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Budget Tips for Traveling in Chile

Updated: May 12

Is Chile expensive to visit?


Chile is definitely one of the more expensive countries in South America, but it is possible to reduce costs during your stay. You may not want to backpack your way through the country, but that doesn’t mean you have to blow your travel budget! Here are 5 tips to help reduce your spending when traveling to Chile.

beautiful yellow lapines with a Chile sign in the background


If you are comfortable with driving, I would strongly suggest looking at rental cars during your time in Chile. We decided to hire a personal driver for a day in Santiago ($200 USD) to visit some wineries and parts of the Andes. However, we could have rented a car for the day (which we did the next day) for <$100, including gas and road tolls. If you are only one person, it might be more economical to join a group tour for the day, but if you are 2-4 people, renting the car and paying for entry to attractions is usually a cheaper option. Chile drives on the right side of the road (like America), making it easier to get around.


Many attractions offer discounts for youth and those over 60 years old, so be sure to ask for any discounts. It’s common for attractions to have a different price for locals and foreigners, so don’t be alarmed if you see it. Sometimes you can save more by booking online, so be sure to investigate before you arrive. Also, you will often get a better price if you pay in Chilean pesos. Many attractions offer USD ticket options, but the exchange rate is terrible (IMO)! So keep some Chilean pesos available for attractions.


Restaurant food prices are often similar to American prices (or maybe even a little more). If you are trying to stay on a budget, be sure to grocery shop and cook in your accommodations. Our meals out were often $30+ per person, but we cooked for <$3/person per meal, making sandwiches for our daily treks, French toast and fruits for breakfast and usually a pasta dish for the evenings (like spaghetti or chicken pesto).




Tap water is drinkable in the country. While we had no issues in Santiago, the water in Cerro Castillo (near Torres National Park) was brown (so we stuck to bottled water there). The tastiest water was in Punta Arenas. You can usually save money with a refillable water bottle while traveling in Chile. In the Atacama, the air is especially dry, and the high elevation means you need to stay hydrated to avoid altitude sickness. Beware and drink water often!


Gas Stations


While credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country in restaurants, hotels and shops, the gas stations can (and usually do) charge an additional fee for international credit cards. We heard some stories of 40% mark up on prices at the pump with an international credit card, so save a few pesos and plan to fill up your gas tank with CASH – Chilean pesos. Most gas stations are service stations, meaning someone will come out to fill your tank. You can give them more than you think you will need, and any pesos not used will be given back to you. Make sure to get a receipt. We had no issues with this method. Fill up often (whenever you see a station) when you are driving around Patagonia as opportunity is limited.


Hope these tips help stretch your budget while in Chile. It's really a very beautiful country. Be sure to check out my tips for first time travelers to Chilean Patagonia! Comment below with any questions.


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