Essential Travel Information to know before you arrive in the Dominican Republic
travel information

Language

Spanish is the official language of the country and street signs and restaurant menus are written in the mother tongue. Even though the people linked to the tourist trade generally speak English, knowing some Spanish is a great advantage.

It is important to point out that �Dominicanese� (the local way of speaking Spanish, interspersed with Dominican elements) is the everyday life experience of the peasant�s soul and wisdom, expressed with a rustic accent and with inland flavor. As in all countries, each region has its charm and accentuates its expressions in a peculiar way, identifying the speaker from the first words uttered in his conversation.

This unequaled form of expression has been a source ofinspiration for renowned native and foreign writers. The time when this up-country language style began to be used in literary writings is not yet determined; but, we do know that a prize was awarded to a rustic poem written by Tirso de Molina between 1616 and 1618, during his stay at the Convent of Las Mercedes in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo. In spite of Spanish influence, common terms derived from the Taino�s melodious and sweet language remain in use and nearly all preserve their original meaning.

For example: aj� (pepper), barbacoa (barbeque), batea (small tub), bija (annatto fruit), boh�o (hut), bur�n (flat griddle), canoa (canoe), carey (tortoise-shell), casabe (cassava), coa (sharp wood rod), conuco (a plot of land for cultivation).

Visas and Entries / Departure Tax

Visitors in general should reconfirm travel documentation requirements with the nearest Dominican consulate.

Foreign visitors must purchase a US$10.00 Tourist Card upon entering the country, unless they are exempted nationals from above-mentioned countries. A US$10.00 departure tax is required at the airport when leaving.

In general, passport-bearing visitors from Argentina, South Korea, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Peru, United Kingdom, and Uruguay are exempt from visas or tourist cards. Tourists cards (sold at US$10) are required for citizens of: Albania, Andorra, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croacia, Checoslovakia, Chile, Cura�ao, Denmark, Dominica, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland,Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, St. Vincent and Grenadines, St. Lucia, Sweden, Switzerland, Surinam, Tunisia, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. Nationals from other countries might require visas. Passports are the preferred travel document. Legal residents in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela may enter with their passport and residency card.

Citizens of the United States may enter with passport or with an original birth certificate and additional photo-bearing official document (such as voter �s registration or driver�s license.) Minor�s may enter with only an original birth certificate. Cuban residents of the United States may enter with their U.S. residency card and additional official photo-bearing document.

Flight Information

The major airports in the Dominican Republic are:

La Romana Airport (LRM) is 20 minutes away and $60 taxi away from Bayahibe.

Santo Domingo (SDQ) is 1.5 hours down the highway and $100 taxi.

Punta Cana (PUJ) is 1.5 hours away and about $80 by taxi.

Some guidelines looking for flights:

  • From Canada:�Selloffvacationshas charter flights.� Try also�Air Transat,�Skyservice,�Sunwing, and�Air Canada.�Westjet�also has seasonal service.�� You can get one way tickets back to Canada at the airport or by calling Air Transat at 809-970-2121.�Flight center�also has some good deals on flights.
  • From Miami:�American�has flights for $400 return.��Spirit�is also an alternative
  • From NYC:�American has flights for $400 and�Jetblue�for $300�Jetblue.com. Jetblue also flies to Santiago, which is 90 min away.
  • From the rest of the US: Try�Spirit�for a discounted price to Santo Domingo, otherwise via Miami on American,�Continental, Atlanta via�Delta�or�Jetblue.
  • From other Carribean islands:�Liat�is a good option.��Copa�flies to Jamaica, Panama and other Central Americans and Carribbean islands
  • From the UK:�Charter flights�and Thomas Cook. Last minute from $300.
  • From South America:�Aeropostal�via Venezuela has great connection and prices
  • From France:Corsair�and other charters.
  • From Belgium: JetAirFly goes at least once a week to both PUJ and POP. As cheap as � 150 each way!
  • Travel Tips:

  • Don�t forget your PASSPORT.
  • Confirm your flight.
  • Bring $10 USD for your Tourist Card.
  • Check out to find your accommodation.
  • Phone Numbers:

  • Puerto Plata Airport: +1.809.586.0175
  • Santiago Airport: +1.809.233.8000
  • Santo Domingo Airport: +1.809.542.0160
  • Punta Cana Aiport: +1.809.668.4749
  • There are many ways to come and visit us here in sunny Bayahibe, Dominican Republic.� If you need help with flights or other information please contact us.

    Health Care

    The health care system in the Dominican Republic should be adequate, as long as certain precautions are taken. To foreign nationals, it may seem that medical care is somewhat limited, but there are facilities available in the large cities. If medical aid is needed when in the small towns or rural areas, it may be best to wait until you can get into the larger cities.

    Physicians

    There are many doctors available in the Dominican Republic, both general practitioners and specialized doctors. A large number of these physicians have been educated in Europe or North America, so they tend to speak English, or another language besides Spanish. One difficulty, however, is that doctors sometimes expect payment prior to offering their services.

    Hospitals/Clinics

    There are several hospitals or clinics in Santo Domingo, or the other large cities that offer relatively clean facilities and good doctors. The health care facilities in the small towns may not be clean or well staffed. It is generally recommended to try and have all medical work done by hospitals in the major cities.

    Dental Care

    If possible, get a complete dental check-up before departure from your home country to alleviate the need for immediate dental care upon arrival in the Dominican Republic until you find a dentist you deem trustworthy and can be comfortable with. Whilst researching the services of the Dominican Republic�s dentists, ask each prospective dentist the following questions before making a decision and choosing one dentist over another.

