Category Archives: Helpful Travel Hints

Helps – Going Out & Drinking

Helps – Going Out & Drinking

When visiting the Dominican Republic everyone must go out and walk around and take in the scenery and culture of this island country. Make sure to have some liquid refreshments with the locals and enjoy yourself. Just make sure that you are aware of your surroundings while you enjoy.

Going out in the Day and Night

*Dominican Time. Dominicans, in general, do not view time like most people, which is typical in most tropical climates. No one moves fast unless it is in a motor vehicle. When a Dominican tells me they will be there at a certain time I always ask if that is Dominican time or North American time. Or course I say this with a laugh and receive a good laugh in return. But it is very true. When told that someone will meet you in 1 hour it very well could mean 1 hour. But most likely it means 2-3 hours, tomorrow, or maybe never. Ahora (now), Ahorita (later), have no real meaning here in the Caribbean.

Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, at night
Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, at night

*Walking at night Walking around at night, especially on the Malecon in Santo Domingo and other parts of the country is fun. The view of the Caribbean waves hitting the coral cliffs can be breathtaking. Please be aware of your surroundings. You could be walking in front of a grand hotel and the next lot or building could be an abandoned where there are no lights.

The Malecon of Santo Domingo along the Caribbean Sea
The Malecon of Santo Domingo along the Caribbean Sea

If you walk along the Malecon stay where it is well lit and where there are people. If you want to travel to different places along the road and feel uncomfortable doing this there are always taxis or if you’d feel more comfortable, the hotels can get you a taxi to move from place to place. Bad things can happen, as with any place, here or in any country. Just remember, if you wouldn’t walk in that place in your hometown don’t walk in that place here.

*Guia/ Tour Guides Tour guides can be helpful and informative. If you want to know about the history in Colonial Zone or feel better walking with a local who knows the ropes a paid guide would be the way to go.

Guides can be helpful in taking you to the sights you want to see. They can also be expensive. Always discuss the price for their services in the beginning so you can decide if it is worth it for their services. Many will say it costs nothing for them to guide you but they WILL want a tip. Generally, a guide will try to rush you make you move at a less than leisurely pace. This way they can get you to a gift shop or finish with your tour so they can help another tourist.

Visiting a gift shop with a guide can be costly. The guide will receive a little kick back from any gift shop they take you to. Your bargaining leverage will not as good in these shops when you have a guide since the shops have to pay a percentage (usually 20% of what you spend) to the guide.

Guides can be helpful in keeping bothersome beggars away. They can protect you from the bad guys also. After they take you on your tour, especially if you tip well, they will be your friend for life.

Some of the local street dogs spot a tourist or friend
Some of the local street dogs spot a tourist or friend

*Street dogs are everywhere. Most of these dogs are starved both for food and for love. You can feed them if you want but you take the chance of having them follow you on your entire vacation or at least while you continue your walk around town. They might tell their friend dogs about your friendliness (dog talk). You could end up with an entourage of furry friends following you wherever you go. 10 dogs following behind a group of tourists, I have seen it and it is quite funny! Dogs know who the tourists and dog-friendly people are. Really, some of the dogs are very nice and many of the neighbors take care of them and feed them. Most are very friendly and sweet and are looking for a little attention. (I adopted 2 street dogs and have helped many to find their forever homes. Read The Dominican Dog Blog to meet my dogs and some of our special local street dogs.)

Appropriate clothing for some museums and tourist places in important. Wearing shorts, miniskirts, and halter-tops in churches is not permitted. They will not permit you to enter if you are not dressed appropriately. If you plan on touring it is best to either wear pants, crop pants, or a skirt for the ladies. Men should wear a collared shirt (not sleeveless) or t-shirt. *note – many places that do not permit inappropriate dress now provide a wrap for people to use as a cover-up.

In the past Dominicans did not wear short pants in the streets except for maybe on the weekends in their own neighborhoods. They have lightened up slightly with this and you will see shorts and really short shorts but NEVER beachwear in the city streets. It is a joke here that when one wears shorts they automatically look like a tourist.

