Welcome to the southernmost country in the world, Chile. This beautiful country is known for its stunning landscapes, from coastal gems along the blue Pacific to unique rock formations in the Atacama Desert.
Have fun exploring the bustling streets of Santiago, or get lost in nature at the Torres del Paine National Park. Chile is a fantastic place to visit, filled with wonderful places to visit and so much to experience.
You may be planning a trip to Chile and wondering, is it safe? The short answer is yes, as long as you follow some basic rules and take precautions in certain areas. Don’t worry. This guide covers everything you need to know, so be sure to continue reading.
Why Visit Chile
Listed as one of the best places to visit in South America, Chile gets thousands of tourists each year, and it’s not hard to see why. This South American country is breathtaking and has plenty of adventures in store for you.
Take a trip to the number one Chilean attraction, Torres del Paine National Park. Stroll through the green forests, rent a kayak, and paddle along the Rio Serrano. If you’d like something more extreme, how about ice-picking your way up the Grey Glacier?
Looking to be amazed? Head on over to the Marble Caves. You’ll be greeted with beautiful swirls of blacks, grays, blues, and greens that form the magnificent marble. Spend some time relaxing and soaking up the sun on the beaches of Bahia Inglesa. If that’s not reason enough, how about exploring the galaxy? Make your way to the mountains of Coquimbo for an unbelievable star-gazing experience.
Is Chile Dangerous?
While crime has increased in Chile, there are still areas considered to be relatively safe compared to others. That said, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
Chile is still one of the safest countries compared to its neighboring Latin American countries. It came in as the 58th safest country in the world on the Global Peace Index. Tourists are usually targeted for petty crimes like, pickpocketing, bag snatchings, and muggings. Other things to be aware of are the natural disasters in this area.
Chile is also known for the occasional earthquakes and visitors experiencing altitude sickness (when visiting the higher regions), so pay attention to any updates or alerts in the country.
Dangerous Areas in Chile
This neighborhood is located in the capital of Chile, Santiago. It is a very popular tourist spot due to the many restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and the magnificent urban park — Parque Bicentenario.
Since Vitacura sees a lot of visitors, it has unfortunately become a hot spot for petty theft. While you shouldn’t avoid this area completely, it’s essential to consider the potential dangers of pickpocketing, mugging, and robbery.
If you’re adding Vitacura to your list, keep your valuables close and don’t flash around devices (phone or camera) and money. Avoid walking at night, but if you must, ensure you’re with someone.
Located south of Santiago, Rancagua is a well-known historical spot in Chile. The city is dedicated to those who fought in the Battle of Rancagua in 1814 during Chile’s War of Independence.
What was once such a strong historical symbol is now one of the riskier areas to visit. Unfortunately, Rancagua sees a lot of drug-related crimes, car break-ins, and robberies. While incidents can occur any time of day, this area becomes increasingly unsafe at night. There is also a lot of pickpocketing in Rancagua, which is usually aimed at tourists due to their flashy cameras and money.
Is it Safe to Live in Chile?
Although there are a lot of petty crimes that take place, for those visiting or taking up permanent residence, Chile is safe. It’s one of the safest South American countries and has a lot of positives, such as pleasant weather, beautiful landscapes, and one of the best healthcare systems in the area.
Regarding serious crimes such as homicides, Chile has a low rate of about 4.84 incidents per 100,000 people. When you compare these statistics to the United States, which saw 6.52 incidents per 100,000 people, you’ll see that Chile is quite safe.
If you’re looking for accommodation, be sure to check out this list of the best places to live in Chile.
Safe Areas/Cities in Chile
You’ll find Providencia in the bustling capital of Chile, Santiago. With all the petty crime in Santiago, you’ll be pleased to know that eastern Providencia is one of the safest neighborhoods.
There’s lots to explore, and you can enjoy it all while knowing the crime rate is quite low. This charming part of town is known for its cosmopolitan vibe, which includes lots of restaurants, boutiques, and cultural attractions.
That said, it’s always important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
Known for its long beaches, La Serena is located on Chile’s coast and is the capital of the Coquimbo region. Many visitors flock to La Serena for all its beauty and great things to do. Explore the city to appreciate the neo-colonial architecture, visit the iconic lighthouse at El Faro, or soak up the sun along the shores.
Besides its many tourist attractions, La Serena is very safe. It has a low crime rate, and tourists can walk safely during the day and even at night. Most common crimes, such as robbery, pickpocketing, and muggings, are rare and almost never happen here.
Located in the Colchagua Valley, this charming town is listed as one of the safest areas in Chile. Santa Cruz is known for its many wineries and offers exciting tours and tastings. You can enjoy exploring the town and admiring the preserved colonial architecture.
