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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL TIPS
A collection of important information that can make your trip more enjoyable.

Here you will find the most important informations about Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic General Information Dominican Republic Telecommunications Dominican Republic Time Zone
Dominican Republic Entry Requirements Dominican Republic Business Profile Dominican Republic Tipping
Dominican Republic Transportation Dominican Republic Social Profile Dominican Republic People
Dominican Republic Money Dominican Republic Security & Health Dominican Republic Clothing
Dominican Republic Duty Free Dominican Republic Shopping Dominican Republic Sports & Activities

This section contains general info about the Dominican Republic. Visitors here have got it quite right: information on the Dominican Republic shows it is a magical place to holiday, not to mention cheap, where the natural beauty is as varied as the friendly faces of its people. There are beaches and mountains, cities and scenery in the Dominican Republic, all prepared to welcome you with open arms. If you plan to travel Dominican Republic, take a moment to brush up on the travel tips that will help you be more prepared for travel anywhere in Dominican Republic.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC GENERAL INFORMATION

Area: 48,072 sq km (18,696 sq miles).

Population: 9,379,000.

Population Density: 175.9 10,088,598 (growth rate: 1.31%); birth rate: 19.44/1000; infant mortality rate: 21.3/1000; life expectancy: 77.44; density per sq km: 196

Capital: Santo Domingo. Population: 2,138,000.

Government: The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy or democratic republic, with three branches of power: executive, legislative, and judicial. The President of the Dominican Republic heads the executive branch and executes laws passed by the Congress, appoints the Cabinet, and is commander in chief of the armed forces.

Language: The population of the Dominican Republic is entirely Spanish-speaking, however; a local dialect is spoken called Dominican Spanish and it has influences from African languages and borrowed vocabularies from the Arawak language. Some English and French are spoken.

Alcázar de Colón (Colombus Palace) Museum

Religion: The Dominican Republic is 68.9% Roman Catholic, 18.2% Evangelical, 10.6% with no religion, and 2.3% other.

Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are in use.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

For Canadian and U.S. citizens, a valid passport, or a birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship, along with photo identification, are required for both entry and exit. All tourists must purchase a visa/tourist card at a cost of $10.00 U.S. to enter the Dominican Republic. Canadian travellers are provided with this visa/tourist card before leaving Canada. Visitors who do not obtain a visa/tourist card prior to entry must purchase one at the airport when they arrive in the Dominican Republic.

Travelling with children - According to the Dominican Republic authorities, visitors under 18 travelling to the Dominican Republic don't need written authorisation from their parents as long as they enter and leave with the same person or people. If visitors between the ages of 13 and 18 are travelling alone, or in a group with no one over 18, then parental authorisation is not required as long as the group remains the same on entry and exit.

Otherwise, a visitor under the age of 18 must carry a sworn affidavit drawn up by a solicitor and signed by the child's parents or legal guardian(s) authorising their travel. The affidavit will need to be legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Dominican Republic Embassy

Visas are required. Click here for Visa Inforamtions

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & CAR RENTAL

By far and away the best way to get around here is to rent a car. In Dominican Republic, things are fairly spread out and there are enough things to see that merit a special trip out of the way. Public transportation (which actually consists of privately run routes) and taxis are ideal for short distances, but for any amount of touring you will need a car rental. Dominican Republic rental agencies consist of the larger international companies, as well as local outfits. To rent a car in Dominican Republic there is a trade-off: pay lower rates but have less confidence with smaller agencies (ie. concerning insurance), or pay more but cover all your bases with a name that's well known in car rental. but this may vary widely depending on whom you choose. Your best chance to shop around for deals is in Santo Domingo, especially near the airport from where most visitors rent a car in Dominican Republic.

To rent a car in Dominican Republic you will need a valid driver's license from your home country and a credit card to book. Most agencies also require a deposit of up to $200 to rent a car in Dominican Republic. This is part precaution, and part necessity, as many roads in the Dominican Republic are in less than perfect shape.

If you're interested in visiting the Dominican Republic we recommend that you search our Affordable Dominican Republic Hotels. For Dominican Republic Car Rental click here.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MONEY

The currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso. US dollars and travellers' cheques are easily exchanged. Only exchange money at banks or official exchange offices (casas de cambio). UK credit cards and debit cards will usually work in ATMs. Credit card cloning and identity theft are common. It's generally much safer to use cash.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC DUTY FREE

The following goods may be imported into the Dominican Republic without incurring customs duty by travellers over 16 years of age:
200 cigarettes or one box of cigars; one unopened bottle (maximum 2l) of alcoholic beverage; two bottles of perfume (opened) for personal use.

