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the fp is shopping-nightlife

Chile Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Chile

Special purchases include textiles such as colourful hand-woven ponchos, vicuna rugs, alpaca jumpers and copper and silver work. Most small towns and villages throughout Chile will have a local market or stores which will offer handcrafts at prices much lower than what you’d find in Santiago. Negotiation of prices at markets is possible and can be attempted, although not aggressively. A genuine smile and a ‘please’ in Chile can go far when it comes to lowering prices.

Chile is particularly known for its lapis lazuli jewellery, but jade, amethyst, agate and onyx can all be purchased. Increasing numbers of small boutique stores selling well-crafted jewellery and handmade wares are cropping up in Cerros Alegre and Concepción in Valparaíso. Camping and other outdoor equipment can be bought in Santiago, although you are advised to buy essential equipment before arriving.

Big spenders should head to Alonso de Cordova Street and shopping malls such as Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes in Santiago to pick up luxury brands. For an impressive array of wines from the local wine regions, look no further than the Wine Tasting Room located in Santiago’s hip W Hotel, which features thousands of bottles from around the world. A great souvenir that you can pick up anywhere in Chile is a bottle or two of pisco, Chile’s national alcoholic drink.

Foodies should definitely take back some of Chile’s traditional spices, including a smoked aji (pepper) called merken. High quality sea salts can be found all along the coast at incredibly low prices.

Shopping hours

Mon-Fri 1000-2000, Sat 1000-1400. Large shopping malls are open daily 1000-2100.

As a general rule, most places are closed on Sundays and in rural areas, some shops could be closed for siesta after the lunch hour.

Nightlife in Chile

While many restaurants and hotels offer entertainment, there are also a number of nightclubs. Santiago is lively on the weekends, especially in Pablo Neruda's former neighbourhood haunt, Bellavista, where the cafés and bars spring into action, and in Barrio Brasil, the bohemian area to the west of the centre which is teeming with cool restaurants.

Those who want to pack as much into one night as possible should look into the boho Happy End Tours (www.happyendingtour.com) taking in the city's best bars, clubs and restaurants. Santa Lucía is also packed with great eateries, while Providencia and Nuñoa provide good bar action. Lastarria, an area just to the west of Bellas Artes metro station, is perhaps the most refined area for going out. Even if jazz isn’t your thing, swing by South America’s most renowned venue of the genre, the aptly named Club de Jazz (www.clubdejazz.cl).

Bands and acts frequently perform; listings sections can be found in La Tercera (www.latercera.com) and El Mercurio (www.elmercurio.com) as well as in the weekend cultural section of The Santiago Times. Santiago's club scene caters to the 18-35 year-old crowd, and don’t expect anything to start until around midnight. If you show up much earlier, you may be the only one there. Visitors should be aware that the English word 'nightclub' translates as 'brothel' in Chile.