Where is Dominican Republic?
History of Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic Visa Requirements
Passports valid for six months are required by all nationals visiting the Dominican Republic and proof of a return or onward ticket and any documents required for their next destination (ie visas etc) are also required by all nationals.
Visas are not required by most nationalities if visiting the country for tourist purposes – this includes Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland. However you will need to purchase a tourist card for US$10 upon arrival that allows entry into the country and is valid for up to 30 days – this can be extended up to 90 days for an additional fee. If visiting the country for business purposes a visa is required. To obtain visas and tourist cards contact your local embassy.
There is a US$20 departure tax that is usually included in the price of your airline ticket. If its not included the tax is payable on departure. Please note the tax increases for longer stays.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements
Dominican Republic Travel Health
Recommended vaccinations for travel to the Dominican Republic are diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. Malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and rabies are sometimes advised depending on the season and region being visited.
Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should be sterilized. Milk is pasteurized, meat and fish should be well cooked and vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Avoid swimming in fresh water as bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic. Outbreaks of dengue fever have also been reported and there is a risk of rabies.
Health insurance is strongly recommended for travel to the Dominican Republic as medical care is expensive and payment may be required in advance. There are reasonable care facilities in the larger cities however in the smaller regions medical care can be extremely limited. The HIV/AIDS prevalence is high in this country so exercise appropriate precautions.
The Dominican Republic is generally a safe place to visit however it is advised to be particularly vigilant in the larger cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago. Always exercise common sense such as never traveling alone especially at night and avoid openly displaying wealth such as expensive jewelry and watches.
Sex tourism is prevalent in the Puerto Plata province of the country, so be prepared to be hassled and be mindful that it is illegal to have sex with minors (under 18) and penalties can be severe.
The alcohol limit for drivers is 0.5% but be careful of drink drivers as this is a common occurrence and is the cause of a high percentage of accidents. It is illegal for tourists and visitors to drive after drinking and may be penalized for it.
Be alert at popular tourist places such as the airports, ATM’s, beaches and resorts. Here the crime rate is high with pick-pocketing and bag-snatching often reported. Laptops are also popular targets. The airports are also areas known for drug trafficking so carefully guard your luggage at all times. Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs are severe. Always be vigilant and be cautious of strangers offering unsolicited services or unusual requests – especially women traveling alone.
The hurricane season in the Dominican Republic normally runs from June to November.
There is a low threat from terrorism in the Dominican Republic however you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which may target tourists.
Dominican Republic Local Currency?
The official currency for the Dominican Republic is the Peso. Notes are in denominations of RD$2,000, 1,000, 500, 100 and 50 and coins are in denominations of RD$25, 10, 5 and 1.
The peso is only available in the Dominican Republic and travelers are able to convert currencies of Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. On leaving the country you are able to exchange up to 30% of currency back into US Dollars at any bank, as long as you show proof of the original receipt. Most resorts and vendors in popular tourist areas will accept US Dollars.
Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM’s are readily available. Traveller’s cheques are accepted by most banks and it is recommended to carry them in US Dollars to avoid any additional exchange rate charges. The import and export of local currency is limited to RD$20,000 in notes and RD$100 in coins.
Banking Hours are: Mon-Fri 0800-1500, Sat 0900-1300 and in malls: Mon-Fri 0900-1900, Sat 0900-1300.
Exchange Rate Indicators as of 17th August 2010 are: 1.00 GBP = 55.9 DOP; 1.00 USD = 36.9 DOP; 1.00 EUR = 46.32 DOP.
What is Dominican Republic’s Weather?
The climate in the Dominican Republic is typically tropical maritime with very little temperature differences between seasons. Temperatures generally range from 28ºC to 31ºC throughout the year. The island does experience severe storms and hurricanes usually between June and November sometimes resulting in flooding due to the heavy rainfall. Coastal areas are warmer than the central regions and the two wet seasons of the year fall between May to August and November to December.
The peak tourist season for the island is December to February and July to August and the week before Easter. If you are traveling in February you can see the whales in Samana and if visiting in November you can catch the ever popular baseball season.
Recommended clothing for travel to the Dominican Republic is lightweight fabrics and waterproofs for the rainy seasons.
Culture of Dominican Republic
The people of the Dominican Republic are kind and peaceful. If you are polite and respectful to them they will in return treat you with kindness.
