The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country with so much to offer. From the stunning beaches to the delicious food, there’s something for everyone in this Caribbean paradise.
However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to be prepared before you go. That’s why I’ve put together this list of 36 Dominican Republic travel tips, so you can have a hassle-free journey and make the most of your time in this wonderful country.
Why is the Dominican Republic such a popular travel destination?
The Dominican Republic is a popular travel destination due to its warm temperatures, beautiful beaches, golf resorts, and lagoons. It also offers visitors the chance to explore historic cathedrals and fortresses as well as experience exciting nightlife. With its geographically diverse landscape of mountains, valleys, and plains plus 800 miles (1,287 km) of coastline lined with golden sands, it is no wonder people from all over the world flock to this tropical paradise for their next vacation.
Preparation for your trip to the Dominican Republic
1. Do I need my Passport to travel to the Dominican Republic?
Yes, you will need your passport to travel to the Dominican Republic. You should also check the expiration date of your Passport, you will need at least six months left before it expires to be allowed in the country. Once you arrive at your hotel, take a picture and a photocopy of your passport and keep the original in the hotel safe.
2. Do I need a visa to travel to Dominican Republic?
No, United States citizens are not required to get a visa for stays of 30 days or less when visiting the Dominican Republic. You will receive a 30-day entry stamp on your passport on arrival. Most international travelers may also enter visa-free, but it’s recommended to check with your country’s International Travel Information page for up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements, as well as contacting the Embassy of the Dominican Republic before traveling.
3. Should I get travel insurance for Dominican Republic?
Yes, it is always wise to get travel insurance when visiting the Dominican Republic, or any international trip for that matter. Travel medical insurance provides peace of mind as you embark on your itinerary and can help cover expenses related to medical emergencies or injuries that can occur while traveling abroad.
4. Will my Cell Phone work in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, your US cell phone will work in the Dominican Republic however you will incur roaming charges. Most hotels and resorts have WiFi available pretty much everywhere on the property, and that is enough for most travelers. If you need internet on the go while out and about the island, I recommend you purchase a local SIM card with internet access and save a lot of money on extra fees.
Safety Tips - How to enjoy your vacation to the Dominican Republic
5. Is the Dominican Republic Safe?
Yes, the Dominican Republic is generally safe for visitors. As with most areas with high tourism, muggings and pickpocketing are the most common complaints from tourists, so it’s important to exercise common sense and remain alert of your surroundings at all times. It’s also wise to carry a copy or a picture of your passport when going around the island and keep the original in the hotel for safety purposes. I always use the in-room safe of lock boxes in the hotel when available for most of my money, travel documents, and jewelry.
6. What is the legal drinking age in the Dominican Republic?
In the Dominican Republic, the legal drinking age is 18 years old. The atmosphere is generally relaxed, but if you look very young, bars and clubs may request to see your ID and will not allow you to enter if you are under 18, even when accompanied by parents or an adult.
7. Does the Dominican Republic get Hurricanes?
Yes, the Dominican Republic can experience hurricanes during the hurricane season, which lasts from August through November. However, the probability of a major hurricane hitting is slim, and advanced radars can detect the storm days or even weeks in advance, so there is plenty of time to leave if one is heading toward the island.
8. How are the medical services in Dominican Republic?
The medical services in the Dominican Republic in private hospitals and clinics are excellent. Just make sure you use one of the modern, private institutions where you can get excellent care if needed. A medical tourism industry is now emerging on the island due to its proximity to the US and Canada, lower prices, and well-trained staff.
9. What not to do in the Dominican Republic?
When traveling abroad, we always think of the things to do, but we should also consider the no-nos. Here is my list of what NOT to do in the Dominican Republic:
- If you are planning to rent a car, be aware that traffic laws are different than what you may be used to in the US.
- Do not leave your valuables visible in your car, as break-ins are common.
- Be cautious when exchanging money with local vendors or the airport, their rates are not great compared to banks or just taking money out of ATMs.
