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Planes, trains and automobiles - well not quite as there are no train stations in the DR,
however there is an excellent bus service, small island aircraft service and gua guas
(public buses) as well as car hire companies.
The two main bus companies are Metro (tel: 809 566 7126)
and Caribe (tel: 809 221 4422) tours. Both services offer clean, regular and air
conditioned buses into each major city and towns throughout the DR. Timetables and
costs are printed in all depots and the buses are generally extremely punctual. These
buses cannot be flagged down by the roadside and if you are wishing to catch the early
bus (usually departing around 6.00am) then a reservation the day before maybe required.
Fares are very reasonable and for getting from the north to Santo Domingo (the capital)
or vice versa then there is no better way. Plenty of luggage space and toilet facilities on
board! Try and get to the bus station an hour before departure to ensure your seat.
Public Buses or Gua Guas
Chugging along or puffing out smoke – you’ll find gua guas running up and down the
highways and roads all around the Dominican Republic. An informal bus system, these
mini vans, people carriers have all seen better days, however they offer a cheap and
somewhat regular bus service too. Cheaper than the Metro and Caribe tours, the gua guas
can be flagged down by the side of the road and a young boy will scoop you in and
squash you up next to the local goat herder or bank manager. Everyone uses the gua gua
system, cosy but not comfortable and a great way to get to know you fellow countrymen
in a compact kind of way.
Usually a ride will cost around RD$10 -20 depending on journey length, gua guas can be
found running every 20 -30 minutes along the main roads. Usually on public holidays the
service is limited and gua guas do not run after dark either….
Can be flagged down by the roadside too. A
regular car with a box on the roof saying “Publico” you can spot the cars quite easily as
they are normally run down battered old bangers. A public car will squash around 5
people on the back seat and usually 3 people on the front seat. You can pay RD$50 to
reserve the front seat for yourself. Expect dare devil driving and break neck speeds, loud
music and loss of hair due to your stress levels rising at an abnormal rate on knots!
Public cars travel the main towns and highways from dawn and during dark hours to with
journeys usually costing no more than RD$20.
Real and regular taxis do exist and can be found outside any hotel or at taxi ranks through
towns and cities. There will usually be a tariff displayed on a board outside and they are a
great way to get out and about to sight see or venture out to restaurants etc.,.
Agree your price beforehand and your taxi driver will drop you off at your destination, he
will come back for you at a specified time (waiting time can be pre arranged at no extra
charge) and remember to pay for your journey when you get back. Don’t pay for your
return leg of the journey until you have had it! The local taxi drivers are normally great
guys and will wait for around 3 hours if you want to go out for dinner!
The cheapest and most popular form of transport for
locals but the most dangerous and accident prone! Motorbikes all over the Dominican
Republic are used as a taxi service from town to town. Hop on the back and off you go,
often you can see Grannies sitting side saddle or a mother with 3 kids dangling off the
sides of the bike, builders transporting building goods, ladders, farmers carrying
livestock, washing machines – if fact you name it !
A cheap and fast way to get out and about but not recommended. Journeys cost from
RD$5 – RD$20. An essential part of local life but as a tourist or bystander just visiting
the DR, take your photographs and leave it at that.
Car rental is generally quite expensive in the DR, but you can always book in advance via
the internet or the The Real DR car hire section, as most main car hire companies have
concessions over here like Hertz, Dollar and National.
Rates are roughly US$45 upwards per day. Do get full collision insurance. Note all dents
and scratches before you drive off in you rental car as you surely will be charged for them
when you return!
Remember driving over here is on the right hand side of the road and conditions are often
quite treacherous, many people do not pay attention to traffic lights/stop signs, over-take
when you would not normally even think about it eg.,. round a blind bend, entering a dark
tunnel etc.,. and if you are involved in an accident then everyone (even if it is not your
fault) is taken away to the local police station for questioning. Sounds like a fun way to
spend a couple of days during your week long vacation?
Take care if you hire a car seriously!
Air Santo Domingo offers an island service which will get you from the north to south
and east of the island with journeys lasting no more than an hour. Tel: 809 683 8006.
title txt: Travel essentials - Getting Around
Food and Drink
Dominican food is a mixed blend of African, Spanish and Taino Indian influences, and if
you just stick to your meals in your all-inclusive hotel buffets then you will not get a real
taste of the island flavours at all.
