A burgeoning city on the road to transformation, Santiago is a destination to visit now before the tourist hordes get there first. But before you rush off, read on for some basic information that will come in handy during your holiday to Chile's capital.

Visa Requirements

Australian passport holders do not require a visa to holiday in Chile, but must pay a reciprocity fee online in order to enter the country. As with all international travel, make sure your passport has at least 6 months' validity before the date of return to Australia. Please be aware this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Chile.

Currency

The currency in Chile is the Chilean Peso. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and Chilean Peso can change regularly, so in order to get the best exchange rate, aim to monitor the rate in the leadup to your trip.

Food

While Santiago has its fair share of South American-style cuisine, its most popular street food is the humble hotdog. Stands can be found all throughout the city serving the typically American meal Chilean-style with mashed avocado and chopped tomato or topped with roasted red peppers and mayonnaise. Other menu staples in Santiago include corn pie, pot roast, shrimp empanadas and congrio frito, a local style of battered fish and chips. Another local speciality not to missed is Barros Luco - a steak sandwich stuffed with a whole avocado and melted cheese and named for a former president. Peruvian food is also easily found in Santiago due to the city's large Peruvian community. As for beverages, Santiago serves up some fantastic local Chilean wine as well as pisco sours made of pisco brandy, sugar, lime juice and egg white.

Nightlife

Locals in Santiago aren't afraid of the dark. In fact, the city is practically nocturnal with dinner commencing as late as 11pm and pub crawls beginning well after midnight. As per the local protocol, don't start your night out on the town too early — you may the only one there. While many locals will wax lyrical about their theatre productions, if you don't speak Spanish there's not really much point. Instead, catch your new friends out later for a pisco sour in the popular bar district of Bellavista where uni students and locals hangout at late-night bars. A number of dance clubs can also be found in this area with everything from live bands to DJs playing international beats. Another student-friendly barrio is Lastarria with heaps of cafes and restaurants to frequent off cobblestone streets and courtyards.

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