  • Does he/she use sterilized instruments?
  • Does he/she wear protective gloves and a mask?
  • Insurance

    In general, foreign insurance policies are not valid in the Dominican Republic. It is probably a wise idea to take out a comprehensive expatriate insurance policy. Whilst Dominican health care is decent, it may be a good idea to have a repatriation (evacuation) clause added on in case of a serious medical emergency. Also, it is generally a good idea to carry proof of your health insurance with you at all times.

    Vaccinations

    Although no vaccinations are required of foreign nationals upon entry into the Dominican Republic, it is a good idea to check up on or renew several vaccinations you may already have. Most people are vaccinated against diphtheria, polio and tetanus at a young age, but it is a wise idea to check your medical records to make sure. Additional vaccinations that should be considered are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Typhoid.

    Medications

    Prescription drugs, medicines and remedies are readily available in the Dominican Republic, with many medications available over-the-counter in the pharmacies. If you need a medication that is locally available, prices should not be very expensive. However, any medication that has been prescribed by your home-country doctor could be more expensive than what you are accustomed to paying, or it may not be available.

    Prior to departure from your home country, it is advisable to acquire an adequate supply (a three-months� stock) of medications that may be necessary until you have had the opportunity to speak with a Dominican physician you can trust and who can accommodate your medical needs. Keep in mind that it is not unusual for medications abroad to have different names or be prescribed in a form that is different to what you may be accustomed. In addition, some prescription drugs are offered over the counter, whilst some drugs that were over-the-counter in your home country may need a prescription in the Dominican Republic.

    Drinking Water

    Whilst some of the water in the Dominican Republic is drinkable, the majority is not. It is generally recommended to drink bottled water in the Dominican Republic where there are many brands available that are safe to drink. In addition, it is wise to remember that ice cubes are not safe to drink unless they were made out of bottled or boiled water.

    Food

    When eating in the Dominican Republic it is necessary to take several precautions. Try to avoid the many roadside vendors, as quite often they do not properly store their food. Fruits which can be peeled are generally safe to eat, as long as they are fresh. It is also a good idea to only drink bottled fruit drinks. The drinks bought at small shops in markets may not be refrigerated properly, or may have been diluted with impure water.

    Spanish is the official language of the country and street signs and restaurant menus are written in the mother tongue. Even though the people linked to the tourist trade generally speak English, knowing some Spanish is a great advantage.

    It is important to point out that �Dominicanese� (the local way of speaking Spanish, interspersed with Dominican elements) is the everyday life experience of the peasant�s soul and wisdom, expressed with a rustic accent and with inland flavor. As in all countries, each region has its charm and accentuates its expressions in a peculiar way, identifying the speaker from the first words uttered in his conversation.

    This unequaled form of expression has been a source of inspiration for renowned native and foreign writers. The time when this up-country language style began to be used in literary writings is not yet determined; but, we do know that a prize was awarded to a rustic poem written by Tirso de Molina between 1616 and 1618, during his stay at the Convent of Las Mercedes in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo. In spite of Spanish influence, common terms derived from the Taino�s melodious and sweet language remain in use and nearly all preserve their original meaning.

    For example: aj� (pepper), barbacoa (barbeque), batea (small tub), bija (annatto fruit), boh�o (hut), bur�n (flat griddle), canoa (canoe), carey (tortoise-shell), casabe (cassava), coa (sharp wood rod), conuco (a plot of land for cultivation).

    Currency

    The currency used in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso. If you see a price posted as $250 in the Dominican Republic, this means 250 pesos unless specified otherwise. The peso is represented by a dollar sign and at this time is about 35 to the US dollar.

    Official exchange rates: see http://www.bancentral.gov.do

    The next most recognized currency is the US dollar. If you come to the DR with Canadian dollars, or some other currency you may be penalized 5 to 10 percent versus the equivalent in US dollars when you buy pesos. It is best to come with US dollars in cash or traveler�s checks.

    Banks in the DR have savings accounts in pesos, dollars and at Banco Popular, Euros.

    Larger hotels have an exchange bank on the premises. This change bank will pay a slightly lower rate than the independent ones in the cities. Banks also offer a slightly lower rate than the �Casas de Cambio�. Banks will not sell you dollars but a Casa de Cambio will sell dollars or euros for pesos at a small premium. Casa de Cambios do not provide you with receipts that you can show at the airport on departure. Banks and hotel change houses do. When you leave the DR, at the airport, you may exchange up to one third of the pesos you bought legally. I am told that this process is such a hassle that it is better not to purchase more pesos than you will spend here.

    NEVER, NEVER change money on the street or through an individual.They are often experts at short changing you, and at worst will disappear with your money.

    Shopping

    Bargaining for the price of goods or services is a popular pastime in many developing countries. Even in large department stores you may be able to negotiate a discount of up to 10% off the sticker price.

    In tourist areas, many goods and services are offered at a large multiple of their value. If a Dominican offers to act as your tour guide and take you shopping, you can be almost certain that he will earn a commission on every purchase that you make plus a tip from you for his time.

    Electricity

    American-style plugs are used; power is 110-120 volts, 60 cycles. As in all cities of non petroleum producing countries, power cuts occur.

    However, it must be pointed out that the circuits servicing clinics, hospitals, and tourist zones are considered high public interest sectors. Furthermore, all hotels and restaurants have back-up generators.


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