The food whilst not heavily hot spiced like neighbouring islands of Jamaica and Trinidad
draws a different range of spices to tingle and tempt taste-buds with plenty of fresh herbs,
garlic and tangy sauces.
Rice & Beans!
The most common plate eaten by everyone here is rice
and beans. From toddlers to old folk this is pretty much the staple of every meal being
highly nutritious and tasty. The dish is called the Dominican Flag and the beans (red
kidney beans) are cooked in a pungent herby tomato sauce, this dish usually comes with
fried chicken or pork and a basic salad (cabbage is used here a lot instead of lettuce as a
salad base). Do not be surprised to see "green" tomatoes in a typical Dominican salad -
they are crunchy and very tasty! Garlic, tomato and green peppers are all key ingredients
in Dominican cooking (La cocina Dominicana) and are the base for most of the sauces
Some like it hot!
For something spicy try the stewed goat or chivo picante (picante means spicy/hot). Goat
tastes very similar to lamb for the uninitiated but is known to be a little boney. This is
delicious and comes served with rice, tostones (Fried plantian chips) and salad. The goats
are grown in the west of the country and are fed fresh oregano which grows in abundance
in the countryside giving their meat a unique and sweet flavor.
Sancocho is one of the most famous dishes in the DR. Originated
from the Spanish housewives who colonized here in the sixteen hundreds this dish is
made from 5 different meats, an amazing selection of tubers, vegetables and spices.
Served as a hearty stew/soup fresh avocados (when in season) are sliced on top.
Fish & Seafood
Fresh seafood and fish are specialities in most restaurants here, from sea bass, parrot fish
and tuna all locally caught, fried, poached, grilled or baked, plain or served a la criolla
(spicy tomato sauce), with garlic or con coco (with coconut) in certain parts of the
country. Shrimps, lobster and crab can be
found in most restaurants and are served simply to let the natural flavours speak for
themselves. Some of the best places to taste sea food are the small shack type restaurants
found on beaches where you can see a barbeque in place and pick what you want off the
grill. Served with salad and French fries, the coolest beer you can imagine sit back under
your palm tree and watch the waves as you tuck into your Caribbean tropical delight!
Word of Warning
A lot of the food, especially in hotels, is deep fried using coconut oil - so a word or
warning when you first arrive is not to stuff too much at once and ease your delicate
tummies into the buffet line gently. Coconut being a natural laxative is a main cause for
most tummy upsets over here.
Real home grown organic fruits are readily available in not just
your hotels but in supermarkets, outdoor markets and street vendors everywhere, fresh
and sun-ripened and all those tropical colours and flavours ready to explode in your
mouth – delicious.
Pineapples, passion fruit, mango’s, papaya’s, oranges, star fruits, bananas, and many
more are often used fresh in smoothies/milkshakes or "batida’s" as they called in the DR.
What to Drink
The aforementioned drinks are in chronological order from waking up to disco dancing
and then going to bed!
Breakfast time – Dominican coffee ranks as one of the number one coffee’s in the world.
Most Dominicans take it in small doses literally smothered in sugar – this is called a café
cito. However you like it, black or with milk it is delicious coffee and you should always
make sure you take a couple of packs back home with you to remind you of your
Mid Morning – A freshly squeezed juice is available just about everywhere, from inside
your hotel to most cafes and bars offering a staggering selection of juices. Fresh orange
juice is cool and refreshing just about anytime!
Lunchtime – Bottled water is a must to re-hydrate yourselves but as it is now after 11.00
you couldn’t go far wrong with a cool Presidente, the number one selling beer on the
island. Other brands of beer are Bohemia and Brahma.
Afternoon – Cocktail time has arrived already – choose from a pina colada, bana mama
or melon ball the choice is yours – just remember the amount of coconut milk used could
have you running to the loo more times than you really want too!
Sodas are widely available over here, not much choice in the range of diet sodas but the
main sellers like Pepsi and Coca Cola can be bought nearly everywhere. Interesting to
note that a soda is usually more expensive to buy than a shot of rum!
Evening – Wines are imported into the DR, making them costly when eating out and a
limited choice usually.
