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Travel Info A-Z

Here you will find some foreign travel advice for the Dominican Republic by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) as well as the Government of the United Kingdom (GOV.UK).

For our French and Italian speaking clients:
Furthermore you can find the official travel information in French on
Confédération Suisse (DFAE) and in Italian on Confederazione Svizzera (DFDAE).

Arrival
The Dominican Republic has 9 airports. The international airports Las Americas (Santo Domingo) , Punta Cana , Gregorio Luperon (Puerto Plata) and La Romana are approached to land from Europe.

Entry
To enter the Dominican Republic you need a passport that has to be valid until at least 6 months after departure. Children of all ages also need a passport.  For stays up to 90 days there is no need for a Visa. Upon arrival every tourist has to buy a tourist card which has a cost of USD 10.- or EUR 10.- . The tourist card is valid for 30 days, after that period one has to verify with the corresponding migration office (Departamento de Extranjeria, Direccion General de Migracion) what the charge would be for an extension of the stay. If the stay is not extended officially this way than ther can be a high surcharge on departure at the airport . If you do not want to buy the tourist card  at arrival, it is also possible to get it online on Tourist Card Dominican Republic. To enter the Dominican Republic there are no special vaccination required.

Departure
At departure you will have to pay an airport tax of 20 US$. A lot of European airlines already include this tax in the price of their tickets.
If you stay longer than 30 days one has to apply for a extended stay with the corresponding migration office. If this offical procedure is not made in advance there can be a high surcharge upon departure at the airport. The actual price for the extension of the stay can be verified visiting www.migracion.gob.do.

Accidents/Emergencies
For ambulance, fire fighters and police assistance please call: 911 (for the moment this number only works in Santo Domingo and some places nearby)

Additional costs
Against general opinion the Dominican Republic is not very cheap. There is a big difference between typical locations and restaurants, bars or discotheques in touristy areas. In the country side all additional expenses are cheaper.

Beach
Please respect that „topless“ sunbathing is not allowed in the Dominican Republic.

Begging
Unfortunately there are a lot of poor people in the Dominican Republic earning their living with begging. This is not because they are lazy, it is because there is not enough work available. Anyhow not everyone begging is really in need so it is up to you, if and to whom you would like to give something.

There are also a lot of begging children. It is better to buy these children water or something to eat, than giving them money.  Important: never open your wallet in public!

Climate & traveling time
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate. During summer season (May to September) we have about 30-35 ° C. Through these summer months the climate is affected by rain season (July to October). During that time there is also high air humidity (up to 90%). During the winter months the temperature falls just slightly, but it is much dryer than during summer months. At the north coast rain season starts a little later, from October to November. The water Temperature is on an average temperature of 23-25° C.

The Dominican Republic is all year round a recommended holiday destination because of the constant warm, breezy and enjoyable climate. Nevertheless the best traveling time is from December to April.

Credit cards
At big hotels and big stores in touristy areas you can easily pay by credit card. Usually Euro-/Mastercard and Visa are accepted. Be aware on the high credit card fees you may be charged. We recommend getting local currency at an ATM and paying cash after on. Please inform yourself about credit card fees of your bank in foreign countries.
The state-licensed exchange rate is based on the US-Dollar. It is forbidden to export the Dominican Peso. It is possible to change back your remaining Pesos to US-Dollars before departure at the airport.

It is not recommended to pay by credit card at gasoline stations, as there is a high risk of credit card fraud.

Currency
The local currency is the Dominican Peso (RD$), but it is internationally not handled. It is possible to change Euros or US-Dollars at banks or official exchange offices without any problem. Changing Swiss Francs is a little more difficult and only possible at the bank.

You can get Dominican Peso also directly at the ATM with your EC- or credit card.

Further information about the local currency.

Custom regulations
According to the prevention of money laundering acts there is an obligation to report cash of the amount of 10’000 US$ or more upon arrival or departure from Dominican Republic.

The declaration has to be made on a form, which you receive upon arrival. Violations are liable to prosecution.

