Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide

Must-do things in the Dominican Republic

Apart from the music, seafood and water sports which are the highlights of the Caribbean vacations, here are a few things that set the Dominican Republic apart from the rest of the destinations.

Visit Cuban son clubs

Enjoy the much talked about the music scene of the island in one of the son clubs in Santo Domingo. Styled as the famed Santa Domingo Buena Vista Social Clubs from the 30s and 40s, these clubs will make your trip to the Dominican Republic simply unforgettable.

Famous El Limon waterfall | Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide
Famous El Limon waterfall Copyright Don Mammoser

Visit El Limón waterfall

Accessible only on horseback, this jaw-dropping waterfall of 150m is a hidden treasure within the Samaná Mountains.

Enjoy the party at Santo Domingo Malecón

Although, the entire island is high on the beach party scene, nothing can beat the 10km-long outdoor boardwalk at Santo Domingo Malecón with electrifying music-blaring discos, dazzling bars and bustling cafés.

Famous Malecón boulevard, Santo Domingo | Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide
Famous Malecón boulevard, Santo Domingo Copyright rj lerich

Buy Amber

Whether or not you opt to shop on the island, make sure you take home this spectacular semi-precious stone produced locally.

La Vega Carnival

If you are travelling to the Dominican Republic in the month of February, be ready to be a part of the biggest, wildest party that you have even been to. Every February, the madness and energy of La Vega carnival grips the nation to last for months to come.

Swim with the sharks

After you are done with surfing, lazing around and eating, head to Punta Cana to feel the blood rush madly into your body when you swim with the sharks and stingrays. Snorkel cruise is one of the most loved activities in the country of islands and beaches.

Swim with the sharks | Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide

Staying Options:

Lodging in the Dominican Republic is perhaps one of the best in the world with a huge variety of options available in all budget ranges, from five-star beach resorts to more personal all-inclusive accommodations, scattered all around the country and coastlines. Unlike many other tourist destinations, the easy availability of accommodation without burning a hole in your pocket is also a reason of the D.R.’s popularity as for ideal vacations.

Travel Tip: The hotels in the Dominican Republic add 25% as the room charge. Therefore, inquire in advance before checking-in to a hotel or resort.

Local Transport: All major cities and destinations in the island are well-connected through airlines or bus services. There are no train lines in the Dominic Republic. Within the city, local buses known as Guaguas are fairly comfortable and are the traditional mode of transportation. The Guaguas are safe to travel, however, get ready to be squeezed as these local buses will be jam-packed. Renting a car to move around is also a popular commuting option. However, some parts of the country have treacherous roads and rough valleys. Don’t test your driving skills here and let the local driver take you around.

Beautiful bridge in Samana Bay | Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide
Beautiful bridge in Samana Bay Copyright Don Mammoser

Food: The Caribbean islands are known and loved around the world for their culinary delights as much as for their beaches. The Dominican Republic is no exception. Indulge into a gastronomical feast with the fresh from the ocean seafood, and tropical fruits. There are plenty of restaurants and eateries to enjoy the local cuisine. An additional 16% tax, plus 10% service charge is added to a meal in a restaurant. Another 10% as a tip for great services is at your discretion.

Lunch is main and the heaviest meal in the scenic country of the Caribbean. Popular local delicacies include La Bandera, which is a meal of white rice and red beans along with stewed meat. Since the dish evokes the colours of the national flag, hence named so. Some other delicious local cuisines include Sancocho, which is a preparation with a stew of meat, vegetables and plantains. Also, try fish preparations with the sweet coconut.

Travel Tip: Don’t drink the tap water in the Dominican Republic. Even the locals either boil their water before drinking or drink the bottled water.

Shopping: If you are a shopping junkie and travelling for you means roaming in the bazaars, head to the Colonial District of Santo Domingo. Much to a shopper’s delight, El Conde Street offers pretty good stuff for throwaway prices and there’s a mall too. You can buy souvenirs, authentic paintings, and some lovely jewellery to take back home. The cigar shop across from the cathedral at the end of the mall is popular and U.S. dollars are widely accepted almost everywhere.

Swim with the Dolphins | Dominican Republic Free Travel Guide
Copyright Willyam Bradberry

Travel Tip: Don’t forget to bargain while shopping from the street.

Points to remember: Dominican Republic is a tourist-friendly country and the locals are warm, kind and peaceful people. It’s a Spanish speaking nation, therefore, speaking a few words in Spanish, at least the greetings, will earn you friends.

If you are invited by a family to eat, don’t forget to carry a gift which can be anything from chocolates to pastries to wine. It is customary to wait for the host to say ‘Buen Provecho’ before you start eating.

The Dominican Republic is a safe country, in general. However, avoid venturing out alone after dark. Don’t wear expensive jewellery. In the Puerto Plata province sex tourism is prevalent and you may be troubled by some young men and women offering their services. A firm ‘No’ will help you get rid of them. Don’t engage in such activities solely for the safety reasons.

Avoid shaking hands with a complete stranger, as it may be a scam with the police being a part of it. The stranger will plant the cocaine bag on your hand and the police will catch you immediately demanding a bribe to set you free.

Refrain from talking about Haiti. Dominican Republic doesn’t share a very cordial relationship with Haiti because a good part of Santo Domingo was invaded and occupied by Haiti in the 19th century, and the country also had to fight for its independent against Haiti.

Tip generously for services you get in resorts, hotels or anywhere else as it’s a poor country and your tip may help someone earn a decent living. Although, no one will demand for it, it will be nice on your part to help. There are also volunteering options for the travellers for causes such as conservation, community development, orphanage outreach, scientific research, wildlife sanctuary maintenance & development, and education programs.

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