There's been quite a bit of news lately about tourists going MISSING in some parts of the Caribbean. The most current and shocking story lately has been about the missing female, high school student in Aruba. However, linked to that story are others about young women whose drinks have been drugged by bartenders or others, leading to assaults and rapes, etc. Obviously this is the type of crime which governments like to keep under wraps lest the news about such crimes discourage tourists from bringing their coveted money to these countries. Often these types of crimes go unsolved for just that reason.
Whether male or female, young or old, it is advisable that when you are out on the town, do so in the COMPANY OF SEVERAL OR MANY WELL-KNOWN friends; NEVER leave a bar or restaurant with casual OR NEW acquaintances (you might be lucky, but you might not); watch while your drinks are being prepared if possible; open your own beer bottles or watch as your draft is being pulled; be aware of who is around you when returning to your accommodations. NEVER GET DRUNK AND BECOME VULNERABLE. Do not carry around large amounts of cash or be obvious with your money.
If you can get a good exchange rate in your home country, then bring some Dominican pesos with you. Then bring US dollars you can exchange as you need, or an ATM card you can use to withdraw money from (read my ATM machine tip).
The best place to exchange money would be the banks. They usually publish their rates on screens or white boards, visible to anyone who comes in, so browse, compare and sell your dollars to the bank that offers the most. Under no circumstances, do NOT exchange dollars at the black market (usually present where the tourists are) because they usually give BAD rates and who knows, maybe even fake money. Dollars and Euros are wide accepted in the touristic places and big cities but imo it's always cheaper to pay with the local currency.
A sankie pankie is a man who shows tourist women (or men sometimes) a good time on the island, will take her to discotheques/bars/restaurants, will try to get into her pants and will most definitely make her fall in love....only so that she starts sending him money (mostly via Western Union). The goal for these people is to have the women to bring her to their home countries, where then they ditch them after getting the visa/residency. Some even go to the extreme of marrying the women, who unfortunately fall for their charm.
Sankies, as they're known in DR, can mostly be located in touristic areas and in almost all cases work on the animation teams at all-inclusive hotels. With that said, I by all means do NOT mean that all resort workers are sankies.
So how can you be sure that the guy is a sankie? I'd say that while they're *very* good at scamming tourists, the usual signs are (in no particular order):
- They say you're the most beautiful woman they've ever seen
- They can pay for the outings at the beginning, but normally it's the woman that ends up paying for everything
- They say "I love you" or "I want to marry you" quite quickly after meeting you. That is to say, they hop off the getting to know you stage of a (normal) relationship.
- If you, by any chance, give him your contact information, be prepared to hear him asking you for money because "my mom is sick and I can't afford to buy medication", "my brother is in jail and I can't pay the bail", " died".
A woman who "works" as a sankie pankie is called sankiette.
"It's not safe to wander out of the resort" is something you'll hear at the resort and it can't be farther from the truth. I'm not going to lie and say that it doesn't happen because it does and it has BUT as long as you practice common sense you should be fine. That is, don't show off your money, don't walk around with a lot of bling bling, leave your valuables at the hotel and be aware of your surroundings because you'll most likely stick out.
Why do they do this, you wonder? My speculation is, because they want you to consume the products they sell at the hotel (the non-national alcoholic beverages and the restaurants that aren't included in your package, as well as the excursions from the tour reps).
Your resort will most likely have a tour rep with different tours to places close by and some far. IMO some of the tours are well designed and they have the advantage of including transport to and from the hotel, so if you think they're not to expensive then go ahead. If you're the adventurous type, you could take a public bus to the nearest city and explore it, or take a bus to a farther away city or must see. Where to go and how to get there will depend mostly on where your resort is located. IF you take a cab, negotiate a rate before getting in.
Another good idea might be to google where you're staying and looking into tour operators and what excursions they have, so that you can have something to compare to and haggle.
Use same common sense as if in any city.
If you choose to rent moped, stay with it.
If you carry money or passport, would recommend a money belt under shirt.
Did not see theft occur, but did hear of it happen by the Puerto Plata airport employees..
Use common sense, do not dress fancy or wear much jewlery. Try to fit in.