Pick pockets and thieves are watching. Don’t carry a wallet in a back pocket. Anyplace in the entire world, one should never make it easy for a pick-pocket to grab your wallet or purse. If it is possible don’t carry a purse or wallet. Just keep money in a pocket. Maybe a few different pockets in case you do get pickpocketed or robbed you will not lose everything. Spread your money around. Put a few bills in a shoe, bra, money belt, just in case.

Jewelry. When going out do not wear good jewelry. In fact, just do not wear jewelry at all. Maybe a small pair of inexpensive earrings and a ring or 2 if you really need to. But really, why make for more problems. If you do get robbed or lose something it could ruin your entire vacation. So why not just leave all the good stuff locked up in the hotel. Better yet, do not bring that stuff when you travel, this way you won’t have to worry.

Purses and Backpacks. When walking while carrying a purse or backpack try and always carry it on the side away from the road. Keeping it on the shoulder that is against a building or wall. This will make it a little more difficult for a passing motorbike rider to grab. This is something I have learned (from experience) and use no matter what country I am in.

Be aware when using public transportation. Watch for people bumping into you, standing in line close or crowding into a public car. All these places and instances are perfect for a thief. More information about Public Transportation in DR.

Limpia Bota/ Shoe Shine Boys are everywhere. I suggest that you take the time to get a shoeshine. These shoe shine people do work hard and a shine will never hurt. Usually, a shine costs around $10 to $20 pesos (and a little tip if you are pleased with the shine). One important thing. – DO NOT GIVE NON-PESO COINS TO THE STREET PEOPLE or when paying for anything. It is useless to them because no place will exchange pocket change for pesos. No exchange house will take coins. If you want to give non-Dominican pesos to someone, especially the people in the streets make sure it is the paper type.

Go out late. When going out at night to a bar to dance, drink, or people watch. Remember, Dominicans usually go out late at night after it has cooled off. This means that bars are not busy until late. Some places are empty before midnight, especially on the weekends. Take a nap and wait to go out unless you want to be the only person in the place.

Drinking – Imbibing

Hide the smell. Remember, in true Dominican fashion, if you have a drink and need to go somewhere where you don’t want the alcohol smell lingering, make sure to (as I call it “suck a Euk”). Get a Hall’s (eucalyptus) candy, called mentoehol here, at the Colmado to get rid of the smell. It is the Dominican way.

STAY HYDRATED. Drinking mass quantities of alcohol without sufficient water intake can be bad, especially in such a hot climate. Alcohol does not hydrate your body as water does.

A nice cold NORMAL Presidente beer at the beach
A nice cold NORMAL Presidente beer at the beach

Presidente Beer. Presidente is the favorite beer in DR. When you order make sure to specify LÑight or Regular. I always laugh. The bottle does not say “Regular”. It is either a beer or a light. Not here. You need to specify Regular or Light or usually you will get a light beer.

You should try a Presidente con Clamato (beer with clamato juice) at least once. You can see this strange mix being drunk by many Dominicans in the Colmados or while playing dominoes. Clamato is a tomato type juice with a clam taste. The ratio is in general 3 to 5 parts beer to 1 part clamato. Pour the beer into the plastic glass then add the clamato, give it a little swirl to mix and enjoy. If you are a bottle drinker take a drink to give you room in your bottle then add the clamato directly into the bottle. It takes some of the bite out of the beer. It is said that if you drink clamato with your beer you will not get drunk…don’t believe it!

For the dead. When opening a bottle of alcohol remember to pour a few drops onto the ground or floor. While doing this you must say “Por los muertos” / “For the dead”. It is a Dominican tradition to give the dead a little drink before they start enjoying themselves.

Some Brugal rum bottles are covered with a strong yellow netting, which if opened haphazardly could cause undue stress when trying to enjoy your beverage. Some bottles are not entirely covered with the netting making it easier to gain access to the smooth liquid waiting to be drunken inside the bottle. Just untie from the bottom and remove the net.