Prohibited items: All animal products, agricultural and horticultural products and drugs.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TELECOMMUNICATIONS


Travelers in the Dominican Republic shouldn't experience any trouble staying in touch and getting news from back home. The country's telecommunication system is as up to date and efficient as the one in North America. TV and Internet access are also widely available in the best accommodations.

The easiest way to keep up with what is going on during your vacation is by reading Dominican Republic newspapers or international dailies found at local shops. There are a wide variety of Dominican Republic newspapers to choose from, most of which printed in the Spanish language - the Listin Diario, En Marcha, and Primicias all boast big circulation numbers. Dominican Republic newspapers are generally based in the capital of Santo Domingo but cover national and some international news. For regional-based news in English, www.dr1.com offers the latest in Dominican Republic goings-on and is updated daily. In addition to checking out Dominican Republic newspapers, tourists should also be able to find at least a few of the bigger American papers at specialty stores, some grocery stores, and scattered throughout resort areas.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BUSINESS PROFILE


Economy: Sugar, coffee and cocoa are the main agricultural cash crops. The mining industry produces ferro-nickel, gold and silver. These primary products are the basis of the Dominican Republic’s economy and its main export commodities. Exploration of other potential deposits has been underway since the early 1990s but, although some gold and silver has been located, the expected oil deposits have failed to materialise. Industry is mainly concentrated in production of food and drinks, chemicals and refining of imported oil. In the service sector, tourism has had a major impact on the Dominican Republic’s economy during the last 20 years and now contributes one-sixth of total output. The economy grew slowly but steadily during most of this period, but has recently experienced some problems. Growth turned negative in 2004 and unemployment rose to 16.5 per cent, while the Dominican peso has lost a third of its value against the dollar. (A major cause is the collapse of the international sugar market.) The country relies on substantial foreign aid, principally from the USA and the Inter-American Development Bank. The Dominican Republic is a member of CARICOM, the major regional reading bloc. The USA is substantially the Dominican Republic’s main trading partner, followed by Venezuela, Mexico, The Netherlands and Japan.

Business: It is usual for businesspeople to dress smartly and to deal formally with each other at first, although the general atmosphere is informal. Spanish is the main business language and a knowledge of it will be of assistance. Enquire at hotel for interpreter services. Office hours: Mon-Sat 0800-1200 and 1400-1800. Government office hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1500.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SOCIAL PROFILE

Food & Drink: Native Dominican cooking combines Spanish influences with local produce. Beef is expensive (Dominicans raise fine cattle, but most is exported) and local favourites are pork and goat meat. There is plenty of fresh fish and seafood, island-grown tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, mangoes and passion fruit and all citrus fruits are delicious. Local dishes include la bandera (meaning ‘the flag’, comprising white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried plaintain), chicharrones (crisp pork rind), chicharrones de pollo (small pieces of fried chicken), casava (fried yucca), moro de habichuelas (rice and beans), sopa criolla dominicana (native soup of meat and vegetables), pastelón (baked vegetable cake) and sancocho (stew with anything up to 18 ingredients).
Presidente (Dominican beer) is very good, as are rum drinks such as the local Brugal or Bermudez. Rum añejo (old, dark rum) with ice makes a good after-dinner drink. Native coffee is excellent and very strong. Locally produced beer and rums are cheaper than imported alcohol which tends to be expensive.

Nightlife: Choice varies from a Las Vegas-style revue, discos and casinos to a quiet cafe by the sea in Santo Domingo. Hotels offer more traditional shows, including folk music and dancing. Popular dances are the merengue, played very loudly almost everywhere; bachata, which is becoming very popular in tourist hotspots; perico ripiao; and the salsa. The Malecón, along a seaside boulevard in Santo Domingo, is known as the world’s longest disco. Concerts and other cultural events are often held at the Casa de Francia and Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo, among other venues.

Special Events: Carnivals, fiestas and festivals are held frequently all year round, both in larger cities as well as among the rural communities. As in many Latin American countries, Carnival is a traditional event. Merengue is the national music and the Merengue Festival draws large numbers of nationals as well as international musicians and spectators. For a complete list of events, contact the Tourism Promotion Council (see Contact Addresses section). The following is a selection of special events occurring in the Dominican Republic in 2005:
Feb Sosua and Cabarete Gastronomic Festival; Carnival, Santo Domingo and various locations. Mar Santo Domingo Music Festival. Jun Puerto Plata Cultural Festival. Jul Santo Domingo Merengue Festival; Central American University Games, Santo Domingo. Oct Puerto Plata Jazz Festival. Oct/Nov Puerto Plata Merengue Festival.