For the most part, we did not feel the Dominican Republic was unsafe if you use common sense. Many hotel reps actually try to scare you into thinking it is not safe to go out alone. This is not true-is to get you to pay their drivers and get cut of your money. You can venture out and be safe and many tourists do.
Avoid being ripped off by shady cab drivers by calling one from one of the big cab companies, or if you happen to be in a touristic area with tourist taxis, agree on a price before getting in.
Serious taxi drivers will have a laminated "ficha" (their ID) with their name and photo hanging from the inner rear view mirror so that it's visible. When you call a taxi company, they'll tell you the taxi number that will pick you up at the specified address, and sometimes even the car color. If they don't give you this information ask for it.
inside a all inclusive resort there are no warnings
if yu have the oportunity to go out just take the everage messures to face any danger as yu do in every part of the world. arrassment is the biggest problem with dominican people, but ignoring is the best way to avoid it.and when on a tour with guides they provide that locals don´t aproach tourists and ask for a small coin.
DO NOT drink tap water!
It may cause health roblems and may change your stay at this paradise into nightmare.
So, for drinking purpose use only bottled water unless you prefer... drinks...
But... to be honest - I don't know what is worse: drinking the tap water or drinking the drinks at the quantity you would drink water... ;)
Be carefull of mosquitos that are very annoying.
I advice to clothe your body in the early evenings, especially when you seat near the water and protect yourself againts that intruders...
If not - someone may thing you are very joyful looking like "dancing" all the time while scratching yourself... ;)
If you don't have to - do not rent a car unless you will take one with the driver.
Driving in Dominican Republic is... how to explain... well, it could be most exciting thing you will do here... ;)
It seems that traffic regultions don't exist here. But if they are they are surely not respected.
The culture here is very macho, and the men usually have power over the women. Some of the guys I met weren't used to my attitude regarding gender issues. A guy at a disco got mad at me just because I refused to kiss him!
For the girls:
Never walk alone at night. A single white girl is a common target for harrassment, or even rape. Don't sit with your legs open, especially at a disco. In the DR it means you're a prostitute. Don't ask a guy to dance, it means you want to sleep with him. At a disco, don't walk around alone, men will take notice of a white girl who is alone and might harrass you. Even if you like a guy, don't make the first move. Innocent flirting isn't seen as fun and games in the DR, a guy will try to sleep with you if you flirt. Even if you want to sleep with him, don't. The HIV rate is high in the DR and you never know...
I must say that not all men are macho, sexist, or overly horny. I met some very nice, kind, respectful men during my trip, such as the guys who helped out with the program and the men who were related to my host family. But do remember that there are men out there who will see you as inferior or as a sex object just because you are a woman, and the attitudes of the bad ones are more extreme than what we consider to be "male chauvinistic pigs" in North America.
The sun is very strong so you must be very careful with sunburns and dehydration. Be sure to always apply a good sunscreen and drink plenty of liquids during exposure to sun (not alcohol though!) ;-)
Even on cloudy days there are a lot of sunburns. If traveling around don't forget that the sun has the same affects as when you're lying on the beach or by the pool.
Sailing or snorkeling exposes you to very strong sun, so better be even more careful.
Pretty annoying! Sometimes you don't notice them and then ... bingo! You just notice the bite and the hitch. I was told that mosquitoes "appear" near the sunset time and by the water. I wasn't particularly affect by them, but some people complained a lot. Just in case, pack a repellent.
Before traveling, I read in many guides that Dominicans drive without a license and that we weren't advised to rent a car and go on our own. That's true!!! There are almost no traffic signs and nobody respects the few existing ones! Drivers just horn on crossroads and expect you to get out of their way. So, even if you find a pedestrian crossing be very careful. And if you hear someone horning you'd better stay out of their way quickly!
With the purpose of protecting local fauna and flora there are some restrictions concerning coral reef and some kinds of shells. So don't be tempted to grab some little bit and take home, since it can be nasty for you if they find out about it on the airport. I was also told to be aware of some vendors who might try to sell you this kind of products. Actually I can’t remember exactly what is forbidden or allowed, so you'd better ask for some information in your hotel before diving.
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