Chilean Travel Scams and Safety

Chilean travel

Picture by Annais Ferreira/Flickr CC

Your Chilean travel plans should include knowing what scams to avoid there.  One good thing about Chile that is uncommon in the rest of Latin America is that the police force is known for its honesty, and they don’t accept bribes.  Never offer to bribe the police in Chile as the penalty for this is jail.

When traveling in Chile, only take official taxis, as the unofficial ones will often charge you four times as much.  In the airport, go straight to the transport desk and ignore the scammer guys who will try to flash official looking TAXI cards in your face.  These are not the official taxi drivers and will charge very expensive rates.  Always make sure when hailing a cab, that the taxi driver has the meter turned on to avoid any surprises later.  Also, always make sure to carry small change.  Some taxi drivers have been known to tell the visitor that they only used a 1,000 bill when the tourist had actually given a 10,000 bill.

If you are crossing the Chile-Peru border, don’t let the taxi or bus driver convince you that there is a visa fee or tourist card fee.  There is not, but this is often a scam that is played on unsuspecting tourists.  Remember to never pay a fee directly to someone who is not a customs border official.

Robberies can also happen often in the areas of Santiago or Valparaiso, Chile.  People who have worn gold chains have actually had their necklaces ripped right off of their necks.  It is best not to wear flashy jewelry or carry purses or cameras.  There are also a lot of pickpockets in Chile.  Be very careful on buses, at restaurants, and in any other crowded areas.  Don’t ever carry your passport with you, but take a photocopy with you instead.

Chilean travel, in general, is usually safe, but always use caution, be alert, and stay out of remote dark places at night.