Rum is made on the island and comes in a confusing amount of ages and tastes. The main
brands are Brugal, Barcelo and Bermudez. The rums are darker when aged, however you
can also buy white rum too. Watch out for 151 rum as it is 100% proof and great as a take
home present for your mother-in-law as it will have her out for weeks after just one sip or
for soaking your dentures in!
Most people drink their rum with coke this is a cuba libre or with sprite a santo libre! You
could always ask for a “servicio” which is a small bottle of rum, two cokes and a bucket
of ice with some lime slices, when out in a local bar!
Don’t forget to try the local aphrodisiac which is called “Mama Juana” a hard to stomach
concoction of rum, honey, barks and leaves. Which is made in a large bottle and then put
away for 3 months or so. Once potency has been fully reached it is served in little shot
glasses usually after dinner! You can buy the dried form of leaves and barks in most
supermarkets and add your own rum honey or special blends back home!
Money and Costs
The Dominican Currency is the Peso. The peso is divided up into 100 centavos, and the
symbol for the peso is RD$ - not to be confused with the US dollar!
The peso comes in a variety of forms from coins of 1 pesos, 5, 10 and 25 coins to
banknotes of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000.
Please do not accept any notes with rips, stuck back together with sellotape or that have
writing on them (in biro or ink).
The 50 peso note and the 200 peso note are both purple-ish in colour so be very careful
when you first arrive and also the 500 pesos note and 2000 pesos notes are similar as
The paper money is generally quite old, grubby and smelly as a lot of locals do not have
bank accounts and keep their money in other "safe places" ie.,. inside their socks or
American dollars are a widely accepted currency in the whole of the DR, however if you
pay for something in US dollars then the change given back to you will be in pesos, so
watch out if you are not too quick on the exchange rates. The Dominican pesos is still
classed as a "closed currency" meaning that it is pretty much worthless back in your
country of origin, so remember do not exchange all your dollars or pounds for pesos as if
you have a lot of pesos left at the end of your holiday - you will probably lose out with
the exchange rate in your home country
Changing money should be done either at your hotel, a reputable bank or a money
The Dominican Republic is regarded as the Caribbean on the cheap and offers
trememdous value for every kind of traveller wishing to visit here, from fantastic package
deals on "the all-inclusive" slant to budget rooms and bed and breakfasts for the
independent traveller to rent. Whilst saying this there are high end options too from Casa
de Campo in the east, some mega 5 star international hotels in the capital Santo Domingo
and luxury hidden away villas and mansions to be rented in the north at places like
SeaHorse Ranch, in Sosua.
Where ever you are though bartering is a quintessential custom here and super fun. Please
remember not to bargain in places like restaurants and casino's - prices are fixed just like
home! You wouldn't walk into Burger King and start bartering over the price of a
Whopper now would you - or would you?!
Beach vendors, markets and souvenir shops are great places to start and the general rule
of thumb is at least to halve the vendors price and start from there - good luck!
Eating and drinking out in the DR is reasonable and won't break your budget. Some
things are expensive over here especially imported items like electrical stuff and cars -
but hey how many cars are you going to buy on your vacation!
Crime and Safety
Aside from the poorest neighbourhoods in Santo Domingo and Santiago, the Dominican
Republic is a relatively safe place - though women travelling solo need to stay on their
guard even here. In cities, take the same precautions that you would anywhere else: don't
flaunt your wealth with fat rolls of pesos, leave your expensive jewellery at home and
avoid walking alone late at night.
Corruption is rife throughout the police force ; many officers do little besides collecting
small bribes. Nevertheless, you shouldn't give an officer a bribe unless he first asks, albeit
rather obliquely; if he does ask, you're probably best off complying, provided he doesn't
ask for more than RD$20 or RD$30. The good news for you is that police are routinely
instructed not to ask bribes of foreigners, and their only other focus is crime against
tourists , which they are adamant about quashing; dial 911 in case of an emergency.
Penalties for drug use and possession are extraordinarily stiff, and Dominican prisons
are notorious. Drug possession is the one crime you won't be able to bribe your way out
of; whatever you do, don't carry any with you into the country.
Though violent attacks against women travellers are rare, many women find that the
constant barrage of hisses, hoots and comments comes close to spoiling their vacation.
