Departamento de Física, Universidad de La Serena (DFULS)
(Department of Physics, University of La Serena)
Avenida Juan Cisternas #1200
La Serena, Chile

General information

Country: Chile
City: La Serena
Language: Spanish
Time zone: GMT-4

¿How to get to La Serena?
La Serena is located at 472 Km north of Santiago and 12 Km from the city of Coquimbo. Five hours from Santiago (national capital) by land, and just 50 minutes by air. The local airport is just 5 minutes from the city center.

Travel to and from Santiago
By Plane: There are daily flights from the different cities; Santiago, Iquique, Antofagasta and Copiapó that land at the international airport La Florida in La Serena. From Santiago to La Serena the aprox. time of flight is 50 minutes. Two airlines arrive in La Serena: LAN and Sky airlines
By Car: From Santiago you must travel by the panamerican northern highway (highway 5), a two-way road completely paved. From Santiago to La Serena the aprox. time of driving are 5 hours. You can also travel by bus. The bus terminal in La Serena is located in Amunategui 104.

Chilean currency is the peso. Notes are of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coins are of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos.

Use of foreing currency
Cash in foreign currency is not generally accepted, except at some hotels which offer discounts on taxes for foreigners paying in cash with US dollars.

Credit cards
Credit cards are widely accepted including Visa, Master Card, Diners Club and American Express.

As not every shop or commercial locals accept foreign currency, we recommend you to exchange currency in banks or money exchanges houses. You will find these exchanges houses in the SantiagoAirport. The meeting organization recommend to all their participants make your exchange currency at the airport. We also highly recommend you to not exchange currency with natural people on the streets or late in the afternoon, except if this is done in the exchange houses. Nowadays, the exchange rate is USD 1.00 = $ 714 Chilean pesos (January 29, 2016).

Automatic teller machines (ATM)
It is easy to find automatic teller machines (RedBanc), which dispense Chilean pesos. They can be found in commercial areas and many gas stations. These 24-hour cash machines accept local bank cards as well as banking cards in financial networks such as Cirrus, Plus, and Maestro. Taxes and tips
public Value-added Tax (VAT) is 19% and is normally included in the price. It is usual to leave 10% of the amount of the service in Cafeterias and Restaurants, and to tip valet services. Tips to taxi drivers are not mandatory.

Taxis are distinguishable by their black bodies and yellow roofs. All legitimate taxis have registration numbers and taxi meters. The cost of a trip is $250 (US$ 0.48 approx.) for the first 100 meters and $80 during the day and $90 at night, for each additional 200 meters. Smoking is prohibited in all transportation vehicles.

Public buses
There are three public buses lines in La Serena that cover the transport network. The ride costs $500 CLP or US$ 0.80 (approx.)

Most hotels offer Internet services on their business centers. Also one may check email accounts or surf the Internet from the many Cyber cafes in the city.

Cellular phones
Cell Phones can be rented at the BusinessCenter of hotels.

International telephone calls
Chile has one of the most modern telecommunications networks in the world. This system has been completely digitized for several years. International phone calls from Chile are cheap and the service efficient. The downtown has calling centers where one may obtain information about telephone services, make phone calls, including collect calls, purchase prepaid calling cards, and select a carrier.

National telephone calls
There is a complete distribution of public phones around the city, to use them we suggest you to buy a phone card or to have with you coins of $100. If you want to call a cell phone from one of these public phones, the minute will cost you $200, the same as if you want to call long distance within the country.

La Serena enjoys a coastal steppe climate, with total maritime influence, characterized by clouded morning and clear (but not too hot) afternoons. April-May-June is the autumn season, with temperatures around the 12 ºC to 22 ºC approx.

We suggest you to bring spring clothes, but must consider that in April, sometimes could present lower temperatures during the morning tha expected (10 to 12 C°).

Common opening hours
In general, commercial centers, restaurants, public offices and public transportation have the following working hours:

Banks — Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Commercial centers — Monday to Sunday: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Supermarkets — Monday to Sunday: 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Shops — Monday to Saturday: 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Time zone
Chilean Continental standard time corresponds to the time zone UTC-4:00 (Universal Time Coordinate; formerly, Greenwich Mean Time). Chile uses a 24-hour military clock (e.g. 3:00 PM is 15:00 hours). Chile uses the European format for noting dates (Day, Month, Year, e.g. April 21, 2013 is 21/04/2013).

In Chile, the metric system and the Celsius scale are used.

Electrical voltage in Chile is 220 volts, 50 cycles (220V 50 Hz). All electronic devices designed for 110V require a transformer. All portable appliances, including portable computers, usually have transformers of high voltage (110V-240V) which are adaptable to the Chilean electrical system. Some hotels have 110V lines (click HERE for more information, included the power sockets used)

In general; La Serena and Coquimbo drinking water is completely safe for ingestion. For people who are generally more susceptible to changes in their environments, we suggest drinking only bottled mineral water (you can choose between spring and mineral water) during your first days in Chile. Mineral water is commonly found in supermarkets, corner stores and restaurants.

Food safety
Eating raw vegetables is not recommended, especially those that grow at ground level (e.g.: lettuce, carrots, berries, etc.), unless you buy them at established supermarkets, as they can vouch for the origin of their products.

Personal safety
Although La Serena and Coquimbo are safe cities for foreigners, we recommend that you pay attention to your personal belongings and try not to walk alone at night, or too far away from where you are staying.