As of February 26th, 2014, Chile has stopped collecting the reciprocity fee, with that Americans are no longer required. There is also a local bus that will take you from the Airport into the city but this makes many stops, it does stop at the main bus terminal. There is another bus that serves the airport to the main bus terminal, this is more comfortable and will take less time. Once you clear Customs and Immigration and baggage claim you will see the areas for the buses and can purchase your ticket.
By far the most common question that appears in the Chile page in VT is how does one get from the Santiago International Airport to Valpariso and the Valpariso Cruiste Terminal.
From the Arturo Merino Benitez (Santiago Airport) go downstairs to baggage claim and out the door. You will see under the building a waiting area for Centropuerto Buses. The buses are usually blue and white. Look for the Metro Linea Bus #1 to Pajaritos Metro Station. The ride takes just a few minutes.
The bus will drop you off at the north side of the Pajaritos terminal. From there you need to cross to the south side of the metro station to get the buses to Valpariso ( See picture). There are several lines that leave for there. Buses leave approximately every half hour during the day for Valpariso. Look for bus companies marked "Pullman." or "Tur Bus." The cost is approximately $ 10-$12, however some claim it cost them as little as $ 7. The 115 kilometer trip will take you just under two hours.
From the stop in Valpariso it is a relatively short walk to the cruise terminal however the neighborhood is sketchy. There are taxis available at the station. Some taxis will charge by the person and even the amount of the luggage. Generally two people with luggage should pay about $ 10.
Transvip offers a minivan service from the Santiago airport to the various location in and around the city. My friend and I did not use the shared van because it only cost 2,000 CLP more for the private transfer (taxi). We left really early at 3:30am, so it took less than 30 minutes to get from near Cerro Santa Lucia to the airport. The driver was prompt and we can pay by credit card when we got to the airport.
Reservations can be made online up to 48 hours before the pick-up time. The website is only in Spanish, so we had to use google translate to complete the form. I contacted the company because I accidentally double-booked the transport and they corrected my reservation within 30 minutes of my emailing them.
This is probably more expensive than a taxi (and the metro/bus combo), but if you have a lot of luggage or have to travel at times buses aren't running, it is a good alternative.
Getting to Valparaiso from Santiago could hardly be be easier - or cheaper. Buses leave every 15 minutes from the Terminal San Borja, near the Central Station and the one and a half hour journey costs only $7. Seats are allocated, the buses are clean, very comfortable with reclining seats , seem to be properly maintained and are bang on time - we were so impressed.
There are several companies operating this route, all charge the same fare and would appear to offer the same efficient service.
The terminal in Valparaiso is on Av Pedro Montt, near the Congress Building and Plaza O'Higgins.
Buses in Santiago depart from the main terminal (Terminal Alameda) located at Metro station Universidad de Santiago (on line 1) and then travel the short distance to metro station Pajaritos (also on line 1). You could take the metro to either of these stations and buy your ticket there. From pajaritos they travel on to Valparaiso where the easiest thing to do is be dropped off in the terminal which is located near the markets on the north end of town. I always take Tur-Bus when I travel and the cost is 3,400 pesos (this may vary in peak season but in any case it is inexpensive).
The two companies are Pullman and Tur Bus. No need to make a reservation, just arrive at the terminal or Pajaritos station and go to the counter of the company you prefer and buy your ticket for the bus with the next available departure. Unless it is a major holiday it is unlikely you will need to wait long. You can take luggage with you. At the bus give your bags to the drivers assistant who will give you a numbered ticket. You can take two pieces of luggage which are stored below the bus.
As I arrived back in Santiago airport, coming from Easter Island, I needed transport to the Panamericano hotel, in the city centre of Santiago.
There were different possibilities, by bus, by taxi . . .
But I did choose to use the services of Transvip, as it looked the easiest option and at a good rate.
I paid 10 US dollars from the airport till the entry door of my hotel (transport time about half an hour)
La manera más rápido, segura y confiable de legar a su destino.
While walking around in the Barrio Bellavista, in order to go to Cerro San Christobal, just at the entrance towards the Funicular, there was a bus which I recognised.
I thought what is this, this is one of our Jonckheere busses, and of course I did recognise the model.
It was a former Belgian public Transport bus, used by the Flemish company De Lijn, even the white and yellow colours where still visible on the sides and the front, they had only added some red, blue and yellow stripes, and now the bus was used by the municipalidad de san Antonio.
If I still remember well, we delivered these busses in the beginning of the nineties, and I think they use them for 15 years.
It was quiet funny to see your work along the road at the other side of the world.
Buses between Santiago and Mendoza run every day on a really interesting stretch of road through the mountain pass.
In winter the buses only run when the pass isn't closed by snow and/or ice so is not a good option in winter if you are running on a tight schedule as it can close for days. It is simply too unpredictable.
Other options to get to Mendoza is by air with LAN which flies between Santiago and Mendoza or Cordoba. www.lan.com
The main bus terminal for buses outside of Santiago is Terminal Alameda which is located at metro station "Universidad de Santiago" on metro line 1. There is a sub terminal also at Pajaritos station further down line 1 but not all intercity buses stop there.
The best companies to book long distance travel through are Tur - Bus and Pullman. Both these comapnies have offices inside the terminal alameda where tickets can be purchased a few minutes before the bus departs (if there are seats).
You can check out the Tur Bus website at www.turbus.cl for reservations, routes and prices.
The bus system around Santiago is going through a few changes to integrate ticketing with the metro and overhaul the driver contracts. In the past Santiago has had to put up with dangerous yellow "micros" that raced from stop to stop trying to pick up as many people as possible so as to be paid more. Problem was that they caused many accidents and drove too fast. The idea was to replace these micros with much nicer, modern buses that are less polluting however I have noticed that they have replaced a few and the rest are being painted green and white over their former yellow. *sigh*. The buses are frequent and probably go anywhere you would want to go but honestly, given the choice, I would rather take a metro or a taxi!
If you want to go to Vina Del Mar from Santiago you can catch the red line metro and get off at estacion Universidad de Santiago. Next to the metro estacion you will find the Terminal de Buses Alameda. From here I booked at one way ticket to Vina Del Mar. The bues are frequent, so it is not necessary to book in advance.
There are many bus companies in Chile but the bigger ones are Turbus and Pullman Bus. For me Pullman Bus is better. Their staff is friendlier, food on board is better and their lines are smaller. The buses are the same and ticket fees too.
Give Pullman Bus then a try.