Holidays to the Dominican Republic are growing in popularity with almost 5 million tourists visiting each year. There are beaches, natural beauty and Spanish colonial architecture. You can find lots of Dominican Republic villa rentals with incredible views as well as plenty of all-inclusive five star resorts. But taking a holiday to this Caribbean destination may involve a few risks and things you should be aware of. Here are ten tips to make sure you have an incredible trip to the Dominican Republic.
1# Delays are Part of Life
One part of life in the Dominican Republic are the sheer number of delays. Life goes at a slow pace and things are more laid back than what you may be familiar with. What this means is that the 9:00 am bus may not show up until 9:45 am, if at all.
2# Learn Spanish
All people speak Spanish. Few speak English outside of the tourist areas. If you want to get away from the resort to explore the island, it’s strongly recommend to learn a few phrases of Spanish at the very least. Communicating with the locals is essential to find out information on public transport and to avoid getting ripped off.
3# Have Your Wits about You at All Times
One of the most common complaints from tourists visiting the Dominican Republic is the fact they often find the locals overcharge or completely rip them off. Hustling is part of normal life with many of the locals viewing tourists as wealthy with lots of money to burn. Always make sure you know what the prices should be before buying something and be prepared to haggle.
4# Don’t Rent a Car
Tourists often like the flexibility of having their own set of wheels. The advantages are endless with flexibility being the most important. But this isn’t such a good idea. The road conditions are poor and driving is chaotic. If you want to get around, hire a local driver or find a suitable tour. And for those who insist on getting a car, spend a few days here first to get an idea of the driving conditions.
5# Use Uber
Taxi drivers are some of the worst offenders when it comes to overcharging tourists. As you walk around, you’ll see a swarm of drivers trying to entice you into their cab. Some are honest, but most will give you an inflated price that’s double, if not triple, the actual fare. The best way to protect yourself is to use Uber. Drivers can’t overcharge you, and if they do you can simply reclaim the money back from the company. And using Uber is much safer compared to the unlicensed cabs.
6# Staying Safe
It’s no secret that the Caribbean has a shady reputation when it comes to safety and crime. But, the Dominican Republic tends to be safe when you use your common sense and exercise a certain degree of caution. If you want to explore the island outside of the resorts or touristy areas, go ahead. Just make sure you don’t wear expensive jewelry or show off your flashy gadgets. And stick to the well-lit places after hours especially in San Domingo. Most cities in the world have some kind of neighborhood or district with a poor safety reputation. The general rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t in the Dominican Republic.
7# Drinking Water
The tap water isn’t safe to drink. Always buy bottled water from the shop and double check that the cap’s seal is still intact. Occasionally, unscrupulous vendors refill bottles and resell them to thirsty and unsuspecting people.
8# Hurricane Season
After the recent crisis in the Caribbean, the threat of hurricanes are very serious. As the world saw, strong winds combined with relatively weak buildings lead to complete devastation. Hurricane season is between June and November. You should be aware of any developing storm and make sure you have a contingency plan. It may also be a good idea to make sure your travel insurance protects you in the case of a natural disaster. But don’t let this deter and discourage you from visiting. You’re also advised to find out where your embassy or consulate is just in case something does happen and you need assistance.
9# Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is quite common in the Dominican Republic and tourists will often find they’re being eaten alive by the little bloodsuckers. Mosquitoes tend to come out in their numbers after dark. It’s strongly recommended that you wear long sleeves and trousers to cover your arms and legs after dark. If you pack light clothes, this shouldn’t be uncomfortable. If not, you may find yourself using bottle after bottle of repellent.
10# Make Sure You Have Pesos
You can either change your money before you depart to the Dominican Republic or when you arrive. The vast majority of shops only use the local currency, and despite seeing USD advertised, it’s not a good idea to pay in dollars. First, anyone who charges in any other currency apart from pesos will almost certainly be ripping you off. They’ll give you unfavorable exchange rates or charge you several times higher than you should be paying. If anyone wants you to pay in dollars, don’t buy from them.
Having a Safe and Unforgettable Trip
The Dominican Republic is an exotic destination attracting millions of tourists each year. Follow these tips to stay safe, avoid getting ripped off and generally have a much better travel experience.