The airport is the place where you get the first and last impression of a city/country, and of course you want to spend the least amount of time possible there as well as having a smooth check in and out - at least I do! So here I share my little guide on how to spend less time there and more time enjoying your vacation.
(1) Make the line to buy the tourist card and have your passport and your 10US handy (or the exact money if you're more than one person). Do check with your airline if they include this in their flight fare because some do. The airlines who include the card will most likely give it on the plane, prior to landing. You can also buy the tourist card at the nearest Dominican embassy (contact them to double check this info). Those with a residency permit do NOT need to pay for this tourist card.
(2) All non Dominicans must fill in the blue Migration form (one per person) and every head of family must fill in the Customs form (Edit Apr 2009 one per family).
Edit Apr 2009: if you have Dominican residency then fill in the white embarkation form (the one on picture 3).
(3) Hand in the blue form, the tourist card and your passport at passport control.
(4) After picking up your baggage, there's some other guy in Customs to whom you give the white form.
(1) After checking in, take off your belt, shoes and anything that might make the machine beep at the security check. Also remember to take out your laptop and/or the bag with the liquid items, if applicable, from your carry-on bag.
(2) Make sure you have the 20US departure tax handy (or exact money if you're more than one person). Again, do check with your airline/travel agent in case the tax is included in your airfare.
(3) Fill in (again) the blue Migration form (if you're a resident then the white embarkation form). I was told to fill in another white form called International embarkation-disembarkation card but Mr. Sweden didn't have to, although other tourists did fill it in.
(4) Give it together with the passport and the departure tax (IF they ask for it, sometimes they don't. This tax is supposedly paid by everyone but I've never paid it and Mr. Sweden didn't either). If you overstayed the tourist card (only "good" for up to 29 days), you might have to pay a small fine. I say might because Mr. Sweden overstayed his for 3 days and nobody asked him for any money. The fine prices are available here but let them ask for the money. Do NOT pay more than the specified price, which is printed in big signs at the airport.
Of course I don't have to say "be there on time for the check-in process" and what not.
Translation of the Customs form
1) Name: last names, first and middle names
2) birth date (day/month/year)
3) Passport number
4) Number or relatives traveling with you
5) Airline and flight number
6) Address in Dominican Republic
7) Purpose of your trip (business, pleasure, other - specify)
8) Residency country
9) How long are you planning to stay in Dominican Republic? (only for non residents)
10) I bring any kind of electrodomestic/household item (yes/no)
11) I bring fruits, vegetables or any other agricultural product (yes/no)
12) I bring more than US$10,000 (in any currency or negotiable monetary document) (yes/no)
13) I bring articles for gifts or business (as in sell them) (yes/no)
If yes, write the total value in US$
Dominicans like enjoying a glass of sugar cane juice on a hot day. Not only is it delicious but it helps cleanse the kidneys. Before there used to be a lot of sellers selling the juice in tricycles but as of Feb 2008 I only saw one at El Malecón but the juice can be bought at the big supermarkets.
When I was a child I also used to eat sugar cane with my friends. You peel it (we left that to the adults), then you take a bite, chew it and suck the juice and then you spit it out. What can't be eaten plus the skin is taken to make paper - or at least it was then, so nothing from the sugar cane was wasted.
Sugar cane was a big deal for us during the colonial times and at one point we produced sugar for export. Now, as far as I know, we only produce it for internal consumption.
Taxi from the airport is about $40 U.S. Try and stay in the Zona Colonial area of Santo Domingo. It´s where all the shops and restaurants are, and you are walking distance to the port where you get on your cruise.
Fondest memory: Weather is good.
Favorite thing: We had the opportunity to see a lunar eclipse while we were there and it was nice because where we live we can rarely see any space fenomena. My pictures aren't the best so I combined this tip with a better one from ESA. The eclipse took place on Feb 20 and the pictures were taken between 9 and 10pm.
There are trees and flowers in Santo Domingo that I haven't seen anywhere else I've been, like the "framboyán". My mom has a "green hand" and has orchids that are in blossom all year round (give me your secret!!!!!!).
While walking around Santo Domingo, take a little time to enjoy the green and the colors of the trees around you. And if you really want to visit a place devoted to plants, then go to the Botanical Gardens (see my separate tip on it).
If you don't want to stand out too much from the people, very few people wear a t-shirt, and noone except for a couple of odd tourists wears shorts.