Further information about custom regulations.

Driving
The Dominican Republic has a developed road network. About 75% of all streets are fixed and in good conditions. Pay attention that access roads may hold big damages.
The Dominican Republic has right-hand traffic. Road signage is often poor or completely missing, highways are an exception.

Further information about driving in the Dominican Republic.

Drugs
The use and dealing of drugs are accusable, also in small amounts. Violations against drug law will be punished with high sentences, without option to be released on bail.

It is highly recommended to omit any contact with drugs. Be aware of receiving packages from strangers.

Food & Beverages
The Dominican cuisine is internationally coined. There are African as well as European influences contained in the «Cocina Criolla» (Creole kitchen). The typical food is mainly based on chicken, fish, pork, beef or goat meat. The different seasonings and the coconut intensify the typical flavor.

You can find fresh and cheap fish as well as sea food such as hummer, shrimps or sea shells everywhere on the island.

As a side dish they usually serve rise with beans («arroz con habichuelas»), plantains («platanos»), fried plantains («platano frito») or plantains puree («Mangu»).

Further information about food & drinks.

Economy
Tourism and agriculture are the major industries. The most important commercial partners are the United States of America. Another very big income, which should not be underestimated, is the «Remesas». These are money transfers from Dominicans living abroad, to support their families.

Electricity
110-120 Volt (at some hotels 220-240 Volt).  American norm adapters are necessary. The best is to bring them from home, but it is also possible to buy them at a «Ferreterias».

Power failure happens often, but most of the hotels have an own generator and electricity plant, which works 24 hours.

Emergencies
Swiss Embassy, phone (001) 809-533-3781
US Embassy, phone (001) 809-567-7775
Embassy of the UK, phone (001) 809-472-7111

Health
Officially there are no special vaccinations required to enter to the Dominican Republic.

The health service of the foreign department recommends protection against tetanus, diphtheria and hepatitis A. For long-term stays of 4 weeks or more it is recommendable to have a protection against hepatitis B, canine madness and typhus as well.

In case you have doubts about the vaccination, please contact the tropical institute. They are happy to answer your questions:

Bernhard-Nocht-Institut for tropical diseases, Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 74, 20359 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 / 42 818  0
or http://www.bnitm.de

Further information about health.

Holidays in the Dominican Republic

25.12.15Christmas02.05.16Labor Day
01.01.16New Years Day26.05.16Corpus Christi
04.01.16Epiphany16.08.16Day of Restoration
21.01.16Dia de La Altagracia24.09.16Dia de las Mercedes
25.01.16Duartes Birthday06.11.16Constitution Day
27.02.16Independence Day25.12.16Christmas
25.03.16Good Friday

Flexible holidays

  • February or March: Carnaval («carnaval»), often on the weekend so it will be changed to the weekend which follows the 27th.
  • March or April: Easter («la semana santa – the holy week»)
  • Last Sunday in May: Mothers day («día de la madre»)

Information & communication
Internet:
Almost every hotel offers WIFI or Computer services. Furthermore in almost every city or village you can find an internet center. The cost per hour is about 50 to 80 RD$.
Post: A postcard to Europe will be probably about 2 to 3 weeks on its way. Unfortunately it is possible that the card does not get to its destination.
Telephone: Phone calls can be made from the hotel or less expensive from a public phone/internet center. Country code for Germany: 011 49 and then the area code without the zero followed by the phone number.
Mobile phones: The costs for calls with European phones are often very high (up to 4,99€/Minute). The cheapest and easiest option is to buy a local prepaid-card. You can get the for example at

Orange
Claro

Insurances
It is very important to have a travel as well as travel cancellation insurance; furthermore you need a baggage insurance as well as an accident insurance.

Petrol
Petrol is sold in gallons. 1 gallon is 3.7854 liter.

Pharmacies
You can find pharmacies all over the Dominican Republic, they are called «Farmacia». It is recommended to take a small first-aid kit from home; this should contain for example mosquito protection, sun cream and medicine against stomach issues.

