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  • Writer's pictureCindy Van Dyck

FAQ: Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?

Updated: Oct 9, 2023


Drone photography at a white sand beach in the Dominican Republic.
Picture Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Traveling to a far destination, and still often unknown, requires preparation. Everyone goes through the internet and Social Media looking for the right answers. As a result, we are often overwhelmed with different opinions and information. So what is true and what information can't be trusted? Myself, Cindy Van Dyck, travel ambassador for the Dominican Republic, would like to answer the most frequently asked questions. This way you can be sure that you receive the correct and reliable information! Your question of the day: "Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?"


Each country has its positive and negative characteristics.

Let me get right to the point: the Dominican Republic is no more or less dangerous than any other country. Like Belgium, France and other European countries, it has large cities surrounded by neighborhoods where poverty is higher than in wealthy neighborhoods. This is no different in the United States either. So if you find yourself in the touristy and more patrolled neighborhoods, you will encounter less crime. Do you like to go a little more outside the city? Or go out locally? Then use your common sense, just like you do at home.


Of course, this remains a country where poverty is known, and where tourism is one of the country's main sources of income. Yes, that's right! In fact, with more than 8.5 million tourists and visitors in 2022, the Dominican Republic was the most attractive and popular vacation destination in the Caribbean!


We should be proud of this, although of course this brings up the crime. Why? Because the people with bad intentions, will pick you out as a "foreigner" in no time. Also called "gringo (m) / gringa (f)" or "Rubio (m) /Rubia (f)" here. You have a different look or style (you often wear striking vacation clothes) and they know you are carrying valuables (think camera, phone, passport, money, ...). It is therefore important to always be vigilant, whether you are in a well-known beach resort or exploring cities on your own.


We give you 5 important tips to travel as safely as possible through the Dominican Republic.


#1 Less is more

It's kind of a tradition: buying new shoes and clothes just before we go on leave. We also save up for a nice new beach bag and/or sunglasses, and of course we are only too happy to show it off to our Social Media followers. That's not a problem at all! Inside the hotel walls you are safe, you can wear whatever you wish and no stranger (other than hotel staff) will just walk up to you.


Be especially careful with your jewelry/chains, watches, and bags of value once you leave the hotel. After all, you do not want to "stand out" or give the impression that what you are carrying is valuable. I'm not scaring you to get out, just making you think logically. For example, that expensive watch on excursion is not the most important thing, nor is your gold chain. Leave it safely in your room, in the security slot, and leave on an excursion carefree! The less you attract attention, the better.


#2 Take copies of important documents

An important rule: take a copy of all your important documents such as passport and driver's license, and keep these documents in your bag. Your originals NEVER leave the hotel or your residence. Only to travel back abroad. And believe me, after four years of traveling to the Dominican Republic, I have never needed my original papers, other than when checking into a hotel or at the airport.


Suppose you lose your bag or forget your wallet in a restaurant, you will still have proof of identity!


#3 Choose a smart credit card

When you choose an all-inclusive hotel, you have no additional costs associated with your stay. Only extra planned excursions or buying souvenirs are at your own expense. Are you staying in an Airbnb or apartment? Then you will most likely be buying food, go shopping and so on. Cash (dollar or Dominican Pesos) and a credit card are important here. But use them intelligently!


Everywhere in the Dominican Republic you can pay with cash. Using a bank card is another story. Very local supermarkets or bars and food hot spots, often only accept cash. Restaurants and stores in the heart of Punta Cana, Las Terrenas, Santo Domingo,... then again, all have different payment options.


Still, even here you want to choose the best security. And I have been using Revolut* daily for several years. Revolut* offers banking services including GBP and EUR bank accounts, debit cards and currency exchange. All through an app (virtual card) and with their own bank card. In total, the app supports spending and ATM withdrawals in 120 currencies and transfers in 29 currencies.


And it's completely free to create and manage an account. All you pay for is your physical card and choice in membership. For example, you have upgrades where airport VIP lounges are included and so on. Handy for frequent travelers!


Managing your Revolut* account is done via your phone and you can upload money thanks to your linked bank card you have at home. You can also transfer money to your account. That way you don't even need your original visa card! You can easily keep track of all your expenses, block your card in case of loss, and so much more. Really, it has already saved me a lot of misery in the Dominican Republic! Because not every Belgian bank card is accepted here. Revolut* always works though!


#4 Don't only stay in your hotel

Travel agents and tour guides are the very first to warn you when booking or at departure/arrival. I can so hear them saying "Stay inside your hotel. Outside is dangerous." And it makes me roll my eyes every time. You will hear the same thing once you arrive at your hotel and ask about activities.


Of course they want everything to stay inside the four hotel walls. Why? So that you spend your vacation budget and money with them, and not outside the resorts. Excursions are often offered by your travel agency itself, because they earn commission on this. However, the locals see very little of this. Maybe 20% or 30% of the total amount, if not even less. They are paid anything but fairly from what you book with your agency. The same goes for the souvenirs or other stuff you would purchase outside the hotel walls. They want you to spend with them, not on someone else. Book with companies that are trustworthy and support locals.


Want to soak up the local atmosphere outside? Do so without question! Just don't just start walking on your own, but book a local tour guide or Uber who will show you around and help you.


#5. Track your belongings

Besides copies of my most important documents, this tip is the second most important one that has already saved me a lot of misery here: the well-known AirTag* is literally in every bag I use while traveling. From camera bag to hand luggage, handbag, large travel case, wallet, my keys, the car.... everything has an AirTag. And it's so easy!


Because you know the situation, you're looking for your wallet in your big bag and suddenly your heart drops because you think you can't find it again. Or you think your suitcase got lost, but thanks to the AirTag you can see that it came along with the airplane. These little coin-shaped gadgets are extremely handy!


You can buy them individually* or by the pack of 4* and distribute them among your most important possessions. In fact, to be honest, I always give 1 to my parents when they come here on a trip. If they get lost in the supermarket, in the city, I find them easily. Because our rule is: are you lost? Then sit in the nearest bar or store and wait for me there.


So order your AirTags* now and save yourself those extra (unnecessary) gray hairs.


 

As you can read: the Domincan Republic does not present any crazy dangers in terms of crime. Just like in your own homeland, walk/travel with precautions and always use common sense. These tips will help you start your vacation with peace of mind. Enjoy!



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