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Shopping Centers

Santiago is home to two American-style megamalls: Parque Arauco, Av. Kennedy 5413, open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 9pm, Sunday and holidays from 11am to 9pm; and Alto Las Condes, Av. Kennedy 9001, open Monday through Saturday from 10:30am to 9pm, and Sunday and holidays from 11am to 9pm. Both offer a hundred or so national brands and well-known international chains, junk-food courts, and multiscreen theaters (Parque Arauco is closer to Providencia), but Parque Arauco has the edge with its "Boulevard" shopping area with hip shops and (unbelievably) some of Santiago's better restaurants. The best way to get to Parque Arauco is by cab (about $5-$6/£3.30-£4 from Providencia). Note that weekends are jam-packed with shoppers. There are no Metro stops near Alto Las Condes.

Like most Latin American nations, Chile has many shopping galerías, labyrinthine mini-malls with dozens of compact shops that independent vendors can rent for considerably less money than a regular storefront. Most are cheap to midrange clothing stores, upstart designers with fun styles but so-so fabrics, or importers of crafts, antiques dealers, tailors, and so on. A vibrant, bustling example is the Mall Panorámico, Avenida Ricardo Lyon and Avenida 11 de Septiembre (Metro: Pedro de Valdivia), with 130 shops and a department store across the street. For funky boutiques, try the "Drugstore," on Avenida Providencia between Las Urbinas and Avenida de Fuenzalida (walk back to where the cafe seating is and go left).

Craft Markets

Crafts markets can be found around Santiago, as either permanent installations or weekly events, but two stand out as do-not-miss markets for travelers seeking souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. The bonus with these two markets is that with so much on offer, you could do all your shopping in one fell swoop. The beautifully designed Patio Bellavista (btw. Constitución and Pío Nono sts., a half-block from Dardignac; tel. 2/777-4766; www.patiobellavista.cl) is a collection of shops hawking high-quality arts and crafts, jewelry, woolens, and woodwork, and centered around a cobblestone patio with a couple of cafes and outstanding restaurants. Patio Bellavista is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 9pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 10pm. Heading toward the mountains, east of Las Condes, Pueblito de los Dominicos, at Apoquindo 9085, is one of the most enjoyable and convenient shopping experiences in Santiago. If you can get past the rather tacky, theme park-pueblo setting, a wealth of crafts, often made in workshops on site, can be perused. You'll find everything from souvenir items such as lapis lazuli jewelry, alpaca scarves, and quirky knickknacks to investment pieces ranging from stunning sculptures, beautiful woodwork, and modern art by up-and-coming Chilean artists. With over 100 stalls, you could quite easily spend a couple of hours here. To get here from Providencia, a taxi will cost around $6 (£4).

The cheapest place for locally produced crafts is the Feria Santa Lucía, at Cerro Santa Lucía (on the other side of Alameda; Metro: Santa Lucía). The outdoor market is hard to miss, with its soaring billboards and sprawl of stalls hawking clothing, jewelry, and arts and crafts -- even some antiques and collectibles. Hours vary, but it's generally open Monday through Saturday (sometimes Sun) from 10am to 7pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.