Chile Taxis and Car Rental
In Chile, metered taxis are easily recognizable by black panels and a yellow roof. Taxis are fairly safe and cheap and can be hailed from anywhere or booked through Radio Taxi (+56-2-984-2896 in Santiago). The phone number varies regionally so consult the local yellow pages or hotel reception. Another local cab company in Santiago is Las Perdices (+56-2-227-2546).
Rental cars are ideal to explore the more remote areas, but in large cities such as Santiago it is less appealing due to traffic. The major routes between places have excellent roads, but conditions deteriorate the further out you go. Signs are also very different than in America and Europe and the streets tend to be narrower. Rental costs and gas prices are higher than in America, but less than Europe. Many major firms have a presence in Chile, particularly in airports or popular tourist areas. Drivers must be over 25 years of age with a valid passport, license and major credit card in order to obtain a vehicle.
The main area for getting around by boat is Chile’s far south, where a network of privately run ferries operates through the fjords, inlets and channels of the archipelago. The two main operators are Navimag and CTP. The scenic ferry trip between Puerto Montt and Chacabuco is popular, as is the route from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.
Chile Buses and Trains
Chile has a well-developed road network serviced by affordable buses which ply local, intercity and international routes. There are bus links from Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. Turbus and Pullman offer nationwide services which are a good option for getting between cities and towns in Chile, with the main terminal being at the Universidad de Santiago subway station. The price and quality vary greatly so be sure to shop around. Some international connections can be closed in winter due to snow.
Within the towns, minibuses are the way to get around and have their destination displayed in the window. In Santiago, travelers need to visit a subway station or supermarket to pre-purchase a BIP smart travel card (like a prepaid debit card) in order to ride a micro. These also work for subway travel. In regions outside of Santiago, travelers can usually purchase a ticket on board.
Colectivos, affordable group taxis that run a mini-bus like service along set routes, are another way to get around. Colectivos usually wait outside metro stations and depart once a minimum number of passengers have boarded, but more can join by hailing them from the street en route.
Chile is not known for having much of a train network, although there are reasonable metro services operating in Santiago and Valparaiso. From Santiago’s central station, there are limited intercity trains that go to Chillan, Concepcion and Temuco.