- Don’t keep all your cash and valuables on you. Take small amounts and keep the rest in your Hotel safe.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry while out at night since it may attract unwanted attention
10. Are there any scams I should be aware of when traveling in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, there are a few scams you should be aware of when traveling in the Dominican Republic:
- Fake beggars and police: Individuals who pretend to be a member of law enforcement or a beggar in order to take your money.
- Parking charges at beaches: People may try to charge you for parking at beaches that are normally free.
- Bar scams: Scammers may try to lure you into bars with the promise of free drinks or cheap food and then charge you exorbitant prices later.
- Unlicensed taxis or tour operators: These operators often offer you cheap packages or rides upfront and then ask for more money later.
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Transportation - How to get to and around the Dominican Republic?
11. Do I need to book my flight in advance?
Yes, you should always book your flight in advance everywhere you go, but especially in touristy places like the Dominican Republic to ensure you get a good deal. Once you arrive, taxis at the airport can also be a hassle, with random people offering you rides to your hotel, so it is also important to book a driver ahead of time or arrange with the hotel to pick you up. If you don’t have a choice and you have to take a cab, try to find a regular taxi, not just a random car.
12. Can I drive in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, you can rent a car and drive in the Dominican Republic, but keep in mind that it can be very challenging due to the hectic traffic and reckless drivers. Make sure you get proper insurance for your rental and be extra cautious for motorbikes, they tend not to respect all the rules and appear out of nowhere.
13. How should I travel around the Dominican Republic?
- Ask your hotel or resort to book you a ride. It will still be slightly overpriced, but at least you will be safe from scammers.
- Uber operates in Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata, but I would recommend booking the ride in advance. You can use the app to book your ride up to 30 days in advance.
- Cabify is also available in the capital city of Santo Domingo, but it’s not very reliable.
- I would not recommend using public transportation around the Dominican Republic, it’s confusing and overcrowded.
When to visit - What's the best time to travel to the Dominican Republic?
14. How is the weather in Dominican Republic?
The weather in the Dominican Republic is great, with an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. The months of December through early March boast the most pleasant weather, with mornings and evenings having cool breezes and average temperatures around 80°F (27°C). In the mountainous and hilly parts of the country, including Jarabacoa and Constanza, temperatures can drop at night and in the mornings to 50°F (10°C).
15. What are the best months to visit Dominican Republic?
The best months to visit Dominican Republic are December through May. During these months, the weather is warm enough for beaches and outdoor activities, but it’s also the main tourism peak, so expect higher prices, especially around the holidays.
I prefer March-June when the weather is still very good, but it’s not so crowded, and you can find better deals on flights and hotels.
16. What fun events are there in the Dominican Republic?
There are a variety of fun events that take place in the Dominican Republic, including:
- Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – January – where you can experience street dancing, singing, and various folkloric activities.
- Carnival – February – One of the biggest events of the year and one you should plan a vacation around. You can expect spectacular floats, amazing costumed performers, and lots of street dancing.
- Festival del Merengue – July – Celebrating one of the Dominican Republic’s favorite music genres, Merengue. Street dancers, performers, lots of good food, and a guaranteed good time.
- Puerto Plata Festival – October – A week-long festival filled with traditional music and dancing. Expect beautiful costumes and great food as well.
Money - Currency, Budget and Money Saving Tips for Dominican Republic
17. What is the currency in the Dominican Republic?
The currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso (DOP). The rate of exchange varies daily, but in general, $1 US will be around 50 Dominican Pesos.
18. Should I bring cash to Dominican Republic?
Yes, it is recommended that you bring cash when traveling to the Dominican Republic. Although US Dollars are accepted, you will often get a better deal when using the local currency. You can exchange USD at your resort or a bank. Or find an ATM where you can get cash.
Top Tip: If you are presented with a conversion from USD to DOM at the ATM, never accept it, always proceed without the conversions. This way, your bank at home will do the currency conversion and save you money.
