Dominican Republic

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About

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  • The Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern part of the second-largest island in the Greater Antilles, Hispaniola.
  • It is the second largest Caribbean nation both by area and population
  • There are many lakes and coastal lagoons.
  • The largest lake is Enriquillo, a salt lake at 40 metres (131 ft) below sea level, the lowest point in the Caribbean.
  • The Dominican Republic is almost entirely Spanish speaking.
  • Schools are based on a bilingual education, with English being taught as a secondary language in most schools.
  • Haitian Creole is spoken by much of the population of Haitian descent.
  • The Dominican Republic has become the Caribbean’s largest tourist destination
  • The country’s year-round golf courses are among the top attractions.
  • Music and sport are of the highest importance in Dominican culture, with meringue as the national dance and song and baseball the favorite sport.

 

HISTORY

  • The Dominican Republic was discovered by Christopher Columbus on December 5, 1492 during his first voyage. Columbus named the island Hispaniola. Bartholomew, brother of Columbus, was appointed governor and in 1496 he founded the city of Santo Domingo, the capital city.
  • The Island of Hispaniola remained under Spanish until 1697 when the western part of the island became a French possession.
  • In 1804 it became the Republic of Haiti.
  • In 1809 the eastern side of the island returned to Spanish rule.
  • In 1821 the Spanish settlers declared an independent state but just weeks later, Haitian forces invaded the eastern portion of the island and incorporated Santo Domingo.
  • For the next 22 years the entire island came under Haitian control.
  • On February 27, 1844, the eastern side of the island declared independence and gave their land the name “Dominican Republic.” The 70 years that followed were characterized by political unrest and civil war, mainly due to fights for leadership of the government by Dominican strongmen.


FACTS

    • The world’s largest pot of Sancocho was prepared at the 7th Dominican Fair at La Sirena February 12, 2007. After 5 hours of cooking in a four meter cooking pot three thousand people got to eat this yummy, typical Dominican dish. Eleven chefs and their assistants used 300LBS of beef, 250LBS of pork, 150LBS of chicken, 500 plantains, and other ingredients to create this delicious dish.
    • Dominican Republic has the only flag with a bible in it.
    • A man has to be 16 to get married and a woman needs to be 15 years of age. Even if the parents agree that the kids can be wed in matrimonial bliss most likely the government will not grant their wish.

Avg. Costs

  • A luxury hotel in Santo Domingo can cost as much as $300USD or more a night.
  • Travelers looking to spend as little as possible on food can find a meal for as low as $5USD. For around this price you can get tasty foods like pizza or a deli sandwich.
  • A meal at a deluxe restaurant costs at least $35USD.
  • Moderate restaurants generally range between $8USD and $25USD.
  • General fare for the metro’s buses is about $3USD.
  • The fare from Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata is about $6USD.
  • The government regulates cab fares, and the minimum cost in Santo Domingo is around $4USD.
  • To hire a taxi with unlimited stops will cost about $10USD per hour with a minimum of a two hour ride.
  • The average rate for renting a car on the island is $70USD or more per day.
  • A trip on a plane or helicopter costs about $60USD.
  • A departure tax of US$20 is charged when leaving the island for stays of up to two weeks, in addition to the $10USD tourist card needed prior to arrival.
  • Cigarettes – Local brands can be bought for $12 – $16USD per carton. If you want imports, they are much higher $25 – $35USD per carton.

 

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Currency

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Safety

Massage Hut

  • The Dominican Republic is very safe.
  • Just take the same precautions that you would anywhere.
  • Not walking down dark streets at night, not flashing large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewellery.
  • The Tourist Police (POLITUR) can provide assistance to tourists.
  • Unpredictable sea conditions could exist especially during the tropical storm season (see the Natural Disasters section of this advice for more details).  Swimmers should keep informed of local water conditions and warning systems and follow instructions accordingly.

 

Click here to see Canadian Government Travel Reports and Warnings on http://www.voyage.gc.ca/.  Travel Reports offer information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues.

Climate

  • The climate of the Dominican Republic is mostly tropical.
  • The annual average temperature is 25 °C (77 °F).
  • Low temperatures of 0 °C (32 °F) are possible in the mountains while high temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) are possible in protected valleys.
  • January and February are the coolest months of the year, while August is the hottest month.
  • Some snowflakes can fall in rare occasions on the top of the Pico Duarte.
  • The wet season along the northern coast lasts from November through January. Elsewhere, the wet season stretches from May through November, with May being the wettest month.
  • The driest part of the country lies in the west.
  • Tropical cyclones strike the country every couple of years, with 65% of the impacts along the southern coast. Hurricanes are most likely between August and October.
  • The last time a category 5 hurricane struck the country was Hurricane David in 1979
  • The main foreign tourist seasons are December to February and July to August and Semana Santa (the week before Easter). Expect higher prices and more crowded beaches at these times – Semana Santa is especially busy.

