American Express -- The American Express office is at Av. Isidora Goyenechea 3621, Piso 10 (tel. 2/350-6700); open Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm and 3:30 to 5pm. Twenty-four-hour customer service in the U.S. is at tel. 800/545-1171, although you will be charged for the call if you call from outside of the United States.
Banks -- Banks are open from 9am to 2pm Monday through Friday, closed on Saturday and Sunday. You don't have to look hard in the downtown area to find an ATM, referred to as "Redbancs" and identified by a maroon-and-white logo sticker. Many commercial outlets also have ATMs. These machines accept Visa/PLUS and MasterCard/Cirrus. Redbancs can also be found in most gas stations and pharmacies.
Business Hours -- Commercial business hours are Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, closing for lunch between 1 and 1:30pm and reopening between 2:30 and 3pm. Most stores are open from 10am to 2pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday, with the exception of shopping malls.
Currency Exchange -- All major banks exchange currency, but most charge a commission that is higher than a money-exchange house (casa de cambio). In downtown, there are numerous exchange houses on Agustinas between Ahumada and Bandera: Bombero, Ossa 1053 (tel. 2/698-1703); Transpacific, Augustinas 1028 (tel. 2/232-1176). In Providencia, exchange houses are around Avenida Pedro de Valdivia at Avenida Providencia. In Las Condes, there are a couple on Avenida El Bosque Norte near Avenida Apoquindo. Exchange houses are generally open Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm and 4 to 6pm, Saturday from 9am to 1 or 2pm. Hotels exchange dollars at an unfavorable rate.
Emergencies -- For a police emergency, call tel. 133. For fire, call tel. 132. To call an ambulance, dial tel. 131.
Hospital -- The American Embassy can provide a list of medical specialists in Santiago. The best hospitals in Santiago are private: Clínica Las Condes, Lo Fontecilla 441 (tel. 2/210-4000); Clínica Alemana, Vitacura 5951 (tel. 2/210-1111); and Clínica Indisa Santa María, Av. Santa María 01810 (tel. 2/362-5555).
Internet Access -- Every hotel has a computer with Internet connection for its guests, and many hotels (mostly large chains) now offer free Wi-Fi in guest rooms or in public areas. There is an abundance of Internet centers in the downtown area; popular cafes include Café.com, at Alameda 143, and Sonnets Internet Café, at Londres 43.
Outdoor Equipment -- Parque Arauco mall has a North Face clothing store (tel. 2/201-3679). Locally produced, high-quality outdoor gear company Doite (tel. 2/213-1223) is in the Alto los Condes mall; Patagonia Sport is in Providencia at Almirante Simpson 77 (tel. 2/222-9140). The best outdoor equipment and info can be found at La Cumbre, Apoquindo 5220 (tel. 2/220-9907; www.lacumbreonline.cl), which is open Monday through Friday 11am to 8pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm.
Pharmacies -- Pharmacies are ubiquitous in Santiago, and can even be found in gas stations along major highways. They're generally open from 8am to midnight; however, the following branches are open 24 hours: Farmacias Ahumada (tel. 600/222-4000; Av. El Bosque 164); and Farmacias Salco Brand (tel. 600/360-6000; Av. Padre Hurtado, at Av. Las Condes). Both of these pharmacies deliver for a nominal fee.
Post Office -- The main post office is on Plaza de Armas (Mon-Fri 8:30am-7pm; Sat 8:30am-1pm). There are other branches at Moneda 1155, in downtown, and Av. 11 de Septiembre 2239, in Providencia. FedEx is at Av. Providencia 1951, and in the Dimacofi center at Moneda 792 (tel. 2/361-6000; Mon-Fri 9am-7pm).
Telephone -- Tourists are offered cheaper rates from phone centers than from their hotels. The centers are predominately run by Entel (at Morandé btw. Huérfanos and Compañía) and Telefónica CTC Chile (found inside the Metro stations Universidad de Chile and Moneda, and in Providencia at the Mall Panorámico at Av. 11 de Septiembre 2155). Most phone centers have fax service and Internet access as well. Alternatively, you can buy a phone card at any kiosk, gas station, corner store, or telephone center, but ask your hotel if you are charged for the local connection -- chain hotels can really stick it to you even though you're using a phone card.