We are on the Hispaniola Island between Cuba and Puerto Rico, the second largest of the Caribbean. Hispaniola is divided into two independent states: Haiti in the west and the Dominican Republic in the east.
Two different realities, Haiti a poverty-stricken, disaster-prone country, a country that had suffered from decades of political, economic, and social setbacks and inequalities, is considered one of the poorest places in the world; from the other side – the Dominican Republic, somtimes wrongly called Santo Domingo from the name of its capital.
A rapidly growing nation,but there is still much to do, characterized by white beaches, azure waters, tropical climate, luxurious resorts, amazing golf courses but also offers music, dance and joy.
The Dominican Republic is not just tourism, the real treasure of the island is its landscape made of hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, outstanding lakes and more: cocoa, coffee, tobacco, sugar cane and fruit crops … so delicious tropical fruit
The Dominican Republic has an area of about 49,000 square kilometers, more than twice the size of Sicily, Piedmont, Lombardy …) five times larger than the island of Puerto Rico and four times larger than Jamaica.
The Dominican Republic offers a rich diversity of landscapes, beaches, mountainous areas, prehistoric caves, deserts, lakes, islands, rivers and numerous waterfalls.
The capital of Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo (the Ciudad Colonial is declared UNESCO’s heritage since 1990), has about 3,000,000 inhabitants, almost a third of the entire national population
Tourist flow in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic, with its 5,352,501 non-resident foreigners arrived from January to November 2016 to the country, recorded a growth + 6.7% respectivley to 2015, this confirms that the tourism sector has become one of the crucial points of the macro economy of the island. Future forecasts predict a steady growth in arrivals to reach the milestone of ten million tourists by 2022, indicated by President Danilo Medina
Official LANGUAGE in DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The official language is Spanish, however, in the tourist areas a large percentage of the population speaks English, Italian, German and French. There are no local dialects on the island, but different and particular expressions are used.
Religion in the Dominican Republic
Over 90% of the population claim Catholisicm as their religion. However, there are other religions represented in the country like Evangelists, Seventh Day Adventists,Baptists and Mormons. Freedom of religion and belief is unrestricted in the Dominican Republic.
Time Zone in Dominican Republic
The time zone difference is five hours behind of Italy, six hours during Daylight saving time in Italy.
Flights to Dominican Republic
At least 12 hours with a stopover, the distance is about 8,000 km from Rome.
Aeroports in Dominican Republic
The country is dotted with nine International aeroports, connected to each other by the flights of the company Air Santo Domingo. About 25 km separate the Las Americas airport from Santo Domingo.It will take 30 minutes to reach the city by taxi (price from 25 and 30 USD). There is no bus service to reach directly Santo Domingo. Pay attention, if you go to Bayahibe and land in Santo Domingo (Las Americas), it will take 1,30 hours by taxi, a higher price (almost 100 USD). The best choice is the arrival at La Romana, 20 minutes or, on the east coast,at the Punta Cana airport, the largest in the country, one hour from Bayahibe,it will cost about 40 USD with shuttle service and 80 USD with private taxi. The other airports are located in Puerto Plata (La Union), Samana (El Catey), El Portillo, Santiago and finally Barahona.
Safety and Security in Dominican Republic
We invite you to remain extremely cautious on the roads! The presence of holes, drivers who often break traffic laws and drive without arrows or rearview mirrors, animals on the roads (hens and dogs), exaggerated road bumps, insufficient signage and absence of road lighting during the night cause frequent and often serious accidents.
For the rest ,take general precautions for any tourist destination. Although the crime rate of the Dominican Republic is among the lowest in the Caribbean, it’s a nation where people who work earn the minimum wage to survive, so it always takes some common sense.
