Questions, concerns or doubts? We’re here to put your mind at ease. When's the cheapest time to fly? Do I need a visa? How much should I tip? Should I order the mangú or tostones? This is where we answer your most frequently asked questions.
Nighttime traffic in Santo Domingo
Photo: José Miguel Pérez
In all major cities and popular coastal destinations, you’ll find a good selection of hotels to suit your budget and style, from boutique to five-star. Airbnb is well established, with dozens of offerings from private bungalows - perfect for a tropical getaway - to cozy apartments right in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, perfect for an easy stay after throwing moves with the locals at a merengue club late into the night.
In Las Galeras, we love Unique Exotic Eco Hotel, Casa Paraíso Eco Lodge, and Samaná Ocean View Eco Lodge. Our top pick in Sosúa is the serene Tubagua eco-lodge.
In Punta Cana/Bavaro, head to the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana. In Puerto Plata, we like Hotel Lomar.
In Bayahibe, our top picks for alternative accommodation are the Bayahibe Guest House Hotel and Casa Felicidad. Both offer charming, breezy rooms decorated in Caribbean style (rather than ubiquitous could-be-anywhere hotel suite style), private patios or gardens for sunny outdoor hangs, free wifi and are walking distance from Bayahibe beach and all the day-trip operators. Their hosts do a wonderful job of making guests feel welcome and safe - including solo female travelers.
Coming soon: our favorite places to stay in Santo Domingo, Santiago de Los Caballeros, Cabarete and more!
In Santo Domingo, we like Mamey Liberia for a cosy cup of coffee in the Colonial Zone. Lulú Tasting Bar is nearby, with charming colonial architecture, an interior patio, and an unmatched mediterranean fine dining experience. A fabulous after-work crowd comes to Lulú for world-class tapas, cocktails at the elegant, long bar, cigars and live jazz.
In Las Terrenas, you’ll want to get to Pueblo De Los Pescadores - the main strip of town and where most cafes, bars and restaurants are clustered. Boulangerie Francaise is a European-Dominican fusion restaurant serving up coffee, croissants, empanadas, pizzas and traditional Dominican fare like mangu served with cheese, eggs, salami and onion. For seafood, head to Nana Gourmet on White House Beach. We recommend a plate of chillo (northern red snapper), washed down with a cold Presidente beer.
Seafood not your thing? Try Pizza Coco, a laid-back, spacious pizzeria walking distance from Casa Blanca Beach.
For a great meal In La Romana, swap the sit-down restaurants for the trendy The Cañaveral Food Park. We recommend the baked lamb empanadas at the Uzbesk Food Truck.
In Santiago de Los Caballeros, we love: Saga Restaurant and Cigar Bar for atmosphere and outstanding service, with great food and fantastic selection of cigars; Square One Cafe for scrumptious breakfast and lunch in a cozy, colorful setting; El Tablon Latino for upscale Latin-Caribbean dining with great views of the Monument. For a tourist-friendly bar where you can throw moves to live merengue bands, head to Barajando Bar.
No. Tap water in the Dominican Republic is not purified. Visitors should drink bottled water, available at neighborhood bodegas and supermarkets.
The Dominican Republic is home to some of the best-ranked beaches on the planet, world-famous Dominican cigars, coffee and chocolate, a proud heritage of major-league baseball stars, and a love of good food, dancing, and enjoying the good life.
The north coast of the Dominican Republic is home to some of the world's most popular beaches for surf-lovers. The wind blows all year round and the winter months whip up some serious rolling waves. Every February, the world's best surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers hit Playa Encuentro to compete at the Master of the Ocean surfing tournament.
Inland, the Dominican Republic is packed full of wild tropical forests, vibrant small towns and picturesque mountain paths just waiting to be explored. There’s so much to see and do beyond the resorts, from mountain biking and hiking to caving and white-water rafting.
Colonial history buffs can stroll the five-hundred-year-old Colonial Zone in downtown Santo Domingo, or visit the Catedral Primada de América - the oldest cathedral in the Americas. For those more interested in indigenous roots, there’s dozens of sites of cultural significance for the native Caribbean Taíno peoples, and plenty of living culture too, which you can glimpse in festivals like Carnaval.
