How to Travel on a Budget in Chile
Is Chile cheap to travel to? If you're wondering how to budget travel in Chile when it is one of the most expensive countries in South America, keep reading! Yes, you can still travel for cheap in Chile but you will have to be more mindful of how you spend your money.
The easiest way to know the cost of travel in Chile is to check out Budget Your Trip. This will give you an estimated budget per day, and what you will be spending your money on and you can also select your budget type.
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Food Cost in Chile
How much does it cost to eat out?
A meal will cost anywhere from the low range of $5 USD to a high range of $20 USD (CL $4500-19,000). This is not including alcohol. A beer at a restaurant will cost anywhere from $3.50-8 USD (CL $2500-5000).
How much does it cost for groceries?
Here are a few basic items you might buy for your lunch:
White sliced bread: $2.62 USD (CL $2550)
Processed cheese slices (8): $2.52 USD (CL $2450)
Deli chicken (8): $2.97 USD (CL $2890)
Total: $8.12 USD (CL $7890) or ~$1.01 or CL $986/sandwich.
It is a little shocking how much food costs, even in a grocery store! Now saying that buying your food at the grocery store and preparing 1-2 meals per day is still cheaper than eating out for every meal. The easiest meal to prepare is breakfast and then make a sandwich or bring snacks for lunch. Depending on your accommodation, breakfast might be included.
If you do want to eat out, there are cheaper options than a restaurant. There are cheap food trucks everywhere or check out the convenience stores. You can get completos (hotdogs) or empanadas or sandwiches for $1-3 USD.
If you are going to go to a restaurant, try and go to the local ones as they are a bit cheaper than in the touristy places.
Accommodation Cost in Chile
How much is the accommodation?
Here's a list of room types you will come across. Prices do vary depending on where you are but here is the normal range you will expect to pay. I've also given the average of what it normally costs to help you with your budget for Chile.
Single Room: $20-45 USD. Average $32 USD
Twin Rooms (price for the room): $25-60 USD. Average $35 USD
Dorm Rooms (price per person): $11-30 USD. Average $17 USD
Cabins (total for 4 people): $90-150 USD. Average $115 USD
If you're surprised about food prices, accommodation prices will blow your mind! It depends on where you are (cities are cheaper than outdoor/park areas) and how much you will pay. You can pay anywhere from $11 USD to over $200 USD (CL $19,000- >194,000). Santiago tends to have cheaper options as there is more selection.
A budget travel option for Chile is to book your accommodation directly rather than online as it tends to be cheaper. Most accommodations will have a website or WhatApp that you can reach them on with set prices. Accommodation with the words 'Hostal' or 'Hospedaje' tends to be cheaper. Do not confuse the word 'Hostal' for meaning a youth hostel. It usually never is unless you're in a main, touristy city. Normally it just means a budget-friendly place.
Try to travel with somebody as twin rooms tend to be cheaper than single rooms (and not everywhere has hostels/dorms). If you are traveling in a large group of 3 or 4, there are possibilities to rent cabins that come fully equipped with kitchenware, bedding, furniture, and more. Renting a cabin when you're in a park area will be much cheaper than a hotel in the same area and you can make your own food.
Camping is also an option. If you have you're own tent and gear, you can rent a campsite for cheap.
Inside Refuigo Del Tricahue cabin at Parque Natural Tricahue
Transport Cost for Chile
How much does transport cost in Chile?
Coach buses: $6-36 USD (CL $6,000-35,000)
Minibusses: $0.70-3 USD (CL $700-3000)
Uber: $1.50-6 ($1500-5000-around the city)
Taxi: $2-6 (CL $2000-5000-around the city)
Collectivos: $0.70-0.90 (CL $700-900)
City Bus: $0.40-0.70 (CL $400-700)
Chile is well connected with public transport and you can basically get anywhere you need to. There are a variety of transport options. In the cities, you might have a subway station, buses, taxis, collectivos, and Ubers. To go long distances, there are coach buses and for shorter journeys, you'll have minibusses.
Hitchhiking is also an option and actually suggested by a lot of places we stayed at. Hitching around Chile is quite safe and very common. We did hitchhike a few times and I was always surprised by how easily we were picked up.
The cheapest way to get around a city is definitely taking the local bus or they have collectivos (a taxi type of system but they have certain areas they go to and only charge a certain price).
Minibusses have a base price they start at regardless of how far you go and there is usually a sign on the bus with a list of prices. Minibus schedules are a little bit loose, depending on the season and day. It's better to go to the bus station to know exactly when they leave and always ask the driver for the last bus time if you need to catch a bus back.
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Tours Costs in Chile
Day Tours: $40-100 USD (CL $30,00-98,000). Average $60 USD
Multi-Day Tours: $100-300 USD (CL $98,000-292,000) depending on how many days
Tours can be a bit pricey in Chile, especially if you're on a budget. If you're confident in doing things and getting around by yourself, only do tours if you really need to. Some attractions (like climbing up volcanoes) do require you to do it with a tour but if you're thinking of doing a tour because you don't have a vehicle to get there, renting a vehicle is quite easy and cheap in Chile. Renting a car costs anywhere between $27-50 USD/day. It is usually cheaper than a tour and can be split by 4 people, in addition with the freedom.
Also, lots of National Parks do have public transport that will go there starting from major cities. It is usually a minibus and normally takes 1-2 hours to get there.
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Attraction Costs in Chile
Most attractions will have some sort of fee but not just a fee, a foreigner fee and these are usually double the price of a local ticket. If you're visiting any national or private parks, there will usually be a fee ranging from $2-20 USD (CL $2000-20,000). The park fees are listed on the CONAF website.
If you're on a budget, check the price for all the places you want to go and then decide if you want to go to all or just a few of them.
Attractions have a fee and a foreign fee which is usually double the price
How Much Should I Budget in Chile?
If you're going to Chile on a budget, your daily budget for Chile will be about $45-60 USD for basic costs. Add a little bit more if you're going to be doing tours, eating out more, or doing more attractions than normal. Traveling on a budget in Chile is absolutely possible with a bit of research and sticking to the budget you set out.
Withdrawing money from ATMs will likely occur a fee and even using your credit card in some instances will have a CL $300 charge.