Shopping
It is possible to go shopping in supermarkets, shopping malls, at the «Colmados» (corner-shop), on markets and from street vendors. Only at the shopping malls or supermarkets you will find fix prices, at any other you might negotiate the price.

Important: please always ask for the price before buying!

Photography & Filming
Photography- and filming is forbidden at military bases, industrial areas, airports and radio and broadcasting stations. Apart from that you can actually take pictures of everything, but we would recommend asking people for their permission in any case.

Location and landscape
Hispaniola is after Cuba the second biggest Island of the Caribbean. 48‘440 km2 of the total of 76‘500 km2 belong to the Dominican Republic. In the West you can find the neighbor island Haiti. The Dominican Republic dispose of over 1‘600 km of coastline, the east-west expansion is about 320 km, from the south to the north it is about 240 km. About a third of the 9 Million habitants live in the province of the capital Santo Domingo. The population puts together 73% mulattoes, 16% white and 11% black.

Map Dominikanische Republik
Please click on the map to see the large version.

Noise
The Dominican Republic is, like every big city very noisy. There is no official nighttime peace and also on Sunday mornings there is a lot of living on the streets. The Dominican Republic is one of the liveliest countries of the world. So prepare yourself for loud music, hooting cars and loud voices full of spirit.

Measure & weights
In the Dominican Republic you hear often a «un chin». A «chin» is a little bit, even nobody knows exactly how much it is.

Further information about measure & weights.

Rental car
The most interesting and unattached way to discover a country on your own is probably to rent a car. On the menu point rental car, you can find further information. 

Our tips about renting a car.

Nightlife
The whole country offers a big variety of nightclubs, piano bars and discotheques! The nightlife in Santo Domingo is more active as in the other Latin American capitals.

The city offer great entertainment with trendy bars, restaurants, casinos and theaters. It seems the city and its habitants never sleep.

The parties start early with happy hours, continue with a great dinner, followed by dancing all night until the early morning! Bars and restaurant on weekends usually close around 2 am but exceptions proves the rules. Merengue, Bachata and Salsa are always present as well as other modern rhythms.

Further information and tips you can find on Zona Colonial.

National parks & reserves
About 10% of the country, including sea domain, is protected area. The definition national park and the compliance of the protection provision are very unclear. For inspections into the national parks you need a special approval, which costs usually about 100 RD$. Price can change.

Public transportation
The public buses in the Dominican Republic are called «Guagua». A ride within Santo Domingo costs about 25 Pesos Dominicanos. Different than in Europe, the buses are usually not signed with the destination and there is no fix bus stop. There is a «cobrador» (to whom you also pay the trip) which you can ask for the route.

Bigger cities are usually connected by three main overland bus companies (Metro Bus, Caribe Tours and Expreso Bavaro). The buses are in good conditions and equipped with air condition (it is highly recommended to take a jacket onto the bus and to wear long pants, as it is usually very cold in these buses!), toilette and sometimes with a television.

Further information about public transportations.

Opening hours
Bank
: usually Mo-Fr from 8:30 – 18:00 h, lunch break from 13:00 – 14:00 h
Shops: usually Mo-Fr from 09:00 – 18:00 h or 20:00 h, Saturday until lunchtime
Supermarkets: Mo-Sa from 08:00 – 22:00 h, Sundays until 15:00 h
Post office: usually Mo-Fr from 07:30 – 17:00 or 18:00 h, Saturdays from 07:30 – 12:00 h

Restaurants outside the hotel areas
It is possible that the bill after a meal is higher than the actual summary of the individual items. Usually this happens not in bad faith. Dominicans sometimes have difficulties with calculating; just friendly indicate the error and they will correct it.

The price indicated on the restaurant or bar menu cards are usually net-rates. With a small phrase (often a little hidden on the card) they indicate, that 18% taxes («Impuestos») and 10% Services («Servicio») are not included. In case this is not indicated on the menu, you should ask if the prices are net- or gross rates.

At cafeterias, colmados and comedores the prices are usually already gross rates.

