Welcome to Chile!
Chile is a beautiful country with rich culture, largely influenced by the European heritage. Chileans have remained relatively homogenous with predominance of the Spanish language and the strong influence of Roman Catholicism. The inhabitants of the country are a combination of both indigenous groups and Spanish. The natives are culturally rich and their culture and customs are officially protected by the Indigenous Peoples Law. Chileans in general, are more formal than others in South America. They are usually well-educated and quite sophisticated. Courtesy and respect are the guiding principles of good etiquette. The following Chile travel tips, taboo, dos and donts will help you to have a safe and wonderful trip to Chile!
Chile Travel Taboo
Abortion is illegal.
Chile Travel Donts
- Do not say “no” in Chile. Chileans dislike saying “no,” particularly in business dealings. Diplomacy is essential.
- Do not be offended by Chileans asking personal questions. Be willing to devote a fair amount of time talking about family, friends and your background.
- Do not go empty-handed to anyone’s home. Gift-giving is a popular custom in all of Latin America. Do not give scissors or knives as a gift which indicates severing the relationship. Open a gift upon receipt. Gifts for children are greatly appreciated.
- Do not sit until told where to sit. Do not begin eating until the hostess invites everyone to start. Do not begin drinking until a toast has been made.
- Do not get upset if you’re called a “gringo”. Chileans tend to call all foreigners that.
- Do not photograph Native American people without permission.
- Do not beckon with the hand which is considered bad form. Yawns should be stifled or covered by the hand.
- Do not pour wine with the left hand while grasping the neck of the bottle which is a big no-no in Chile.
- Do not hold your fist upright and level to your head which is considered a communist sign and should be avoided.
- Do not make a fist and slapping it against the other hand, or hold the hand as if holding a round object. Both would be misinterpreted as “screw you.”
- Do not be offended if a Chilean stands too close. Like other Latin Americans, Chileans tend to stand much closer to one another than in Europe and North America when conversing.
Chile Travel Dos
- Do shake hands with eye contact. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting between men and sometimes embellished with a kiss on the right cheek for women.
- Do learn a few Spanish. Many Chileans do not speak English. Common greetings are: “Qui’ubo?”/What’s up?”, “Como esta?/How are you?”, “Gusto de verte/Nice to see you.”
- Do dress neat and conservatively. Women will usually wear modest skirts or dresses and men will usually wear pants.
- Do be friendly and humble, behave conservatively whenever possible. Chileans by nature are friendly, they dislike arrogance.
- Do bring a gift of a bouquet of flowers or wine for the hostess when invited to a Chilean home, but do not give yellow roses which indicate disrespect, purple and black flowers which used for mourning.
- Do keep both hands above the table throughout the meal and finish everything on your plate. It is considered impolite to ask for or accept second helpings of food.
- Do understand the habit of using two surnames in Chile. As in other Latin American countries, it is customary to give a child the family names of both parents, and the mother is also known officially retains her maiden name in addition to her husband’s name.
- Do develop personal relationship and understand the phenomenon importance of contacts. In Chile, as in most of Latin America, the personal relationships are the key to success.
- Do avoid talking politics and religion. Center on families, children, history and the arts. Easter Island is a very interesting subject for all.
- Do tipping. It is customary to tip 10-15% in restaurants. A tip of 20 percent is customary in bars where service has not been added to the bill.
- Do wear a hat and using sunscreen. Southern Chile lies in a significant ozone hole, the sun rays can be hazardous, also bring warm clothing and rain gear to the south, the weather here is very changeable.
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