Bus travel to Santiago


Sep 26, 2009
I'd like to travel to Santiago (with a stopover in Mendoza) sometime in December or January... has anyone done this trip by bus, and if so, is there a bus company you recommend? Someone on TripAdvisor mentioned TAC, but that was back in 2006. Also, decent Santiago hostels? Thanks!


Mar 9, 2007
Whatever you do, DO NOT travel anywhere on TAC! Their buses always break down. Even the locals joke around that TAC stands for "Te Aconsejo Caminar"

Santiago F

Aug 27, 2010
I did that trip twice. Back in 1992 (I was a teenager at that time) and in 2007. Both times I used Buses Ahumada, a Chilean company. The service is quite good, although I think it was better the first time. The thing is, in both occasions it didn't stop in Mendoza. It did stop in Villa Mercedes (San Luis) but just to have dinner at a restaurant on the side of the highway. Just standard food, and unfortunately no choices of it.

Here is the link if you want to find out more info.

BTW, the trip is really outstanding. I mean, crossing the Andes by bus... I would do that trip over and over again. In fact, some day I would like to do it by car...



Jan 7, 2010
Hostels I would recommend:

Mendoza: Hostel Empedrado, Patricias Mendocinas 1959 (cross street Eusebio Blanco)
Website: http://www.hostelempedrado.com.ar , Email: info@hostelempedrado.com.ar
Positives: Manuela, a member of the staff, is extremely personable and very helpful; plenty of tours offered from the hostel, if you have the time; free wine along with breakfast; nearby grocery store.
Negatives: A bit far from the station - best to take a taxi; frequently busy - must book in advance.
Prices: was around 40-50 ARS a night for shared rooms, but could have gone up; private rooms will be much more.

Santiago: La Casa Roja, Agustinas 2113 (cross street Avenida Brasil; nearest Metros, Republica, Los Heroes, Santa Ana, Cummings)
Website: http://www.lacasaroja.cl , Email: info@lacasaroja.cl
Positives: Lively atmosphere, plenty of tour options (they have their own tour agency), near downtown and not too far from bus stations (2 metro stops from main station, and Los Heroes is walking distance) and Estacion Central (the train station), pool and bar on site, plenty of restaurants nearby, near student district.
Negatives: not really that near to Metro - about 6 large blocks from Republica, the best access point when coming from the bus station; big city security precautions advised (nothing too far out of the ordinary such as in Boca in BsAs, but Santiago also isn't Mendoza); breakfast isn't included in the price; I could never get the wifi to work for my computer (a Lenovo X300 running Vista), but there are plenty of computers to check email that are free to guests.
Cost: dorm price was 7000 CLP, with 2000 CLP deposit, and 500-2000 CLP for breakfast (depending on what you asked for), and something in the 20,000 CLP range for a private room, but prices could have changed.

And I'll shill for the place I've been staying at as I do recommend it - if in Valparaiso:
Valposhostel, Almirante Montt 632 on Cerro Alegre (cross street San Enrique)
Website: http://www.valposhostel.cl , Email: valposhostel@gmail.com
Pluses: Safe and generally quiet location in the World Heritage district; breakfast included in the price; Carola, the hostel owner, is quite friendly and helpful; the building is naturally cooler than the street (a plus in December-January, less so in winter - though heaters are employed), the wifi works for me (plus there is a computer for non-laptop guests).
Minuses: No big grocery stores nearby, only small stores; you are up on a real hill, and if you are hiking it, you will get exercise getting there (but the spot is worth it; locals usually employ taxis or take the ascensors); not really near the bus station (but that doubles as a plus as the station requires some street sense after dark); wifi connection can be a little slow at times (I am generally unimpressed with VTR at the moment), but other times it's normal.
Prices: 8000 CLP for the dorms, 9,000 CLP for a shared 4-person room, 22,000 CLP for the matrimonio (private) room, light breakfast included.

Buses: In the two visa runs I've done crossing the Paso de Los Libertadores, I've not run into any bus service that really stands out. In the wintertime (May-August), you'll want to use the smaller buses as they sometimes make it across when the bigger buses don't (the pass sometimes closes because of snow). But the smaller buses can sometimes be harrassed by cops on the Argentine side (particularly heading to Mendoza).

I've taken Chi-Ar and O'Higgins as small buses coming from Santiago to Mendoza, and Andesmar coming back. I've been advised by Manuela at the Empedrado to not take CATA into Chile as people have reported bad experiences with them (though they seem quite fine to me in Argentina itself). I think the service quality varies from run to run, route to route, as well as company to company. In Argentina, I haven't really liked Flecha all that much, but some people swear by them.

For getting buses, I generally use Plataforma 10 ( http://www.plataforma10.com/ ) to find schedules that work for me, then go to the station to buy the ticket. I'm usually a pay-cash sort of person, but some people do fairly well with their debit/credit card. Can't advise which to take or avoid for that.

Would advise that in the high-season, you'll want to book in advance, for your bus and for your hostel. You might be lucky going just from place to place and paying on the spot, but you might also run into bottlenecks. Certainly for the hostels, I'd advise booking ahead.

Also, plan for the border crossing. You must declare all agricultural products (whether packaged food or souvenirs - how strict they get depends on their mood) in crossing into Chile. It's odd, they worry more about foodstuffs crossing the border than alcohol, it seems. Plan on having everything consumed by the time you reach the border, and buying food on the other side. In general, the big buses will serve meals after you've crossed the border.

Also, be sure that your passport is properly stamped, so that the date is readable. I had an issue with that in one of my border crossings leaving Chile. At times, I think they are just looking for opportunities to fine you. (There was a report of someone getting charged something like 600 ARS for getting caught carrying undeclared munchies across the border, it seems to me.) But they do seem to follow rules and protocols, so if you are patient, things do seem to resolve themselves in most instances.

Hope this helps.


Nov 9, 2010
If you've never been that way before, I strongly suggest taking the route across the Cordilleras west of Salta, some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet (IMO).


Oct 7, 2007
Bus BA - Mendoza: http://www.andesmar.com.ar - they also have a service to Santiago

agree with http://www.lacasaroja.cl in Santaigo

If you sit on the right hand side of the bus from Mendoza to Santiago you will get a 3 second glimpse of Aconcagua (highest mountain in the western hemisphere) just after passing through Puente del Inca.