All these attractions have made the Dominican Republic one of the most popular destinations in the world. It’s America’s second-favorite place to visit, with over 2.7 million U.S. travelers landing on Dominican shores every year. As a result, developers have built dozens of resorts to capitalize on the most accessible beaches, but if five-star hotels and private beachfronts aren’t your thing, don’t worry: there’s plenty more to explore, and enough alternative accommodation that you can criss-cross the country without ever having to see a megaresort - if you know where to look.
Between 2018 and 2019, the Dominican Republic rose seven points on the Global Peace Index. This puts the country's rank of 84 someplace between Switzerland (11) and the United States (128). It's considerably safer to visit the Dominican Republic than to be a tourist in many other destinations, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, and yes - even the United States.
There's so much to see on this beautiful island beyond the beaches and resorts, and if you're looking for an adventure, it's perfectly feasible to head out onto the paths less traveled. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to stay safe (and healthy!). Many of these tips you probably use in your hometown anyhow, especially if you're coming from a major U.S. metropolis. Check out our comprehensive guide to staying safe and healthy while traveling in the Dominican Republic.
In 2019, the Dominican tourism industry was rocked by a spate of tourist deaths. By mid summer, 11 U.S. tourists had died in the country, spurring a wave of panic among international travelers, the swift announcement of increased safety measures - and an FBI investigation into the more suspicious American deaths. The FBI’s findings confirmed Dominican authorities’ claim that the tourists had died of natural causes while on vacation. The deaths were tragic, but not malicious, and with 2.7 million Americans visiting the DR every year, the U.S. State Department released a statement saying that there were in fact no more American tourist deaths in DR during 2019 than usual. Read the full story here.
The currency in the DR is Dominican Pesos (DOP). At the time of writing, the exchange rate is roughly 1 USD = 58 DOP.
All taxis, public transport and many restaurants are cash only, and they'll expect to be paid in Dominican pesos. If you have a foreign currency they might take it (might) but won't give you change in the same currency, and might not give you change at all. So you'll need some pesos while you're here!
Credit cards are widely accepted in main tourist areas and cities across the Dominican Republic. Visa or Mastercard cards are accepted wherever credit cards are accepted, and some of the larger hotels and shopping destinations accept American Express cards.
Haggling is expected almost everywhere except supermarkets and banks.
As for tipping, most of the sorts of places you’d normally tip in the US charge a 10% service fee that is split between serving staff. If you don’t see this extra charge added to your bill, tip 10-20% depending on food and service quality.
Read more about cash, costs, tipping, haggling and money-saving tips.
In the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is warm all year round - around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Select a wardrobe that will be comfortable in warm weather, and able to keep you cool if you plan on going on hikes and other adventures. Dominicans like to dress smartly, so pack something a little fancy for restaurants and events.
The Dominican Republic is sometimes called the land of eternal summer. Just north of the equator, daily temperatures are comfortable and very constant all year round, averaging 80°F (27°C).
The dry season runs from December through April, and is characterized by warm temperatures (high 70s to low 80s), low humidity and sunshine for days.
Thousands of tourists visit the country during this time of the year and to enjoy the sunshine at the numerous resorts of Punta Cana, La Romana, Puerto Plata, Samaná or visiting the colonial zone of Santo Domingo.
The dry season offers the best conditions for water sports (surfing, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, rafting and more). During the dry season, seas are calmer, beaches tend to be cleaner, and river currents aren’t as rough or changeable as during the wet season.
The wet season (May to November) brings the highest temperatures (an average of 80-86°F and higher), combined with high humidity. Although it rains more often during the wet season, most of the time it will be sunny and warm. These months are a good time to visit the country if you are looking for a cheaper vacation or if you're hoping to avoid the crowds you'll usually find at high season.
Airfares to the island tend to peak between December and May, when the DR’s mild weather lures travelers from around the world. For discount airfares, consider braving the summer months. September is said to be the cheapest month to travel. It's a risk, though - hurricanes like September, too, meaning you might have to enjoy your holiday indoors and reschedule any planned adventures featuring beaches, coasts and islands.