Mixing some drinks nice and strong
Mixing some drinks nice and strong

Remember, the beer is strong and it can seem stronger in the hot climate. Usually, the drinks are mixed strong in the bars. If you are going to be drinking all day (or night) try what I do. If you like beer I suggest starting with a nice cold one. Then, if you go out, switch to a mixed drink. For me rum is best. Get a bottle so you can mix it yourself if possible. In a bar is called “un servicio” which is a bottle of your choice, a mixer and a bucket of ice. This way you are able to mix your own drinks and it is also more economical. When you mix your drink mix it weak. If you are ordering by the drink tell them to mix it “suave” which means soft or not strong. This way you can last the night without any ill effects.

The dictionary of the Dominicana Gringa (written and published in my mind only) states definition – “ALCOHOL ABUSE = when you spill a glass, drop a bottle, or in any way waste your alcoholic beverage. This includes the act of spewing, disgorging, expelling, emitting or projecting. To put it bluntly throwing-up or vomiting”. LOL!

Helps – At The Beach

At The Beach / Playa

Here are a few helpful hints that might be useful when you are in Dominican Republic visiting our many beautiful and inviting beaches. What you should watch out for so you can relax and enjoy your visit.

When visiting the beaches of Dominican Republic, especially the public beaches, it is best to be prepared. There are vendors and salespeople selling their wares and also sex. There are all ages of people looking for a handout including the dogs and cats. Enjoy yourself but always be alert.

The beautiful beach at Playa Dominicus, Dominican Republic.
The beautiful beach at Playa Dominicus, Dominican Republic.

*Be prepared to be bothered by vendors. Hair braiders. Massage girls. People selling sunglasses and jewelry. Food (do try the seafood that passes by if you like it. The clams are yummy!) vendors. You will be hounded. They might not bother you much if you just ignore them. Don’t make eye contact if you don’t want to buy anything! Sometimes this helps. Don’t let it ruin your stay. Just try and enjoy it as another part of Dominican flavor.

*Buying your drink in the Colmados (the little corner store where the locals congregate) or the grocery store is the cheapest way to go. Buy a bottle of rum and just get the ice and mixers from the “chair guy” if you are looking to save a buck. Beer is good to purchase at the Colmados also but it gets warm so fast. For me, it is just better to spend the extra and get it from wherever you sit to make sure it is good and cold (bien fria).

Beach chairs for rent at Playa Boca Chica
Beach chairs for rent at Playa Boca Chica

*If you do sit in a bar or outside establishment keep track of how many drinks you have (I keep a label collection – rip a piece of the label for each beer you have and keep them for a liquid count).

*It is fun to try different foods from the vendors on the beaches. The clams and oysters are great (make sure they are fresh). Get a coconut (coco) and drink it down. Buy a little red coconut candy, called Bolitas de Coco, from the kids selling them. Make sure to ask the price ahead and make them stick to that price. Many will tell you one price before you buy then when you have eaten they say another price. If it is possible to write down the price on a paper or in the sand and make sure they see you doing it.

*P.P.B. (pay per butt). Make sure, before you sit, you find out how much it will cost you. Most places charge to sit in their chairs. Most will not charge if you eat and drink in their establishment. Just ask before sitting. Ask once and then ask a second time. The men watching each place will fight for your “seat”. Do not let them pressure you. Look around and decide where is best for you. There is no refund once your butt hits that chair.

*Do be careful of the mosquitoes. They have been known cases to carry dengue, chikungunya and malaria. Where there is a breeze, ie. on the beaches or near the water, this is usually not a problem. But inland be cautious. The no seeums (more about no seeums) are treacherous in the country areas and can leave nasty red blotches on the skin that last and itch for weeks. Use a strong DEET bug spray if you encounter these pests.

*The Dominican sun is very HOT. Use sunscreen and put it on the body often, after swimming and when sweating, let me repeat..often. Most Dominicans do not sit in the sun. They use umbrellas or find a shady spot. This is a very good idea. You do not want to ruin your vacation with a nasty sunburn.

*Keep hydrated. Drinking beer and rum on the beach is a given and is part of the vacation – beach experience. Just make sure that you also drink sufficient amounts of water. Again drink water, water and more WATER.

Sex and Sex Workers Are Plentyful

When meeting people of the opposite sex, especially on the beach or in tourist areas, many people are not just being friendly. There are prostitutes of all ages looking to make some cash. Prostitution of both sexes is illegal in Dominican Republic.

