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How Much Does It Cost to Travel To Chile

Drinking a Pisco sour in the rooftop pool
Two weeks in a dramatic, coastal country without breaking the bank? I’m all ears! What lured me to Chile initially was the wine, followed by the landscape, but the fact that it can be an affordable vacation certainly helped seal the deal. Now that I’m back I find myself dreaming of $2 queso empanadas and free night skies filled with stars.

If you were really diligent (or broke) you could spend very little while staying in Chile, but I’m me and I like some comforts and a bit of luxury now and then. And wine. We can’t forget the wine.. I love being able to splurge a little on a nicer hotel or a tour now and then and still know that I’m staying on budget. Chile was gracious enough to allow me to do just that.

This budget breakdown spans 13 days and 12 nights in Chile for two people, exploring Central and Northern Chile. You could definitely spend less than we did, but it wouldn’t be hard to spend more either.

Before You Go: Make sure you have your travel insurance sorted out. Trust me.

Two Week Budget

  Transportation $1,056 (domestic flight, shuttles, gas, tolls, and rentals)
  Accommodations $1,052 (hotels and campervan)
  Food & Drink $438 (restaurants, water, snacks, alcohol)
  Activities $363 (tours, admissions, etc.)
  Miscellaneous $60 (souvenirs, laundry, etc.)

Total Spent: $2,969 USD

Daily Average per Person: $114 USD

Winebox Hotel in Valparaiso

Accomodations

Overall, I found that hotels and guesthouses in Chile were good value. While not as cheap as other countries, they were a relief after travelling to New York and Toronto this year.

We stayed in 4 star hotels in Santiago because I wanted the security of being in the more affluent part of town away from current ongoing protests. That being said, I found that the two hotels, Icon Hotel ($88USD) and Park Plaza ($67USD), were both good value.

In Valparaiso, we stayed at Winebox Hotel ($80USD), a hotel made from brightly painted shipping containers. I’d stumbled on it while doing a Google image search of the city and knew immediately that I wanted to stay there.

In the Atacama our Wicked South America campervan ($125USD) was both accommodations and transportation but I decided to group the cost fully into accommodations. Stargazing was high on our list of activities and we knew that having a campervan would give us the most opportunities to see the night sky, away from towns. Plus, how cool was our van?

Camper van in Valle de la Luna

Empanadas

Food

Food is one area where we came in under budget without depriving ourselves or really even thinking about budget. Our indulgences were a $19pp steak and ceviche dinner in Santiago and alcohol. We typically ended the night with a bottle of wine, a local beer or two, or some pisco sours. I have no regrets. Especially not for the bottle of Escandalo carignan we picked up at Winebox (14000 CLP / $17) or for the 4 pints of local brew and fries we shared at Plan Beer in La Serena (23000 CLP / $28).

We made sure to try as many empanadas as we could handle. Depending on the filling, they will run you 800-2300 CLP ($1USD-$2.86USD) each and one can be enough for a lunch. Two if you’re quite hungry or if it’s your main meal of the day.

Meals could generally be had in local restaurants for $5-$12 including a non-alcoholic drink and tip.

Rental car in Chile

Transportation

This is the area where we really could have saved money if we’d been on a tighter budget. We had one domestic flight ($80USD), used airport shuttles, the Santiago Metro, rented a car, and a campervan (which I’ve counted as accommodations instead).

We decided to rent a car one way from Santiago and drive all the way to Calama in the Atacama region. Because of our one way direction, what would normally be a $23/day rental turned into a $94/day rental. Still we decided that the car would be worth it since it would give us freedom to explore beyond bus stops and on our own schedule. We nicknamed our white Chevy Prizma Blanche and she served us well.

An alternative would have been to keep our car as far as La Serena and then fly from there to Calama. Or to have skipped a rental entirely and relied on buses to get to Valparaiso and La Serena. Overall, we were quite pleased with our decision to keep Blanche, despite the cost.

For reference, a bus ticket from Valparaiso to la Serena with Turbus can be had for around 14,000 CLP / $17.50 USD. Meanwhile, Santiago all the way to San Pedro de Atacama would ring in at at least 37,000 CLP / $46 USD (and 22 hours of travel).

For domestic flights, you’ll mainly be looking at either Latam, Sky Airline, or JetSMART. We got a good deal on our domestic flight by using this one great tip: if searching for Latam flights, set your country as Chile on the website. Flights came up at roughly half the price this way and we had no trouble when we checked in. Book early for best deals.

On our last day in town we decided to use the Santiago metro to get around rather than taking Ubers. The easiest solution was to purchase a Bip card from the station and load it with money. You then tap your card to enter the station. Two people can use the same Bip, which is convenient. A subway ride during peak hours is 800 CLP / $1 USD and 720 / $0.90 USD during off-peak hours.

Pisco

Activities

Activities is the one area where I’m most likely to not scrimp. A big part of why I travel is for new experiences so I’m willing to pay if something sounds cool. During my 13 days in Chile I used a hop on-hop off bus ($20 USD), visited a winery ($17 USD) and a pisco distillery ($7.50 USD), participated in a wine tasting ($19 USD), went on two pay-what-you-want walking tours, and went to the top of the tallest building in Latin America ($19 USD).

Not to mention entrance fees in the Atacama for various valleys and lakes. Each one of them was worth it.

Our 5-hour astronomical tour in La Serena was our splashiest activity at 25,000 CLP / $31 USD per person.
Stars in the desert

Miscellaneous

My miscellaneous category consisted solely of an Entel SIM card and 3GB of data for 15,000 CLP / $19 USD and a few souvenirs, including a bottle of pisco at the duty free.

As always, my trip could’ve been done for cheaper but my goal is always to balance budget with experience and I’m happy with how this trip turned out.

While Chile isn’t the cheapest place to travel in South America you can still have amazing experiences without making your wallet cry, and I love that.

Book Your Trip to Chile

Book Your Flight

Find a cheap flight by using Expedia. It's one of my favourite search engines because it allows you to search for and compare flights from multiple airlines.

Book Your Accommodations

You can book your hotel with Booking.com as they have the most comprehensive inventory so they are best for booking a hotel. If you want to stay in a vacation rental or cottage in Chile, use VRBO to find the perfect place for the whole family.

Book Your Car Rental

You can get by without a vehicle in Chile if you're just in Santiago or Valparaiso. But if you want to see beyond the cities, be sure to book your car rental with Discover Cars early.

Book Your Travel Insurance

While Chile is generally a safe country, you never know when something could happen. Be prepared with travel insurance from SafetyWing. Travel insurance has certainly saved my butt before.

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