It is recommended to observe safety precautions:
vigilance and circumspection, especially at night;
at night, some neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Sosua and Boca Chica are particularly dangerous;
in the isolated areas do not wear valuables (jewelery, watches, etc.); lock them up with the documents in the hotel’s safes; always carry with you a photocopy of the passport;
use your credit card with caution, as the fraud is widespread
keep the car windows and doors carefully closed. Park in frequented places and preferably in supervised parking lots; do not sit in the parked car
To rob drivers, often thieves pretend to have a car trouble or to have a need (like damage to a vehicle ); In such cases do not get out of the car, but keep driving until you reach a safe place
Avoid going alone or on foot at to the resorts at dusk
Book excursions preferably through reliable travel agency
do not oppose aggression, since the predisposition to resort to violence is increasing;
Be aware that corruption exists in both the public and private sectors. Maximum prudence is a duty for the conclusion of financial affairs (real estate investments and others). In this case it is strongly recommended to contact a local attorney carefully selected.
The purchase and use of drugs are strongly discouraged if you do not want to spend the rest of your life in prison. The authorities are strict about the subject
Be aware on crime in Dominican Republic visit the Farnesina website www.viaggiaresicuri.it
Entry Formalities and Visas in Dominian Republic
Visa is not requiered to enter Dominican Republic for the European citizens, but your passport must be valid at time of entry and beyond the duration of stay. Before you enter Dominican Republic you must fill a special application form, which must be presented to the competent authorities of immigration departement before arrival and prior departure. You can purchase only in US dollars (before passing through the customs area. Make sure you have some small banknotes of local currency, in order not to waste time upon arrival.
Keep the ticket of in this card, as it will be requested upon departure. You will avoid paying another 10 dollars.
For minor passengers, in case they do not travel with both parents, it is advisable to contact with proper consulate or embassy for the necessary documentation for entry into the country. The visa fee is amounts 10 USD. Vaccinations are not required, it is recommended to take precautions to apply sunscreen, intestinal disinfectants and mosquito repellents. Local pharmacies are well supplied.
Currency in Dominican Republic
The currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso(€ 1 = 58 PDO). There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 5 and 10 pesos, the banknotes are 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 pesos. The credit cards of the main circuits (MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted and only in a few cases a fee is applied while paying with them.
The currency exchange can be made in the bank, in exchange offices (also present at the arrival at the airport) or at ATMs. To withdraw money you can use cajeros automaticos, or ATMs (ATMs), remember that the daily withdrawal limit is usually not very high and so a commission could be applied. Also, check with your bank that the ATMs you use are eligible for withdrawals worldwide. It is advisable to take cash in the most isolated areas. The pesos are not converted. The banks are open generally from 9 to 16 from Monday to Friday. The shops open at 8, close for a couple of hours at mid-day, then open again in the afternoon until around 20.
Means of Transport in Dominican Republic
For short distances, it is better to use the bus called guagua (pronounced “uaua”) that connects nearby cities. The Santo Domingo-La Romana route costs less than 20 pesos. Inside the cities, you prefer the motoconchos (moto-taxi) to traditional taxis, much more expensive. And do not even try to treat the price! For long distances, the island has nine airports, but if you move by car you would discover the country better, but at your own risk, considering the disastrous state of the roads and the absence of road signs. Large car rental companies are located in airports and large cities. Renting a car is very expensive (between 60 and 80 euros a day) because vehicle imports are subject to high taxes. But if you travel in groups, this means of transport can be advantageous because petrol is cheap compared to Europe. It is necessary to have more than 25 years, the national driving license and an international credit card. The speed limit is 80 km/h on motorways, 60 km/h around the towns and 40 km / h in the city. Gas stations are frequent and often open until late, but not yet all accept credit cards. Finally, do not forget to plan your route well as distances can be deceptive, and choose the 4 × 4 to move anywhere
Health Care in Dominican Republic
No compulsory vaccination is required to visit the Dominican Republic, however it is advisable to check the validity of your main vaccines. The level of public health centres is certainly not comparable to European standards; in any case, if you need it, it is better to go to private clinics in the main tourist locations. Since the costs are high, it is highly recommended that health insurance cover any medical expenses to be incurred during the trip, as well as repatriation in case of need. It is recommended to drink always bottled water and, at the time of purchase, check that the bottles are tightly closed. Avoid raw vegetables and milk. It is important to have always mosquito repellent and the necessary medicines against the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders. Do not forget to apply high protection sunscreens
ELECTRICITY IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
In the Dominican Republic the voltage is 110 V, with American standards and plug sockets.You may need to use a power plug adapter/voltage converter to use the Italian electrical appliances. Electric blackouts are very frequent, but more often in most hotels and restaurants there are generators called plantas
Taxes and tips in Dominican Republic
In the restaurants and in the hotels the service is included, but it is customary to leave around 10% more, if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TELEPHONE
Telephone coverage is guaranteed with the main operators and with tri-band phones. To call from Italy to Santo Domingo you need to dial the international prefix +1809. To call from Santo Domingo to Italy you need to dial the prefix +1139, the area’s prefix and the number of the subscriber. The cost of local calls is very low, except for calls to mobile phones. The cost of international calls is very high ,especially if you call from hotels or resorts.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC INTERNET
In many restaurants, shops and hotels the use of the wi-fi network is generally available; there are few Internet cafes. If you want the internet even when you are around, the best choice is to buy a SIM from a local operator like Orange or Claro, price around $ 10. You need to make sure your phone will work with foreign SIM cards.
