Chile

Having relatively good standards in medicine throughout the country, it is not difficult to stay healthy. However, one will usually find more refined resources at a private medical facility.In case of emergency , call 131, but don't expect an operator fluent in English.

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers. Other potential vaccines, depending on your travel situation include: Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Rabies, and Influenza.

Tap water is safe to drink. Just know that water is produced from the mountains, so it might be harder for foreigners. In that case, it is advisable to buy bottled water.

As most big cities within South America, Santiago suffers from a high rate of pickpocketing and muggings. It's advisable not to travel in the downtown area wearing expensive-looking jewelry or watches, even during the day. Stay alert and be especially careful in all crowded areas in Santiago. It is recommended to wear your backpack at the front of your body in crowded areas. If you have a laptop it can be relaxing being outside in a café doing some work but thieves may see you. For your own safety, go to a internet café if you need to be connected and leave your laptop at home. It will save you from losing it and it can save you from a violent attack from thieves. However, it is much safer to be inside the Metro stations, where you even can use free wi-fi hot spots in Universidad de Chile L1 and Baquedano L1-L5 junction stations.

For tourists or other "beginners" lacking experience in over-the-counter transactions with hard Chilean currency, you can reduce the chance of your wallet getting stolen by following some advice:

Separate coins and bills. Coins are frequently used when paying for public transport except in Santiago buses, where you need to board with the Bip card, newspapers or snacks, store them in a small handbag so that your bills will remain concealed.

1000-, 2000- and 5000-peso notes should be easily accessible. Notes of higher value should be stored in another, more secure place in your wallet so you don't accidentally pay 10000 pesos instead of 1000, for example. Keep in mind that all notes are the same size, yet, they all are very differently coloured and designed. Chile's Central Bank is in the middle of replacing all notes and its size (http://en.wikipedia.org/w...), so you can find two types of 5000, 10000 and 20000 notes, all of which have legal value and are to be accepted everywhere.

Do not reach for your wallet until the vendor tells you the price.

Chilean Carabineros National Police are very trustworthy - call 133 from any phone if you need emergency assistance. Some municipalities such as Santiago or Las Condes have private guards; however, they usually don't speak English.Do not try to bribe a carabinero, since it will get you into serious trouble! Unlike other South American police corps, Chilean Carabineros are very proud and honest, and bribery would be a serious offense against their creed.

Regarding driving conditions: Chilean drivers tend to be not as erratic and volatile as those in neighboring countries.

Since Chile is almost racially homogeneous, Chileans get curious and may stare at foreigners. If you are black or Asian, be prepared. There have been reports of racist attacks, but they are infrequent, and the police carabineros have become better at handling such situations. If you are from the Middle East, it will be easier to blend in and you will not get the same level of attention.

Leave your mobile phone at home and buy a cheap one from the local store. If robbed, you don't have to be worried about losing a expensive cell-phone, all your contacts, important numbers and messages etc. Buy a cell-phone so you can contact police or medics in any case for or just calling a friend. Wallets, cameras and cell-phone regardless of price and quality are lucrative among petty-thieves for their own use or sale in the black market.

Avoid taking photographs of navy ships and buildings or other military buildings, ask first. If caught they have the right to arrest you and expect to get all your photos examined and erased. Also expect some questions about why you photographed. Chile lives in peace with its neighbours Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, but the country is always preparing for an attack, which some Chileans think might happen since it's a small and narrow country compared to its bigger neighbour Argentina, for example. Some cities like Talcahuano and Punta Arenas are naval cities, so be extra careful when taking photographs. Some marines may speak little English, so point at the object you want to take a photo and say "si?". If they reply with a "no", then it's better to just leave.

Since May 2011 there have been ongoing protests by Chilean students who demand better and free education. If you happen to be a foreign student, most universities will allow the protesters to enter classes when there is a protest and occupation is taking place. The chances that something will happen on campus is low. But it's a different story if the protest takes places in the streets. Most of them have ended with violence from protesters and police. So even if you may sympathize with the students, avoid demonstrations arranged by students or professors.

