Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is not your typical Caribbean destination. Endowed with the idyllic beaches and aquamarine waters that the archipelago is famous for, its unique geographical and cultural features are what set it apart. From its vibrant, rhythmic merengue music and warm, hospitable people to its lonely desert lowlands and ancient Taino rock art, it certainly keeps travellers on its toes with its diverse offerings. There's so much to do, see and explore here: sunbathing on exquisite beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving and whale-watching along the coast. Experience the island's fauna and flora on ecotourism tours, dance the night away at clubs in the many cosmopolitan cities, enjoy fabulous local cuisine, and play golf on world-class courses.
Betalingen en Wisselkoersen
Dominican Peso (DOP; symbol RD$). Notes are in denominations of RD$2,000, 1,000, 500, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of RD$25, 10, 5 and 1.
The import and export of local currency is limited to RD$20,000 in notes and RD$100 in coins; the import of foreign banknotes is allowed provided they are declared on arrival and if they are over US$10,000 and re-export is intended.
The peso is not available outside the Dominican Republic. Currencies of Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA may be converted into local currency. On departure, up to 30% of the exchanged currency can be reconverted into US Dollars at any bank, provided original receipts are shown. All exchange must be done through official dealers such as banks and hotels approved by the Central Bank. Most resorts quote prices in (and are happy to accept) US Dollars. Some street vendors in touristic areas also accept US Dollars although these are not legal tender in the country.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 08h00-15h00, Sat 09h00-13h00. In shopping centres: Mon-Fri 09h00-19h00, Sat 09h00-13h00.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are all accepted.Most ATMs in the Dominican Republic accept international bank cards.Traveller's cheques are accepted by some banks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.
Reizen en Plaatselijk Transport
Servicios Aéreos Profesionales (www.sapair.com) runs regular flights between Santo Domingo, Santiago, Samaná, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Planes may also be chartered.
There are several car hire companies in Santo Domingo. The minimum age for car hire is 25. A credit card is required for car hire transactions. Insurance is compulsory. The speed limit is up to 60kph (38mph) in cities and 80-100kph (50-63mph) on motorways. Seat belts are legally required to be worn.A national or International Driving Permit is accepted, but is only valid for 90 days. Vehicles are driven on the right side of the road.
There is a reasonable network of roads, including the Sanchez Highway running westwards from Santo Domingo to Elias Pina on the Haitian frontier; the Mella Highway extending eastwards from Santo Domingo to Higuey in the southeast and the Duarte Highway running north and west from Santo Domingo to Santiago and to Monte Cristi on the northwest coast.
The new Autopista del Coral motorway links Santo Domingo with Punta Cana and La Romana. Driving from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana now takes around 2 hours, whilst from Santo Domingo to La Romana is 30 minutes.
Not all roads in the Dominican Republic are all-weather and 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for wet weather. Checkpoints near military installations are ubiquitous, though no serious difficulties have been reported (those near the Haitian border are most likely to be sensitive). Keep doors and windows locked at all times. Driving at night is not recommended because of poor lighting and and signage.
Travellers are advised to hire tourist taxis or radio taxis that can be arranged in advance. Avoid unmarked taxis.
Santo Domingo has flat-fare bus and minibus services, and an estimated 7,000 share-taxis called Carro de Conchos. These operate a 24-hour service in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Puerto Plata. Hotel taxis are also available. In old Santo Domingo, the streets are narrow with blind corners, so care should be taken, particularly as Dominican drivers have a tendency to use their horns rather than their brakes. Horse-drawn carriages are available for hire in tourist areas for tours around parks and plazas.
Eten, Drinken en Culinair Advies
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated and sterilisation should be considered essential. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is pasteurised. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Native Dominican cooking combines Spanish influences with local produce. There is plenty of fresh fish and seafood; island-grown tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, mangoes, passion fruit and citrus fruits are delicious.
Hotel and restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge (on top of a 12% charge for tax purposes) but an additional tip may be given as an appreciation of good service.
Klimaat en Weersomstandigheden
The Dominican Republic is hot and tropical, with little seasonal variation in temperatures, which average about 77°F (25°C). Seasons can, however, be determined by rainfall, with October to April being the rainy season on the north coast, while May to November is the wettest month in the south of the country. The driest area is the west. Cooler temperatures and less humidity are generally experienced between November and April, while the mountainous interior is always cooler than the rest of the country.
Hurricanes occur on average once every two years on the island, most striking the south of the country and most happening in August and September. The busiest time of year to visit the Dominican Republic is between December and April when North Americans take a tropical break from their winters, and from June to September, which coincides with European summer holidays.
Lightweight fabrics are best suited to the tropical temperatures. Waterproofs are essential during the rainy seasons. Sunglasses, sunscreen and a sunhat are essential.
The number of Internet cafés is rapidly growing as the Dominican Republic embraces the Internet. Expect to pay between 20 and 35 pesos for 30 minutes' use.
Netspanning en Telefonie
Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Dominican Republic are very similar to the electrical outlets found in the United States and Canada, and if your appliance has a North American plug, it's possible that you won't need any adapter at all in order to plug in there. However, there are two potentially very important physical differences that may need to be addressed with an adapter: grounding and/or polarization. If your plug has one or both, and the socket doesn't, then the plug may not physically be able to fit into the socket without an adapter.
In the case of a North American appliance plug, grounding is accomplished by the third, round pin beneath and below the two vertical blades on the plug. Polarization is accomplished by the left vertical blade being taller than the right, so that the plug can't be inserted upside down. U.S. and Canadian sockets are required to be both grounded and polarized. But in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Japan and other areas which use U.S. style sockets, grounding and polarization often are not required, and in fact, the majority of sockets in many of these areas do not accept the taller blade and/or the third grounding pin. This will prevent a North American appliance plug from being able to plug into these sockets, if the plug is either grounded or polarized.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Dominican Republic usually supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts AC. If you're plugging in a U.S. or Canadian 120 volt appliance, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 110-120 volts the socket is supplying. If your appliance is from another part of the world, and it is built only for 220-240 volt electricity, or a Japanese appliance built for 100 volts, then a travel plug adapter by itself won't be sufficient. The voltage will have to be changed from 110-120 volts at the socket, to whatever voltage your appliance requires. This is accomplished with a voltage transformer.