Men wear either a polo or a botton-down shirt, often untucked, and jeans. Women dress very provocatively, but never sleezy or cheap.
I used to live in Santo Domingo for a big part of my childhood. When I was eight years old till I was fourteen, santo domingo was my hometown.
When visiting Santo Domingo, you will see many beaches, disco clubs, restaurants, and many site seeing places right at your fingertips. (For more info please visit my Dominican Republic page).
AND....I am so happy to go once again this summer and visit this beautiful country for a good month....(from mid july to mid august!!)
Fondest memory: The many friends that I still keep in touch with. My family members who live here. Tons of fun we had!!
This is La Plaza de la Independencia, or the Independence Plaza. Major concerts, and important ceremonies are known to be held here.
La Junta Electoral Office is located right next to it. (The Board of Elections Office).
Favorite thing: This is a view of the city of Santo Domingo, this is the capital of the Dom. Rep. it's located on the ESE of the island, heavely populated(More than 2 million), and for the most part it compares to other major cities in the world in the services avaliable to it's residents, transportation and tele-communications are on parity to most developed countries, it has to it's prestige, the first university of the new world, as well as the first cathedral of america which still stands today, this city claims to many firsts, since it was the cradle of the new world when the spanish colonists founded the city there, a part of the city called "Zona Colonial" Colonial Zone, shows much of the culture and architecture of the century, still standing after more than 500 years, just as the day they were erected, the city is very much a relic itself, one can see parts of the city that are home to many buildings and streets of that time, a must see, but forget the tours and do it on your own time, since you'll need to take your time to imagine yourself in that period of time,standing there just as a conquistador of that period would had, the surroundings can take you there, since it's several blocks in size and the surrounds despict the true settings of the original city.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, sampling the local beer is definite must.
What do the locals drink, what beer is most popular, which beer is hardest to find, does it come in a half pint glass just like grandma used to drink…or better still, a full pint glass like I drink??? These are all good questions that need to be answered...
While in the DR, drinking an ice-cold El Presidente is an absolute must… All the outdoor bars/cafes in and around Santo Domingo will bring out large bottles of El Presidente in a clay pot cylinder designed to keep the beer cold in the hot Caribbean climate. The Dominicans keep El Presidente so cold that ice will actually form on the bottle and clay pot cylinder when it’s exposed to the hot air and this is when El Presidente is best to drink. Little ice crystals floating in beer pour from the bottle hitting your tongue…ummm….instant satisfaction!!!
When you visit Santo Domingo, beaches is not the only thing you will encounter!
There are tons of great restaurants, casinos, etc to visit. Here is a list:
National Acquarium (Beautiful place to visit, especially for the fish and overall nature lovers! )
Faro a Colon: Where the remains of Christopher Columbus lay, as well as many famous paintings, sculptures, etc. It's like a beautiful musuem. I even had the chance of going all the way to the top of it. A picture of it is on the bottom of the page. I could see the entire city from that high!
Alcazar de Colon: where the Columbus family resided. You will visit the entire Colonial era by watching these ancient buildings.
This is the best beer you can get in the Dominican...make sure you have one, two...more...
Fondest memory: I have put a lot of information about the dominican republic and what to see, get or what to do in my travelogue called BEACH ! on my Punta Cana page. Make sure you dont miss all this info cause its good.
Did you ever saw the Dominican Flag this way...ha ha not possible, never made an other picture like this.
On the beach this flag was always there, between a red, yellow or green one and a little flag saying the life guards were there.
Dinner at Vesuvio Restaurant and take a car and walk ride by the old and romantic 'Colonial Zone' and 'Avenida del Puerto', after go to the many popular Pops and Cafes at the Linconl's Av. area.
Fondest memory: The Carnaval atmosphere all the year, the merengue music, the charming of the people and of course the food.
you must go to restaurant vesubio for eat the mots varied food of the city. if you want to dance a good merengue and you want to eat the native food you must visit el conuco.
Fondest memory: my best memory is boca chica´s beach and its nearby hotel hamaca.
I stayed here on a recent business trip in the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. This 6 room hotel...more
My dear friend Erik said he got a glimpse of this huge hotel 30 years ago. Trujillo ordered its...more
The service was wonderful. I paid 76.50 for a standard room with a king-sze bed, a TV, refrigerator,...more