Diplomatic representation from the US  embassy: Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago mailing address: APO AA 34033 telephone: [56] 2 232-2600 FAX: [56] 2 330-3710.

internet

There are cybercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. Some libraries are in a program called Biblioredes, with free computers and Internet they may be very sensitive if you plug in your camera or something like that. In some remote locations, public libraries have internet satellite connections.Also notice if there's a Wi-Fi hotspot around. They're usually in metro stations, airports, malls, cafes, public buildings and several public spaces. Check for the ones that say "gratis"--for free.

respect

Although modern in many ways, Chile remains basically traditional. You will do far better if you do not openly denigrate or flout those traditions. People speak in conversational tones.

Unlike other countries in Latin America, the Chilean police force is admired for its honesty and competence. Report any complaints to the police the moment you receive them, including criminal activity. Bribing is not acceptable in Chile in contrast to the rest of Latin America, and you will likely get arrested if you attempt it.

Do not assume that your hosts in Chile will have a low opinion of Pinochet. May be a surprise, but his government still has many supporters, so be careful when raising the issue. Even if you want to talk other political subjects than Pinochet, people still can get very opinionated and even raise their tone when it comes to politics. Depending on your opinions, they can either call you "communist" or "fascist".

Chileans are very friendly people. Most of them will be willing to assist you with directions or advice in the street, bus stop, subway station, etc. Just use common sense to avoid danger.

Be careful: many people can speak and understand English, French, Italian or German, be polite.

Chileans hate arrogance. Be arrogant and you will have problems; be kind and everyone will try to help you.

Chileans will know that you are a foreigner no matter how good your Spanish is. Don't get upset if they call you "gringo" - most foreigners are called that, it's not meant to be offensive.

If you are of black race or dark skinned, you might be called "negro" in a friendly way. This is by no means similar to the n-word. Most Chileans are not racist, but unlike other South American countries, nearly every person of african heritage is a foreigner. Besides, "negro" is a common nickname for people with dark skin. Negro is the Spanish word for black.

Between 1879-1883 Chile fought a war against Peru and Bolivia over what is today the country's northern territory. Chile won against both countries but lost a portion of Patagonia since Argentina threatened to attack. Many years later, the Chilean people feel bitter about losing terrain in the south and proud over annexing what is today northern Chile. Bolivia still claims to get back that area, or at least, an "exit to the ocean" which has angered many Chileans and some express racist comments towards guest workers and illegal inmigrants from Peru and Bolivia. On the other hand, there are also many Chileans who do not find any wrong in reaching an agreement with Bolivia and grant them access to the ocean. Ask as many questions as you want, but be careful with phrases like "Peru or Bolivia has the right to the northern territory.

A few Chileans of German heritage mostly in the south are rather proud of being German. Some knowledge in the German language is useful here. Chile has also a 500.000-strong Palestinian community it's estimated that less than 1% actually speaks Arabic, so be careful when expressing Zionist or Pro-Israel viewpoints - there might be a Palestinian-Chilean that feels offended.

Phone

phone
 

Public phones located on streets are very likely to be tampered or vandalized, so it's better to use a phone located inside a commerce or a station.

Prepaid cards for mobile phones and landlines are sold at most newspaper kiosks, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and phone dealers.

Mobile GSM networks are ubiquitous in all major cities and most of the territory of central and southern Chile.

phone
prepaid cellular phone

A basic prepaid cellular phone usually costs about 15000 pesos, most frequently charged with 10000 pesos worth of prepaid minutes. No ID is required to buy a prepaid phone.

phone
 

GSM SIM cards from ENTEL, Movistar or Claro are usually available for 5000 pesos, but without credit, so you'll need to buy some prepaid minutes to be able to call.

Money can be charged into a cellphone from almost any ATM using a credit or debit card and from some pharmacies Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salco Brand on the counter and in cash. Also, one can charge money directly into the phone by using a credit card through an automated service operator, with directions in Spanish or English.

Chilean phone numbering scheme is very simple and straight.