If you’re travelling to the Dominican Republic, I’ve pulled together a few essential facts that you may find helpful to read before you go. My most recent trip to the Dominican was to Puerto Plata in March 2018, and these tips hold true from previous trips to Punta Cana and La Romana.
Language: Spanish is the Dominican Republic’s national language. That said, English is commonly spoken at a number of the resorts but don’t count on it once you leave the confines of your resort. As always, a few words of the local language with a friendly tone and a smile can go a long way.
Currency: The Dominican Peso is the official currency; the symbol is RD$. However, some resorts will have everything priced in US dollars. Stores in the tourist areas seem to take either pesos or US dollars (US$). If you spend US$, you may get your change in RD$. Other currencies, including the Canadian dollar, are not accepted.
I suggest that you get at least a small number of pesos to use for tipping and small purchases. Coins are available in 1, 5, 10 and 25 pesos. Bills start at RD$20 and go to RD$1000. My recommendation is that you make the exchange to RD$ and/or US$ at home – why waste your precious vacation time going to a bank or currency exchange place.
Credit Cards: Expect to have to produce your passport if you wish to pay by credit card.
Drinking Water: Drink bottled water or other purified water. Your hotel will likely provide purified water in your room and at the bars. Do not drink the tap water. Our hotel clearly marked the bathroom taps as “non-pottable”. If you’re buying water in a store, you will likely find the price of the local brands is considerably less expensive than the North American brands.
Electricity: The Dominican Republic uses the same 100-120V/60Hz outlets as other North America countries. And, yes, the Dominican and other Caribbean countries are considered part of North America.
Weights & Measures: Generally the metric system is used. However, gas is measured in US gallons.
Taxes & Tips: The word “impuesto” or “ITBIS” showing on your bill means an 18% tax has been added. A service fee of 10% may also show on your bill at restaurants. You’re, of course, free to add an additional tip if the wait staff are deserving.
Taxis: Grabbing a taxi in a non-tourist area will be cheaper than getting one at your hotel. However, there is a greater chance of getting a driver who speaks some English at your hotel. Be sure to bargain with him. Also, be sure to confirm the price of your trip before you get into the taxi.