19. Can I use my Credit Card in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, for the most part. Most large resorts and hotels will accept all major credit cards, and so will big restaurants. But it’s a good idea to bring cash with you for tips, steer food stalls, gift shops, and smaller restaurants.
Top Tip: If you are asked if you want to pay in USD or local currency, always choose the local currency (DOP), that way, your bank at home will do the conversion and save you a lot of money.
20. How much money do I need for a weekend trip to the Dominican Republic?
The average cost of a weekend trip to the Dominican Republic is around $400 per couple. This includes accommodation in a mid-range hotel and food. Remember, the Dominican Republic is famous for its activities, so set aside some money for that as well. If you want to have fun, about $800 will be a good budget for a short couple’s trip.
21. What Budget do I need for a week's vacation in the Dominican Republic?
If you are planning a longer trip to the Dominican Republic, you can expect to spend about $100/night for accommodation,$60/day for food, and about $400 for activities and souvenirs. It really depends on where you want to stay and the activities that you want to do.
You should also check out my Top Things to do in Punta Cana.
22. Should I tip in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, tips are highly appreciated in the Dominican Republic. Tipping was not common practice in the country, but with the influx of tourists, it’s pretty much expected now. It’s a great way to show your appreciation for good service and ensure that you are well taken care of during your visit. Some high-end restaurants will include the tip on the check, so you don’t have to pay extra unless you want to.
Language and Customs in the Dominican Republic
23. What is the official language in the Dominican Republic?
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. Dominicans do have their own accent, colloquialisms, and idioms, which make them unique from other Latin American countries. They are particularly famous for being incredibly fast speakers who abbreviate words and don’t pronounce certain letters (such as the plural “s”). You can try and practice your Spanish with the locals, but it’s a bit difficult because they are hard to understand for non-natives. Basic words like Hello, Thank you, and Good bye are always appreciated. If you’d know any Spanish, don’t worry, English is widely spoken in all tourist areas.
24. What local customs should I know before visiting the Dominican Republic?
Before visiting any foreign country, it is important to be aware of local customs and etiquette. Here are some from the Dominican Republic:
- It is considered good manners to say “good morning” or greet as you enter a business or public place, even if it’s filled with strangers.
- Tipping is customary for services received at restaurants, hotels, taxi rides, and even the staff at all-inclusive resorts.
- There is such a thing as “Dominican time” when it comes to events; expect a one or two-hour delay when making plans with locals or booking excursions/tours with local companies. We were invited to a local party at 7 PM by our Dominican friends, and they were very confused when we showed up on time. Everyone else got there at 9 PM.
- When agreeing to services of any kind (taxis, tours), agree on a price before accepting them.
- Driving in cities like Santo Domingo can be pretty intimidating, opt for taxis or private drivers instead.
25. What are some examples of Dominican greetings?
Typical Dominican greetings include: “Que lo Que hermano!”, their most famous greeting between friends, “Hola, amigo!” (Hi friend!), “Buenos días” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon), and “Buenas noches” (Good night). Greetings are expected as you enter shops or places where you are seeking assistance. It is also common to say hello as you enter a business, even if you don’t know them.
Accommodations - What are the best places to stay in the Dominican Republic?
26. What kind of accommodations can I find in the Dominican Republic?
The accommodations available in the Dominican Republic range from all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and even low-cost hostels. There are also luxurious villa rentals for those traveling in larger groups, but they tend to be more pricy.
27. What is the best way to find accommodation in the Dominican Republic?
- Decide on the location you want to visit in the Dominican Republic.
- Book your accommodation through a reputable website or platform such as AirBnB or Booking.com, ensuring there are good reviews from previous guests.
- Contact your host and ask if they can arrange transportation for you from the airport.
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28. What are the best dive spots in the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic is home to some of the most amazing dive spots in the world. Some of the top dive sites include:
- Las Galeras and Playa Fronton beaches: These two beaches offer incredible opportunities to swim with fish and explore beautiful coral reefs.
