Climate

Thanks to its Caribbean location, the Dominican Republic is a sunny year-round destination. From April to October, temperatures hover at 32°C (90°F) at the peak of the day, and rainstorms are more frequent but short lasting.

Language

The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. And like many of its Latin counterparts, Dominicans have their own accent, colloquialisms, and idioms. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas. Hotel staff across multiple regions are also well versed in multiple languages, including Italian, French, German, and Russian, among others.

Money

The local currency is the Dominican peso (RD$). The daily rate fluctuates depending on the day and the location of exchange.

As a general guideline

RD

USA

RD$ 100
=
US$ 2
RD$ 500
=
US$ 10
RD$ 1,000
=
US$ 20

United States dollars and Euros can be readily exchanged in banks, or in authorized exchange offices around the country. Some exchange offices also accept the following currencies: Canadian dollar, Swiss franc, Danish krone, British pound, Japanese yen, Scottish pound, Swedish krona, and Norwegian krone.

Electricity

Electricity in the Dominican Republic operates at 110 volts. This means that visitors coming from the United States and Canada will not need adapters and can plug in directly into electric outlets. Travelers coming from Europe or other regions operating at 220 volts, however, will need to bring adapters and converters. While the larger resorts keep a few handy at the front desk, it is best to bring your own to avoid disappointment.

Major resorts have generators to cope with any street power outages. If staying outside of resort areas, in a small hotel, or in the countryside, keep in mind that there can be frequent power irregularities and surges. This means you should protect your electronic appliances, unless they have a built-in surge protector.

Health & Safety

Water

Tap water is not safe to drink from the tap, and do not ingest it from the shower. Purchase bottled water at all times for drinking. Hotels often provide a couple of free bottles a day for each room or have purified bottled water with dispenser available for guest use. Local colmados or corner stores, and supermarkets also sell plenty of water.

Sun Protection

The sun is very strong in the Caribbean, and hits even on cloudy days. Whether on the beach, on a boat trip, or walking around a city, be sure to wear sunblock at all times. Bringing your own preferred brand is best. Sunscreen is sold here, but you may or may not find the kind you prefer, and it will be costlier in the resorts and shops.

When hiking, at the beach at sunset, or staying in the countryside, wear mosquito repellent to prevent mosquito bites. Wearing long sleeve cotton tops or pants is recommended when hiking.

Personal Safety

Common sense rules while traveling across the DR, as with any destination.

  • Store your passport and valuables in the hotel safe. Keep a form of smaller ID or a copy of your passport on your person.
  • Carry local currency in cash in limited portions–take only what you need for the day. If you have a credit card, take it with you in case of emergency.
  • At night, avoid walking alone in isolated areas. Go out in groups, and use a designated taxi–recommended by your hotel–to arrange for rides. You should also avoid driving at night, even on the main highways–plan your road trips for the daytime.
  • If renting a vehicle, do not leave any valuables in the car within plain sight–even if you see a security guard on site.
  • Stick to frequented, well-lit areas.
  • Learn a few words and phrases in Spanish, particularly to ask key directional questions.

Medical Care & Emergencies

Tourist zones and cities are equipped for modern medical care, with private hospitals, clinics, and qualified personnel for all age patients.

For emergencies, including an ambulance, firefighters, and police, dial 911. You can also first contact the CESTUR office in your area–the Specialized Tourist Security Corp, trained and assigned specifically to assist visitors. If you are the victim of a crime, CESTUR officers will help file a report and seek any other assistance as needed.

Communications

Like its infrastructure, the DR’s telecommunications services are among the most wide-ranging and advanced in the Caribbean, from local cellular phone service to Internet access options. The two largest and most ubiquitous communications providers in the country are Claro and Orange.

Smartphones & SIM Cards

The most affordable way to stay in touch and make calls while in the DR, especially on an extended trip, is to have your own phone number. Head to either a Claro or Altice location–they are sometimes located within a shopping malls or supermarkets–and purchase a new SIM card for less than US$5. This usually includes about ten minutes of free local calls. You must bring:

  • An unlocked cell or smartphone; and
  • A valid passport, legally required to obtain a SIM card.

Once you have a working phone and number, you will be able to top up your phone credit in any amount you choose around the country. Phone credits are also available through the Banca booths located all over town and city centers, which also sell lottery tickets. You simply give them your number and indicate the amount you’d like to add.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access is ubiquitous in the DR. It is available inside cafés, restaurants, large bus stations, and hotel lobbies. Don’t expect high speed or consistency at all times, but generally speaking it suffices to check email and do basic tasks.

If you need faster service and access anywhere in the country, including in the countryside, consider purchasing a mobile Internet device or dispositivo móvil for about US$55-60 from a phone company. You will need your passport for this purchase. You can then top up the device as needed per weekly package or per GB.