Travel Fundamentals for the Dominican Republic

Travelers should make efforts to educate themselves about their destination

Photo credit: © The Ministry of Tourism of The Dominican Republic

Travelers will be well served by educating themselves about the basic aspects of living and traveling in the Dominican Republic, from learning about local customs, regions and etiquette, to learning about health, postal, and diplomatic services.


Travelers in a foreign country should always make every attempt to conform to local customs while also not being intrusive or over stepping bounds as an outsider. This can be the one of the greatest forms of etiquette. There are other small things that can be done in public while interacting with native citizens that will be a show of etiquette on the part of visitors.

Photography in the Dominican Republic, like in much of the Caribbean region is permitted usually after a request and a gift. Professional and amateur photographers as well as simple tourists should always kindly ask permission to take a photograph of a person or place. A small monetary sum is also usually expected. There are many compelling sights and interesting people in the Dominican Republic to photograph, but travelers should take pictures with respect.

Travelers should also make efforts to speak the native language of Spanish as well as follow customs of social etiquette. Picking up a Spanish phrase book can go a long way for this. Usted should always be used when addressing someone who holds a position of respect or who you are not familiar with. Terms of respect such as Señor, Señora, Don and Doña should also always be used. Men should offer handshakes and smiles to other men but should go on a woman's cue when meeting. Pleasantries such as buenos dias (good morning) and buenas noches (good evening) are also appreciated in social and business interactions.

As with much of the Caribbean, beachware, shorts, and flip flops are not considered appropriate attire in cities and restaurants, and visitors should always have a nice set of clothing for going to cities. Besides these pieces of advice, just use common sense. If something is considered rude or disrespectful where you are from, there is a decent chance it could be considered the same in the place you visit.


Region Description
Santo Domingo Santo Domingo, located on the southern coast of the island, is both the old and new capital of the Dominican Republic. The Spanish made the city their first New World capital and base of operations various members of the Columbus family spent time there. Santo Domingo, with it's long history, is still the current capital of the Dominican Republic and the cosmopolitan center of the country. This is the most accessible port area and also a good center for shopping, art, and recreation. Visitors will certainly want to take in the historic Colonial Zone as well as the museums and boardwalk. Beaches and resorts at Boca Chica are not far away.
Amber or Silver Coast The Amber Coast makes up a large part of the north coast of the Dominican Republic and includes the locations of Luperon, Sosua, Puerto Plata, and Cabarete. These locations are home to some of the most compelling tourist destinations in the country, with beautiful beaches and a lively social scene.
The Southeast and Punta Cana While this region of the country lacks sites and attractions of other regions, it's rural nature is interrupted by major resort areas, namely Punta Cana and La Romana / Casa de Campo.
Barahona and the Southwest
The southwest area of the country is the poorest and most underdeveloped area of the country with large areas of unspoiled beaches and forests to be explored.
Cibao and Santiago Heading north from Santo Domingo to Santiago, visitors will take the heavily used highway and enter the Cibao Valley. Fertile land and mountain ranges can be explored from the city of Santiago, a center for both industry and education.

The Dominican Republic is larger than most Caribbean islands, and as a result there is more to explore on your vacation. Take advantage of good social etiquette as well as other traveler basics to ensure that you make your way comfortably throughout the country.


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