Tips for Visiting the Dominican Republic
1. Practice Passport Etiquette
Bring your passport and make a couple copies. Leave one copy at home, store one in your luggage and carry one with you. If your hotel room has a safe, keep your passport in the safe and use the copies as proof of identification.
2. Carry Cash on Entry
Travelers will be required to pay for a tourist card before they are allowed to travel in the DR. This fee is around $10.00 per person so be sure to save some cash for this.
Domincans like to chat and they like to take things slowly. Be prepared to relax and to operate on “Dominican” time. If you speak some Spanish, talk with the locals. They love to share their knowledge and stories and this is typically the best way to find those yummy hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
4. Wander Off the Resort
Avoid wearing good jewelry and don’t carry a purse if possible. Guys, don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. Getting robbed or pickpocketed will ruin a vacation so be wary of this and minimize your risk.
5. Don’t Be Gun Shy
Fair warning, you will see people sitting down with guns in their laps or walking around toting one in public areas. This is normal. Many are private security guards and are actually guarding homes or businesses. Remember, the Dominicans are extremely friendly so don’t worry too much about violence.
6. Practice Your Taxi Smarts
Speaking of taxis, if you don’t speak Spanish be aware of how much your ride will cost before getting into the cab. If you arrive at your destination and hesitate too much when paying the cabbie, they may jump on the opportunity and attempt to upcharge you. Having a rough estimate of the cost of the ride will save you valuable pesos.
7. Be Careful at Night
Be careful! One minute you’re walking in front of a grand resort and the next you’re in front of a shanty with no lights. Never go out alone and stay where there are people. If you’re staying at a hotel, have them arrange for a taxi to take you to and from your destination. Also, Domincans don’t head to the bars or clubs until late night after things have cooled off. So take a nap and don’t go out until midnight or so.
8. Dress Appropriately
If you plan on heading to mass, be sure to dress conservatively. Men need to wear a collared shirt and long pants, no shorts. Women should avoid miniskirts, shorts and tops that show too much skin. Even on tours women are advised to dress slightly more conservatively than they might elsewhere. Longer shorts or skirts and pants for women, and long pants for men are typical.
9. Don’t Pet the Dogs
The Dominican Republic is home to more than friendly people, street dogs are everywhere! Many of these animals carry diseases so do not touch them. If you feed the dogs, be aware that they will likely follow you around town…and so will their doggy friends.
10. Get Your Shoes Shined
If you do venture out into town, you’ll often see shoe shine boys on the side of the roads. This is a long standing tradition and the shoe shiners work hard. So take a load-off and get your shoes shined. Be sure to tip and pay only in pesos or paper money! You can’t exchange non-peso coins so this is important.
11. Don’t Drink the Water
Drinking the local water will likely make you sick. Stick to bottled water and ask if the ice is clean (it’s usually purchased from water distributors). The exception to this rule is the shaved ice in drinks purchased on the street, don’t do it!
12. Try New Foods
The Dominican offers delicious food! The fresh fruits and breads can’t be missed. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never heard of and do realize that the Dominican ‘spin’ on foreign foods will be different—a hamburger in the DR isn’t going to be like one in the US. So push out of your comfort zone and expand your culinary horizons.
Now, heed these tips and enjoy your time in the beautiful country. The people are friendly and welcoming, the food is delicious and the land is gorgeous. If you really immerse yourself, it will be difficult to leave!
Guest author Maggie Voelker works as a content writer for SunglassWarehouse.com. She loves traveling to new places and spent 10 days in the Dominican Republic this past spring. In addition to traveling Maggie loves live music, cooking, the beach and fitness.