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.
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.
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.
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.
Shops open late, around 1000, and will also stay open late, until around 2100. Malls also keep these hours.
The most popular are leather goods, precious stones, wine and musical instruments such as charango or miniature guitars used by Andean folklore musicians.
VAT - known as IVA - is 19 per cent and there is no refund scheme.