Safety in Chile
The major cities of Santiago and Valparaiso are the areas to which the following suggestions are most applicable. In general, Chile is a very safe country for travel. You will find a police presence even in the most remote areas of the country.
However, it is prudent to make simple precautions:
- keep your documents in a locker in your hotel room or hotel safe - somewhere not easily accessible.
- store your money in several locations; never put all of your money in one pocket, purse, etc. A good idea is to sew in several inside pockets, or to wear a money pouch below the waist (not outside your closes).
Another good idea is to keep an elasticized support bandage above the elbow where you could store your money and checks. It is not a smart idea to wear your biggest diamonds on your fingers while traveling - or any other clearly expensive jewelry. In busy markets and streets keep your bag in front of you or under your arm; have a small lock for your backpack.
There are three kinds of police in Chile. Carabineros, in green uniform, handle everything except immigration issues. Investigaciones, who dress in civilian clothing, deal with all issues except traffic Policia internacional handle immigration issues.
Con-artists acting like the investigaciones (civilian-dressed police) have been known to tag tourists, so always ask for identification and be wary if they ask any of you. Never hand over any money or identification to them; never take them back to your hotel/area of stay.
Spraying a condiment upon a traveler seemingly by mistake, apologetically cleaning you off while simultaneously stealing your wallet, watch, or anything else you may have in your pockets.
Safety for Women Travelers:
Proceed cautiously until you have adjusted to the culture of each new city/region. Befriending a local woman may be a golden key to the country. Taxis at night can potentially be just as dangerous as wandering the streets alone after dark. Dress your most conservative at borders; but make sure to dress conservatively over-all. A good idea is to wear a wedding ring and have pictures of your "children" and "husband' (who is always very close by) - this can cut off much unwanted attention from the start. Always walk with confidence, even if you have no idea where it is you are going.
One must remember, however, that the current president in Chile is a woman, and this would not be possible if the dominant attitude in the country was one of extreme machoism.
Price bargaining is only acceptable, to some extent, with street vendors. Always be very polite, very courteous, and even slightly humble though firm in your decisions. Chileans are very conscious of social etiquette, and feel that warmth and good old fashioned politeness can only improve their daily life.