Dominican Republic

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Dominican Republic Money-Saving Tips

Regional Cuisine

Aside from fresh fish, regional specialties include sancocho (a thick sultry stew, made from up to seven meats), tostones (fried green plantains), arroz con pollo (rice with beans and chicken) and mangu (a tasty mix of mashed green plantains, butter and salt that's usually eaten at breakfast).


The traditional instrumentation of the D.R.’s infectious music/dance genre – African double-headed tambora drum, Taíno-influenced güira (perforated sheet-metal cylinder strummed with a brush), and diatonic accordion introduced by 19th-century German traders – symbolizes the country’s three heritages. Dominicans love to dance merengue, as well as bachata and salsa. The best hotspots for dancing are in Santo Domingo and Cabarete.

Habla Español

Though most staff in Santo Domingo and major resorts habla inglés, Dominicans genuinely appreciate efforts to speak even rudimentary Spanish. You’ll be rewarded with smiles and perhaps even dinner or party invitations. Be aware that Dominicans speak extremely fast Spanish but don't mind slowing down for non-native speakers.

Explore the Island

Visitors who remain in all-inclusive enclaves miss out on the country’s other natural riches. Your best bets for exploring are intra-island flights on a charter airline like Air Century ( or privately-owned, air-conditioned buses run by a company like Metro Bus ( In addition, you can hire a private driver like Thomas Karrer, a former pilot and 16-year resident of the D.R. who owns his own transportation company (

Eat smart

Except at the best resorts, always drink bottled water and avoid salads; sidewalk food vendors are tempting but dicey until your GI tract has adjusted (for most people that takes about 3 days).

Driver Alert

As is the case with many Caribbean islands, driving can be dicey for tourists – very few traffic lights, motorbikes buzzing everywhere and pedestrians darting in and out of traffic. If you decide to drive, carry a detailed map and consult your hotel beforehand for preferred routes. Gas stations are scarce in rural areas, so fill up beforehand (in addition, watch to ensure that your gas meter starts at zero, as attendants have been known to cheat tourists.). Most car rental agencies like National and Budget have outposts in major cities in the D.R. Renters must be at least 25 years old. We would suggest renting a four-wheel drive vehicle as road conditions can vary.

Duty-Free Shopping

Cruise passengers calling at Santo Domingo's Don Diego Terminal can take advantage of duty-free shopping on alcohol, souvenirs, and more.

Amber alert

Watch out for dishonest amber dealers – many sidewalk and beach vendors try to pass off cheap, plastic rip-offs as the real thing. For genuine amber, the shop at the Amber Museum is your safest bet.


The indigenous Taínos left the imprint of nearly five millennia in petroglyphs throughout the island. Christopher Columbus claimed the D.R. for Spain; his brother, Bartolomeo Colón founded Santo Domingo as the New World’s first “Western” city in 1496.

Take the Bus

Adventurous travelers without a car can take the mini-buses known as guaguas to reach restaurants, shopping centers, and beaches. Even longer journeys cost about $1 per ride.

Annual festivals

Carnival (the apex of Pre-Lenten celebrations) is known for spectacular floats and dance groups parading down Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata’s Malecóns (waterfront). Merengue and Jazz Festivals attract thousands of fans in late July and October, respectively.


Though the silken Dominican rums aren’t well-publicized, aficionados appreciate such brands as Brugal (whose Puerto Plata distillery offers tours), Bermudez, and Barceló.


Connoisseurs rate Dominican cigars as highly as Cubanos, particularly the Fuentes robustos, handmade in Santiago. Other leading brands include Montecristo, Cojimar (sugar-tipped in such flavors as vanilla and amaretto), Romeo y Julieta, and Léon Jimenes.

Take in Some Culture for Free

Free cultural attractions in Santo Domingo include the Pantéon Nacional (national mausoleum), Casa Cordón (oldest stone house in the Americas), Ruinas de San Francisco (first monastery in the Americas), Parque Independencia (mausoleum of the DR's founding fathers), and the Museo del Ron y la Caña (Rum and Sugarcane Museum).

All-Inclusive for the Day

Some all-inclusive resorts, particularly in Boca Chica and Juan Dolio, offer day passes. For as low as $40, non-guests can take advantage of the resort facilities, as well as indulge in the all-you-can-eat-and-drink lifestyle.

Tip Included

Restaurants should automatically add a 10 percent gratuity to the bill (check to see if it is included). However, it is customary to add an extra tip on top of that amount, up to an additional 10 percent for exceptional service.

Free Ride to Dinner

Some restaurants offer free transport to and from your hotel, but beware of places that charge exorbitant fees that may or may not include your meal.

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