The locals are warm and welcoming, so visitors can expect to be greeted with open arms. The crime rate is low in Santa Cruz, and petty theft only happens occasionally. As with any new place you visit, staying vigilant and keeping your valuables close is always important.
Warnings & Dangers in Chile
As with most countries, crime can happen anywhere at any time. No matter how safe a place is said to be, it’s crucial to always be alert and keep your eyes peeled. Chile is quite safe, with a few crime-related issues here and there, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting.
Certain places have a higher crime rate than others, so if you don’t want to take any chances, it’s best to avoid these areas. Common crime occurrences include pickpocketing, mugging, robbery, and carjackings. Chile is also known for its earthquakes, so pay attention to local alerts.
Overall Travel Risk (5/10)
The overall travel risk to Chile is low. You’ll find that most of the crimes that take place are petty, and there are things that you can do to try and avoid them. Pickpocketing is the most common occurrence and usually happens in touristy hotspots, which is not uncommon worldwide. There have also been reports of muggings, mostly to those walking alone at night.
This seems to be something that happens everywhere. Thieves usually target tourists since it’s safe to assume they’d have money and other valuables on them.
Pickpocketing often occurs in crowded places (touristy spots) since you won’t feel much when there are a lot of people on top of one another. This is why it’s so important to keep your valuables secure.
Thieves may also try to distract you. They could strike up a conversation to keep your attention on them while someone else takes your things. Don’t leave your phone on a table in a restaurant, as this is the perfect opportunity for the distraction method.
Another common petty crime that seems to take place around the world is mugging and bag snatching. Victims are usually targeted when they have a loose hanging purse or pouch that can easily be grabbed.
Besides the quick snatch and grab, mugging can occur when people walk alone, especially at night. In this case, if you are held up, it’s important to just hand over any valuables immediately and not put up a fight.
Unfortunately, ATM skimmers are a thing in Chile. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an ATM skimmer is a device that can steal your credit card information.
Thieves place it over the card reader, so when you insert your card, you’re actually putting it through the skimmer. Once in, it collects the data from the magnetic strip. Finally, when you put your PIN in, it saves it.
The skimmer is designed to look like the ATM card reader, so you may not even know. This is why you should only use ATMs inside bank branches or reputable places. If you are concerned, here’s how to identify an ATM skimmer.
Chile is known for its earthquakes and, in recent years, has seen more than before. This beautiful country is located on the Nazca Plate, which makes for a very diverse and beautiful region, but sadly it also leads to earthquakes, tremors, tsunamis, and active volcanoes.
Luckily Chilean locals are familiar with all this and are able to alert everyone when they pick something up. It’s vital to keep updated with local news before you go and while there.
Tips for Staying Safe in Chile
Chile is a beautiful country to visit, and you shouldn’t feel discouraged because of its petty crime and natural disasters. If you follow a few tips, you can have a safe and fantastic visit.
- Stay Informed: Keep your ears peeled for alerts of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcano eruptions. It’s also a good idea to keep track of any political issues (as they’ve had protests before) or any other local news.
- Watch Your Luggage: Sadly, another common petty crime is luggage theft. It often takes place at bus stations in Chile. So always keep an eye on your bags and never leave them unattended.
- Use Licensed Transportation: Always use licensed transportation such as Uber and Lyft, and don’t use random taxis just parked outside busy spots.
- Secure Your Belongings: Keep all your valuables in a moon bag and make sure it’s closed. You can either have it around your waist or, for extra precaution, keep it under your t-shirt or sweater so it’s hidden.
- Stay Vigilant: Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you notice anything suspicious, walk away or try to find the authorities.
Is Chile Safe | Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chile Safe for Female Travelers?
Yes, Chile is quite safe for females traveling alone. However, it’s best to follow all the tips and tricks above, regardless of gender. You may experience some unwanted attention on the streets, but it’s usually harmless. Stay away from empty streets and always stick with crowds, just to be safe.
Is Chile Safe For LGBTQIA+ Travelers?
Yes, you’ll find that the urban and modernized cities are very welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community. Chile also legalized homosexuality in 1993, so the country is very open. Obviously, with that being said, laws and people’s mindsets don’t always align, so the more rural parts of Chile may not be as liberal as the populated cities.
Is it safe to walk around Santiago?
Yes, it’s pretty safe to walk around during the day. You’ll find many people out and about exploring the city however, it’s best not to walk at night, especially alone. Santiago also has certain unsafe areas, so just keep your eyes out and research before heading anywhere.
Is public transportation safe in Chile?
Yes, Chile has a great public transportation system. The buses and trains are pretty clean and spacious. However, it’s important to stay vigilant. Bus and train stations are a hotspot for petty theft, such as pickpocketing and luggage theft. Always watch your belongings, and don’t leave anything unattended.