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Practical information Dominican Republic

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Dominican Republic : Travel Information before you go!

Area

48730 sq. km

Flights

Direct flights take about 7 hours.

Population

9,872,000

Airports

The country has nine airports linked by Air Santo Domingo. Las Americas airport is roughly 15 miles away from Santo Domingo. Allow 30 minutes to get to town by taxi (from 12-16). There is no direct bus service to Santo Domingo. Beware, if your holiday is in Punta Cana and you land in Santo Domingo, it will take you an extra 4 hours by coach. On top of the high fare (almost 50), it is a long journey after a long flight. Choose to land in La Romana, an hour away. On the east coast, Punta Cana airport is the country's largest airport and has a shuttle service to the 40 miles of beaches of the region. The others are located in Puerto Plata (La Union), Samana (El Catey), El Portillo, La Romana, Santiago and Barahona.

Security

Credit card cloning and fraud are common, so it is generally safer to use cash.

Languages

Spanish is the official language. In tourist zones, Italian, French, English and German are spoken too.

Required travel documents for

British citizens need a national identity card or a passport valid for at least three months after the return date and a tourism card for stays of less than 90 days are requested. This tourism card (given out by airline companies, by the Dominican consulate or more generally at the airport upon arrival) costs $10. Note that the visa can only be bought in US dollars so make sure that you have US dollars already on you to avoid queuing at the currency exchange bureau just next door.

Religion

90 % of the population are Roman Catholics. The other religions represented in the country are Evangelists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists and Mormons.

Currency

The currency is the Dominican Republic Peso (DOP), which is split into 100 centavos. Many cash machines can be found near banks and in the reception areas of large hotels. Banks are open during the week from 9:00am to 3:00pm, including on Saturday. Most international credit cards are accepted (American Express, Visa, Eurocard, etc.) in the main hotels as well as in medium-sized and major cities. It is better to have cash on you in remote areas.

Local transportation

For short distances, it is best to catch a bus called guagua (pronounced "wah wah") linking towns that are close by. The Santo Domingo-La Romana trip costs under 20 pesos. In town, opt for the motoconchos (motorcycle-taxis) to traditional taxis, which are much more expensive. Don't hesitate to haggle! For long distances, the island has nine airports, but driving gives the opportunity to get a better insight into the country.

For longer journeys, for example between Samana town and Santo Domingo, you can hop on a coach run by Bahia Tours. Comfortable and reasonably priced for foreign travellers, this is a great way of getting around the country without having to shell out for a car or for a taxi.

Major car rental companies can be found at the airports and in some cities - make sure you book early though, as rental firms tend to be fairly small with a limited number of vehicles to rent. Renting a car is very expensive (between 45 and 60 a day) because vehicle imports are subject to high taxes. You must be over 25 years of age, have a national driver's licence and an international credit card. The speed is limited to 50mph on motorways, 35mph in built up areas around cities and 25mph in city centre. As for petrol stations, there are many of them and they remain open until late, not all of them however take credit cards. Finally, remember to plan your itinerary properly because distances can be deceptive, and opt for a 4x4 to be able to drive everywhere, including along the many dirt tracks that you will still find throughout the country.

Health

Cholera is present in the country and therefore it is advisable to see your GP at least nine weeks before departure to check whether you need vaccinations. Always drink bottled water and when you buy one, check that the bottles have not been previously opened.

Electricity

110 V US standard, electric plugs are flat. Bring an adapter and a voltage converter. Power cuts are very frequent, but more and more hotels and restaurants have power generators called plantas.

Tourist numbers

In 2011, a total of 170,065 British nationals visited the Dominican Republic.

Taxes and tips

In restaurants and in hotels, service is included, but it is custom to leave a tip of 10% if you are happy with the service.

Telephone

To call the Dominican Republic from the UK: 00 (international) + 1809 (Dominican Republic code) + phone number.
To call the UK from the Dominican Republic:
011 (international) + 44 (UK code) + phone number excluding the initial 0.

Dominican Republic : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Embassy of the Dominican Republic
139 Inverness Terrace
London
W2 6JF
Tel: 020 77276285
www.dominicanrepublic.com

At the destination

British Embassy
Ave 27 de Febrero No 233
Edificio Corominas Pepin
Santo Domingo
Tel: (001) (809) 472 7905/(1 809) 687 52 26

Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
Avenida Mexico
esa 30 de Marzo
Santo Domingo
Tel: (1 809) 221 46 60