- Los Haitises National Park: Located on a small island off the coast of Samana Bay, this park is home to limestone caves and the largest mangrove forest in all of the Caribbean.
29. Where can I find the best surfing in the Dominican Republic?
The best surfing in the Dominican Republic can be found in Cabarete, located on the North Coast of the island. Cabarete is a wellness community that focuses on watersports, healthy eating, and beach life. You can also go horseback riding, meet locals and expats from around the world, and take day trips around the area.
30. What are the best beach resorts to visit with kids in the Dominican Republic?
When visiting the Dominican Republic with children, it is best to choose a beach resort that offers good activities for children and is located close to other attractions. Cabarete, Bayahibe, and Cabrera offer some of the best beaches for families, while Bahia de las Aguilas is home to stunning natural scenery. All-inclusive resorts are great when traveling with children as they provide great spaces with activities for kids. Some of the resorts are adult-only, so make sure to double-check before booking.
31. What are the best places for a cheap vacation in the Dominican Republic?
The best places for a cheap vacation in the Dominican Republic are Bavaro and Punta Cana. In Bavaro, apartments and villas are more affordable and can help you save money on food costs by cooking rather than eating out. Additionally, chain hotels and resorts can be found in places like Punta Cana, La Romana, and Puerto Plata for good prices, especially in the off-season.
Activities - Things to do in the Dominican Republic
32. What are some fun activities in Dominican Republic?
Some fun activities in the Dominican Republic include:
- Hiking national parks and mountains.
- El Limon Waterfall: You can hike to this gorgeous waterfall or on horseback.
- Beach hopping along 30 miles of coastline from Punta Cana to Samana Peninsula.
- Sampling Dominican cuisine, dancing to live merengue, and drinking colmado at a local bodega.
- Whale Watching Season: From January to March every year, humpback whales pass through Samana Bay as they migrate from their winter breeding grounds in Antarctica back towards their summer feeding grounds off Canada and New England.
33. What is the best beach in Punta Cana?
The best beach in Punta Cana is Api Beach, located in Cap Cana. It offers fine white sand, crystal clear blue water, and smooth waves. Other popular beaches include Playa Blanca, which is known for its safety for children, and Wild Macao, which attracts surfers with its big waves. Las Terrenas is another popular area for tourists looking for amazing beaches.
Here is a complete list of the Finest Beaches in the Dominican Republic.
Food and drinks - Must-try local dishes
34. What are the local dishes in the Dominican Republic?
The local dishes in the Dominican Republic represent a blend of African, Spanish, and indigenous Taino influences. Some popular dishes include:
- Cativia (wheat empanadas): These savory pastries filled with meat or seafood are a common appetizer or snack.
- Salpicon (chilled seafood and vegetables): This cold salad made from assorted seafood and vegetables is served as an appetizer or side dish in many restaurants across the country.
- Sancocho (rich meat stew): A Dominican favorite for centuries, this hearty stew is made with meat, root vegetables, spices, and herbs.
- Chicharron (fried pork skins): Crispy fried pork skins are enjoyed as an afternoon snack by locals all over the DR – they’re perfect when paired with beer!
35. What kind of local seafood do they serve in the Dominican Republic?
Dominicans love seafood and have some traditional dishes such as fish in coconut milk, spiny lobster, prawns, spider carbs, and octopus.
36. What are the best places to party in the Dominican Republic?
The best places to party in the Dominican Republic are found in popular destinations such as Punta Cana, La Romana, and Puerto Plata. These cities offer a variety of options for those looking to have a good time, including nightclubs, bars, and live music venues. Visitors can also take part in local festivals that are held throughout the year, like the Carnival
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My Top Dominican Republic Travel Tips
I hope you found these Dominican Republic travel tips useful and that they help you to have a great trip. If you have any other tips to add, or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
You should check out my Complete Packing List next to ensure you bring everything you need to the DR.