5 Underrated Places In South America You Need To Visit The Great Escape

If adventure is what you have in mind, South America is the place to be.

Mention travelling in South America, and one of the first things that come to mind for many Singaporeans would be – “So far?” This is followed by a conversation about the most commonly known tourist spots – Rio de Janeiro, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, and the Galapagos Islands. No doubt those are beautiful places, but there are a few outside-the-radar cities/towns that are definitely worth the trip.

1. Concón, Chile

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Don’t be fazed by the name, this little Chilean town (population: 30, 000) won’t con you at all. Instead, it welcomes you with great seafood and awesome views of the sea. Concón is part of metropolitan area comprising Viña del Mar and Valparaiso (one of the most-visited places in Chile), and is tucked away from busy tourist traffic.

In Concón, savour the paila marina, a bowl of seafood soup with super-fresh mussels, prawns, squids, fish, and other seafood, for a only SGD 7 to 10! After lunch, take a walk along the magnificent coastline – what better feeling is there than to let the breeze gently caress your hair? As evening falls, go sandboarding into the sunset on the mega sand dunes that Concón boasts! Each one-hour session costs just a few dollars (say what?)

Best of all, Concón doesn’t require much commitment of time. Being a simple and humble town, an afternoon away from the culture-rich itinerary of Valparaiso would suffice.

How to get there: 1.5 hour bus from Santiago to Viña del Mar, followed by municipal buses (multiple routes) into the town, approx. 30 minutes.

2. Ouro Preto, Brazil

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The name of this town literally means “black gold”. It got its name from the gold mines that brought wealth, prosperity, and growth to the town in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fun fact: Brazil’s first independence fighter originated from here!

Ouro Preto still retains the architectural charm of its colonial past. One could sip local Brazilian java and admire the beauty of preserved churches and cathedrals which, despite being retrofitted internally to become museums, have kept their original façade. Ouro Preto’s town centre, littered with cafes on hilly cul-de-sacs, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can take loads of Instagram-worthy photos with cobblestone streets and colonial buildings exceeding 200 years old, or take a tour of the town’s many museums. Rushing through your visit spoils the mood, so take it as a recovery stop from all the crazy backpacking hustle!

How to get there: Served by direct coach lines from Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, the state capital.

3. Curitiba, Brazil

Personally, I consider myself a fan of small, quiet towns in general, but this is one large city that I’ll include in this list. Why? Curitiba has constantly been tipped as one of the continent’s best cities to live in. And it’s of no surprise that the state capital of Paraná (the same state that contains the Iguaçu Falls) has received this accolade multiple times.

Climate plays a huge role. Situated at a latitude of approximately 25 degrees south, to say the weather is pleasant is a serious understatement. While lush greenery sprawls across the city, a super-efficient Bus Rapid Transit system (think MRT but for buses – complete with platforms and “next station” announcements) makes getting around fuss-free.

When at this little utopia, visiting the picturesque Botanic Gardens is a must. Meanwhile, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, if not for its exhibits, is a great draw for its impressive architecture. Other activities to check out include exploring the city’s panoramic tower or the Arena da Baixada (a football stadium where the city’s heartbeat is), and taking a bike tour along Estrada da Graciosa (which literally means “Graceful Street”).

Bonus tip: on Sundays, some roads near the city centre get converted into street markets. Buy locally-made handicrafts or simply have a taste of Brazilian street food – it’s cheap and delicious!

How to get there: Buses to and from most major Brazilian cities in the southeast. Curitiba also has an airport serving mostly domestic flights.

This article is an excerpt from ZALORA Community. For the full article, click here.

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