Honeymoon Part 1 of 3: Santiago, Chile

As indicated from my last post, I thought I would write a segment of each place we visited during our honeymoon.  The first place we visited was Santiago, Chile, followed by Easter Island and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Since we booked airfare flying out of Tijuana, we were able to reduce our costs by about $2k.  Total airfare was $3412 for the both of us, with Easter Island taking up about 38% due to its remote location.  It took some time to come back from the border, but we only spent $20 for a taxi from the airport to the border, and $5 for the San Diego trolley to home.  If anyone is interested in good things to know about flying out of Mexico (as we paid a penalty fee for not having a departure form), just let me know!

Anyway, here’s some highlights and good things to know about Santiago:

Reciprocity fees – we learned early on if one is flying into Santiago, that we don’t need a visa but we needed to pay reciprocity fees at about $160/person (the same fee Chileans would need to pay to enter U.S.).  Well call it perfect timing, because as of late February or early March, U.S. citizens no longer have to pay the fees since Chile is now part of the Visa Waiver Program!

View from our lodging

View from our lodging

Housing – we used AirBnB to rent a room in someone’s places, since hotels are pretty pricy (the Holiday Inn Express a few blocks away was $300/night!).  This was my first experience with AirBnB and our hostess set the bar really high – homemade breads and breakfasts, two adorable kitties that we played with and made us subsequently late for some outings, cool views of the Andes, and laundry service before we left.  It did at times feel like we were being intrusive since we shared the space with her, but this was our own feelings as she made us feel extremely welcome in her home.  Total cost for 5 nights was $415.

Transportation – our Air BnB hostess advised us the most economical way to leave or arrive to the airport is to use Transvip, which is a group shuttle service, versus taxi.  We were able to reduce our costs by half, though we did have to wait around 45 minutes or so for the shuttle to be full (or leave extremely early for our departure flights).  To get around town, the subway system is pretty efficient (around $1.50 USD one way), plus if you don’t mind walking then it’s a pretty walkable city.  But oh my goodness, avoid subways if you can between rush hour from 6 to 8 p.m. if you want to avoid getting pushed and having to feel people’s sweaty backs since you’re all smooshed in together.  Total cost for transportation (including 4 transvip trips since we flew to Easter Island and then returned): approximately $112.

Tours/Excursions – we took advantage of a free walking tour in Santiago where you give voluntary tips at the end, and Felipe was awesome and super informative.  During the tour, you get a feel of the different areas and history of the city, plus it’s great exercise.  Since Santiago is pretty small, we also did two half-day excursions – one to the Andes which we didn’t think was really worth it and wish we would have visited the museums instead, and one to a vineyard which was pretty cool since you could go to the yard and taste the different types of grapes, go through the cellars, and of course have wine tastings.  We also took the gondola up to San Cristobal, which has great views of Santiago, and visiting San Lucia was free.  Total cost for tips and excursions: $240.

Currency – since Santiago has a pretty stable economy (though a huge disparity between the rich and the poor), it was pretty easy to use ATM’s if you don’t mind the $5 surcharges, and credit cards are really easy to use (at most places especially restaurants, they bring the machine with them, which I think the U.S. should definitely get on the ball with since it was really efficient).  We unfortunately became victim of counterfeit money, though, since I didn’t know how a $5000 CHP (approx. $10 USD) looked like until we tried to use it to pay for beers.  In hindsight, it was easy to spot since the seams of the transparent part weren’t clean and it felt more plastic than usual, so heed caution.

Food – food in Santiago is pretty pricey, and comparable to San Diego prices in my opinion.  The best place we went to came from a recommendation of an old resident, at Tiramisu.  It’s Italian and not Chilean food, but I had the BEST and freshest calzone I’ve ever had, with shrimp inside.  A very popular drink there is the Pisco Sour, and I’m not a huge drinker but had that at every meal since it was so good – be careful, though, the buzz kind of sneaks up on you, and 1.5 drinks was more than enough for me.  We also went to dive bars and noticed that beers there are huge bottles (1 liter?), to be shared amongst friends.  We didn’t get a chance to visit night life, but didn’t feel we necessarily missed out.  Food and drink cost for 5ish days: approximately $600 (this was divided with Easter Island, but this is a reasonable guesstimate).

Souvenirs – B and I started a tradition where we would collect a piece of artwork for every country we visited (we have a picture from Japan and Thailand, and thought we’d keep it going).  We explored artesan markets (a good one is by San Lucia between 6 and 8), and we purchased a couple of copper plates with designs on them since copper is their main export.  Total cost: approximately $60.

People – the people in Santiago are incredibly nice and was a highlight of our trip.  If you stand around with a map, people will come up and ask if you need help, and waiters especially are patient and never minded every time I said “come se dice..?” 😉  The nicest guy we encountered not only walked with us several blocks when we were looking for the subway, but got his friend on the phone who spoke English to help us find our destination.  Talk about hospitality!

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in Santiago!  A basic knowledge of Spanish is useful, but even with my low knowledge base we got around okay.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Up next – Easter Island!

