Any tips you have for social/night life in santiago. Daughter is studying there next semester. Is adventursome and not into fancy places but loves dancing, coffee shops, book stores etc. Is is safe traveling on public transporation alone at night ?Thanks.
It is really nice your daughter is going to live for a while in Santiago. I can imagine you are a bit worried about her coming alone (Or at least without her mother ... Chile is today the most stable country of South America. With the best income per person, Santiago is by far the most advanced capital of the continent. It is not only beautiful, people are really friendly, they are always making smart jokes (As a tip, almost all the clowns of South America come from Chile ) and has an excellent and secure subway and TONS of fun.
Of course, this is a big city (something around 5 millions) so not everything can be perfect... They have smog (quite a big amount) lots of traffic and is not the cheapest city of the continent. Also, and just like every big city, the peripheral areas are not very nice and visiting them should be avoided to stress security... what I mean with this is that it is a secure, beautiful BIG city where transport is very good but care should be exercise if going out at night like in anywhere else in the world.
Some of the fine areas in town for living, going out & hanging around are called:
Definitely for nightlife I must recommend:
- Bellavista area. Bohemian... artists live on the area (Not TOO expensive) also book stores, coffee shops, etc.
- General Holley area (A bit more expensive. more fancy than Bellavista) restaurants, pubs, bars, wine bars, etc.
I don't know if she is going to travel around Chile but, since she will be in Santiago, I recommend a visit to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. These two small cities are just 2 hours from Santiago (heading towards the Pacific Ocean. Busses every 5 minutes (The best local transport in South America is the Chilean. Prefer Tour Bus and Pullman companies to this or other destinations)
Valparaiso is a beautiful old port, with great bohemian nightlife and very good seafood.
Viña is more modern (To cross from Viña to Valparaiso takes no more than 10 minutes) and have some nice beaches and the city in itself is very, very nice (I love it) Lots of students in the area.
Other places to visit in Chile (Not necesarily close to Santiago but worth the trip and expenses):
- Santiago's Cajon del Maipo (Outdoors, hiking, resting of the city) and nearby vineyards.
- Lake district (Amazing place full of ancient forests, lakes, volcanoes)
- Patagonia. And specially Torres del Paine National Park (For me, the most beautiful place in the world)
I dont reccommend skying (Chile has really great slopes) since she will not be on seasson as i understan.
Hope this helps... I run a South America Travel Operator so for any help or emergency while in South America call (511) 95094158 (Opperations office is based in Peru with local reprsentatives al over SA)
Have agreat day and lots of fun!
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Having just returned from a summer spent studying/living in Santiago, your thread piqued my interest. I came down with 11 other college students from Ohio. None of us had been to Chile before, but some of us had been to other places in Latin America...We had the best time there in Stgo. Here are a few pointers/tips...
- Chileans speak very quickly! and they cut their words off, so it can definitely be hard, especially at first, understanding them.
- Also, we noticed that many santiaguinos (people from Santiago) were quite closed off, and not too personable...at first. Those santiaguinos that we got to know were wonderful people, really friendly and fun, but we did have experiences with not very nice people, too.
- Though the city remains shrouded in a thick cover of smog most days, some days can be spectacularly beautiful and just having the mountains peak over skyscrapers, homes and busy streets were clearly a welcome vista, especially coming from Ohio (zero mountains).
- Santiago's metro (subway) is awesome. It is fairly cheap, clean, well-run, ..all-in-all very nice. There are 4 lines, I believe, and they can get you to a lot of places. Downside to the Metro is that it closes at 10pm every night. Also, we used taxis a lot to get us from our hostel to discos, and these are fairly inexpensive, too. Sometimes, you'll encounter a taxista that will try to charge you more as an American or take you a longer way, but you can usually argue the price down (if you speak good enough Spanish and act like you know your way around the city). Finally, you have the Micros, which are the buses. There are a TON in the city everywhere! They can be smelly (while walking along busy streets), loud, and probably contribute a lot to Stgo's smog problem, but they are probably the cheapest way of getting around the city, if you know the many many routes. These run 24 hours (they claim to) but we had trouble getting one around 4am in a part of town with which we weren't too familiar...Basically if you don't know exactly if the bus will pass the stop or the street where you need to go, ask the driver, and he can tell you.
- As for nightlife, we explored the different, distinct barrios and had fun at different places..each has their own flavor...
Suecia (in Providencia): this is basically a block along a street called Suecia that is lined with discos and neon lights. As an American, she should be able to get into most places for free (that held true for a lot of the discos we went to). I would recommend going with friends, as I have heard of problems involving men buying and giving suspicious drinks to women (a friend in our group may have been drugged from a drink bought by a stranger). However, it is a really fun atmosphere, with great American music and also the most popular pop songs from Chile and South America. The crowd is often international and drinks can be a little pricey (not bad though). Open LATE (as in we usually got home around 6am) -- "Green Bull" is a fun choice for discos, also "100% Negro" if it is still open)
Bellavista: this is a fun barrio to explore during the day, but also at night, due to its many restaurants, bars, pubs, discos, and salsotecas (salsa clubs). This place is prefered by more Chileans, we found. Many different styles of discos and pubs here, from hole in the wall to artsy to expensive to gay. Again, stay on well-lit streets after a certain time at night/its always better to go out in a group of friends than alone. Most places here are cheaper than Suecia, I found. Open LATE, too (as are most of like places in Stgo). -- my favorite restaurant is in Bellavista, called "El Toro" -- try it out!
Nunoa (those N's are really supposed to have the squiggle on top): we only visited this barrio once, but I hear there are lots of fun restaurants and bars around the main plaza. The cafe we checked out was nice, and it was definitely a more local crowd than Suecia, which was refreshing.
Las Condes: we never ventured out that way too much to check out the night life, but I have heard great things about huge discos there. Las Condes is definitely the wealthier part of Santiago, especially la Dehesa.
- Also, during the day, I would DEFINITELY recommend exploring el Cerro de San Cristobal on a nice day, because it is a beautiful park on a big hill in the middle of Bellavista, with a sort-of train that goes up the side of the hill to the almost top, and at the top (where there is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary) you can take cable cars across the summit of the hill and admire Santiago and la cordillera (The Andes).
- La Plaza de Armas is a fun place to go in the afternoons to people watch, shop, go see a movie, send postcards, etc..you can easily get there using the Metro. Also, DEFINITELY GO TO A BRAVÍSIMO ICE CREAM STORE WHILE IN SANTIAGO!!! they have the best ice cream for unbelievably cheap prices. Hundreds of delicious flavors from Mango to Strachetella (my friends' favorite) to Whisky!
I think that is pretty much it for now. I used a Let's Go Guide to Chile and found it to be most helpful. I also travelled around the country some (Valpo and Vina del Mar and the southern Lakes region and Chiloé) and also to Buenos Aires, if you have any other questions. I hope I helped prepare your daughter for an awesome time in the longest, skinniest country in the world!
ps. if possible check out the telenovelas on Canal 13. we got hooked to one called "Hippie: El mundo está cambiando". Also, watch at least one episode of Mekano on the Mega channel - it's a children's show, but definitely wouldn't be classified as a children's show here in the U.S. The music on the show is really fun and is played in many discos !! Finally, "31 Minutos" is another popular children's show about puppets that run a news program. I never watched it, but apparently it is just a good for adults as for kids, so check it out! Watching TV en español (o castellano, como se dicen los chilenos) will definitely help with comprehension, chileno slang, etc.