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Dominican Republic
Old 04-23-2013, 08:25 PM   #1
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Dominican Republic

Has anyone ever vacationed in the Dominican Republic?

Did you feel safe? Dining experiences? How were the beaches and water? Friendly folks? Anything you can share would be helpful.
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:19 PM   #2
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I went for a couple of weeks in 2011. Spent time in Santa Domingo and Sosua/Puerto Plata. The beaches are gorgeous, and I did feel safe, though it's necessary to have tourist smarts, as always: don't flash cash or valuables around, avoid poorly lit streets, etc.

All kinds of food is available, and I ate very well, though I didn't like the local cuisine at all. What I tried of it, at least.

The locals I dealt with were decent, but I didn't feel they went out of their way to be friendly. Less friendly than what I have experienced in, say, Thailand or Brazil.

I spent a lot of time hanging with the "expat club" in Sosua. Met some really great people (we're still in touch), and a few shady ones.

Based on my limited time there: if you are after sunshine, nice beaches, and maybe a short flight, I'd recommend the D.R. If you're after a cultural experience or something exotic, there are better destinations.
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:35 AM   #3
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I went to all inclusives a couple of times 20 years ago. The beaches were beautiful. Windsurfing was good.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:31 AM   #4
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We just got home from two weeks in the Dominican Republic --one week in Puerto Plata and one week in Sosua. We have travelled in the Caribbean fairly extensively, but had never been to DR. We found a gonga deal on Cheap Caribbean for Lifestyle Tropical (an all inclusive resort) and then we added a week in Sosua so we could explore a little more. The DR people were friendly, but very poor. We enjoyed the DR, but were a little on the disappointed side.. Beaches were definitely nicer in Sosua than at Lifestyle, but not as nice as other islands we have been to. Sosua has a vibrant intl expat community, and also a vibrant night life catered toward the single man. Menus were often written in five languages. Housing/hotels in general was very inexpensive, but food/drinks seemed to be about the same cost as we pay at home (we are frugal and don't live in a high cost area). We did take a look while there at other inexpensive housing/hotel options should we want to come back in the future.

A few examples of housing/hotel prices:
-one Canadian expat found a rental in Sosua for $300/month (not inclusive of utilities). This same gentleman told us he lived in Santiago, DR and prices for everything were about 30% less than Sosua. He did not recommend Punta Cana, and mentioned Las Garenas as being very nice.
- We found a Canadian owned hotel which also did long term rentals inclusive of utilities, cable, wifi, as low as $400/mon (Hotel Coco Sosua)
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:44 PM   #5
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We have been twice to Punta Cana, both times to Club Med. As such, we did not really leave the resort (no need). But the beaches and weather were spectacular.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:01 PM   #6
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Yes. I went to Punta Cana a few times. Always loved it. The beaches are fantastic.
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
Has anyone ever vacationed in the Dominican Republic?

Did you feel safe? Dining experiences? How were the beaches and water? Friendly folks? Anything you can share would be helpful.
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Old 04-27-2013, 05:13 AM   #7
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Based on my limited time there: if you are after sunshine, nice beaches, and maybe a short flight, I'd recommend the D.R. If you're after a cultural experience or something exotic, there are better destinations.
+1

Spent a week snorkeling there in 2006. Got what I expected, which was weather, sea and beach with a reasonable level of tourist comfort. Two things were unexpected. Ever local I tried to speak Spanish with was helpful and encouraging. Quite a difference from Mexico where they usually answerd in English. Second was how forward, bordering on aggressive, the people were - and these were the people who weren't trying to sell me anything. That's not a judgement of their culture, it's a description of the difference between it and the version of white upper middle class Yankee culture I was raised in.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:30 PM   #8
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It is a third world country, so expect lots of litter and poor people (especially but not exclusively illegal migrants from Haiti). You will encounter beggars and street vendors, but almost never are they aggressive. I would not worry about that and would be more concerned with road safety: Dominicans have a very relaxed attitude towards regulations and don't worry themselves about traffic signals, staying in defined lanes, etc. It is not that they are 'worse' drivers than us, they just drive 'differently'. Be especially careful of motorcycles, particularly at night (many do not have lights). Keep your head on a swivel!

