Plaza de Armas in Santiago de Chile, Chile

October 28th Update: Violence continued over the weekend as millions took to the street of Santiago and Chile at large, but calm may finally find its way to the city this week. At least 20 people were killed by live fire during last weeks marches. The Chilean Government has now announced changes, sacking virtually all cabinet ministers, which with any hope will bring ease to the unrest during the week starting October 28th and restore calm to a city which badly needs it.

After months of unrest in Hong Kong, the world shifted its attention to Santiago, Chile, where riots throughout the city and surrounding suburbs have killed at least 20 people. The fight certainly isn’t against tourists, but as one of the most popular destinations in South America, and a gateway to many of the best outdoor areas of the continent, it’s important to know what to expect, and many are now wondering whether it’s still safe to go…

What’s Happening In Santiago, Chile?

Chile tops the list of developed nations with the greatest inequality between rich and poor. It’s beautiful, its cities are world class, but there’s immense cultural tension. Riots in the country began after a government proposal to raise metro transit prices, which acted as a catalyst to highlight the growing inequality in a nation already dealing with it in droves.

The proposals have since been shelved, but the damage was already done. To ease unrest, the President announced the sacking of all cabinet ministers, in hopes of forming a new government capable of addressing inequality. As of October 28th, the country is hoping for renewed peace.

Violent Protests All Around The City

Unfortunately, it’s been absolute chaos in Santiago, Chile with at least 20 deaths from police clashes with protestors. The government has called a state of emergency for the last week, but it’s hoping to end the curfew and emergency as soon as possible, as mass looting and rioting have calmed down. According to the BBC, more than 40 lootings have occurred and gunshots have been fired.

Is It Safe To Visit Chile Right Now?

The unrest is centred around domestic issues, not tourists, but things aren’t exactly business as usual in Coquimbo, Biobío, Santiago or Valparaiso. Metro stations have been destroyed and all public transit in the city of Santiago is currently suspended. In other words: if you planned to use it, that’s not really currently possible.

With all hope, the city will return to some form of normalcy by the end of the week though.

Similarly, airlines have cancelled flights into and out of the city amidst the uncertainty. Metro stations are expected to reopen and things could get back to normal rather quickly, but for the time being, it’s just a bit chaotic to travel to the city for leisure purposes.

If your travel is more than 2 weeks into the future, there’s no reason to suspect clashes will continue, but if you’re headed there this week, you may want to consider alternative plans, or at least keep up to date on the developments.

How To Stay On Top Of The Situation

The US State Department offers updated travel advice, as does the UK Foreign Office. These two sources are excellent for up to date information on potential travel risks, and more importantly – what to do if you find yourself in a compromised position.

At the moment, Chile sits at “Level 1” in the US travel advisory system, which is the lowest possible rating a country can have, or rather – the best in terms of safety out of 4. The UK is a 2, and Syria is a 4, for comparison sake. Expect this number to change if unrest continues, and be sure to stay on top of the situation.

We’ll update this page as things change.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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12 Comments

  1. Heading to Santiago on Saturday as a jump off point to the rest of Chile and Argentina. Hopefully flights resume as normal and maybe I’ll have to find another place to stay for the first 3 nights

    Looking forward to updates, thank you!

  2. Steve, I am resident at Vina del Mar, and our region, along with several cities, are still under martial law and curfews. I suggest to switch your itinerary and continue on to Buenos Aires, visiting there and then returning to Chile when it gets back to normal. Cheers, Carlos

    1. Thank you, Carlos. I have a scheduled vacation to Santiago, Chile starting 10/30 then to Buenos Aires, Argentina via LATAM. It sounds like things are not getting any better and may take your suggestion to skip Chile, however the airline is going to charge me change fees plus probably any fare difference which may end up the same amount I paid for the airfare. Do any of you have suggestions on how to navigate this tricky situation? I’m going to call the airlines tomorrow and see what my options are. Thanks again!

  3. Wow, just landed in Santiago last night and was shocked to see such sites on the way to the hotel as we were unaware.
    Any pointers on what to do or how to be stay safe and get around for our next few days before we fly out to Lima?
    Thanks Kate

    1. Hello Kate – What area area you staying at? I’ll be heading there in a few days and still undecided if I should proceed as the airline have not provided waivers or cancelled the flights to Santiago. The hotel I planned to stay at are temporarily closed for the safety of their employees and guests which is in the city center. I was not sure if staying at Las Condes would be better for tourists. If you could share some of your experience and areas to avoid, please do as I can’t find much specific information. Thanks!

  4. We are flying to Santiago on Dec 20th. Hoping everything will be calm by then, just watching and waiting right now. Meanwhile, wanting to track this thread. Keep sharing experiences and advice everyone. Thanks!

  5. I am not flying until Dec 30th..staying l night Holiday Inn at Santiago airport, then to Easter island. Coming back we were going to stay downtown Santiago for a couple days before heading out on cruise. Do you think it would be wiser, after our 3 days on Easter Island, to come back and just stay at the Santiago airport hotel before leaving Jan 5 on cruise? I was going to use VIATOR for a tour down to Varisparo to cruise terminal..good idea or no? Thank you for alleviating my concerns!

  6. Hello, I’m travelling with my husband on 24th November, we’re using several internal flights, does anybody have experience of how these are being affected? Our route is Santiago, straight up to San pedro de atacama, then down to Puerto Natalas, back to Santiago and driving to winelands. The updated foreign office advice is worrying, with a national strike taking place on 12 Nov, and expectation of daily protests. I’d really value any updates from people who are in Chile now, how it’s all looking / feeling out there? Is it safe to travel…? Many thanks.

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