What form of currency should I bring on my trip?
It is advised that you bring US currency. The US dollar is the easiest to exchange because it is one of the most traded currencies in the world. The Euro and Canadian dollar are also easily exchanged currencies in DR. However, the Canadian dollar is exchanged at a lower rate than the US dollar. You may want to consider bringing ATM cards, traveler’s checks and credit cards along with cash.
Related: Dominican Republic Currency
Can I drink the tap water in my hotel room?
You should avoid drinking the tap water unless it has been boiled beforehand. It is safe to use tap water to make a cup of tea or coffee (as long as the water boils). Brushing your teeth with tap water is also fine. However, if you have stomach sensitivity issues, you may want to brush using bottled water. Most resorts will have purified water and you can also purchase bottled water. Resorts and popular tourist places use purified water to make their ice cubes.
Is the Dominican Republic safe to visit?
Travelers should exercise common sense when visiting a foreign country. The DR has a relatively low crime rate. Violent crimes are not very common. However, pick pocketing and petty theft are fairly common. To decrease your chances of being the victim of theft, do not flash money around and avoid wearing expensive jewelry that is more likely to make you a target. You should also avoid walking in dark and isolated areas, use a taxi instead.
Large tourist areas like Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romana are patrolled, in addition to standard police, by a special touristic police force (Politur) specially trained to assist foreign visitors.
Should I be concerned if I am a woman who is traveling alone?
While sexism does exist in the rural areas and barrios, it is not a prevalent mindset amongst the middle and higher classes. There are more university educated women than men in the country. Women in the DR also travel by themselves without any issues. It should be noted that dressing provocatively may get you an unsolicited and sometimes inappropriate compliment by some men, but that is pretty much all that would happen. It is important, regardless of gender, that you exercise common sense as you enjoy your vacation.
How safe are Dominican beaches?
The Dominican Republic has several beaches that offer something for everyone. There are child-friendly beaches and beaches that offer big waves. and strong undertows. If you have concerns, it may be best that you stay close to the shore while on the beach. Again, reason and caution should be exercised when visiting any beach.
Do not bring valuables to the beach. Many people have fallen asleep only to wakeup and find some of their items missing. As a general rule, if you cannot afford to lose the item, leave it in your room. Do not eat before swimming (We bet your mother told you this) or go swimming alone.
What is the legal gambling and drinking age in the Dominican Republic?
The legal age to drink and gamble in the DR is 18. These laws used to be lax, however, there are increased efforts to make sure that the ban on underaged drinking is enforced. Many clubs and discos in Santo Domingo ask for proof of age (in form of an ID) to guests who look under 18. ID checks are also conducted in the casinos. In tourist areas this rule tends to be overlooked more often than not.
When is the best time of year to visit?
Peak season, the time when most North American and Europeans visit, occurs between July through August and December through March. The weather in the Dominican Republic really only varies by a few degrees between seasons, being a little warmer during the summer so any time is fine. If you want to avoid the domestic travel peaks, avoid visiting during Easter Week and long weekends, the major resorts may be completely booked during these times.
Does the Dominican Republic have a rainy season?
There really is not a rainy season in the DR. The weather is usually stable. However, it does rain more often along the north coast than it does in the South. The eastern coast tends to be very dry. There are the occasional storms that pass through that can be more substantial than a rain storm. However, on most days you can expect partially cloudy skies with light and short rain showers. Depending on the year, La Niña and El Niño will bring periods of drought and rain. But regularly, the weather is nice and sunny.
Is it necessary for me to speak Spanish?
Many people who do not speak spanish visit the Dominican Republic each year. If you speak English you will be fine. Even if you do not speak Spanish or English, you will enjoy your time in the DR.
In a lot of situations a friendly smile and signing with your hands will help you get what you need. However, it is never a bad a idea to learn a few key phrases like, “por favor” (which means please) and “gracias” (which means thank you). The people of the Dominican Republic will appreciate your effort.
Many resorts will have employees that speak English, german, russian and other languages. If you are a part of a larger group, the resort will likely have someone on staff that speaks someone’s language. One tip is to be patient, If the person you are speaking to does not understand you on your first attempt to communicate, try again. Usually, the person will understand you if you explain yourself again.
Are there any recommendations for traveling with an infant?
The DR is a great place to travel for you and your child. Make sure to pack your favorite brand of powdered milk and prepare it with bottled water. You can find bot UHT homogenized (Parmalat and Rica are the most popular brands) and UHT pasteurized (Santal and Bon) milk in the DR. Do not forget to bring the essentials: disposable diapers, sun screen, sun hats and mosquito repellant. These items are also available for purchase in the DR.
If you are renting a car or plan to travel by car, bring your car seat. Make sure your travel agents books your hotel accommodation at a resort that provides cribs. If you are staying at hotel that does not have cribs, bring a portable one with you.
Is topless bathing allowed in the Dominican Republic?
When you visit the Dominican Republic you will encounter people from many areas of the world that have different customs. Some tourists do bathe topless or wear thong swimwear. This will even be seen at the popular Punta Cana beach, a place where many US tourists take their families. Kids may be surprised to see this at first, however, after a few minutes they will focus more on other activities at the beach. Children tend to take the lead of their parents. If topless bathing is not made to be an issue, it will not become one.
*Topless bathing is not really an issue for families. It is the exception, not the rule and women are usually topless while sunbathing lying on their fronts.
Will I be able to bring my pet?
You will not have a problem if you are traveling with a dog or cat. However, birds will need to be quarantined so do not bring them with you. If you bring your dog or cat, you will need to bring certificate from your veterinarian that proves that your pet has received a rabies shot and distemper within 30 days of traveling to the Dominican Republic. The animal control agent at the airport will ask to see this document. The agent will look over the certificate and fill out an official entry for your pet. The entry fee is less than $10 US.
Before you travel with your pet, call your air carrier to find out the transportation details associated with traveling with your pet. Plan your trip early. Some airlines have quotas on the number of pets they will allow on a flight. If you are traveling on American Airlines, try to avoid connecting flights on American Eagle. American Eagle only transports pets that can fit onboard the plane under your seat. Do not forget to pack everything necessary for your furry friend to have an enjoyable stay in the Dominican Republic.
What is the policy on foreign visitors and drugs?
It is illegal to consume, purchase, sell or bring drugs into the Dominican Republic. You will end up in jail. There are very tough laws against the trafficking and use of drugs in the Dominican Republic.
What happens if I stay longer than my 90-day tourist permit allows?
You will be subject to a monetary penalty. A 30-day tourist card permit cost US$10. A scaled charge will be applied for longer stays. The cost can be anywhere from RD$300 to RD$15,000.