*DO NOT TAKE STRANGERS TO YOUR HOTEL. Use a pay-by hour hotel or cabaña if you really want to use their services.
Men, the women are beautiful and know their business. Use caution. Remember no matter how much they love you or how good they are at pleasing and sweet talk they are still prostitutes.
Women these men, the Dominican version of a gigolo, are called Sanky Pankys and they can be very charming.

It is easy to fall in love with these people. They look great, dance even better and tell you just what you want to hear. Be cautious. If you decide to be with these pay for pleasure people do not fall in love. Remember you must pay for their services even if they take you home to meet their families. Many times they will tell you that their mother is very sick and they need money for medicine or some other con. All I can say is enjoy if you choose this type of service and be very cautious. USE PROTECTION, both of your heart, money and use condoms. Also, check ID’s to make sure that they are not underage as this could get you into some big trouble. Remember prostitution in the Dominican Republic is not legal even though it is quite open and easy to find.

Vendors at the public beach in Bayahibe
Vendors at the public beach in Bayahibe

Good To Know

A few good bits of information that is good to know.

*The climate of this Caribbean island does not change much throughout the year. The average temperature is 76°F to 88°F. The winter has less humidity. The summer the humidity is very high. You will notice Dominicans will wear jackets and even mittens when the temperature hits the low 70’s. (go to the weather pages for more information). The mountains and the central part of the island can get cold. They have been known to get some heavy frost. Water sitting outside will freeze.

*80% of the worlds Humpback Whale population returns to the waters of D.R each year to mate and give birth every year.

*National Protected Areas. 21% of the Dominican Republic is protected. There are 30 National Parks.

*Highest and Lowest. The Dominican Republic has the highest mountain in the Caribbean – Pico Duarte 3087 meters (10,128 feet) and the lowest point in the Caribbean – Lake Enriquillo 40 meters (144 ft) below sea level.

Helps – Mosquitoes

Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Chikungunya, dengue, malaria and zika are all mosquito-borne illnesses that are present in the Dominican Republic. These illnesses are nasty and can also be very painful and debilitating. Use DEET sprays so you do not ruin your fun vacation time with a few days (or more) of sickness.



is a disease carried and transmitted by a mosquito and is found mainly in tropical and subtropical areas. These mosquitoes (Aedes) are more day biters (sunrise and sunset) than night biters (which most people expect them to bite at night). When they bite they leave behind a flu-like viral disease. After bitten the symptoms can come on very rapidly with a high fever, bad headache, behind the eye pain along with muscle and joint aches (this is why it is also known as “breakbone fever”). There can also be a rash (usually appearing 3 to 4 days after the fever happens). Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are common. A rash usually appears 3 to 4 days after the start of the fever.



Chikungunya is another type of viral disease spread by the bite of mosquitoes. The same day-biting mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus can transmit chikungunya. There is no direct person-to-person transmission. Once bitten it could take a few days or even a week to notice the symptoms such as fever and joint pains, usually in the hands, wrists, ankles and feet. You could have a headache, rash and leukopenia. On rare occasions, there are stronger symptoms such as gastrointestinal complaints, eye, neurological and heart problems.

Once infected the symptoms are usually mild and can even go unrecognized or be misdiagnosed as dengue. Recovery usually happens after a few days but the pain can linger for longer, sometimes pain has been known to stay around for months or longer.

*Now that you know what to look for if bitten, they (and you know who THEY are??) say the nasty bite only happens to about 100 tourists a year in the Dominican Republic. The resorts usually spray for mosquitoes often so there are not many mosquitos. But they can sneak in so it is best to stay cautious. It is best to use some DEET type of bug spray, the stronger the spray the better. A fan can help to keep mosquitoes away as their lightweight bodies can’t fly into the wind. They are more prevalent in areas where there is standing water, as with all mosquitoes, no matter what their country of origin, race or creed (LOL!).

*BE CAUTIOUS but don’t let these nasty bloodsuckers ruin what can be a great time in the Dominican Republic. Take precautions, spray yourself often with a good bug spray and enjoy the sun and fun.

More information on Dengue and Chikungunya at Wikipedia.