Similarities and differences between Chile and Argentina
When I was finally able to explore South America in January 2012 for a bit, I have to say I was really shocked by the culture (in a good way!) but mostly by some things I didn’t expect there at all. The same as it is not very accurate to call something for example “Asian” or “European”, it is maybe even less clear if you call something ”South American” or ”Latin”.
Yes, South American countries are really so different! Would you ever guess so without visiting them?? I had no idea until my first visit in 2012.
What surprised me even more was the fact that many people put Brasil, Argentina and Chile into one group, and the rest of the Southern American countries into other one.
But after spending almost 5 weeks in Argentina and 4 in Chile, I can easily state many differences between these two countries that look very similar at first sight.
Both Argentina and Chile are more expensive than you would ever think. More than my home country Slovakia in many things. I felt there like in Europe, especially because of the high prices. Not the reason I was looking for though to feel like ”at home”.
I found these differences between Chile and Argentina:
- (sorry for the word but) rubbish food on the buses that is included in ticket price
- cheaper long distance buses
- easier to get a bus ticket, they are not that overbooked. Each time I wanted to hop on a bus, I could and none of them was completely full.
- selling food at the streets can be found sometimes
- feels more like ”real Latin America”
- harder accent, not pronounced properly so more difficult to understand when listening
- easier with the mobile phones – no need to change the phone code all the time
- with a bit of phone credit you can call abroad
- menu of the day – discounted lunch meals, sometimes with soup, main dish and drink/desert for 3 – 6 euros mostly.
- expensive food in supermarkets though
- cheap local markets (with fruit, vegetables etc.)
- manjar (sugary non-homogenized milk delicacy, similar to caramel) is not that common like in Argentina
- alfajor cookie is not that good and not so common. It’s mostly white chocolate, not dark
- white bread – you have to weigh it in the shops
- very strict at the border (NO fruit, seeds, dried fruit, dairy products). If they find them, you need to pay a big fine!!!
- no bottled water in the restaurants, but usually only sprite and coke or free tap water
- more rain coming from the Pacific Ocean that gets stopped by the Andes which means more rainy days in the Chilean Patagonia and almost ever-green nature
- better long distance buses (also between my 9 favorite places in Argentina)
- better food on the buses (I was not vegan at that time so I am not sure if I’ll be able to eat anything on any bus there now though), you get free water usually too
- more expensive buses – way too expensive I’d say! For the same distance/time like in Chile you pay sometimes even 5 times more … or even more!
- overbooked buses, you have to book them a lot in advance to get a ticket. Actually each time I came to a place I had to buy outgoing bus ticket already there at the bus station, and most of the time it was full already so had to spend a day more in the town.
- it felt more like Europe to me, and less like Latin America. Well, except from the North border with Bolivia where I definitely felt like in South America, and not still somewhere in Europe). Mostly Buenos Aires and its surrounding have a big European influence which can’t be seen that much in Chile.
- accent easier to understand once you learn the phrases – or am I just in love with the Argentine Spanish?
- I found people more helpful, talkative, smiling and more happy than in Chile
- more difficult to call from the mobile phone – you have to use different codes in front of the phone numbers depending on if you call to a mobile phone or landline, and which region
- high mobile phone credit needed to call abroad
- expensive food in restaurants, lunch menu cannot be found very often
- dulce de leche (Chilean manjar) eaten all the time EVERYWHERE
- Argentinians are obsessed with alfajor, you can fin many different kinds of it and it is served with almost every meal on the buses
- not that many local markets (apart from the North)
- white baguettes mostly, not bread
- if you don’t like steaks and meat in general like me, you will prefer food in Chile
- pretty ok at the border (I had fruit and seeds and nothing happened)
- bottled water in restaurants but you have to pay for it, no free water
- less green landscapes in the Argentinian Patagonia – less rain
Have you visited both countries? Did you find them different? I will not bite you if you share your experiences in the comments below 🙂