Prieto Tour was the company we did the City tour with. It was supposed to be full day tour. We paid in advance but only received the 1/2 day tour. When we took it up with them, William in their office stated we only paid 1/2 day. When we insisted he give the hotel voucher back to show us it showed full day.But impossible to hassle with them about it.
We ended up just getting prorated at home by our travel agent.
They did not do very good job of explaining the places we saw. I was glad to see the Rum factory, The Amber Museum, and Fort Felipe.
Our tour guide did not sit where we could ask questions (he was in front closed off area of bus). Then gave little explaination of anywhere we went.
Would recommend seeing the city sites-but not with Prieto Tours if possible!
Fun Alternatives: Take a different company tour.
If you do take this tour, do so just to see the fort and rum factory, no more.
almost everybody who goes to DR and like all travel sites, recuerdos is one thing that we like to buy.
paintings are very "eye ketchy". and i bought one.
and bring one is a very good experience when yu have to argue the best price for it and try to achive the best price... be prepared to a "hard fight" with local vendors!
i´ll be back!
Unique Suggestions: ask the price.
and buy for half.
in the end yu still feel like yu 've donne a good bargain.
and i garantee, so do they....
If you go to the hotel beach you will probably be visited by some local trying to sell coconut water, recuerdos, whatever! They all seem to be selling the same artefacts, from morning till the end of the afternoon.
Hotels usually refer in their brochures "private beach". It means that locals don't go to the beach to sunbath, but apparently it doesn’t apply to sales persons. Sometimes it can be a little bit annoying, but there's no harm in it, they are only trying to make a living.
During my stay in 1995 I spent with friends a weekend in Sosua. I remember Sosua as the most terrible place on the entire Island. It was very touristic with these terrible German beer bars at the beach. Don't want to imagine how Sosua looks nowaday. And a question what I really asked myself several times: Why is everywhere rubbish in the streets? Not only in Sosua!
Unique Suggestions: Make as much trips as possible to see many other place on the island!!!
Fun Alternatives: Lots of other beautiful places can be visited.
Folks inside compounds are taught to fear what is outside the grounds.
This is a ploy to control 100% of your tourist dollars!
They don'y even want you to buy tours from outside agents...so they create fear tactics to keep you from even talking to outside "locals"
You really miss the true joys of travel, when staying in a "staged controled environment".
The growth of All Inclusives is probably why I can stay oceanfront, at a "mom and pop" local hotel or guest house, for as little as $10 a night!
So can you...if you choose to travel independently!
Be aware of the cost of a taxi from the hotels to any location. For this example I will use Punta Cana.
My husband and I stayed in Punta Cana for a week, we needed to get to the town of Higuey which is the closest town one hour away.
The taxi driver quoted us 65 USD return, his big "seller" was the fact it was air-conditioned, and safer.
NOTE: Travel on the local bus (gua-gua) to Higuey cost us about 4 USD for two of us return. It is SAFE to travel on the local buses which are run by a specific company. There is a driver and a person who collects the money on the gua-gua and they both wear uniforms and are quite respectful. The ride is bumpy but it is a great way of mixing with the locals.
Unique Suggestions: If you do have to take a taxi, gather up a group and SHARE the taxi. That makes plain economic sense.
Fun Alternatives: You can rent a car but be aware driving in the towns itself are crazy. There are a lot of mopeds or scooters and it seems that traffic signs are not readily obeyed.
Sometimes, locals on the beach will offer to braid your hair for money. Someone offered to braid hair extentions into my hair (I had short hair at the time) with beads for 600 pesos, but I didn't do it. It's possible to haggle the price, but sometimes if you get to know some local people outside the beach, they might braid your hair for free.
Unique Suggestions: Haggle the price if you want your hair braided at the beach.
Fun Alternatives: If you get to know some friendly locals outside the beach and touristy areas, they might do it for free.
At the airport, those friendly people waiting to take your bags don't take no for an answer, both when trying to take your bags to carry them, & when trying to get a tip! Now I'm not against tipping at all, I realise alot of them rely on that for money - but give me a chance to get my money out first - 'tip, tip', lol :)
Unique Suggestions: Have some Dominican currency at the ready!
Fun Alternatives: Just let them take your bags - it's a whole lot easier than saying no! Plus...it is hard work in that heat.....so I was going to tip...he just didn't give me a chance before he started asking!!!
What came as a big surprise to us when we arrived the Puerto Plata airport was the men who were too `helpful` with our luggage. We didn`t bring more than we could handle ourselves, so we really would like to handle it to the buses ourselves. The problem was that you had to physically `sit` on the luggage to prevent the luggage-men from taking it. And even worse; just arriving the Dominican republic, we didn`t have any pesos to pay them with, so we had to give them dollars, and that was a bad deal for us, I can assure... When we left for home it was even worse. This time we were prepared for it, but now they were even more pushy.
Sales people here are BAD..... they try selling u on everything from excursions all the way to TIMESHARES. They use very high pressure sales tactics and even go out of the way to harass you and your personal and finacial life.. i was not impressed
Unique Suggestions: just say NO!!!!!
If you must hail a taxi be sure to do it away from a "tourist hotel" and negotiate the price beforehand. The prices vary so greatly from one taxi driver to the next it is enough to make a person crazy. Usually you can work out a deal, but one guy tried to charge us $20 USD for a 2 km drive. That is way more expensive than any cab ride I've ever heard of!
Additionally, they may try to con you by bringing up the exchange rate and saying that your ride usually costs, for example, $10 USD but because the exchange rate has gone up you need to pay them 380 Dominican Pesos.
Obviously, a taxi fare does not change with the currency exchange. I always tried to pay with pesos, since my USD supply was limited, but most drivers want USD.
Unique Suggestions: Always negotiate the fare up front!
Fun Alternatives: The best way to travel long distances are the economical, frequent and clean public buses. Try Metro or Caribe Tours.
The tour took us the local market. It was mostly just a dumping point for tourists. Every place expects you to haggle your price.
Unique Suggestions: There are a lot of the same types of shops selling the same type of things, so if you don't get the price you want, walk away to the next store. But most people were not in your face or rude.
Oh, and make sure you have small change. I tried to buy a drink with a 20, but no place had change, even though the drink cost 1.
Every now and then, even on the private beach, sellers would come with their wares. The usual stuff, bracelets, coconuts, and cigarettes.
I bought a little wooden statue that I talked the guy down to 20 for. I thought I got a great deal. When I got to the market in Santo Domingo, I saw them being sold for 10-15 dollars. However, I didn't see the one I ended up buying, so I felt somewhat vindicated, haha.
Unique Suggestions: The security guard is good about making sure these guys don't pesture you on the beach. In fact, they don't even come up to you, but you basically have to walk up to the sellers as they walk past.
Do NOT if you can avoid purchasing any alcohol or coffee on the hotel premises, be it the stores or the sellers on the beach.
If you plan a trip into ANY of the cities, do go into the GROCERY store and purchase these items there. The prices in the groceries are fixed, so both locals and tourists pay the same price.
We bought 2 bottles of rum in the grocery that cost us close to 4 USD Total.
At the hotels it cost us 8 USD per bottle of rum. We saved 12 USD.
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.
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