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26 thoughts on “Honeymoon Part 1 of 3: Santiago, Chile

  1. I was supposed to go to chile for work once but the deal fell through. I am a bit bummed looking at your pics! My Spanish is pretty horrible (non-existent) but I would try to practice before I got there.

    Cannot wait for Easter Island 🙂

  2. Thanks for the recap! That’s crazy how much money you saved by flying out of Mexico! Seems totally worth it. And glad the Air BnB worked out too. Amazing that your total was almost what one night cost at the hotel. I saw your pics on FB and they look amazing, I love how you brought your cake toppers.

    • I know, it was pretty substantial in my book! We had to wait about an hour to cross the border on foot, though, but still thought it was worth it. Haha, glad you enjoyed the pics!

  3. Glad AirBnB worked out for you guys even in a foreign country! We’ll be using it for the first time outside the country soon and I was a little nervous about how expectations translated across different cultures with that kind of thing. =)

      • Were you able to reduce your costs by a lot? Thankfully our hostess and host in BA spoke English, so it was helpful to get local tips!

    • It was definitely a good experience – we used it again in Buenos Aires and it still exceeded our expectations. I hope you have an equally pleasant experience! with your lodging!

  4. Santiago was on our list of possible destinations last time, and even this year, but we couldn’t make it happen. Maybe next year! I’ve heard Chile is really a first world country with all the niceties of home, and your trip makes it sound just awesome. Sorry you had to deal with some counterfeit currency,but hopefully it wasn’t too too much.

    Hooray for AirBNB, right? I love that place. We’ll be using it for part of our trip this year.

    Looking forward to reading parts 2 and 3!

    • Nah, it was only $10, so no biggie, but most people could tell it was counterfeit so not sure why the cashier at the gondola ride gave it to us in change! Yes, I love Air BnB – we stayed at a studio in BA through there and it was so central to everything. Can’t wait to hear about your vacay!!

  5. I’ve never really thought about going to South America (mostly because I know zero Spanish), but Chile sounds really nice and friendly. I love the deals you got for the AirBNB, really smart choice! Also, its mandatory to eat bad on your honeymoon! 😉

    • Chile definitely has some nice inhabitants – there’s all these stray dogs everywhere, but you can tell they are taken care of since they are well fed (and our guide said during the winter, that they have sweaters on theme!). Haha, we definitely indulged quite a bit while on vacay. 🙂

  6. Looks fantastic, Anna. I can’t believe how much cheaper AirBnB was. It sounds like you had a great hostess too. The pictures are great and overall it looks like it was really affordable. I haven’t been to Chile yet but hopefully some day we’ll make it there. It makes me feel good that they locals were so friendly too. My spanish is pretty low, which is somewhat sad considering how many Spanish-speaking people live here. But when I went to school (eons ago), I took German. Great for heritage but not really all that useful. LOL! Looking forward to the rest of the tour!

    • Thank you, Shannon! I know, I took French in high school and B took German (just like you!)… what were we thinking?? Haha. After this trip, I’m for sure a fan of AirBnB – I think the key is to look at the reviews for sure – if someone has 32 5-star reviews, we figured we couldn’t go wrong!

  7. I loved that your Anna and B cake toppers were on your honeymoon with you and even snuck in a few of the photos! 😉 That idea is so cute that even though I’m not having a cake, I might have to steal your idea! 🙂 Collecting a piece of artwork from each new country we visit is something J and I want to start doing too! Geez apparently lil sis wants to be just like big sis! 😉

    • Haha, yay, I hope you do that! It’s kind of fun to see what random places we could put them in, and I can’t wait to see where your ‘travel partners’ end up going! I hope you do the artwork thing, too – whenever I look at them it brings fond memories of travel! Yay, love my lil sis. 😉

  8. Looks like a fantastic Honeymoon!

    I remember Pisco Sours when we were over that way from Peru, a strange drink but kinda nice at the same time. We never made it down as far as Chile which was a shame.

    Looking forward to seeing your Easter Island pictures, we never made it over there either, a good excuse to go back one day I guess 🙂

    • They said that with pisco sours in Peru that they add egg whites, while in Chile they don’t. 🙂 I’m not sure taste-wise how different it would be, though! Thanks for stopping by!!

    • Haha, a woman after my own heart – a die-hard meat eater! 😉 I’m glad you think it’s funny, because we put them around everywhere!

  9. Wow that’s wonderful that everybody there was so welcoming. Amazing that the guy even called his friend who spoke English to help out. I’m used to the NYC mentality…though I try to help out a tourist if they appear lost. I’m surprised the food costs about the same as San Diego.

    • It’s so funny you say that, because when we went to BA it did remind me of a more NY mentality – I’ll for sure explain when I get to it! To be fair, I think it was cheaper in hindsight… or we go to cheap eats in SD! But it’s a really well-off area – we saw a lot of Porsches and Maseratis!

  10. Pingback: Honeymoon 2 of 3: Easter Island! | Are Ya Gonna Eat That?

  11. Sounds like a lovely visit. I’ve never been to Chile, but would love to visit. I’ve also never used air bnb. I feel like I might feel a little bit strange staying with a stranger, but I know that plenty of people do it and have a great experience (and make a lot of new friends) which is really cool.

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