I consider myself a fairly aware traveler, but even the best of us get taken advantage of at times. This occurred in Boca Chica on Duarte St. The day before I had gone to a birthday party and was befriended by a nice Dominican man who could speak English. He showed me how to play Dominoes, etc. and I bought him a couple beers. The next day, he saw me in a souvineer shop on Duarte St. in Boca Chica, where little Beach Bars have sitting areas out back in the sand. So, this guy lured me over to his Beach Bar where he worked and insisted I have a drink. I didn't really want a drink, but since I had played dominoes with the guy the day before, I thought this can't be a trap. Then the Dominican man pressed me hard to buy him a drink and I was starting to get leery, asking the price of the drinks as they arrived, but the bartender insisted I run a tab. Since I was in a hurry, I asked to pay the tab. They charged me $12 U.S. Dollars for 2 Presidente beers and the other guy a small Cuban Libre. However, I had only only 1 beer. So, they added an extra drink to my bill. When I complained about the mischarge and the high bill, the bartender clapped his hands twice like a Sultan and I found myself surrounded by 5 tough Dominican men. So, it was either pay the bill or get beat up. I was lured into the beach bar by the man that I'd befriended at a party the day before on the other side of town. Therefore, you can't trust anyone. When I yelled at the man that had duped me, he said "Sorry man, you are a gringo. I got to make a living anyway I can." This is a true story and hope that others will not be easily taken advantage by con scam artists. Even the small scale ones.
Unique Suggestions: If you do decide to go to the Beach bar, insist on paying first. Do not, I repeat - do not let the bars run a tab on you. They will pretend to be very accomodating and nice, then when you get the bill, you will be paying for drinks that you did not order and paying at a stiff price.
WHEREVER YOU GO ON THE ISLAND YOU WILL FIND THAT MANY OF THE THINGS THAT THE VENDORS WILL TRY TO SELL YOU ARE THE SAME THROUGHOUT. IF YOU REALLY WANT SOMETHING BE PATIENT IN BUYING IT. IF THE PRICE ISN'T RIGHT FOR YOU SIMPLY WALK AWAY BECAUSE THEY'LL EITHER COME CHASING YOU TO BUY IT OR YOU WILL FIND SOMEWHERE ELSE WHERE YOU CAN BUY IT FOR YOUR PRICE.
Do be careful on the beach if people try and sell you something,always ask a price before saying yes.I was forced onto a horse ,even though i kept saying no,then taken up the beach a couple of times and then the bloke said£20 please.When i refused,he became abit narsty.
One of the nice things about the resorts in Punta Cana is that there are no vendors on the beach at your hotel. If you want to shop, you go to the little marketplaces along the beach, between various properties. There is one between the Barcelo Bavaro Palace and the Melia Caribe/Tropicale. At the marketplace there are 10-20 vendors all selling exactly the same items! Four types of vendors: Artwork, t-shirts and wraps, trinkets and sculptures, and liquor/tobacco. So they compete with each other for price.. all tell you they'll give you the 'best price', 'cheapie cheapie' etc. Nothing is marked, and all prices they quote are at least double as a rule. Most likely you can buy it for a third. Get several items from one vendor and it's definitely a third.
Additionally, outside the marketplace are reps for the watersports such as parasailing, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing. If you book through these guys you can negotiate price and duration of trip, and get more for your dollar. Booking through the tour operators (Apple, Turinter, etc.) at the resort can cost you up to $20 more per person.
If you go shopping at the Dominican Republic be carefull with the prices. Don't pay too much! Also be carefull with people who try to steel from the tourists, there aren't many people who do that but you do have them. Just like you probably have them all over the world. Most Dominicans are very friendly, and helpfull, but there is a very little group Dominicans who try to become friends with the tourists, and steel their money or something else. The 'good' Dominicans will warn you for these 'bad' Dominicans, because they get really upsad when someone is trying to steel something from their friends. You can trust most of the Dominicans for 100%, and you will also notice yourself when someone is trying to steel something from you.
The local venders are very pushy, save yourself some trouble and don't make eye contact unless you are actually interested in an item. Remember to barter, never pay asking price,try to get it for half that. Buy cigars at the markets at your own risk, many are counterfeit.
If you are planning to stay at an all inclusive hotel don't shop in the hotelshops. Things are a lot more expensive here than they are in a local city. Try intstead to visit a nearby city like Puerta Plata (if you for example live in Playa Dorada) and check out the prices at a supermarket, you will save a lot.
Plus the fact that you will get the chance to see the real Dominican Republic.
And if you are staying at an all inclusive hotel you sholud know that the day trips can be bought for half the price at the beach compared to the hotel prices.
Better to speak Spanish. Not many traps when you stay in a resort.
TIME SHARE PEOPLE:
Don't listen to the people saying they have a present for you although they are working in the hotel (Time share people).
Don't get sick and bring your own drugs, don't go to see the doctor from the hotel. The cost of the visit is extremely high, the cost of the drugs are really high too !
We didn't fall for it because we had been forwarned, but - street vendors selling 'Ivory' which was obviously platic, and of course the fake amber (which the country is famous for). Watch out for the braiding ladies - they get you right off the bus and just start braiding your hair. If you want your hair braided, negotiate a price before they start (we passed on this).
The prices for souvenirs on the beach, they are too high, way too high, so go down with the price, and go down way to low (if they can insult you, you can insult them) and just work your way up from there.
And a tip about this: if you are on a price you want something for, and he is still too hig, just walk away (there are plenty of stores with the same stuff) and if he stops you and goes down a bit more, stay on your price cause you will get it, when they stop you, you are on the right track.
(and you will see lot of hastling going on, I paid $8US for a hat, while some others paid $80US for the same hat, so don't give in too soon)
But also be respectfull, if you say to one I will buy something later, go back to that place and buy something from there, then they won't ask for a redicolous price.
This one is for the woman going there: If you walk along the water on the beach, sometimes men will start walking with you and talking to you, some of them are male prostitutes who will demand money after the walk
Always negotiate prices, handle your own luggage and buy your own drinks at local bars. When shopping - especially at the local markets, don't be afraid to bargain! You can usually cut the price by half.
The locals are after your money and will sell you any old crap. When taking a bus tour they will drive you to a dodgy shop in the middle of nowhere and will wait until everyone bought something one does not need...
Also, watch out for people who will want to make your hair into millions of little pleads. I managed to keep my hair 'natural' for the complete holiday but it was a tough piece of work since they seem obsessed by wanting to plead your hair for money.
All of the tour buses to Santo Domingo dump tourists in the 'commercial' area to buy souvenirs (the tour guides get commission). Most of the stuff is crap and not even made in the Dominican Republic (a lot is imported from Haiti where the standard of living is even lower than the DR). There are some real craft shops one block away from the main drag.
When visiting shops along the beach, it is easy to get sidetracked by the vendors. If you give them a polite 'no thank you' they will allow you to look around. They are harmless, but it can be aggrivating if you are being contstantly followed around.
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