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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Chile > Santiago

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Local time Santiago

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Shopping in Santiago

Chile's new affluence has led many European and North American clothing chains to open stores in Santiago. It is a bustling centre of commerce with the facilities to match.

Key areas

The main shopping areas are the Paseo Ahumada, in the downtown district, and the stretch of Avenida Providencia between Metro Pedro de Valdivia and Metro Tobalaba. One of the best places to buy Chilean handicrafts is the shop in the Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda, Plaza de la Ciudadanía 26, run by Artensanias de Chile or the Chilean Crafts Foundation. Artensanias de Chile also has stores in Las Condes and Bellavista.

Markets

There is a large handicraft market, the Centro Artesanal Santa Lucía, Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins (Alameda), opposite Cerro Santa Lucía. The Feria Artesanal Pio Nono, on Calle Pío Nono, in Bellavista, is another flea market selling traditional art. Perhaps the best bargains are to be had in the handicraft emporiums on Santo Domingo, inexplicably ignored by most foreign visitors. Mercado Central (Central Market), a wrought-iron structure (shipped out piece by piece from England in the 19th century), is home to Santiago's Central Market, on the south bank of the Rio Mapocho. With a bustling fish market on the outside, it is the restaurants within that have become the real attraction.

Shopping centres

Chile was a late discoverer of the American-style mall and several such complexes sprang up around Santiago in the 1990s. The most central of these is the Mall del Centro, Calle Puente 689, in the downtown area. Arguably the best is the Parque Arauco centre, Avenida Presidente Kennedy 5413, in the eastern Las Condes district.

Opening hours

Shops open late, around 1000, and will also stay open late, until around 2100. Malls also keep these hours.

Souvenirs

The most popular are leather goods, precious stones, wine and musical instruments such as charango or miniature guitars used by Andean folklore musicians.

Tax information

VAT - known as IVA - is 19 per cent and there is no refund scheme.

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Featured Hotels

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W Santiago

Starwood Hotel's W chain has landed in Santiago, with a blaze of imaginative lighting, colourful fittings and quirky furnishings. Compared with many of the W hotels around the world, this is tempered slightly by Chile's conservative tastes – no bad thing. The 168 rooms are well appointed. The level of service is unsurprisingly high. The rooftop pool is an interesting place to spend a few hours relaxing, and the bar is excellent.

NOI Vitacura

Overlooking the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, NOI Vitacura provides a sanctuary from the urban bustle of the capital. This sleek high-rise hotel oozes style through its contemporary design and sophisticated suites. The rooftop terrace offers a late night bar, pool and unbeatable views of the Andes on a clear day.

ChilHotel

Perhaps the most sensible option of any of the these listings, ChilHotel is practical, comfortable and affordable. On a quiet street within easy walking distance of the Metro in Providencia, it is the sort of place you would be happy to put your parents on a visit to the city with its good-value rooms (although some err on the small side) and polite service.

Hotel Foresta

This beautifully located hotel (right by Cerro Santa Lucía) has been around for a while. It has kept its old style, which means it is chock full of character, although sometimes this spills over into a slightly cluttered feel. However, the service is very attentive and with the arty district of Lastarria right next door, it is one of the best and most affordable options in town.

Ritz Carlton

Setting the standard for hotel opulence in Santiago, this is where the service is impeccable, Egyptian sheets adorn your bed and there is just about every luxury you could possibly desire within the hotel's walls. Gyms, swimming pools, three restaurants and an internationally renowned sommelier are all available to those lucky enough to stay here.

Happy House Hostel

A superb, ambitious renovation makes this colourful converted Barrio Brasil mansion the place to head to satisfy your old bohemian instincts - even though you now have more cash in your pockets. With everything from a games room to a delightful patio with views right over the city, this lovely relaxed place is for former backpackers who can afford to indulge themselves a bit more.