As above I am visiting these three places in June/July. Just looking for some hints and tips for my visit? weather/Safety/Nightlife and things to do really. Also best ways to get from and to the airports.
I have also heard I need vaccines to enter Brazil/Argentina and Chile is this true?
Programs: LanPass Premium, AA (former gold), MileagePlus
Last time I was in Rio (2009) they didn't ask me for the yellow fever vaccine, though I got it.
Rio in june has good weather. I had sunny days and enjoyed the beach and the view from Corcovado (2001). Sometimes in winter there are cold winds that come from the south and days could be cool but not that chilly. After the winds are gone the heat is back.
Programs: LAN Regular Teaspoons, BAEC, Avianca Lifemiles, HHonors Gold
Santiago: Turbus transfers is my favourite compromise for getting to and from the airport. Shared mini bus dropping you at your hotel with a fixed price.
I hadn't been to SCL for 2 years last time I went and I reckon it has upped its game somewhat, Bellavista was kicking for beers and wine. Likewise the Bella Artes district is lively, laid back, cool and bookish.
"Boring boring Santiago" also treated us to a drunken street brawl outside our hotel's bedroom window which was a treat to behold. It certainly appealed to me as a Brit.
Providencia around Metro Los Leones where the 4 Points by Sheraton is, is still as dull as dishwater but not unpretty and definitely safe (save for normal city smarts)
No vaccines to enter Chile I don't think (I have arrived from Madrid, Lima and Bogotá) but don't take any food with you, they are fussy and confiscated my pine nuts and porcini mushrooms a couple of years back. Back in 2003 ish there used to be a really funny sign telling you which ham you could enter with.
Weather-wise, June & July are not the best months to be visiting Santiago and Buenos Aires. The days will be short (about ten hours of daylight) and temperatures will be cool, probably around 15C during the day and in Santiago temperatures will likely dip to near freezing at night (it will be a few degrees warmer at night in BsAs). You could get rain in either city. In my experience it rains more often in the summer in BsAs but winter is the rainy season in Santiago and you could get a day-long storm easily enough. The benefit of this is that this will clean the air (see below) and you will be rewarded with a spectacular but short-lived view of the Andean cordillera immediately east of the city.
Santiago has mad significant strides in improving air quality over the years but it remains prone to stable thermal inversions in the winter which bring choking smog. There isn't much you can do about other than hope for rain, and be thankful that you don't have to breathe that stuff all winter long.
I just posted in another thread that our trip to BA/Santiago was amazing. I would recommend if you make it to BA to try to incorporate a day or two in Iguaza Falls. There is not a lot to do, but the landscape is simply breath taking.
Both locations have lots to offer. Lots of good resources on this site besides the usual google options.
Programs: AA, BA, UA, COPA (pending), Air Canada (dormant)
Cheapo option from/to Santiago Airport is the Centropuerto bus ($3 ew) - stops at Pajaritos metro on way in and city centre stop is at Los Heroes on the Alameda.
I write from limited experience of a few stopover days in Santiago between flights but I feel relatively safe in Santiago (with appropriate common sense) and find the metro a good, clean, safe enough way to get around (again, with appropriate common sense but no more than required on the London Underground).
There are some nice asado restaurants on the Avenida Cumming and the Barrio Brasil provides edgier but trendy entertainment for those as young as I wish I still was!
Some nice parks and museums and for alternative shopping experiences, there are both an old fashioned shopping arcade and a modern shopping centre on either side of the Estacion Central.
Last edited by rmb.flk; Apr 23, 12 at 11:07 am.
Reason: Adding PS and correcting grammar!
I have never heard of any of these countries requiring vaccinations from travelers. I've certainly never been asked to provide proof of anything.
Of the three cities, BA is probably the most interesting, Rio the most beautiful, and Santiago the most boring. BA and Rio are pretty well known for live music venues and things like that - tango in BA, samba/bossa nova etc in Rio. In BA, a major area for that kind of nightlife is San Telmo, while in Rio you can find numerous places in Lapa. Be advised, though, that Lapa outside the main club area has a reputation for being pretty tough at night. I'd recommend taking a taxi to/from the area when you go.
Nightlife in Santiago is far less interesting, although there's a pretty lively 20-something scene in Barrio Bellavista, and more of a scruffy alternative vibe in Barrio Brasil. But Chile's cultural scene is far less vibrant than in either of the other two countries.
As to safety, both Santiago and BA are probably safer than London. Just exercise common sense and you should be fine. Rio is another story. During the day you're probably OK most places a tourist would be, but at night I'd stick to walking only in the busy streets of the Zona Sul. If you go downtown or to the Lapa area, take a cab for safety's sake. While I've never personally felt threatened in Rio, I've heard lots of stories and would definitely suggest that a first-time visitor err on the side of caution.
As to airport transit, I'd echo the recommendation to use the Centropuerto bus option in Santiago. In BA I'd take a Manuel Tienda León bus from the airport to your hotel - there's an insanely cheap public bus, but it can take two hours + to the center. In Rio I'd take a cab as well - the public bus is quite comfortable, but it takes forever with traffic.