Santiago, in spite of its 6 million population is a nice walking city and is easy to manage with Metro and buses. Many parks and plazas provide both entertainment and refuge.
From the airport I took TRANSVIP mini bus to the Andes Hostal which had been pre booked by the hostal. Payment could be made by credit card (5,000 pesos or 10 dollars). I checked into the 4 person female dorm ($20 dollars). The hostal may be a bit more expensive that other hostals but this room size, clean bathrooms,location and cheerful commn areas and kitchen were well received.
Santiago centre has old colonial buildings, plazas, parks, pedestrian walkways and by Latin American Standards is a very safe country. The streets are filled with inexpensive restaurants and coffee shops and panaderias (pastries, cakes and breads).
Every city in Latin America has a Plaza de Armas (Central Square) which is great for people watching, in addition to other plazas. The Mercado Central (market) offers a variety of items from plastic to clothes to dried food and produce. Of course it is most important to check out and purchase wine. Most bottles are 2 to 3 dollars per bottle and up. I discovered and OK cognac for 3 dollars for a half litre and it is very drinkable. I always ask for cognac “national”
A central view point is Cerro Santa Lucia (Hill and castle), an easy walk up which is rewarded with view fo the centre and the Andes. It is important to carry ID or a photocopy of ID as entrances to some public places such as Cerro Santa Lucia requre one to show credentail to the bullet proof vest protected security guard.