There are numerous house burglaries and you will see plenty of security guards, typically armed with short-barrelled shotguns without stocks. This seems to be more of a deterrent than a necessity, and there are not a huge amount of violent crimes (less than in most US cities). But like Onward says, definitely use common sense: don't wear expensive clothing or jewellery, don't go out after dark, don't go wandering around in areas you don't know about, don't carry large amounts of cash on your person.

There is little if any genuine public transit, other than the metro in Santo Domingo. Private buses and 'taxis' (beat-up old Toyota Corollas plying fixed routes for fixed amounts, typically crammed with six or seven people) perform the same function, but are effectively unavailable to you unless you are confident and pretty fluent in Spanish. It would be best to arrange transportation through your hotel.

If you go to an all-inclusive resort, you will have no exposure to any of the above issues. You will see only beautiful beaches, excellent cuisine that is probably better than what you're used to back home, and accommodations that range from good to truly luxurious. Virtually all of the staff will speak fluent or near-fluent English.

There is a lot more to the DR than beaches: hiking and horse riding in the mountains are particularly worthwhile, and the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo is worth seeing (North America's oldest city!). However, an all-inclusive vacation at one of the resorts would be a stress-free introduction.

While there are a few exceptions (like everywhere else in the world), most Dominicans are very friendly and helpful: which in my experience is generally true of the Caribbean. They are curious about strangers, so their manner can seem forward if you're not used to it. Just remember that you don't have to answer questions if you don't want to.

The country has a lot to offer, and I encourage you to give it a try. There are plenty of tourist books available. Another reference that is particularly insightful is Dominican Republic: Culture Smart! (2010), which you can buy via Amazon for less than $10.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:42 PM   #9
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+1
Second was how forward, bordering on aggressive, the people were - and these were the people who weren't trying to sell me anything. That's not a judgement of their culture, it's a description of the difference between it and the version of white upper middle class Yankee culture I was raised in.
Could you say what you mean by forward?

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Old 04-30-2013, 07:38 AM   #10
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'Nosy' might be a better description: Dominicans often question casual acquaintances about subjects that would be considered somewhat personal in Canada or the US. It is not done maliciously.

OTOH, they are more polite than North Americans in the sense that they will typically make eye contact and say "hello" to perfect strangers (Dominicans or foreigners), and the small verbal courtesies (e.g., "please" and "thank you") are more commonly encountered. In Spanish, of course.
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:56 PM   #11
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I spent a couple of weeks there last year with a friend from Costa Rica. We flew into Santo Domingo and later took the bus to Punta Cana. I liked Santo Domingo OK, we stayed at the InterContinental on the Malecon which was a short walk from the old Colonial town and walked around night and day in this area. The most danger we were in was from the traffic! There is a fairly good public transportation system in place but you should probably speak some Spanish if trying to use it, it is NOT geared towards tourists. The have a nice new subway system, we rode it getting off in random stops and walked around. In a few of them I was the ONLY white face on the streets but beyond a few curious glances had no issues. We sat down and talked with many of the locals and it was very interesting to hear the way they felt about their neighbors the Haitians, LOL, think of the way you hear some folks here in the USA speak of our poorer neighbors to the south....

Yes, like many similar countries they think nothing at all of asking how much your house, car or sunglasses costs, it is not a rude question in their culture, they are just curious.

The bus we took from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana was quite luxurious, and was an interesting ride, got to see lots of the country along the way. Make no mistake, DR is a POOR country!

Punta Cana was fine if you like all-inclusives I suppose, but there are better beaches elsewhere, IMHO. Our hotel, which billed itself a 5 star, was beautiful but far far far from a 5 star in amenities & service!! We were paying over $300/night and could not get a room where the A/C worked. We moved to 3 different rooms in 4 nights and I finally slept out by the pool in a lounge chair getting eat up by mosquitos the last night to get away from the oppressive heat in the room. Suffice it to say we ended up leaving early.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:54 PM   #12
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Yes, like many similar countries they think nothing at all of asking how much your house, car or sunglasses costs, it is not a rude question in their culture, they are just curious.
It is interesting to me that in the US, where we are almost all completely obsessed with money and status, it is a very bad breach of manners to ask these same questions.

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