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Chile is a gorgeous country with endless activities and touristy locations, but nowadays, most visitors wonder, “Is it safe to visit Chile?”

Chile was ranked 55th on the Global Peace Index in 2022 and is among the most popular tourist locations. The country is a piece of art, from the ancient forests to mountain ranges and volcanoes. It has something for everyone, including lakes, beaches, and magnificent forests. Thus, it has been welcoming a huge number of visitors every year. Many returning tourists love spending time in the chilly waters and exploring the deserts.

However, it is important to know that Chile is not among the safest countries. While the 55th ranking is a lot better than many other countries, it means there are still problems. The country has been going through civil and criminal unrest. Chile’s mugging and snatching cases are way more than the UK, North America, Canada, and Australia. So, you might need to be a little more careful.

Chile is not exactly unsafe, but understanding the current regional situation can help you plan your trip safely. Read until the end to know if Chile is safe per your travel standards and what to consider while planning your trip.

Political Situation in Chile

Before talking about the crime rates and civil unrest, political instability in 2019 has greatly contributed to the overall situation. Chile experienced massive political protests addressing inequality, heavy-handed policing, and bringing constitutional reforms. These protests demanded resignation from President Sebastián Piñera and his government.

The situation has been under-control since the pandemic after the progressive candidate Gabriel Boric won the elections. The country is undergoing constitutional reform, and protests have died. 

In the past, the protests have proved deadly to tourists as well; thus, many people avoided visiting Chile. But it is safer than many other countries, and you may visit a trip considering the common crimes and safety in the region.

Political Situation in Chile

Common Crimes in Chile

Baggage Theft

Baggage theft is one of the most common issues when traveling to countries with high crime rates. It is a golden opportunity for thieves to get more stuff at one time. There are high chances of baggage theft if you travel by plane or with locals you don’t know. Bus stations are also notorious for baggage theft, as visitors are not often very vigilant about their bags. Always ensure they put your bag in storage before your eyes.

To save yourself from the trouble of a lost passport or money, it is best to keep a small bag with you containing all the documents. It is even better to leave them at your hotel when roaming around. 

Bonus: Always lock your bags; they are less likely to be stolen because of added effort.

Mugging and Scams

Besides baggage theft, mugging is also quite common in Chile. You might just be waiting to cross the street, and you see you do not have your phone in your hand anymore (based on true events).

As strange as it might sound, it is a common practice in Chile. Visitors have been robbed of their mobile phones while crossing the streets and eating at restaurants; you wouldn’t even know where your phone went!

Credit Card Frauds

If you cannot afford credit card fraud, Chile is not your best vacation spot. Credit card fraud is common in the region, and many people lose hundreds of dollars. Always keep an eye on your credit card when handing it over to anyone, as card skimming can occur. 

Take the following precautions when using credit cards for payments:

  • Use ATMs in public places or business centers instead of secluded areas
  • Always cover the keypad with one hand when adding your pin
  • Pay attention when handing over your card to anyone
  • Keep an eye on transactions to ensure no fishy activity occurs
  • Avoid card readers that do not seem genuine to you
Chile banks

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and adultery are not as common as street crimes in the region, but you may be handed a drink or cigarette with intoxicating drugs; snacks and gums may also be used. Thus, it is suggested not to take food or beverages, especially from an unknown person. Pay attention to your drinks when made, and do not get distracted. Bellavista and Suecia in Santiago are notorious for these tricks leading to sexual assault and adultery.

Natural Disasters

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

Earthquake in Chile

Besides mugging and theft, natural disasters are another issue you must consider before visiting Chile. Chile is along the fault line between South American and Nazca tectonic plates. Thus, this region has high occurrences of the most impactful earthquakes and Tsunamis. While Chile has an extensive and modern earthquake and Tsunami reporting system, the situation might worsen unpredictably. 

Volcanos

Active volcanoes are one of Chili’s most attractive and interesting sites, but they can be immensely dangerous. There are 500 active volcanoes in Chile. These volcanoes are active, meaning they might erupt anytime, leading to serious harm. These volcanoes are away from highly populated areas but might cause major damage. Ash clouds often disrupt domestic and international flights. Recent volcanic eruptions took place in February 2023.

Keep the following in mind when traveling around active volcanoes:

  • Check the local news continuously to stay updated
  • Plan your route according to the issued warnings
  • Ask the locals and follow their advice
  • Immediately evacuate your residence and move if asked by the authorities

Wildfires

wildfires in Chile

While wildfires have not been widespread in the region in the past, now there are more wildfires than ever in the past; it is majorly due to changes in climate and drier weather. They are most common in Santiago, Valparaíso, and Magallanes. The local authorities issue warnings in case a fire breaks out. If you are around a forest fire, keep the windows closed, but doors unlocked. Report the fire to others around you and stay away from flammable material.

Floods and Land Sliding

It is best to avoid visiting Chile from May to August as the chances of flooding are way high during this time. Floods occur mainly due to heavy rains and volcanic eruptions. The heavy rains and debris from erupting volcanoes lead to over-flooding in rivers. Floods damage roads and bridges and may cause trouble traveling.

Riverside accommodations may seem attractive, but they are not the best choice – especially around a volcanic eruption or between May and August.

Insect Bites

While most South American countries have mosquito-borne disease risks, you do not have to worry about that in Chile. Only one case of the Zika virus came to the surface a few years ago, and no vaccination is required to visit Chile.