Places to See

Puerto Plata Beaches

  • The first beach destination developed for tourism in the Dominican Republic
  • It has a long string of affordable beachfront resorts and a reputation as one of the best spots for windsurfing in the world
  • The resort can also serve as a gateway to the rest of the North Coast resorts, including laid-back Cabarete (famous for kite boarding) and Sosua, a budget-friendly beach village with low-cost shopping and dining and good snorkeling

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Punta Cana Beaches

  • Boasting a series of wide white beaches that stretch nearly uninterrupted for 56km (35 miles)
  • It also has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean

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Lago Enriquillo

  • A spectacularly large salt-water lake near the Haitian border
  • Populated by countless flocks of tropical birds (and a healthy population of crocodiles)

 

 

 

Columbus Lighthouse

  • A colossal cross-shaped monument to Christopher Columbus
  • The ‘lighthouse’ (rarely used as such) doubles as a world museum
  • The explorer’s remains are kept here under a grand sarcophagus

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Casa de Campo Resort

  • The Teeth of the Dog has been continually recognized as one of the best Caribbean golf courses.
  • It was named the #34 best course in the world.

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Etiquette

Country Customary Information:
• The cost to enter is a “Visitors Visa” and is $10USD
– Bring exact amount

Communication Etiquette:
• A handshake and direct eye contact with a welcoming smile
– Use appropriate gestures
• Direct communicators
– Will say what they feel
• Social appearance is very important and respected
– Extremely fashion conscious
– Good quality and designer
• Doing favors helps build networks – it is a skill

Business Etiquette:
• Networking is very important
– Knowing the right person is more important that what you known
• First meeting is quite formal
– Patience is important
• Avoid high pressure sales tactics
– Long delay before decisions are made
– They are very skilled negotiators
• They want to know their counterparty before doing business with them
– Small talk to be expected
• Both men and women are expected to dress in business attire
– Men – good quality, dark, conservative suits
– Women – stylish suit or dress
– Jewelry and make up
• Treat business cards with respect

Contributions (4)

  • Jenniferw says...

    When I went to puerto plata I took both Pesos and US, I found that I used the Pesos more then the US. My best advice would be to bring mostly pesos and only bring US for tips. When your buying things in DR everything is priced in pesos, so you pay in US you have a high chance of getting ripped off.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 11th 2012 at 7:23 pm

  • Jessie says...

    Please note that there is a $10 US entrance fee and a $20 US exit fee for leaving the Dominican.

    Posted on Monday, April 16th 2012 at 3:27 pm

  • [email protected] says...

    When I went I used pesos for the markets and US for tipping throughout the resort. Bringing US singles down to the pools was a lot easier then trying to figure out how much a decent tip was in pesos. We left the resort A few times to go to local restaurants, I found most of the time they would ask if you wanted to the bill in US dollars or in pesos if they didn’t ask they were often able to convert it for you. Because of this I found myself using more US when I was going out for meals. However any change you get back will be in pesos, so try to pay in full amounts that include your tips, to avoid getting incorrect change. Ultimately I recommend going with both pesos and US, and make sure you bring smaller denominations in the US for tipping and so the bills can be easily broken or exchanged.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 30th 2012 at 1:22 pm

  • [email protected] says...

    Regarding the $30 entrance and exit fee to Dominican Republic, it is recommended that you check with your booking agent whether your package already included the fees or not. I traveled with Air Transat and my fees were already included in the package I purchased. In Dominican, with everything you buy or tip, you can use the Dominican pesos or the US. Remember to bring lots of $1US for tipping (although not mandatory), but I generally found that I received even more attentive service after tipping. I recommend bringing the US$ to pay for excursions if you do decide to go on any. Although they do accept major credit cards, note that they will charge your card in Dominican pesos (so you will lose on the exchange rate that the credit card company charges you)!

    If you are going to Punta Cana, the resorts are quite secluded from the rest of the city. Therefore, if you do want to take a visit outside of the resort, I recommend you joining a tour (its safer anyway). If you love shopping, I recommend you walking alongside the beach by the resort, there are little shops that are located there right by the beach. These little shops that I found were located between Ocean Blue and Iberostar Resort. At these little shops, you can buy wood sculptures, paintings, clothing, as well as small souvenirs like keychains and magnets. Furthermore, I know that most resorts allow locals to come in about 1-2 times a week to sell you their products (like the ones I listed above). The benefit to buying items from them is that you can BARGAIN! And if bargaining is not something you like to do, you can always buy souvenirs from the resort’s own gift shop where the prices are fixed. It is best to purchase your currency in Canada before you leave, as I found the exchange rate much better here (at least for the USD and Pesos)!!

    Posted on Thursday, November 29th 2012 at 12:55 pm

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