We went to Café de la Flores on el Conde because Lonely Planet said that it was an inexpensive way to pass an evening while being able to people watch. And what people! This dive is in fact a local meeting spot for prostitutes and their foreign clients. In general, older European or North American men come to sit at the tables and the "ladies" of the establishment gradual make their way over. Copious amounts of alcohol are consumed and then the newly acquainted couples leave. This is definitely NOT the kitschy tourist locale LP claims it to be and the staff is very hostile to those who come here for anything other than to pick up.
Fun Alternatives: ANYWHERE ELSE!!
In all the tourist guide books, you have the flawless picture of the sandy white beach and the "swaying" palm tree. They seem to be everywhere right? Not so... If you are planning to be in Santo Domingo and drive to the beach, please note that there isn't one.
We were told that we could be in Santo Domingo and then drive 30 minutes to Boca Chica where we could go to the beach and enjoy ourselves. The all inclusive resorts have claimed the beach as their own and will charge around $50 to allow you to use what in theory is public. When we found a corner of sand not already claimed by an international company, it was filthy and you were harassed every few steps.... We decided to go further to Juan Dolio but there was no beach.
One day, we were so desperate to see a beach any beach that we drove the 4 1/2 hours to Punta Cana. Yes the beach was white, yes the trees were swaying, and yes we had to pay a day pass to have access to it...After a few hours, it was BORING....
Unique Suggestions: If you go to Boca Chica, go to the Boca Marina restaurant and sunning deck with "thousand and one nights " feel to it with divans and beds with flowing linens overlooking the water. You can reserve the beds that are located at the end of the deck overlooking the most beautiful water..It is out of this world, absolutely beautiful, not overcrowded, nor tacky...Fabulous food, great service, awesome music. Owned by a Spaniard who designed it himself and brought the wood from Bali... Apparently planning on renovating...
Even described in most tourist guides, as a "must do", we found this place really disappointing. An old market, once probably a nice place, converted to a huge tourist trap!!! It was Thursday morning, and it was nearly empty of customers. The worst of it was the salesmen/women following us all the time insisting in the "quality and good prices" of its products, most of them just the same items you can find (cheaper) in many other shops, and some of them objects of bad quality and more than "dubious" taste.
Unique Suggestions: Well, you can do some shopping, there are some nice items, but better compare prices first and ignore the most insistent vendors.
Fun Alternatives: We could not resist more than 15 minutes inside the market, just to see all the shops were more or les the same, and feeling really hassled by the vendors. Once in the streets, we found the real life out there far more interesting. A few more souvenirs shops... and round the corner, the "real" stores and street vendors were locals shop. No more harassment, no people insisting you to buy. Of course, I have writen more tips about these street vendors you can see in the "shopping" tips section.
Beware of those "nice" chatty guys that approach you as soon as you step in a monument or even in the Colonial city.
Granted, they are tourist guides and they know their way. However ask the tour price BEFORE walking with them. My husband ( a nice naive American) pull out his wallet and I could actually see this guys' eyes sprinkle! He demanded 20 dollars for a 10 min walk!!!
Also, be patient when shopping! Don't rush, you will probably get a nice quality souvenir if you browse carefully.
Unique Suggestions: Ask the price, or just nicely refuse to be shown around or directed to any shop.
Fun Alternatives: Get a guide or a book about Santo Domingo. Trust me, there's not that much to see in the colonial city. You could actually see the whole colonial part in a day without the help of a guide.
This hyped disco is indeed very nice - it is located in a cave, lighting is nice, staff is friendly. The only problem - it was EMPTY. We sat until 11 pm on Sat, and there were us and four or five European tourists.
Unique Suggestions: If your idea of a fun disco is a place where you are alone, then go...
Fun Alternatives: Avenida Venezuela and San Vicente are lined with discos with real Dominican music and people.
Have Fun! Go to the Beaches!! You'll enjoy yourself! But don't be surprised when you become surrounded by people trying to sell you all kinds of attractive items. If your skin is any lighter than theirs, they assume your pocket is heavier than theirs too. The moment my group and I stepped onto that sand, we were smothered by haitians and dominicans trying to sell their items. Many of them will offer you things at expensive prices and you might think that its a reasonable price but its really not.
Unique Suggestions: Don't worry. Go with someone who is familiar with the area, the language, and the bargaining. You can always bring things down to a more reasonable price. If you'd rather not buy anything from them, don't look them in the eye and tell them to go away in a firm and serious tone. You're there to enjoy yourself and the beautiful atmosphere, not be surrounded. It may sound harsh, but some of these things you just have to do, cause if not, they'll be taking advantage of you!
Oh! And if you decide to get your hair braided on the beach, ladies, and they tell you it'll take 30 minutes... expect to be sitting there for over an hour and a half if you're hair is at least shoulder length. And knowing a little bit of French comes in pretty handy, too.
For to visit the Colonial Zone you have to take a long walk. When you are in Parque Colòn and feel like doing a little rest, don't sit down on a park bench. You'll be surrouded by sellers and tourist guides who want to show you round. It's hard to shrung them off.
As the beach in Juan Dolio wasn't particularly nice, we went to the Boca Chica beach, about half an hour from there.We went by bus with the locals, boy, what a ride, they go fast and are not very careful, but anyway we got there safe...
On the beach which is the public beach, every local stand owners will want to 'rent' you a chair on their territory, and will go get you your drinks at the bar while you enjoy the sun, they tell you to pay at the end of the day, not to bother you with paying each time you order, but, at when you are ready to leave, they bring you the tab, which is VERY exagerated and, while you try to bring him to his sense as for the price, you are circled with 5 or 6 men that leave you with no choice but to pay whatever they say it cost!
The beach there is beautiful, but the price is high.......
Just watch out for con artists, especially if you don't speak the language. Don't eat fish on the beach. I found that you can very, very sick if you do. You don't know where it came from, if it is good to eat or how long it has been in the sun.
La playa de Bocachica tiene muy mala reputacion
no se porque sera alli me hice las tipicas trencitas
que no son tan baratas