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1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

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Orlando, Florida
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1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation


We are a family of 4 leaving in Florida: 2 adults and 2 kids aged 11 and 13.

We are planning a trip for the first time into the DR and planning on staying in Santo Domingo.

Our trip will be about a 13-day trip in December.

We want to visit main attractions and are more into nature, culture, sightseeing, mountain environments, historical places and a little bit of the beach. We live on the beach in Florida. So main purpose of our trip is not sunbathing or beach-going, but rather to explore history, customs, culture, main sites and attractions, trips to the mountains, nature...etc.

With that in mind, we'd like to visit, while in Santo Domingo and this being our central point in SD, the following (perhaps day trips):

- Jarabacoa & Constanza areas

- La Romana area

- Samana area

Questions here:

1) Do you suggest we rent a vehicle while in Santo Domingo to visit the above areas or do we get Caribe Tour for the day trips or stays above?

2) We also want to take a tour/excursion to Cap Haitien to visit La Citatel, Palais Sans-Souci and other historical place in Cap Haitian.We can spend 1 night in Cap Haitien if need be at Habitation Jouissant or Hotel Mont Joli.

What is the best organized tour from Santo Domingo to Cap Haitien or transportation from Santo Domingo to Cap Haitien?

3) In Cap Haitien, what is a reliable an affordable tour guide to take us around to visit the historical places therewhen in Cap haitien?

4) Can you help us with an itinerary that will be outlined from December 20 - January 1 with some must-sees and must-dos when in the DR?

Many thanks for all your help.

London, United...
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1. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

Bear in mind that at this time of year many Dominicans like to get home and have a holiday as well. Buses such as Caribe Tours will be well booked + virtually nothing happens on Christmas day so plan to be somewhere nice then,

There was a Caribe Bus to Cap Haitien though as far as I know it no longer runs. Getting there independently could be difficult especially over Christmas and hire cars from the DR would not be permitted to cross.

Hire cars - the probelm will be driving round Santo Domingo which can be crazy if you are not use to local driving rules. Once out of the big cities it is relatively better. At Christmas having your own vehicle makes some sense but you also have the general probelm of drunk and speeding drivers.

The main site of interest is round the Zona Colonial. There is a Caribe Tour bus to Jarabacoa and from there you could consider climbing Pico Duarte - v cold at night as it goes up to 3000m

Another interesting area is the SW - bus to Barahona then south to the coast and Bahia de las Agulias - best beach in the country - only accessible by boat and no AIs. Again at Christmas hotels in this area may be booked up early.

Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

There used to be one from Santiago that was discontinued,

However, I understand there is a bus from Santo Domingo to Cap Haitien that leaves at 9am.

Is it still the case?

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3. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

Don't belive there is but there is a Caribe Bus to P-au-Prince which takes about 8 hours.

Others may post - alternatively it would be worthwhile posting these questions on the forums of DR1.com which is used by far more expats and Dominicans than this site.

Edited: 01 September 2013, 14:11
Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

For the sake of time, if we were to drop off either Samana or Jaracaboa, which one would it be, as we're planning to go to Cap Haitien, Santo Domingo and La Romana areas?

B- Cheapest way to get to La Romana from Santo Domingo and back , as we will be traveling the 4 of us ( 2 adults and 2 kids)?

Let us know and many thanks.

Pendleton, Oregon
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5. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

Your going to take two children and plan on renting a car... you sure you know what your getting yourself into...

haha driving in the DR.

I went to the DR when i was in college with one friend. We were under 25 and rented a car from a very shady place called moderca rental car.

After leaving with the car and fueling up i realized just how crazy this trip would be. I knew nothing about the country before getting there but studied spanish intensely until leaving(unfortunately dominican spanish is said to be one of the most difficult to understand by spanish speakers because of all the contractions and slang that makes words nearly impossible to understand)

Driving there is very much like playing a video game. At first I was scared to death, wanted to get a plane ticket out of the country. But I held in and within 2 weeks i was driving like a Dominican. by the third week i didnt want to leave cause the driving is so engaging and fun and lacks any sort of monotony that we have here in the states.

The dominican republic made me an amazing driver. It turned me from a law abiding nearly unresponsive sign following defenseless driver to a driver that is aware of every moped, motorcycle, and banana farmer within a square mile of the road.


-Dont give up, you will get the hang of it

-Dont depend on the "laws" , pretend you are in a lawless road where all you need to do is make sure you dont hit or get hit by any other vehicles(the pedestrians will GTFO of your way they have been trained to do so or have died)

-DONT PARK UNDER A COCONUT TREE, everyone has a tio(uncle) that was killed by falling coconut

-Hurricane season means no power almost every night, even in santo domingo

-signs are worthless learn how to ask directions in spanish and learn how to understand them(par aca and par alla will be used frequently)

-The dominican people are very straight faced and stare hard, give them a closed fist(like che guevara) and you are sure to get a smile in return

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6. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

My suggestion, stay in the colonial zone, you can walk to everything. I stayed at el conde de penabla, right in the center of everything on the plaza/park. You can do all the history touristy stuff in 3 days.

For laromana, its an hour away on taxi, just a little longer in bus. Parque enriquillo is where most of the buses are located.

Cap haiti is a long ride, this is an overnite trip, I dont know how things are getting over a travelling thru the country is, its been a long time since being there.

Samana is worth a visit. The region will fill your need of mountains, history, hiking and adventure. Very nice views. One could easily spend four days here. You need to venture thru back roads to visit some of the isolated areas. The bus takes 3 hours from the capitol.

7. Re: 1st Timers in the Dominican Republic - Christmas Vacation

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