The long skinny country of Chile is a must see, especially on Chilean National Independence Day (September 18). This is when the country comes alive with music, color and their infamous drink, the terremoto. Translated, “terremoto” means earthquake. They say in Chile that the first drink is your earthquake and the second is the aftershock. Jordan and I crossed the border from Argentina into Chile via bus and I will never forget the bathrooms on the Chilean side. They were covered in Chilean flags and the cleaning ladies had a little boom box blasting music. The spirit even in the toilets at the border was cheerful and festive. 

Chile has one of the best economies in South America, if not the best. Getting off the bus in Santiago, it felt like I was in an alternate universe of the USA. There was Maccas, other major fast food chains and shopping malls (not goods being sold on the street like in South East Asia and Argentina). 

Jordan and I spent most of our time in Chile at a beach town close to Santiago, Valparaiso. Valpo is a massively historic city with many colors. The colors came from those who worked at the ports taking extra paint home with them and painting the place with it. Today, the city is alive with colorful murals down to the staircases. It is historically a dangerous city as well. (One of our hostel friends was mugged during our stay.) But with an influx of tourism, it is slowly gentrifying. 

The Chilean coast is dotted with amazing towns as different as Venice, California is to Santa Monica, California. If you came to Chile to surf – well you won’t find a better place. 

While in Chile, Jordan and I did not travel down to Patagonia. As previously stated, the busses are long rides. Flights are never direct, as the airways in South America seem to be as disorganized as the traffic in Cairo was. Patagonia is also extremely expensive. Not up for the adventure at this time in our life, we plan to return for an extended vacation to explore in a few years (after I’ve completed the Camino de Santiago, of course.) 

Things to see and do in Chile

Drink Pisco Sour
Surf, Surf, Surf
Visit the sand dunes of Concon
Take the cable cars in Santiago
Hike Patagonia
Hike Punta Pinte
Buy a van and drive the coast
Celebrate Chilean Independence Day


Accommodation – Jordan and I stayed in hostels the entire time. These hostels cost us about $15/night each. Apart from doing a WorkAway, this is the only affordable way for a backpacker to travel Chile. (Buying a van will cost a lot in gas, but would be worth it!!!) There are sooooo many advantages to the hostel life in Chile and I highly recommend any backpacker to go this route. 

Food – Typical of backpackers, Jordan and I mostly cooked at our hostel. Grocery store prices were comparable to the states, although beer and wine is significantly cheaper. There were many nights we would play games or listen to sing-alongs outside our hostel and everyone would throw in for someone to tribute a wine-run to keep the festivities going. Eating at a restaurant will cost the same as the US. When we felt like something different, we would try a Chilean specialty or maaaasive empanada sold on the street. (Water safety is not an issue here.)

Transportation – Ah the good ‘ol Greyhound, plane, buying a camper or your own two feet are the best options! Always go public. Chose to live the culture of where you are and save at the same time!

Suggested daily budget – 40 USD/day (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)


Completo The Chilean hot dog piled with everything. And everything can range from mayo, avocado, tomato, relish, onions, tomatoes and even little crispy fries.
Sopapillas Friggin delicious little pumpkin cake breads sold on the street.
Chorri The best loaded fries you will have in your entire life. Please pair with a terremoto.
Mote con huesillos This is a weird Chilean food/drink. It consists of mulled wheat or barley, and peaches. It is the weirdest thing but such a big part of the summer in Chile, one must.

Language Lesson

Chilean Spanish is not Spanish. It’s just not. Chilean Spanish is a thing entirely of its own. Other Spanish speakers know it, and Chileans laugh and agree with it. 

What to pack for your trip

Everything you need from deserts to glaciers.

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