What currency should I
US dollars is the most easily exchangeable foreign currency. The reason is
that the exchange rate for US Dollars is extremely competitive here,
making it a good transition currency. Other currencies can be exchanged,
but usually a lower rate will be paid than if you had first exchanged your
currency for US dollars. Bring a mix of Credit cards, ATM cards and
travelers checks. Exchange houses pay the most for US dollar travel
checks. Next comes the US dollar. Canadian, the Euro, and during the dual
circulation period of to 28 February 2002, German, French, Italian and
Spanish currency can be easily exchanged at banks and exchange houses, but
note you will not get as good a rate as for the US dollar.
Is it safe to drink the
tap water at the hotels?
Tap water should be avoided unless it has been boiled. This means that it
is perfectly safe to use for teas and coffees. You may brush your teeth in
unboiled tap water but if you have a sensitive stomach I wouldn't advice
it. Almost all resorts provide purified water. Ice cubes are generally
made from this as well, especially at resorts and tourist places. Bottled
water can be bought almost everywhere.
Is it safe?
Sure there are dangers everywhere and in the DR as well. But the crime
rate is relatively low when it comes to acts of violence, whereas acts of
petty theft, such as pick pocketing) are common. However, act sensibly.
Don't wear jewels that attract attention and don't wave your $$ around for
everyone to see. Avoid walking in areas where there are no people around,
take a taxi instead.
Is it all right for
women to be traveling alone?
The Vice President of the Dominican Republic is a woman, and you will find
women in executive positions throughout most businesses in the country.
While machismo is alive and well in the barrios and rural communities,
middle class and up women have as much to say as the men in their homes
and jobs. Note that more women graduate from university then men in the
DR. Women traveling alone will not have any problems. Unless you dress
very provocatively, the most you will get is a compliment here and there
from an admiring Dominican male. Chivalry is alive and well in the DR. Use
common sense and you will enjoy your vacation just as you would anywhere
else in the world.
Are Dominican beaches
Some beaches are children-friendly, others have big waves, strong undertow
and rocks. When in doubt, stick to the shore. The same rules apply here as
do anywhere else in the world. Do not take a windsurf or sail boat out if
you have just finished eating. Don't go out swimming alone. Don't bring
your valuables to the beach. Don't leave anything you can't afford to lose
on the beach when going off for a swim. Many a tourist has fallen asleep
to discover their airline ticket or camera is missing.
What is the drinking and
The drinking and gambling age is 18 years old. While lax in the past,
increasingly the authorities are enforcing a ban on serving alcoholic
beverages to minors. Many discos, especially in Santo Domingo, will ask to
see an ID if you do not look 18. The same will happen in the casinos.
What's the best time of
the year to come?
The peak travel seasons to and from the DR are July-August (most travel)
and the months of December, January, February and March. This reflects the
vacation periods of Europeans and North Americans. Note that the weather
varies only a few degrees upwards and downwards in the Dominican Republic,
with the summer months being slightly hotter, so any time is just as fine.
Try to avoid the peaks of domestic travel, primarily Easter Week and the
long weekend holidays (http://www.dr1.com/travel/prepare/holidays.shtml),
if possible, when the major resorts will be full to the hilt.
When is the rainy
Anyone who tells you there is a rainy season in the DR hasn’t lived
here. It rains more frequently in the North Coast than in the South. The
East Coast is the driest. But aside from that the weather in the DR is
relatively stable. Only very occasionally will a storm be passing by that
will bring more than an afternoon of rain. The most common forecast is:
partly cloudy with a chance of short showers. The El Niño and El Niña
currents bring longer periods of drought and rain. But aside from that,
bring your sun block as chances are the sun will be shining strong.
I don't know Spanish.
Will this be a problem?
Thousands of people visit the DR every year without knowing any Spanish at
all. If you at least know English, you should be able to get along fine.
But if neither English nor Spanish is your language, don't worry, be
If you are just coming on a holiday you will be surprised how far a smile
and sign language and pointing will get you a long way.
If you are coming for business, it is most probable your host will have
someone who can communicate with you in your language, if he doesn't do so
As with traveling anywhere, picking up a key phrases in Spanish (like
"por favor"-please, "gracias"-thank you, will bring
many smiles and extra efforts to help you out.
Most resorts will have someone speaking English. Many resorts have
multi-lingual staff. If you are coming with a large group, there surely
will be staff fluent in your language to assist you. The best advice is to
relax and be patient if you do not get youself across the first time.
Laugh and have fun. After all, you are on a vacation.
I will be traveling with
my one and a half year old baby? Special recommendations?
Bring your baby down, she will love the DR too! Bring your brand of
powdered milk and use bottled water. You can also get UHT homogenized milk
here (Parmalat, Nestle and Rica). Also prefer pasteurized UHT containers
for juice (Bon, Santal). Bring a first set of disposable diapers. If you
will be staying for more than a week, you can purchase them in any city
and many hotels will stock them, albeit at a high premium. Bring mosquito
repellent special for babies. Also, two or three hats and special baby
sunscreen. If you will be renting a car to travel with your baby, bring
your own car seat. Check with your travel agent to make sure your hotel
has cribs for the baby, or you might consider bringing your folding
Is it true that there is
much topless bathing in the DR?
Most US travelers with family headed to the popular Punta Cana tourist
area will soon discover that European bathing styles (topless for women
and men, thongs for women and men) is a non-issue. Once the novelty wears
off, you and your family will barely notice the different bathing wear.
There is too much else to capture your attention. Of course the kids will
notice the difference at the start, but will only make an issue of it if
you do. Explain the tourists do not want any swimsuit tan lines, shrug it
off as a cultural difference (note Dominican women do not go topless), and
everyone will get on with their vacation.
Can I bring my pet?
It's easy to travel with a dog or cat to the Dominican Republic. But do
not bring a bird as the bird needs to remain in quarantine. To bring your
dog a veterinarian certificate issued for rabbies and distemper in the
past 30 days of the travel date is required. At the airport in the DR you
should ask for the animal control person (Sanidad Animal) in the customs
area. He will examine your certificate and fill out an official entry form
or permission for which you will pay less than US$10. Prior to traveling
with your pet, you should call your carrier for more information and the
cost of transporting your animal. You should make a reservation early
because some airlines restrict how many dogs can be carried onboard. If
you are flying on American Airlines make sure your connecting flight is
not American Eagle in the case your pet does not fit under your airline
seat. American Eagle will only transport dogs that fit onboard.
What is the DR policy on
visitors and drugs?
You do not want to bring in, consume or risk buying or selling drugs in
the Dominican Republic. This is the easiest way to land yourself in jail
with no bail. This could turn your trip into a nightmare. Drugs are not
welcome in the DR and there are tough laws against trafficking and
consumption regardless of the amount.
Is prostitution legal?
Yes and no. It is tolerated but it is not legal. Having any kind of sexual
relationship with minors (under 18 years) is illegal and those caught face
long terms in jail.
If I extend my stay over
the 90 period tourist card, what happens?
Nothing. You have to pay a penalty. The scale starts at RD$60 for up to
nine months. RD$100 for a year, RD$160 for a year to a year and a half.
RD$200 for a year-and-a-half to two years. The maximum is RD$600 for
staying more than five years.