Generally on the island hotels and restaurants will already include a 10% service charge together with a 12% charge for tax purposes on to your bill. If you have received exceptional service an additional tip is always appreciated.
Nearly everyone on the island is Christian, with 95% being Roman Catholic. There is also a small minority who are Protestant and Jewish.
It is best to avoid conversations about Haiti as many Dominicans and Haitians are resentful towards each other. There are over one million illegal Haitians living in the Dominican Republic presently and many Dominicans have a strong opinion about illegal immigrants. In fact Dominicans and Haitians display many differences culturally, racially, linguistically and religiously. Along the border it is common for gang wars to erupt so remain cautious and be sensitive when approaching this topic.
In order to be treated well when traveling through the Dominican Republic it is recommended to tip well. The country is fairly poor and tipping will ensure you are looked after.
There is an increase in credit card and ATM fraud particularly in Santo Domingo and the resort areas. Use credit cards with caution and always keep them in sight when using them.
What Languages Are Spoken In Dominican Republic?
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. In the tourist areas you may find some locals able to speak English however if you speak a little Spanish most Dominicans will try to help and communicate best they can you. Other languages you may find the locals speaking are French, German, Italian or Russian. You shouldn’t have any problem with communication in the large resorts and hotels.
The country code for the Dominican Republic is: 1 809. Mobile phone coverage is good in the towns and along coastal areas but limited in most other areas. There are a number of Internet cafes throughout the island.
Airmail usually takes around 10 days to reach western Europe and to ensure quick handling it is recommended to post all mail at the central post office in Santo Domingo.
Dominican Republic Transport Options
The International airports for the Dominican Republic are Santo Domingo (SDQ), Puerto Plata International Airport (POP) and Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ). The Dominican Republic’s national airline is Air Santo Domingo (EX). This airline operates regular flights between Santo Domingo, Santiago, Samaná, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Planes are also available for charter.
Traffic drives on the right on the island and there is a reasonable network of roads running throughout the country. 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for wet weather when travelling on some of the roads and it is recommended to keep doors and windows locked at all times for safety. Driving at night is not advised due to poor lighting and signage on the roads.
Bus services operate from the capital to most major towns and are air-conditioned and quite cheap. Taxis are available for hire however make sure you only use tourist taxis or radio taxis. Never use unmarked taxis as there are often reports of travellers being robbed.
Car hire is available from several companies in Santo Domingo. The minimum age for car hire is 25 and insurance is compulsory. For all car hire a credit card will be required. The speed limit is 60kph in cities and 80-100kph on motorways and seat belts are compulsory. A national or International Driving Permit is required however it is only valid for 90 days.
Care should be taken when driving in old Santo Domingo as the streets are narrow and have many blind corners. Dominicans tend to be aggressive drivers and use their horns rather than their brakes so stay alert at all times as traffic accidents are common.
Dominican Republic Travel Tips
Dominican Republic Local Food
Food in the Dominican Republic includes a variety of tropical fruits, rice, beans, fresh fish and seafood. It is typical Caribbean cuisine with Spanish influences. Beef is very expensive due to the majority being imported however other popular favorites are pork, goat meat and chicken. Imported alcohol is expensive however local beer and rums are all cheap.
National specialities include: la bandera (white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried plaintain); chicharrones (crisp pork rind); chicharrones de pollo (pieces of fried chicken); sopa criolla dominicana (meat and vegetable soup); and pastelón (baked vegetable cake).
National drinks include: presidente (Dominican beer); rum drinks such as the local Brugal or Bermudez; rum añejo (old, dark rum); and very strong native coffee.
Dominican Republic Local Timezones
Dominican Republic Standard Time is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4).
Dominican Republic does not operate Daylight-Saving Time.
Electricity in Dominican Republic is 110 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second.
Outlets in Dominican Republic generally accept 1 type of plug: flat blade plug.
Dominican Republic Dutyfree Limits
The following goods may be imported into the Dominican Republic without incurring customs duty by travelers over 16 years of age: 200 cigarettes or one box of cigars; 1l of liquor; two bottles of perfume (opened) for personal use; and gifts of up to US$100.
All baggage must be declared on arrival and departure.
Prohibited Imports include: all animal products, agricultural and horticultural products and drugs.