What currency should I bring?
US dollars is the most easily exchangeable foreign currency. The reason is that the US dollar is the most transacted currency and thus is the most competitive. Other currencies, such as the Euro and Canadian dollar can be readily exchanged, but usually a lower rate will be paid than if you had first exchanged your currency for US dollars. Bring a mix of credit cards, ATM cards and travelers checks.
Is it safe to drink the tap water at the hotels?
Tap water should be avoided unless it has been boiled. This means that it is perfectly safe to use for teas and coffees. You may brush your teeth in unboiled tap water but if you have a sensitive stomach use bottled water that can be bought almost anywhere.
Almost all resorts provide purified water. Ice cubes are generally made from this as well, especially at resorts and tourist places.
Is it safe?
Sure there are dangers everywhere and in the DR as well. But the crime rate is relatively low when it comes to acts of violence, whereas acts of petty theft, such as pick pocketing, are common. Always act sensibly. Don't wear jewels that attract attention and don't wave your $$ around for everyone to see. Avoid walking in areas where there are no people
around, take a taxi instead.
Is it all right for women to be traveling alone?
While machismo is alive and well in the barrios and rural communities, middle class and up women have as much to say as the men in their homes and jobs. Note that more women graduate from university then men in the DR.
Women traveling alone will not have any problems. Unless you dress very provocatively, the most you will get is a compliment here and there from an admiring Dominican male. Chivalry is alive and well in the DR. Use common sense and you will enjoy your vacation just as you would anywhere else in the world.
Are Dominican beaches safe?
Some beaches are children-friendly, others have big waves, strong undertow and rocks. When in doubt, stick to the shore. The same rules apply here as do anywhere else in the world.
Do not take a windsurf or sail boat out if you have just finished eating. Don't go out swimming alone.
Don't bring your valuables to the beach. Don't leave anything you can't afford to lose on the beach when going off for a swim. Many a tourist has fallen asleep to discover their airline ticket or camera is missing.
What is the drinking and gambling age?
The drinking and gambling age is 18 years old. While lax in the past, increasingly the authorities are enforcing a ban on serving alcoholic beverages to minors. Many discos, especially in Santo Domingo, will ask to see an ID if you do not look 18. The same will happen in the casinos.
What's the best time of the year to come?
The peak travel seasons to and from the DR are July-August (most travel) and the months of December, January, February and March. This reflects the vacation periods of Europeans and North Americans. Note that the weather varies only a few degrees upwards and downwards in the Dominican Republic, with the summer months being slightly hotter, so any time is just as fine. Try to avoid the peaks of domestic travel, primarily Easter Week and the long weekend holidays
(http://www.dr1.com/travel/prepare/holidays.shtml), if possible, when the major resorts will be full to the hilt.
When is the rainy season?
Anyone who tells you there is a rainy season in the DR hasn’t lived here. It rains more frequently in the North Coast than in the South. The East Coast is the driest. But aside from that the weather in the DR is relatively stable. Only very occasionally will a storm be passing by that will bring more than an afternoon of rain. The most common forecast is: partly cloudy with a chance of short showers. The El Niño and El Niña currents bring longer periods of drought and rain. But aside from that, bring your sun block as chances are the sun will be shining strong.
I don't know Spanish. Will this be a problem?
Thousands of people visit the DR every year without knowing any Spanish at all. If you at least know English, you should be able to get along fine. But if neither English nor Spanish is your language, don't worry, be happy.
If you are just coming on a holiday you will be surprised how far a smile and sign language and pointing will get you a long way.
If you are coming for business, it is most probable your host will have someone who can communicate with you in your language, if he doesn't do so himself.
As with traveling anywhere, picking up a key phrases in Spanish (like "por favor"-please, "gracias"-thank you, will bring many smiles and extra efforts to help you out.
Most resorts will have someone speaking English. Many resorts have multi-lingual staff. If you are coming with a large group, there surely will be staff fluent in your language to assist you.
The best advice is to relax and be patient if you do not get youself across the first time. Laugh and have fun. After all, you are on a vacation.
I will be traveling with my one and a half year old baby? Special recommendations?
Bring your baby down, she will love the DR too! Bring your brand of powdered milk and use bottled water. You can also get UHT homogenized milk here (Parmalat and Rica are the leading brands). Also prefer pasteurized UHT containers for juice (Bon, Santal). Bring a first set of disposable diapers. If you will be staying for more than a week, you can purchase them in any city and many hotels will stock them, albeit at a high premium. Bring mosquito repellent special for babies. Also, two or three hats and special baby sunscreen. If you will be renting a car to travel with your baby, bring your own car seat. Check with your travel agent to make sure your hotel has cribs for the baby, or you might consider bringing your folding crib.
Is it true that there is much topless bathing in the DR?
Most US travelers with family headed to the popular Punta Cana tourist area may discover that European bathing styles (topless for women and men, thongs for women and men), is a non-issue. Once the novelty wears off, you and your family will barely notice the different bathing wear. There is too much else to capture your attention. Of course the kids will notice the difference at the start, but will only make an issue of it if you do. Explain the tourists do not want any swimsuit tan lines, shrug it off as a cultural difference (note Dominican women do not go topless), and everyone will get on with their vacation. As the market has shifted to primarily US and Canadian tourists, though, there is less and less topless bathing to be seen.
Can I bring my pet?
It's easy to travel with a dog or cat to the Dominican Republic. But do not bring a bird as the bird needs to remain in quarantine. To bring your dog a veterinarian certificate issued for rabbies and distemper in the past 30 days of the travel date is required. At the airport in the DR you should ask for the animal control person (Sanidad Animal) in the customs area. He will examine your certificate and fill out an official entry form or permission for which you will pay less than US$10. Prior to traveling with your pet, you should call your carrier for more information and the cost of transporting your animal. You should make a reservation early because some airlines restrict how many dogs can be carried onboard. If you are flying on American Airlines make sure your connecting flight is not American Eagle in the case your pet does not fit under your airline seat. American Eagle will only transport dogs that fit onboard.
What is the DR policy on visitors and drugs?
You do not want to bring in, consume or risk buying or selling drugs in the Dominican Republic. This is the easiest way to land yourself in jail with no bail. This could turn your trip into a nightmare. Drugs are not welcome in the DR and there are tough laws against trafficking and consumption regardless of the amount.
Is prostitution legal?
Yes and no. It is tolerated but it is not legal. Having any kind of sexual relationship with minors (under 18 years) is illegal and those caught face long terms in jail.
If I extend my stay over the 90 period tourist card, what happens?
You have to pay a penalty. The US$10 tourist cards allow you to stay for 30 days. A scaled charge from RD$300 to RD$15,000 applies for longer stays.