Social Conventions: The Dominican lifestyle is more American than Latin, with short siestas and without long, late lunches. The non-Latin ambience is indicated by the fact that, though the culture is rich in Roman Catholic and Spanish influences, 72-hour divorces may be obtained. Daytime dress is generally casual but beachwear and shorts are only acceptable in resorts and at pools. Evenings tend to be smarter, with jackets (although not necessarily ties) recommended for men at better restaurants, hotels and for social functions.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SECURITY & HEALTH

Though the Caribbean is generally a safe and secure place to visit, there are a few Dominican Republic travel tips to keep in mind as a precaution if you're planning a holiday there:

Many guides listing Dominican Republic travel tips list water as a main concern for people traveling there. The country's filtration system has been vastly improved over recent years, making tap water there alright to drink. Bottled water is readily available, however, for tourists who wish to play it safe. Dominican Republic travel tips sometimes list food as problematic as well, but strict guidelines have been set that have all but eliminated worries over spoiled buffets. Upscale tourist-oriented restaurants are just as clean and safe as any found in North America.

Though crime is rare, especially in busy tourist areas, a few Dominican Republic travel tips should be heeded as basic common sense - ie. never leaving valuables behind in your accommodations or unlocked car, avoiding walking alone at nighttime. Suggestions like these apply to most tourist destinations, not just Dominican Republic travel tips.

Always be sure to check your home government's Dominican Republic travel tips for reliable and up to date information.

If you're interested in visiting the Dominican Republic we recommend that you search our luxury Dominican Republic villas. Click here for the best Dominican Republic villa rentals.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SHOPPING


Shopping in the Dominican Republic is not merely a time-filler, it's a sport. Stepping out determinedly from their Dominican Republic villas and resorts, experienced shoppers turn haggling into an art form; vendors expect it, and may be disappointed if you don't bargain for a better price. While stores here aren't stocked with the duty-free deals found on other Caribbean islands, local crafts and fun souvenirs make for an enjoyable day out from the serenity of Dominican Republic villas, and you'll find prices here very affordable.

Resort areas near Dominican Republic villas and hotels translate into big business for local merchants - there will be no shortage of boutiques and stands to choose from. The most popular shopping item here remains the cigar, which are easy to enjoy sitting on the veranda of Dominican Republic villas. The best cigars come from the Ciabo Valley, which can be found in most reputable shops of Santo Domingo. Jewelry is another hot item, but not your typical gold and silver. Picture the color of the Caribbean looking out to sea from Dominican Republic villas - that is the color of Larimar, a semiprecious stone found on the island's south coast. Along with golden fossilized Amber stone, Larimar is highly sought after and can get on the expensive side; beware of the cheaper knock-offs being sold at street stalls. Many unaware tourists have returned to their Dominican Republic villas after a day of shopping carrying nothing but colored plastic.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TIPPING

Hotel and restaurant bills automatically include a 10 per cent service charge (on top of a 12 per cent charge for tax purposes) but an additional tip may be given as an appreciation of good service. Taxi drivers on the fixed routes do not expect tips.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PEOPLE

The people of the Dominican Republic are surely some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean. This country hosts a multi-racial and multi-cultural society of over eight and a half million people, with three quarters of mixed origin and the other quarter of either European or African descent. About half of Dominicans live in rural areas; many are small landholders. Spanish is the dominant language among the majority population. Haitians form the largest minority group, some 500 000 (or 6% of the population) according to Human Rights Watch.[1] Many Haitians in the Dominican Republic are illegal immigrants; others are Dominican-born citizens, and some are legal immigrants. All religions are tolerated; the state religion is Roman Catholicism.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CLOTHING

People in Dominican Republic wear the same summer clothes like sandals, T-shirts, shirts (or blouse), skirts, light jacket, and sweaters. On special occasions, women wear long dresses with bright colors like yellow, orange, and red. Most of their clothing show Spanish influence. They wear matching bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SPORTS & ACTIVITIES


No trip to the Dominican Republic would be complete without a day of deep-sea fishing - Dominican Republic waters are some of the clearest in the West Indies, creating more than ideal conditions for an excursion. Deep sea-fishing Dominican Republic coastal regions has been bolstered in recent years by newly renovated marina complexes, so finding somewhere to book an outing shouldn't be a problem.

