Punta Cana Airport
Local Mafia collecting $10 at airport just before custom service.
They give you paper slip which you give to the guy sitting 20 feet away.
You don't have to do it.
Unique Suggestions: Just say your travel company already payed it in advance and they can contact them to verify.
Vendors on the Resort Grounds
Larimar, a mineral mined only in the Dominican Republic, is the most widely sold jewelry by these vendors. They want an arm-and-a-leg for this jewelry, and often take tourists for an expensive ride.
Make sure it's authentic...
Hold a flame to the stone for a couple seconds, take the flame away, then touch the stone. It should be cold to the touch, as true Larimar will not hold heat.
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to shop at the resort vendors stations, wait until "Free Market" day. On this night, the resort allows additional vendors to come in and sell their wares. These vendors sell the same quality of jewely, and because of the principle of supply and demand, as well as the fact that the free market vendors don't have to pay off the resort, you will find much fairer prices.
This does not mean however, that you should pay the first offered price by these vendors. NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. You must be assertive in your negotiations. If you are the type who is not good at negotiating your position, please shoot me an email and I will give you some tips, or answer any questions, in addition to what I have included below.
How to negotiate:
1) Set a price in your head of what you feel the merchandice is worth. The way I look at it is, if I saw this merchandice in a store, what price tag would have to be on it to make me feel comfortable buying it.
2) Let the vendor tell you his price.
3) Laugh out loud, or make some kind of gesture to show him or her how rediculous this price is.
4) Let him make the first move downward.
5) Laugh at this price.
6) By now, the vendor will hand you a calculator.
7) Enter a price well be low your ceiling, but high enough to keep negotiations going. (If the offer from the vender is $30 and your ceiling is $15, put in a $9 offer.
Fun Alternatives: 8) He or she will laugh and tell you there is no way that price will work. Give the calculator back and tell him to enter a new price closer to yours. He will come back with an offer of $23.
9) Your first move should be your largest, showing that you are willing to deal. (make an offer of $12, and any subsequent offer should be in increments of $1). Make sure that during this negotiation, you look uncomfortable with the price.
10) If he goes to talk to the manager, you know you have a deal. During this discussion with the manager, take an opportunity to get your money together.
11) The vendor's last offer will be close to your's. Hold up $1 less than your final offer. (you do this because the vendor, after you make the deal will ask for $1 tip for making this deal so sweet for you. This way you can give the dollar and not feel like you've been taken)
12) Once the offer is accepted, appear to be uncomfortable with the transaction. The vendor will feel proud that he got you to come up from your original offer, and will be happy to deal with you again later.
Note: If you ever ACTUALLY feel uncomfortable, in danger, or compromised, WALK AWAY. There are plenty of vendors there who will be more than happy to deal with you.
Bargaining with the Vendors!!!
Their are many vendors along the beach that market their wares in Punta Cana. Just like anywhere in the world its important to know what your doing and buying so your don't get taken for a ride. The three things you will see the most are wood sculptures, watercolor paintings, and cigars. All of these things are something the Dominicans excel at and they are worth buying. With the wood sculptures, I would not pay more than between $8 - $15 for a small to medium sized sculpture. They usually would start me out at $20 to $25 but with a little bargaining you can get them down significantly. The watercolor painting are truly outstanding, they have original artists who paint bright, basic beach scenes that are simply wonderful. I purchased a 8X10 original painting for $30, originally they were asking for $60. The cigars are, from what I hear excellent, I don't smoke but I bought them for friends who loosely compared them to Cubans. Costs will vary but don't pay more than you have too, cut whatever they quote initially by 35% to 50% and believe me you will get that price if you stand hard. Don't pay too much! I promise the bargaining will save you close to 50% every time off their original offer.
Don't be intimidated by the kind vendors hanging out on the beach who give you gifts??? I had several necklaces put around my neck as a gift (without asking), which was a great sales plan, because I ended up buying something out of guilt. After a couple of encounters like this, I finally got tough and when I was approached with a "gift" a firm "NO THANK YOU" will do the trick. The other thing that worked well was the old "I dont have any money, I'll come back later."
- Family Travel
- Spa and Resort
Know your exchange rates!
Try to keep a vague idea of the exchange rates to avoid getting short changed. Avoid shopping within your resort as well as things are way more expensive. Also, you will be heckled inside the resort by peddlers who work the shops inside of resorts, say no thank you and be firm or you'll end up with a suitcase full of things you're not sure you really want.
Unique Suggestions: Should you decide not to venture out of the resort the only logical thing to do is take more money with you.
Fun Alternatives: Catch a bus into town, and if you have a decent grasp of the Spanish language ask the locals where to shop.
