The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Chile

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Chile is a fascinating place to visit, and you can find quite a few attractions to enjoy while you are there. You might want to head to the Torres del Paine National Park, Lago Todos Los Santos, Parque Araucano, the Colchagua Museum, and the Museum of Pre-Columbian Chilean Art.

Rent a vehicle

If you are going to vacation in Chile and you want to see everything you can, having a rental car is a good idea. Consider where you will be going so you can choose the right type of rental. If you stay in the urban areas, a small car is a good choice. If you are going to venture to the rural areas, a 4WD is essential. When you rent the vehicle, make sure you get the phone number and emergency number for the rental agency in case you run into any problems. You need to have insurance for your rental vehicle, which you can get through the agency.

Road conditions and safety

The major roads in Chile are generally in good condition with few potholes or other problems. However, once you get outside of the cities and into the rural areas, you will find that the secondary and mountain roads are often very rough and poorly maintained. If plan to head out of the city, you will need to be careful, and you will want to rend a 4WD vehicle.

When you are renting a vehicle in Chile, you are supposed to have an international driving permit. In some cases, the rental company may rent a vehicle to someone who does not have a permit, but if the police check, they will fine you. To avoid this, make sure you get an international driving permit.

Right turns are prohibited at red lights unless there is a sign saying otherwise. You will drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left side. If you want to rent a car in Chile, you need to be at least 21 years old. Seat belts are required for the driver and for all passengers in the vehicle.

It is not a good idea to drive at night, especially in the rural areas due to the thick fog that often permeates the area.

It is very important to note that the main roads in Santiago often switch direction during the morning and evening rush hours.

  • Morning rush hours – 7 AM to 9 AM
  • Evening rush hours – 5 PM to 7 PM

The drivers in Chile do not always abide by the laws of the road. They do not always signal that they are changing lanes, and many will go well above the speed limit. It is a good idea to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and other drivers.

You are not permitted to use a mobile device without a hands-free system, and you cannot listen to headphones while driving. In addition, while you are driving, you are not allowed to smoke.

Speed limit

Always pay attention to the posted speed limits, which are in km/h. The speed limits for different types of roads are as follows.

  • Outside towns – 100 to 120 km/h
  • Inside towns – 60 km/h

When you visit Chile, having a rental vehicle to use can make getting around much easier.


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