Many adventurous people decide to go into the world with basic travel skills. This would be fine for certain places, but if you plan to travel to the Dominican Republic may be, it will not help. And why? You may wonder, because we are talking about a country where the heat can become unbearable for many and because tropical storms can arrive at any time, for this reason, you should know the things you need to pack when going to the Dominican Republic. That's why in order to do not be surprised once you step into the Dominican Republic, there are some things you should know in advance. In any case, you always learn something on each trip, and for that 'something' is good, let me share with you the 10 things I wish I knew before going to the Dominican Republic.
1. What things to pack?
To understand what to put in your suitcase if you are going to the Dominican Republic, you must first start from the base and know where is the Dominican Republic, for what? Well, in this way you will save putting clothes that you will never use and that in the end, will occupy meaningless space. Surely you already know that the country's capital is Santo Domingo. The country is on an island called Hispaniola, an archipelago of the Greater Antilles where it shares it with Haiti. It is the second-largest country in the Caribbean, after Cuba, so here people speak in Spanish. After this introduction, you will have realized that you will go to a country with high temperatures for most of the year, so the things you need to pack when going to the Dominican Republic are sunscreen to protect your skin, hat, or cap and Sunglasses. You can take several swimsuits and, in general, cool and light clothes (a jacket just in case but I doubt you will use it). If possible, wear cotton clothing. And above all, mosquito repellent. Also, an international electrical adapter will be of great help. The voltages there are 110-120 volts, almost half that of Europeans, which are 220. Therefore, you will need a transformer to be able to charge your device batteries. On the other hand, you should know that healthcare in the Dominican Republic is complicated. Therefore, I advise you to carry a small emergency kit with basic medicines. They will help you if you need them: analgesics, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, ointments for rashes, etc.
2. Check these health tips
I would like to talk a little more about the emergency kit and the health precautions that you should take into account if you travel to the Dominican Republic. In principle, there is no mandatory or recommended vaccine to enter to the country, but it is always advisable to visit the nearest International Vaccination Center so they can advise you on the health care, due to the delicate health situation of the Republic Dominican right now. Regarding the first-aid kit that you must prepare, as I mentioned in the previous point, do not forget the sunscreen, pain relievers, medications for stomach problems, antihistamines if you need them, and any type of usual medication to avoid the high prices of pharmaceutical products in the Dominican Republic. It is recommended to avoid any type of non-bottled water, due to the existence of several cases of cholera confirmed by health authorities. On the other hand, we must take into account the dengue epidemic that plagues the Caribbean and Central American countries, and which of course also affects the Dominican Republic. Most of the registered cases have been in the north and the centre of the country, with much less incidence in Santo Domingo and other areas. Therefore, using mosquito repellent in wooded areas or the city is essential. Finally, be careful when swimming in contaminated water like rivers, since you can contract schistosomiasis, through larvae that penetrate the skin. In case of accidental contact, dry the skin vigorously. Also, if possible, take out travel insurance you trust.
3. When is the best time to visit Santo Domingo?
If you are wondering when is the best time to travel to the Dominican Republic, you are doing well since here too the time usually varies from one season to another. The country is close to the equator and therefore enjoys a tropical climate, with temperatures of between 26 and 30 degrees throughout the year. On the other hand, the volume of rainfall is drastically divided into two seasons a year. Specifically, the best time to travel to the Dominican Republic is between December and April. This is when less rainfall occurs. Between May and November, however, they are abundant, and there is even the possibility of hurricanes. Especially in May, August, and September.
4. The security in the Dominican Republic
Every time someone says they will go to a Central American country, the alarms go off sowing doubt about whether is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic. You can hear things like ''I know someone who was robbed in a bar in Santo Domingo'', ''Be very careful on those roads'', "Do not talk with no one", etc. So I recognize that security in the Dominican Republic is an issue that worries many. I know it's not the safest destination on the planet, preciously. It ranks 87th in the Global Peace Index produced annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace, based on the safest countries to travel, on data such as crime, levels of violence and crime in the country, among others. To avoid certain moments, it is better to be well informed about which cities and neighbourhoods may be the most conflictive to avoid them, listening to those who have already travelled to the country. Avoid marginal areas like Los Guandules and La Cienaga in Santo Domingo. However, it is an island that can be perfectly explored on your own, always using common sense, not walking alone at sunset, taking special care in big cities, and staying close to the centre and tourist centre. If you travel alone, CouchSurfing and staying in backpackers hostels is always a good option to meet more travellers. To conclude, the Dominican Republic is one of the most chosen countries in Central America due to its joy, its white sands, crystal clear beaches framed with palm trees, it has the most beautiful sunsets, and it also has good people. Just pay attention to where you are going.
5. Travel in a rented car
Wondering what do I need to know before going to the Dominican Republic? Then, you should keep in mind that apart from the buses you can rent a car for less than $ 100 per day, depending on the company. If you can rent it, you will realize that the real adventure will begin on the road trip, being able to know the country from end to end by car, and adventure that can take you around 15 days. Still, driving in the country is not a minor issue: I would almost say abstain from novice drivers. Never drive at night. There are very few highways; Most of the roads are narrow, two-way and it must be said ... in bad shape. You should also know that you may meet the odd police officer who wants to get money from you in exchange for not getting a fine. Have the vehicle papers and your own at hand, in case you come from Spain, you can use the Spanish driving license for 3 months, and you should know that you drive on the right side. Believe me that renting a car will bring you many benefits because you will be able to know all those hidden waterfalls and less accessible beaches for the common tourist. The most local corners ... Although always keeping in mind that you know where you are going. I recommend that you prepare an itinerary with a map and study your road well.