Whatever you do, don't be afraid to seem rude; even the mildest polite response will be
considered an indication of serious interest. Chances of trouble depend to an extent on
where you are. Avoid walking alone on city streets late at night and you'll circumvent
much of the risk; it's also a good idea to opt for private taxis over motoconchos and
guaguas after dark.
Holidays & Festivals
The Dom Rep has a bewildering barrage of festivals . On every day of the year, there
seems to be some kind of celebration somewhere, the majority of which are regional
fiestas patronales , held in honour of the city's or town's patron saint. These traditional
fiestas are one of the great pleasures of a trip to the DR.
Virgen de Altagracia
January 21, the most important religious day in the Dominican calendar, including a
several-day pilgrimage to Higuey.
Holiday in honour of the Father of the Country, with public fiestas in all major towns on
The pre-eminent celebration of the year, held on every Sunday in February and
culminating on February 27. The biggest festival is in La Vega, with Santo Domingo a
Celebration of independence from Haiti and the culmination of the Dominican Carnival
(Feb 27). The place to be is Santo Domingo.
The Christian Holy Week (variable, usually early to mid-April) is also the most important
week of Haitian and Dominican vodú . Festivals take place in the Haitian bateyes and in
Huge celebrations in the capital's barrio Villa Mella, pueblo Santa María near San
Cristóbal and the El Pomier caves, and San Juan de la Maguana - held seven weeks after
San Pedro Apostol
A magnificent Cocolo festival in San Pedro de Macorís on June 29, with roving bands of
guloyas performing dance dramas on the street.
Festival of the Bulls
Higuey's fiesta patronal (Aug 14), with processions coming into the city from all sides -
some from as far as 30km - with cowboys on horseback and large herds of cattle.
Guloya festivals in San Pedro de Macorís, Haitian Voodoo celebrations in the Haitian
bateyes and rural groups of Caribbean-style Navidad carollers in the campos (Dec 25).
Festival of the Bulls
Traditional cattle festival in Bayaguana (Dec 28)
Here are the published holidays for 2010 here in the Dominican Republic
1January - New Year's Day
6 January - Dia de Reyes (Epiphany)
21 January - Dia de la Altagracia
26 January - Duarte Day (Juan Pablo Duarte) - Will be celebrated on Monday January
27 February - Independence Day
21 March - Viernes Santo
1 May - Labor Day and Ascension Day
22 May - Corpus Christi
16 August - Dia de la Restauracion
24 September - Dia de las Mercedes
6 November - Constitution Day
5 December - Discovery Day
24 December - Christmas Eve
25 December - Christmas Day
Need a Visa ?
Almost all non-resident visitors to the DR
will need a passport and almost everyone will require a tourist card. The tourist card costs
US$10 and can purchased on arrival into the country prior to passing through
immigration. Depending on the amount of flights on the ground at the time of your arrival
the lines can sometimes be lengthy. The tourist card will then be surrendered after your
passport has been stamped. PLEASE NOTE - The tourist card can only be purchased
with US Dollars cash - no Euros or Pounds or Pesos accepted
Citizens of the following countries do not need a tourist card:-
• South Korea
Your tourist card will expire in 90 days and if you overstay your limit when you exit the
DR a fine will be imposed on you. For further information on tourist card extensions you
may call Immigration, Huacal Building in Santo Domingo, telephone no: 809 685 2505.
It is however a lot EASIER just to overstay and pay the small fine levied at the airport.
Also, please remember that you will need to save US$20 per ticketed passenger for your
departure tax for when you leave the DR. Some airlines have this tax already included in
the air package, but if you are travelling on a charter flight, then you will most probably
have to pay this tax before boarding your return flight home.
All North Coast Excursions
The Dominican Republic North Coast resorts offer the visitor an exceptional range of
high quality, great value for money excursions. So why not leave your luxury all-
inclusive hotel and explore the REAL Dominican Republic on one of our superb
adventures. Our range of Dominican Republic Excursions will ensure that you see the
true side of Dominican life as well as experience the beauty of our fascinating country.
Once you purchase any of our superb Dominican Republic excursions below, we will send you, via email, one voucher
per excursion. These vouchers show your purchased excursion(s), your selected excursion day/date, the collection time
from your hotel and top tips on how to best enjoy your day(s) out. Please ensure that you print your excursion vouchers
before travelling and keep them with your travel documents. Your excursion vouchers must be handed to your
excursion guide on collection from your hotel.