Our Restaurant-Tips for Santo Domingo.

Service, quickness, punctuality, organization
The Dominican mentality is different. They have more time so everything happens at a slower rate than in Europe. Please exercise yourself in patience, in case you have to wait or be prepared for possible changing’s or any improvisations.

Souvenirs
The colorful paintings from Haiti are very famous souvenirs. The multicolored and beautiful motives will give your home a touch of the Caribbean. Unfortunately there are always more and more paintings offered, that are made out of mass processing. We recommend you to visit different sales booth and galleries, before you pick your favorite one.

Further information about Souvenirs.

Sports & leisure time
There are different sports which you can enjoy actively or passively in the Dominican Republic. One of the best equipped sports centres of the Caribbean is the Olympic center «Juan Pablo Duarte» in Santo Domingo. Through the whole year it is the location of different sporting events.

Rafting, Kayaking and canoing (Jarabacoa), sailing (Boca Chica), diving (Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Boca Chica, Bayahibe etcetera), windsurfing (Cabarete), horse riding (Bayahibe, Juan Dolio, Las Terrenas etcetera) as well as hiking (Jarabacoa and Constanza) – the highest mountain in the Dominican Republic is the «Pico Duarte» with 3’175m.

The Dominican national sport is Baseball, established by the Americans in 1896. Professionals and amateurs practice this sport with a lot of enthusiasm.

The official baseball-season is during winter, but Dominicans practice this sport the all year round.

Language
Spanish is the official language. People in tourist areas speak English, and mostly understand a little German and French.

If you speak some Spanish, you can make better contacts to the locals!

Further information about the language including a small dictionary.

State and administration
The Dominican Republic has 29 provinces plus the main province and capital Santo Domingo. At the top of this presidential democracy is the president, which is elected every four years. The Dominican Republic got its independency from Spain in 1844.

Taxis

It is recommended to use taxis after 8 pm.

Local taxi prices in Santo Domingo, for your orientation:
Within the «Zona Colonial» (old town): 150 RD$
To the other parts of the city: 150 RD$ - 300 RD$

Taxi companies:
Apollo Taxi, phone 809-537-0000
Aero Taxi, phone 809-686-1212

Please always call a register taxi central, do not enter a taxi on the road, as they usually do not have insurances and are not registered.

The taxi rides with «Hotel-taxis» are much more expensive in the touristy areas like Puerto Plata and Punta Cana than in Santo Domingo. You can also try to negotiate these prices even if they are «fix». If you don’t want to pay the price, ask at your hotel reception to call a local taxi company.

Tip
In Restaurants: Beside the VAT and the lawful 10% service taxes you usually pay another 5 – 10% tip. We therefore recommend a minimum tip for the following services during your vacation of:  

  • Guide for round trips: starting from 5 US$ per room per day

Please be aware that in most cases the guide shares its tips with the driver, therefore we recommend a minimum of 5 USD per room per driver, in most cases clients even prefer to give more.

  • Guide for a day trip: approx. 5 USD per Person
  • Porter: 3 USD per room
  • Chambermaid: 7-8 USD per week


You should also tip taxi drivers  if they gave you a good service.

Whale watching
Every year from mid January to mid March almost the entire humpback whale population of the North Atlantic Ocean meets in the Bay of Samana. Pairing and the birth of whale calves take place here every year.

The humpback whales of the Atlantic swim the long way from the cold arctic waters around Greenland and Island to flirt in the Bay of Samana.

News papers & magazines
The biggest national diary is called «Listin Diario». There are supermarkets which sell international newspaper in the cities as well as in touristy areas.

Time difference
The time difference between the Dominican Republic and central European time (MEZ) is minus 5 hours and during summer time minus 6 hours.

After gaining an extensive insight into the Dominican Live we would like these travel info with something to smile.

Note
All information about prices, currency courses, opening hours of museum/places of interest as well as entrance fees, entry- and departure regulations etcetera are subject to changes.

No guarantee of completeness/accuracy of this information.

Stand: July 2014

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