6. Accommodation with different values
When it comes to accommodation, in Santo Domingo you can find places according to your budget. One night in five-star hotels ranges from $150 to 200. Also, you can find hotels with more feasible prices located just minutes from the International Airport. Their prices for one night it's around $ 60 to 95, but do not worry, you can find more accessible prices. If you have a tighter budget, you have different options such as hostels and pensions, that range from $ 50 to $ 75 per night. Many travellers stay here because they are usually cozy places. Some of these places are equipped with Wi-Fi services, swimming pools, and their locations are usually close to places like shopping malls, fairs, museums, bus stations, markets, and even close to the Port and Malecon de Santo Domingo. In case you plan to stay in Punta Cana, as it is a strong tourist spot in the country, you will find luxurious or high-standard hotels that can range from $ 300 to $ 400 a night, but if you go to areas further away from the city, you can find more prices. Low on stays and I'm talking only $ 17 or $ 20 a night, which is a fantastic price for those who move independently.
7. How much does it cost to eat in the Dominican Republic?
It is good to know in advance how much money you might need for your expenses in Santo Domingo, so it is advisable to have an idea about certain prices such as food. If you come from far away, it would be a good experience for you to try the local Dominican dishes, for example, a meal for two in a good standard restaurant would cost about $ 40, including dessert! A small bottle of water, about 300 ml, would cost you about $ 0.58 or a half-litre local beer would cost you about $ 2. But if you are looking for something already known as McDonald's, Burger King, or similar, you will not spend more than $ 6. Keep in mind that almost no Dominican shop accept cards, all payments are in cash. If they accept a card, they make surcharges of at least 18% VAT. I recommend that you carry at least $ 100 in your pocket for the first transfers or any unforeseen event, and the rest of the money you need, take out of the ATMs. Regarding business hours (as extra data), you can find open banks open from Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public offices are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and shops from 8.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 to 6.30 p.m. There are also shopping centres and food outlets with longer hours.
8. Try something authentic, try the Mangu
Going to the Dominican Republic? Then you must try new flavours without fear. In case you did not know, the Mangu is prepared only in this country. It is a green banana, boiled and smashed. There is also the version of the mangu prepared with ripe bananas. It is usually accompanied by fried white cheese, scrambled eggs with pieces of onions, and homemade Dominican salami. Outside, tourists are just beginning to get to know this dish for the Guinness record that it won in 2017 in New York, by preparing the largest mangu in the world (645 pounds on average). Still, many guests do not know about this dish, and many prefer to stick with familiar dishes.
9. East Park: Saona Island
Surely you keep asking yourself what do I need to know before going to the Dominican Republic. Well, let me tell you that travel to the Dominican Republic and not visiting Isla Saona is a mistake that only 5% of the people who land in the Caribbean country make. Saona is a tropical island located in the southeast of the Dominican Republic, surrounded by the limits of the Parque Nacional del Este. It is a truly paradisiacal enclave. With just a population of 300 people, it is a practically virgin island with dreamy beaches and waters of those that make anyone dream. Getting to Isla Saona can be done from Bayahibe, Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, Bavaro and Punta Cana, a journey that takes at least an hour and a half. The excursion is available at all hotels in the area and usually departs early in the morning intending to make the most of your stay on the island.
10. Do not miss the Damajagua WaterfallsCopyright: @extra_toursDamajagua waterfalls
are located about 36 km by car, about 45 minutes from Puerto Plata. This destination is considered one of the wonders of the province of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This famous excursion is very visited since it consists of 27 pools, between trails and beautiful landscapes, a nature adventure between the mountains, a river with majestic waterfalls, each with its respective pools, some have a depth of about 7 meters. The great peculiarity of this place is that you have to climb each of these waterfalls, making tours until you reach the end, and then throw yourself through its rocks using them as slides in each one of them. That is why one of the things you need to pack when going to the Dominican Republic is your swimwear. To reach here you can do it from the Javilla stop located in Puerto Plata, where you will take a bus heading to Santiago de los Caballeros, but as the bus does not stop directly in this place, you have to let the driver knows that you want to stop at the entrance of the 27 Charcos. Upon reaching the place, visitors realize that the Damajagua Waterfalls are located within the Sencion family property where you can enjoy the experience of finding a stand where they sell crafts and drinks provided by the owners. You should also know that this excursion can be done by tour or on your own, the only difference is that if you do it on your own, the journey to the waterfall, you have to do it on your own, the rest is organized with local guides. The Dominican Republic is ideal for those who need to relax but also have fun. For those who come from Europe or America, it is a country that has very good prices. Generally, tourists usually travel directly to Punta Cana or Santo Domingo because they have international airports and you can also have the Uber app so you can move easily. Tourists use it a lot because it is safe and comfortable for transfers anywhere and they are usually cheaper than ordinary taxis. In the event that you get into a common taxi, it is possible that he sees your face as a foreigner and wants to take advantage of the prices. What many travellers usually do is negotiate the price of the trip before boarding and reach an agreement with the driver. Well, now I can only say that you enjoy it, do not forget the things you need to pack when going to the Dominican Republic.