Dominican Republic ~ Travel Information
Republica Dominicana ~ Caribbean holiday favorite!
Dominican Republic (Republica Dominicana in Spanish) is one of the most popular Caribbean island holiday destinations all year.
Day Trips Dominican Republic Ask your tour rep or hotel staff about day trips to Puerto Plata, the fortress, a rum factory and the Larimar museum, or to the waterfalls near Santiago, and historic Santo Cerro, with tours of potteries and a cigar factory.
Dominican Republic Travel Information
Do I need a Visa? Most visitors fill out a Dominican Republic tourist card on the plane, and the cost if any should be included in your package fare. See Do I need a visa for more information on travel visas.
Do I need a passport for the DR? Yes. Even for Punta Cana. In order to get on a plane, anywhere, get your passport.
What to Pack Dominican? See holidays to Dominican for a list of what I packed for the Dominican -- what worked and what didn't, and why. Most resort dining is casual dress, but DO NOT show up at the dining room wearing nothing but a bathing suit, or short shorts and tank tops. If you plan to be in the water all day and into the evening, then take several bathing suits so you always have a dry one to change into. Pack outdoor gear like shoes and rain jackets if you will be traveling outside resort areas.
Climate Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic is tropical year round, with different rainy seasons times in the north and south. And the temperatures can be a lot cooler in the mountains or during rain storms.
What Language do they speak in the Dominican? Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken in tourism areas. It's a good idea to take along a phrasebook. Phrasebooks are pretty cheap, very light to carry, last for years, and make good reading on the flight -- and you can never tell when you will be very glad to have one with you!
Is it safe to travel in the Dominican Republic? Generally, yes, but just be smart. If you plan to be in the interior, or on your own in the bigger cities (Puerto Plata, Santiago, Santo Domingo), keep your wits about you as you would in any country. Bear in mind hurricane season runs June-November so do check weather conditions before travel.
Travel Health, Vaccinations For current government travel advisories, see the links on my Disclaimer page. Check with a travel health clinic, as always. Make sure your usual vaccinations are up to date. Not only will you be in contact with Dominicans and their environment, you'll also be in contact with tourists from around the world. And a lot depends on your itinerary (where you will staying, touring). EG May 2011reports cholera in the Dominican. See Mayo Clinic info page regarding vaccine and precautions.
All Caribbean countries come with the risk of mosquito borne illnesses. It's the real world, after all, though these tropical islands can feel like theme parks. Use your sunscreen always, and use insect repellant spray especially at dusk and dawn.
Is the Water Safe to Drink in the DR? From the resort dining room water pitcher, yes. But drink bottled water. Bring some from the hotel, or stop at a store and buy some. Make sure the cap is sealed, or buy agua con gas - carbonated water: If the cap has been tampered with, the water will not be fizzy.
Do I need Travel Insurance for the Dominican? I would say yes: All-inclusive travel packages usually mean liberal amounts of alcohol. If you're not accustomed to large quantities of drink, especially all day in the hot Caribbean sun around the pool, make sure you have medical insurance (see travel insurance tips). A misstep at the pool edge could lead to accidents, like a hard landing on your face and a broken nose.
The 'Oldest Profession' Just so you know, with no judgement intended in any way, 'ladies of the night" are legal in the Dominican Republic, so be aware, ladies, should you leave your man waiting at the bar or disco, he'll be offered other company fairly quickly. Escorts are also resident at Casas de Chicas (as bordellos are known).
Phone Calls to and from the Dominican Most resorts have calling card phones, and a pin-less, pre-loaded one will save you a lot of time. You can even get calling cards for mobile phones. Make sure your SIM card will work or use a public Codatel phone. Codatel has internet services, too, if your hotel/resort doesn't.
Dominican Republic Maps and Travel Guides Get Dominican travel guide books [Lonely Planet Dominican Republic & Haiti (Country Travel Guide) and Moon Dominican Republic and a good map [newest map Dominican Republic and Haiti Map by Nelles (English, Spanish, French and German Edition)]. I used Lonely Planet but there are lots of different ones.
Rent a car - Driving in the Dominican Republic The roads are generally good, though during heavy rains, they can be flooded in areas. You can rent a car to travel around, but (especially if your Spanish skills are minimal), it would be easier to join a local tour. You could also hire a guide or taxi. If you take a taxi, be sure you understand the full taxi rate and how it's to be paid before you get in the cab. Sample fare from Playa Dorada to Santiago is $230 USD return.
What side of the road do they drive on in the DR? In the Dominican Republic, they drive on the right.
What money do they use in the DR? The Republica Dominicana Currency is called the Dominican Republic Peso (DOP). The exchange rates may fluctuate, but generally, about 1 DOP = 30 US cents OR $1 USD = .34 DOP. Change money at local banks, cambios (money changers) or your hotel; withdraw pesos in cash from ATMs. See travel currency tips page for how to carry safely, travellers checks, etc.
Haiti travel tours: Some tour companies in and around Puerto Plata are offering day trips into Haiti near the Dajabon border crossing. There is bus service between Santiago DR and Cap-Haitien Haiti -- see Caribe Tours. Check with your hotel for details, as the availability can change without notice. See also Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Haiti travel story and Sosua Dominican Republic travel story.