To organize a trip that includes deep-sea fishing, Dominican Republic boat tour operators are widely available in most towns along the water, especially in popular resort regions. Boat charters for deep-sea fishing (Dominican Republic crews experienced in the sport will accompany you) generally cost in the area of US$500 for a full-day outing, and half-day trips can also be arranged. Deep-sea fishing Dominican Republic waters almost guarantee a catch of marling, wahoo, and other exotic fish, but great views and plenty of sun make the trip well worth it even if your boat returns empty.

For more information about deep-sea fishing, Dominican Republic, contact: Deep-Sea Fishing, Dominican Republic Government Information
809-523-4511

Baseball: This is not only the national sport, but also a national obsession, and even the smallest communities have floodlit stadiums. The centre of the country’s baseball is the industrial seaport of San Pedro de Macoris. Many Dominican players go on to play in the US major leagues. Juan Marichal, whose pitching exploits for the San Francisco Giants landed him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is now the country’s Director of Sports. The professional winter season runs from October to January. Visitors should ask local people or look in the local paper for schedules and the nearest game.

Watersports: The opportunities for watersports in the Dominican Republic are excellent. Although some shores are rough and rocky, there are magnificent stretches of beach suitable for swimming. For scuba-diving and snorkelling enthusiasts, there is reef diving, good visibility, warm waters, wrecks, caverns and a rich marine life. Good dive sites include Sosúa (near Puerto Plata); Cabrera (freshwater cave diving with an underground lake); Las Terrenas; the Sasmaná peninsula; Punta Rucia (good for coral diving); La Caleta National Underwater Park (accessible by boat from Boca Chica); Catalina and Saona islands (accessible by boat from La Romana); and Barahona (an area currently being developed for ecotourism). Experienced divers can also join the North Caribbean Research Group and participate in a government-funded project to recover and remove artefacts from sunken ships, some dating back to the 16th century (e-mail: info@oldship.com). Snorkelling and diving equipment can be borrowed or hired from dive operators and resort hotels. Small sailing craft are available through hotels in Santo Domingo and most other resorts in the country. Boat trips to the marine caves of the Gri Gri Lagoon near Sosúa are a popular tourist attraction. Hotels also organise charter boats for offshore fishing for marlin, sailfish, dorado, benittos and other game fish. River fishing in flat-bottomed boats with guides can be arranged at La Romana, Boca de Yuma and on the north coast. Windsurfing is particularly good at Sosuá, which also hosts the Professional Windsurfing Association World Cup.

Adventure sports: The Dominican Republic was quick to jump onto the adventure sports bandwagon and, hence, has well-developed facilities for the usual range of adrenalin-generating sports. Whitewater rafting is available on the Río Yaque del Norte in Jarabacoa. The best places for tubing, in which participants individually float down the rapids in oversized rubber tubes, are on the Río Jamao del Norte, the Río Yaque del Norte and the Río Isabela in Santo Domingo. Cascading involves climbing up to the top of a waterfall and rapelling down the cascade tied to a rope; the best places to do this are Cascada del Limón, Cascada Ojo de Agua, El Salto de Baiguate and El Salto de Jimenoa. Canyoning, which is cascading minus the rope (meaning that practitioners climb up a river gorge and then jump into the river below), is popular at La Madajagua in Imbert and the Jarabacoa area.

Trekking and hiking: The best places for trekking are Jarabacoa, the Constanza Valley, and the Nuevo Valley. Hiking and climbing enthusiasts may join the locals’ annual pilgrimage to the Caribbean’s highest mountain, the Pico Duarte (3210m/10,700ft), which they can conquer either on foot or by riding a mule. Similar tours can also be made at El Mogote, Mount Isabel de Torres, Pico Yaque and, in the southwest, the Sierra de Bahoruco.

Horse riding: Dominicans love horseriding and their country offers some of the best riding in the Caribbean. Regular polo games are held at Sierra Prieta in Santo Domingo and at Casa de Campo near La Romana, where guests can join in the twice-weekly competitions.

Golf: There are nine championship golf courses (and several others under construction), many of which are bordered by the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Following on from the 42nd Caribbean Golf Championships, which were held in the Dominican Republic in 1998, the country continues to actively promote itself as a major international golf destination. Some of the best courses can be found at Casa de Campo, Dientes de Perro (Teeth of the Dog), Gran Diablo Links (the planned location for the country’s first Golf Academy) Playa Dorada (designed by Robert Trent Jones), La Romana Country Club, and Santo Domingo Country Club. For more information, contact the Federation of Dominican Golf (FEDOGOLF), Aut. Duarte KM 201, Santo Domingo (tel: 231 4719 or 231 4720; e-mail: fedogolf@enel.net; website: www.fedogolf.org.do).

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TIME ZONE


Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti. Dominican Republic Time Standard Time (GMT-4).

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