passes the country's tip before the Panama Canal was built. It also has a well-known wine region that attracts many connoisseurs of wines all year long.
The Easter Island
Although technically the island belongs to Chile's nation, Easter Island is located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. It is initially called Te Pito O Te Henua, meaning the Navel of the World. It is an island that is one of the most remote spots globally.
However, Easter Island still draws plenty of interest and countless visitors each year despite its location, and the iconic statues called Moai are what the island is best known for. Sadly, to get to Easter Island, flying is the only option. You will start at the Chilean capital, Santiago, and from there, you will take a local flight to take you to the island. Take note that there is only one flight to Easter Island daily, so make sure to plan your trip wisely.
- From Airport Mataveri, head north on Estacionamiento Aeropuerto toward Acceso Aeropuerto.
- Turn right onto Hotu Matu'a after 55 m.
- Hotu Matu'a turns slightly left and becomes Camino Vaitea Anakena after 1.2 km.
- In 9.5 km, you’ll reach your destination.
Things To Do
There are lots of things you can do on the famous Easter Island and spending a day here could let you do all these things:
1. Tour the Famous Island
Easter Island became one of the 10 most famous islands of 2013. It is a perfect place to meet with history, nature, mystery, relaxation, and the wonderful people that help preserve their traditions, music, language, dance, and food and are ready to receive visitors with open arms. Beyond Moai's statues, there are also myths revolving around the family caves guarded by gods called Aku-Aku, where local stone handicrafts, more
2. See The Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert
The museum is one of Hanga Roa's (the main town on the island) top attractions, where it introduces Easter Island's history, explaining more about the culture. It displays artifacts like replicas of the Rongo-Rongo tablets. These tablets are covered in a mystery where the hieroglyphics inscribed can't be deciphered but are credited to the Hotu Matua people.
3. Explore Rano Kau and Orongo
Two of the important sites on Easter Island are Rano Kau and Orongo. Rano Kau is a protected volcanic crater where it was once a sacred ceremonial space, with a center of a large freshwater lake. Climbing to the perimeter of the crater will allow you to view the ocean and have access to the village of Orongo. The town was once a home for a local cult that worshipped a bird god - evidence of petroglyphs was carved into the landscape, depicting bird-men hybrids and bird gods.
4. Enjoy The Beach With Diving and Tours
Visitors on the island can enjoy two white sand beaches with off-coast diving and several native-run tours that offer views that are unique and well worth it. When visiting these statues, a respectful distance should be kept to avoid a huge fine - hiking the rocky plains near the statues is also not allowed.
Majestic Torres del Paine
Also known as "Towers of Blue," Torres del Paine is part of the 10 most beautiful Natural Parks in Chile and is probably the most popular in the country. The three huge pillars in the park give it its name and are also home to several horns or mountains and glaciated lakes. To fully explore this park, minivan tours, multi-day treks, or catamaran trips are all available in the area.
Torres Del Paine is a breathtaking landscape with its majestic snow-topped mountains, crystal clear lake waters, and the rolling hills and valleys around them that are needed to be seen to be believed. It represented beauty, and this natural wonder is mesmerizing and bewitching, such is its brilliance.
There are two road routes to get to Torres Del Paine. The first option would be more likely to be slower due to road constructions ahead, and the second route would just be longer, and the only thing to worry about is the traffic that comes in this route. Do take note that both ways have tolls and crosses through Argentina.
- From Santiago, head north on Virginia Opazo toward Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins.
- Take Ruta 5, Ruta 215, RN40, RP29 and RN40 to Ruta 9 in Cerro Castillo.
- Continue on Ruta 9 and drive to Y-150.
- Continue on to Y-156 until you see the entrance to the park at your left. The name of the park will be Portería Laguna Amarga.
- Head north on Virginia Opazo toward Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins.
- Take Autopista Los Libertadores/Ruta 57, Ruta 60, RN7 and RN40 to RN143 in Pareditas, Argentina.
- Follow RN143 and RP10 to RN35 in Conhello.
- Continue on RN35. Drive from RN154 to Pichi Mahuida.
- Follow RN251 to RN3 in San Antonio.
- Follow RN3 to RP5 in Güer Aike.
- Follow RP5 and RP7 to RN40.
- Continue on RN40 to Cerro Castillo, Chile
- Continue on Ruta 9 and drive to Y-156 until you see the park entrance at your left.
Things To Do
For people who are seeking adventures during their stay in Chile, here are some of the things you can do: .
1. Hiking In French Valley
Hiking is the most common activity you can do in the area. In Torres del Paine, hiking on the beautiful French Valley and ice hiking on one of the unique Grey Glaciers is just some of the activities if you want to get each landscape’s feel and see its beauty.
2. Horseback Riding In The National Park
If you're either afraid of heights or don't have the energy to go on a hiking trip, you can still enjoy the national park by going horseback riding. It is a better option for wider territory coverage. The national park is home to many large estancias (ranches) and still vibrant with the gaucho culture (traditional horsemen) - some would say it's a rider's paradise.
3. Enjoy the Views Through Kayaking
Some would say kayaking among the gigantic icebergs and up to the front of Grey Glacier towering above is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is a half-day activity following a hike up Grey Lake if you like; whichever you choose, it is a winning combination.
San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama lies in the Antofagasta Region of Chile and is surrounded by countless mountains, lakes, and rock formations. The small town is a top-rated destination among Chilean tourists and international visitors alike due to its inspiring landscapes and scenery. San Pedro is a striking town full of dusty cobbled streets, and it is the perfect place to start and explore the Atacama Desert.
San Pedro is a pleasant town where you can enjoy the lively cafés with their laid-back vibe, but people mostly use it as a base to explore the surrounding area. Starting at the center of the city, you can easily arrange a visit to any of the impressive pre-Columbian archaeological sites and ruins that lie nearby.
Take note that driving from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama has tolls and would take you 18 hours depending on the traffic's slow or fast pace.
- Head north on Virginia Opazo toward Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins.
- Take Ruta 5, Panamericana Norte, Ruta 1, B-710, and Ruta 23 to San Pedro de Atacama - Guatín - Linzor/B-245 in San Pedro de Atacama.
- Turn left onto San Pedro de Atacama - Guatín - Linzor/B-245. From there you will see a lot of lodging areas.
Things To Do
Seeing the landscapes that San Pedro de Atacama can offer is one of the best things you can do, and here are some more:
1. See The El Tatio Geysers
El Tatio Geysers are gorgeous and are very popular among visitors to the Atacama Desert. The jets of steam and water of the Geyser spurts into the air, looking majestic amidst the desolate terrain surrounding them. At dawn, when the light reflects in the water spectacularly, it will look as if you're on another planet. The Geysers are a very unusual phenomenon and are one of the desert's highlights.
2. Take Pictures At Valle de la Luna
Valle de Luna's desolate landscapes look so lunar-like in appearance, matching its English name Moon Valley. Its place trails of ridges, caverns, dunes, and rock formations; that's why visitors are amazed by its beauty. Visitors can cycle, hike, rock climb, or dive their way around the terrain.
3. Relax At Laguna Cejar
A relaxing and peaceful spot where visitors can float upon its tranquil waters amidst the gorgeous scenery. Floating upon the salty waters make up the Laguna Cejar with its pleasant sensation; as volcanoes rise around you, the clear blue water sky stretches endlessly towards the horizon.
Planning thoroughly can help you have a pleasant journey to Chile, especially if you plan to drive around the country. Remember the driving rules in the country, so you don’t get in trouble. Don’t forget to apply for an International Driver’s Permit in Chile before you rent a car.
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