To find key calendar dates to help you book your trip, read our guide on how to choose the best time to visit the Dominican Republic.
From Canada and the United States
Most major North American airlines fly to the Dominican Republic, including JetBlue, Spirit, American Airlines, United, Delta, Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, Westjet and Emirates.
Delta and JetBlue offer the most flights (especially on the popular JFK to Santo Domingo route) and are your best bet for cheap flights to the Dominican Republic.
Iberia, TIU Airways, Condor, Air Europa, Air France, British Airways, SWISS and Eurowings all fly to the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is the most popular destination from all European cities, and is therefore likely to be your least expensive first stop.
If you’re arriving from Europe, remember that the cheapest way to get to your final destination is usually to fly to PUJ and then take a Caribetours bus the rest of the way.
Transportation is very accessible in the Dominican Republic. The routes are many and include cars (carros publicos or carritos), guaguas (mini buses or vans), cross country buses, taxis and motorcycles (motores or motoconchos). Uber recently joined the scene, too. Even if you choose to stay at a remote bed and breakfast in the mountains, you'll make it there - maybe on a motorcycle, but you'll make it.
With so many ways to get around, public transport in the Dominican Republic can be daunting, but we’ve got you covered.
As long as you have a credit card, yes. You can easily hire a car through a recognised international chain in Santo Domingo and several major cities. You can hire everything from SUVs to luxury cars, with rates starting at US $20 a day - but expect to pay at least US $65 per day if you’re in a major tourist destination like Punta Cana during peak season.
Make sure you keep your identification and hire papers on you at all times, so that you can be quickly on your way if you happen to get pulled over by traffic authorities.
Some car hire companies offer guides or drivers. While your GPS will work fine, Dominican traffic can be chaotic and the roads heading away from the cities toward hiking trails, lesser-known beaches and other hidden wonders can be tough for travelers not used to off road driving.
For all U.S. citizens, a valid U.S. passport is sufficient (and very much required) for anyone seeking to enter or transit through the Dominican Republic for up to 30 days. You’ll need a Tourist Card, though - more on that below.
For most non-US travelers, you can also visit for up to 30 days without a visa as long as you are traveling on a valid passport and obtain a valid Tourist Card.
You can obtain a Tourist Card at Dominican Consulates, or upon arrival at the airports in the Dominican Republic. The cost is US $10 and the Card is valid for 30 days. Note that some tour operators and airlines now include the Tourist Card in airline fees or tour package costs - check your booking to know whether or not you’ll need to have that US $10 in cash when you arrive.
Get vaccinated before you go: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus shots are all recommended, but depending on your level of risk your doctor may recommend more.
Purchase medical insurance in advance, and make sure you bring more than enough prescription medication with you - and your prescription paperwork too.
The usuals: live animals, weapons, pornography and drugs. You can bring in 1L of liquor, 200 cigarettes or one box of cigars (good to know if you're heading to the Dominican Republic via another Caribbean destination!). Gifts not exceeding $100(USD) can be brought into the country duty-free.
As for what you can take out with you, you’ll need to check the customs regulations of the next country you’re traveling to. The US, for example, will allow you to take back 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes and up to 100 non-Cuban cigars.
Yes. Travelers can access wifi at most major hotels and many boutique accommodation options. If you’re planning to use it often or use lots of data, you might want to check the cost of wifi while you’re browsing for accommodation - many places do offer free wifi, at least up to a point.
There are thousands of free wifi hotspots around the Dominican Republic, with good coverage in big cities and major destinations including Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, La Romana, Santiago de los Caballeros and San Pedro de Macoris.
Most US phones unlocked for global use will work in the Dominican Republic, although charges for international calls and data roaming vary. Check willmyphonework.net first to see if the internet frequencies used in the Dominican Republic are compatible with your phone.
If your phone is unlocked for global use, you'll have a way better signal if you swap your sim card temporarily for a local prepaid card. The phone carrier with the best coverage is Claro. A Claro sim card will cost you just 150 pesos (about US $2.85*).
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