- Spa and Resort
Caribbean Market good place to find gifts to bring home but can be a little scary if you not good bargaining because these workers at the market come on strong try anything to get you to into there stall example "give you free cheap neckless" "say thing like hey my friend where you from, at like your friend " or try to "drag you into there stall" basically come on very strong,.if you see something you do like and want to buy a good tip is don't buy it intill you get atleast 50%-60% off the price they are telling you this is where good bargaining skills come in handy and save you alot of money, if they don't give you what you want at the price you want it for just walk away don't feel sorry they won't let you get to far before they change there mind and try to work a better price. remember the do this everyday for a living they know all the right tactics to trick you.
Unique Suggestions: Best thing to do is look around without any money or very little money on you so you can say it's at the hotel and i will come back later then when you come back only bring the ammount you want to spend so they don't try to get you to buy more.
Fun Alternatives: Buy at Hotel store or at a shopping plaza. The price might be more but less hassle.
- Arts and Culture
If you are looking to buy Amber jewellry, make sure that they have a black light around. You can tell if the Amber is real if it changes colour inder the black light or if it floats. Plastic Amber or 'Taiwanese' Amber does not change colour and sinks.
On the several daytrips we did, we came across a few tourist traps, usually related to expensive souvenir shops. I’d recommend that when enjoying those daytrips you shouldn’t buy anything unless it might be so exclusive that you won’t find it anywhere else (which I doubt!). The thing is: the guide will tell you it is the cheapest or the most exclusive – it is probably lye and they all say the same.
I’d recommend restricting to the markets near the resort: you can take your time to choose and to barter, something which isn’t possible when visiting a souvenir shop along with a lot more people.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
All around the hotel you will be expected to tip employees. So prepare some change, ...
Room's maids expect to have a tip when they come to clean the room, waiters at the restaurant wait for a tip as well, and in the a la carte restaurants you usually find musicians playing between the tables, that come later to collect the tip.
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The magazines stated that the Plaza Bavaro was a good place to go to see a variety of vendors selling their goods, similiar to a flea market. When we went, pretty much all the vendors sold the exact same items. It was all the same paintings, shotglasses, shirts, etc.
In my opinion, it's definitely not worth a specific trip to see this area. If you happen to be staying nearby, it's worth it to see, but not the $18 one-way taxi fare that we paid from our distant hotel.
It's fine if you want to buy gifts to take back home, but there's not much use in going to each and every vendor.
As usual, they expect tourists and hound everyone into their store. Sometimes, you just need to be forceful and say no and they will let you be.
Unique Suggestions: Checkout the local "supermercado" or Supermarket and verify the prices there first. There's no hassle buying there.
Cigars... err... Banana leaves
Unless you like smoking cigars made of banana leaves, I highly suggest not purchasing cigars outside certified cigar shops. To begin with it's almost impossible for the locals to aquire legit cigars (unless stolen from the factory) and secondly, the prices of cigars over there BARELY change... So if someone offers you a Cohiba Siglo X for $1 you know it's fake as it usually sells for $8 or so.
Shopping on Caribbean Street
The only shopping to be had in the Riu resort area of Punta Cana is in a area of the resort called "Caribbean Street." It has a bit of captured market and the prices tend to reflect it, so make sure you take what you need with you, particularly toiletries. There is a beautiful local light blue stone called "larimar" in the Dominican. The jewellers on Caribbean Street were selling jewelry using larimar for inflated prices. I bought a couple of pairs of silver and larimar earrings at a little stall on Catalina Island (on a day trip to La Romana) for $7 U.S. each. We ended up buying a couple of local paintings on canvas at Caribbean Street, but only got a reasonable price after letting them know the price we'd seen the same types of paintings go for in La Romana.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure you know what an item is worth and be prepared to haggle if you shop at Caribbean Street!
Fun Alternatives: Bring your own necessities and only shop locally for souvenirs.
Bargin bargin bargin!! The shopping there is great, especially for jewelry (Laramar stones etc.) but they'll try to rip you off for sure!
Unique Suggestions: Bring a calculator =P
Fun Alternatives: Go with someone you trust who speaks Spanish...lol.
- Spa and Resort
- School Holidays
Is this the real Dominican Republic?
It was my first experience at the Caribbean, you know, I found everything wonderful, you know, the place is beautiful...but, can I say : 'I've been in the Dominican Republic?'. Here everything is arranged for to welcome tourists, who can't understand the real way of life of Dominican people.
Yes the pictures are great,...
Yes the pictures are great, and if you like them, you will buy them...but you better have your own picture taken by a friend, for behind the bushes, cause one picture will cost you $6....so ....think hard before you say yes!!