Clothes Guide in Dominican Republic
Summer clothing is advisable, with very comfortable and light clothes, the cap is recommended for protection from the sun, but do not forget to take a pullover or jacket for cooler evenings (or for air conditioning!) Do not forget a light raincoat. Informal clothes everywhere, except in some hotels, restaurants and clubs (for which men need long trousers for dinner).
SHOPPING in Dominican Republic
The craftsmanship in Santo Domingo is characterized by the use of natural materials such as mahogany, metal, coconut, clay and strong colors. Local craft shops are very widespread, where you can find beautiful wooden sculptures, hand-painted T-shirts, coral, furnishings, paintings and primitive paintings that reflect the customs of the Dominicans, recalling the colors and habits of everyday life . Interesting are the typical “Lime” dolls, made in clay, and characterized by showy and colorful dresses and the absence of facial features, the Carnival folk masks, with different meanings in each region, manufactured and painted by hand.
PHOTOGRAPHS IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
There are no specific restrictions for taking pictures or making amateur videos.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CUISINE
The lush vegetation of the island offers really tasty fruit and vegetables. The national dish is called the Bandera: white rice, red beans, meat sauce, all followed by salad and “green frito”, fried bananas. Everywhere you can savor the Sancocho Prieto to the seven meat, a true goodness that has earned national respect. The Locrio Dominicano, a Creole version of Spanish paella, is also special. The unique elements of the Valencia dish were changed due to the lack of some ingredients and the presence of others of the local cuisine, giving life to a dish full of flavors and smells. Other typical dishes are the Pescado con Coco, the fish in a coconut milk sauce, the kid of Azua or Montecristi, the prawns of Puerto Plata. Among the typical dishes: SANCHOCO beans, different types of meat, vegetables and rice; CHICARRONES spit-roasted pork; AROZ WITH LECHE rice, milk, cinnamon and sugar; BANDERAS rice, beans, meat with salad garnish; PLATANO large bananas cut into slices and fried. To taste the delicious “queso”, cheese served with particular potatoes. Known in these Caribbean places is fish and such is its freshness that one has the impression that it melts in the mouth, like butter.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: useful addresses
Embassy of the Dominican Republic
St. Pisanelli, 1, int. 8 – 00196 Rome. Tel .: 06 36004377.
Cadorna Square, 9 – 20123 Milan. Tel .: 02 80509804.
St. A. Cecchi, 2 – 16129 Genoa.
Tel .: 01 0566095 – Fax: 010566095
Ministry of Tourism, Dominican Republic Office
Castello Square 25 – 20121 Milan. Tel .: 028057781.
Dominican Tourism Authority: www.godominicanrepublic.com
EMBASSY OF ITALY IN SANTO DOMINGO
St. Manuel Rodríguez Objio 4, Gazcue – Santo Domingo D.R.
(open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 12 pm, Thursday excluded);
switchboard: (+1) 809 682 0830
Emergency telephone: +1 849 342 4942 call exclusively to report situations of serious and imminent danger or threat to the health and safety of Italian citizens present in the Dominican Republic (on weekdays, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9 am at 21.