You do not have to worry about mosquitos, but you might have to be careful about the Chilean recluse and black widow spiders. They are the most dangerous creatures you may encounter in Chile and are challenging to spot. They live in the dark, so always check your shoes before putting them on and seek immediate medical attention in case of a bite.

Animal Precautions

Rabies and influenza are commonly shared diseases between humans and animals in the region. So, you must avoid much interaction to prevent these infections. Hiking, camping, and traveling in forested and rural areas will increase your chances of getting infected. Also, avoid visiting wet markets and caves and eating undercooked meat.

Furthermore, you may also come across a few wildlife species. Most of them are not evidently dangerous and do not attack unless they feel threatened by your presence. Stay away from them and do not pose a threat to their young ones.

Driving in Chile

People driving in Chile

Due to a high crime rate, it is best to contact a trusted local agency and let them manage your transport. Alternatively, you can use your international driver’s license in Chile. Always remember not to drink and drive, as the country has a zero-tolerance policy for this behavior. It can lead to fines, license suspension, and detention; better safe than sorry!

Places to Avoid in Chile

Different areas in Chili are known for specific crimes, and you must stay away from them to avoid becoming a victim. Avoid Cerro Manquehue and Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago, as muggers and thieves target visitors roaming the park alone. Also, avoid the nightlife districts, including Barrio Brasil and Bellavista.

Other tourist areas like Mercado Central are known for pickpocketing, while the Calama bus station has a high percentage of baggage theft. 

When you are in Chile, remember that Vitacura, Valparaíso, and Las Condes have a high crime rate compared to other cities.

Safe Places to Visit in Chile

Now that you know that there is no exact yes or no to “Is it safe to visit Chile,” there are numerous cities you can visit without worrying about most of these issues. Here’s a sneak peek into all the safe regions you can visit during your stay:

Santiago

Santiago City in Chile

The Chilean capital Santiago is undoubtedly the best to start your trip and is also better in terms of safety. You will see a variety of neighborhoods with restaurants, parks, and museums. The street art in this region is eye-catching.

Despite being comparatively safe, you must be careful when visiting this part of the country. The locals can distinguish foreigners, and you might become a victim of pickpocketing.

Patagonia

Tourist in Patagonia

Patagonia is another popular region in the country in Southern Chile. Besides being beautiful, it is harsh and hot. Torres del Paine National Park is the main attraction in the city, followed by the W Trek and views of the glacial peaks. You may also try the lengthier O Circuit and go backpacking around the city.

Easter Island

Easter Island in Chile

Easter Island, or the island of Rapa Nui, is over 3000 kilometers in the South Pacific. You can visit the island and stay for as long as 30 consecutive days and no more than that. You must have a round trip ticket, a passport valid till the stay, accommodation proof, and fill out the Rapa Nui entry form.

The island is majorly known for its hundreds of giant stones called moai, making it a view you wouldn’t want to miss. It can be a little pricey, but all worth it!

Valdivia

Curies in Valdivia Chile

Valdivia is an important university town in southern Chile and offers a wide variety of entertainment, from bars to cafes and restaurants. The joining of the Cruces and Calle Calle rivers is a mesmerizing point surrounded by wetlands and water with a spectacular view of old colonial buildings. 

Pucon

Lake Pucon in Chile

Pucon is known as the adventure capital of Chile and is named rightfully. Located on the shore of Villarrica Lake, this city is gorgeous, with numerous water sports to enjoy. It is one of the safest cities in the country, but the activities can be a little heavy on the pocket. It is best to add to your list when you wish to enjoy water rafting, volcano climbing, or skiing in winter. However, it is not best suited if you are traveling on a budget.

What to Remember When Visiting Chile?

We have explained everything from the risks while visiting Chile to the safest places you can visit. But there are a few precautions you must keep in mind when visiting Chile.

  • Keep a copy of your passport with you and one in your luggage; it will help if you lose your passport.
  • Always wear sunscreen, as the weather in most Chilean cities is rough and harsh.
  • Stay away from animals, especially dogs, to avoid infections.
  • Do not eat undercooked food.
  • Avoid swimming on beaches with signs like “no apto para bañar” or “peligroso.” It means the beach is too dangerous for swimming.
  • Do not take snacks, drinks, or gum from anyone.
  • Avoid getting out of the car in case the tire punctures; it’s a popular trick by muggers.
  • Always be vigilant when handing over your card to someone.
  • Keep an eye on your luggage to avoid baggage theft.
  • Always get travel insurance when traveling.
People visit San Pedro de Atacama in Chile

The Bottom Line

We hope you have found the answer to “Is it safe to visit Chile?” And if not, it is because there is no definite answer. Many people believe it is safe to visit, while others think you need to be extra careful as a tourist and it’s a buzzkill. We understand that visiting a country with frequent street crimes can be irritating. But it is not a bad option if you are street-smart. You can enjoy a fun trip in Chile with vigilance and by choosing safe spots.

FAQs

Is Chile safe to visit right now?

Chile faced political unrest in 2019, and many tourists were affected, but now it is quite safe as the new government has taken over. It is the 55th safest place to visit, according to the 2022 Global Peace Index. But you must consider street and civil crimes.

Is Chile expensive for tourists?

Chile would not be expensive for tourists if you choose the itinerary carefully. The expense may range between $50 and $75 per day.

Do I need a visa for Chile?

Visitors from the US do not require a visa to go to Chile, and they can stay up to 90 days in the country with the Tourist Card they obtain on their arrival in the country.

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