Some tips from the locals so that you avoid putting your foot in it on your forthcoming trip to this fabulous country. If you play your cards right, the locals will treat you respectfully and truly welcome you. Bear in mind these tidbits of advice and all should run smoothly. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.
Expect everyone to speak English
Even if you don’t have a knack for languages, showing that you’re making an effort goes a very long way. It’s not hard to learn a few of the bare basics, such as; gracias (thank you) (pronounced ‘graci-ah’ in Chile), permiso (excuse me) and por favor (please).
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Say Pisco is made in Peru
The age-old debate really can get the blood boiling of some of the more patriotic Chileans. Pisco is a delicious, sweet grape brandy, made in Valle del Elqui, which is near La Serena. It is most commonly known for the delectable Pisco Sour cocktail, or Piscola.
Grouse about their efficiency, or lack thereof
Mañana, mañana! (Tomorrow, tomorrow!) is a very common response when you want to get something done. There is no way around it, so just sit tight and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was Chile.
Call strangers a wéon
This is one of the most commonly used words in the Chilean language, but if used wrong, can cause great offence. If you use it among friends it can be a term of endearment or banter, if used with strangers it will be taken as an insult.
Smoke or make fires in the national parks
The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in Latin America and the Chileans want to keep it that way. In the past, fires have spread rapidly from campfires, which are not permitted in the park, due to strong winds and combustible vegetation. The park has been badly scarred twice, once in 2005 and again in 2011.
Wave your selfie stick around obnoxiously
If you absolutely have to use your selfie stick, please try and use it responsibly. No one wants to be hit in the face by you flailing it around, trying to get every angle of your face. Respect the locals and people around you.
Compare it to home
If you are feeling out of your comfort zone, embrace it! Chile is fabulous in its own unique way. In fact, once you leave you’ll probably be craving its quirky idiosyncrasies and jaw droppingly beautiful landscapes and views.
Try and get the metro at rush hour
We have warned you, crammed sardines in a tin is what happens between 5pm and 7pm, so you might have to wait for one with enough space. At this time of day there is no “after you”; there is pushing, shoving and the aggressive shouting of ‘permiso’ when someone needs to get off, shoving past the many commuters.
Forget to tip
For those who work in restaurants, the wage is very low, so it is common to be asked if a 10 percent propina (tip) can be added. It is considered an insult if you refuse, even if you don’t feel the service has been up to standards. In addition, when you visit the supermarkets, students will help you pack your bags, hoping for some change, CL$100-300 (less than 50¢) should be sufficient.
Be insensitive about the country’s past
Many Chileans are still sensitive about their political history under the Pinochet regime. The older generations may have had family that disappeared and were never to be found again, so one must tread around the subject carefully when discussing these matters.
Pass the salt to a Chilean
A superstition that has been passed down through the ages, it is not advisable to pass someone the salt hand to hand because it is thought you will then fall out with that person. Instead, place it on the table near them.
Try to drive around Santiago
This really is a minefield, unless you are an expert at driving around cities where anything goes, where rules fly out the window, drink driving isn’t uncommon, and the final nail in the coffin is that the insurance is mind boggling.
Assume that cars will stop at a pedestrian crossing
Never assume! Always check both sides of the street first before embarking across the crossing. And even when you have, you should be ready to jump out of the way if a driver is speeding along with no intention of slowing down.
Expect things to be on time
Unless you have a business meeting with an international company, the chances are extremely high that everything will be at least 10 minutes late, maybe more, so take a seat and relax. If you are attending a dinner party, don’t arrive on time as it can be considered rude.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.