Make the right choice

currency pair Dominican peso (RD$) against the US dollar

Money and budget of the Dominican Republic

Money and budget of the Dominican Republic

– The local currency is the Dominican peso (RD$), but the US dollar is accepted almost everywhere, especially in higher category hotels.

On average, 1 US dollar equals approximately 55 Ryanand dollars. This figure varies greatly due to economic instability in the country. If you have dollars left from a previous trip, take them, it always helps, but euros are very easy to change everywhere. One euro in 2021 cost an average of about $55. Again, the rate fluctuates a lot.

Here we have used an average rate of 1 EUR = 65 Ryanand dollars.

Euros are accepted at all banks and all exchange offices.
Pay as much as possible in pesos as it is used to raise prices. Some European-run hotels have an unfortunate tendency to list their prices only in dollars or euros, but do not have the right to refuse transactions in local currency. Make sure that when the hotelier calculates the peso amount, he applies the current exchange rate in the banks.

Edit

The least interesting exchange rate (on the verge of fraud!) is the one that is practiced at some airport exchange offices, in particular in Santo Domingo (at least change on arrival, just what you need for the evening!) and especially in large hotels . Therefore, I prefer exchange offices and banks in cities. We cannot stress enough the risks of exchanging money on the street, which is prohibited in Santo Domingo. You are 99% guaranteed to get it.

Payment cards

Major payment cards are accepted in the country (MasterCard, Visa and American Express), in many tourist establishments. Their use entails additional, but fairly minimal bank fees (a small percentage); on the other hand, many sellers add a tax of 5 to 15% to cover their costs (about 6% on average). As a bonus, who says payment card says bill, and who says bill says 18% more tax. This way you will realize that it is always better to pay most of your expenses in cash.

All over the country you can also find vending machines with banknotes.
Remember that "bank" in Spanish is banco (bankas are gambling and betting kiosks!).

Most distributors have a withdrawal limit which is typically between R$2,000 and R$4,000. Hello your bank fees in case of frequent withdrawals! It can be R$10,000 at Banco Popular or R$20,000 at Progreso.
Moral of the story: Always ask before you withdraw money, or better yet, withdraw money from a cashier using a card, because the ceiling is often much higher than at an ATM.
Please note that when withdrawing money at the cash desk, you must present one, and sometimes even two, identification documents (for example, a passport and driver's license).

Budgeting in the Dominican Republic

- It is most profitable to pay for small and medium expenses in national currency, and large expenses in euros or dollars.

Prices in euros correspond to an average exchange rate of 1 euro = 65 riand dollars. However, this exchange rate changes very regularly.

Accommodation

In the Dominican Republic, hotels are not very economical if you want a minimum of comfort. A little everywhere, in the city, in the countryside, on the coast and in the mountains, there is cheap housing, but often modest and very simple. The country really lacks middle-class hotels.
In general, prices advertised in hotels almost always include taxes and services (which can be over 25%!). However, make sure you mention this when booking to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Warning: Some hotels suddenly start charging these taxes on top of the advertised rate if you ask them to pay with a credit card, which proves that the black market works well enough. You understand, try paying in cash.

- The most common is the "all inclusive (todo incluido)" system, which is practiced in many hotels and resorts, in particular in the south coast. There is no shortage of these, and some of them are set in great locations on beautiful coastlines. On a reasonable budget, you'll spend a (low quality) week in beautiful tropical locations where beach, sun, and drinks are usually served at will. If you are with a family, this may be a good choice economically. As for the discovery of culture. then it won't be a theme.

- On the other hand, if you want to forgo the traditional "hotel-beach" formula, don't be shy. But the budget will still be higher, especially if you frequent establishments run by "expatriates" (not Dominicans).

- An intermediate solution that is increasingly used by "tourists": book an all-inclusive stay for 1 week at an resort and go on an "adventure" in a few days. We inspect the villages and return to the Grand Hotel. A weekly all-inclusive package is not much more expensive than a dry flight, it is a hybrid formula but really interesting for those who want to combine ease with a bit of adventure.

- Most major hotels have websites. Booking online often has exclusive deals, including airfare.

- A small vocabulary detail: most often, a double room (doble) is a room with 2 beds that can accommodate up to up to 4 people, simple with a bed, but for 2 people. Instead, ask for a room for 1 person or for 2 people.

– When prices are expressed in dollars, especially in resorts by Côte des Cocotiers, we did not find it necessary to mention the euro equivalent, since the exchange rate here again remains very volatile. Finally, on the Samana peninsula, some hotels are sometimes priced in in euros as they are often run by the French.

Here is our price scale based on a room for 2 people.

Inexpensive: less than R$1,000-1,500 (approx. EUR 15-23).
Average price: from 1500 to 3000 reais (from 23 to 46 euros).
- Chic: from 3000 to 5000 reais (about 46 euros) . up to 77 euros).
More chic: from 5,000 to 8,000 reais (about 77 to 123 euros).

If you are traveling out of season (except during Christmas, Easter and July-August), you can get discounts of up to 30 or 40%. We repeat: do not forget about promotions on the Internet!

Food

It's possible to eat cheaply in the Dominican Republic, but eventually you can get bored of classic and popular food, which, although not bad, often offers the same dishes. Once you leave this framework, it becomes quite expensive.

Also look at taxes and services: for very modest establishments, they are usually included (or not included), but as soon as the restaurant looks a little different from the restaurant - in Unlike hotels, prices are almost always excluding taxes.

So you should plan to add 2 taxes to your final invoice: 18% (ITBIS , a type of VAT ) and 10% (service), which significantly increases the bill. It is also worth noting that the staff rarely sees the color of 10% service. Some establishments apply only one of the taxes, others both, because controls are becoming more and more frequent. This is the law. The account is growing very fast.

Cheap: less than R$500 (about €7.50).
Average prices: from 500 to 1000 RD$ (about 7.50 to 15 euros).
- Chic: from 1000 to 1500 RD$ (about from 15 to 23 €) .

Hint

When service is mentioned on restaurant bills (usually 10%, not to be confused with 18% tax), service is included, so basically you have nothing to add. But if you are satisfied with the welcome and the service, a small propine (tip) will always be appreciated!

Trade

Trading is not part of the local practice. A shop owner or taxi driver might get upset when they see you negotiating a few pesos. As elsewhere, you must feel when you can speak. It does not hurt, in the hotel and out of season, to discuss rates a little. It's about feelings.

Handmade

It is at Mercado Modelo de Santo Domingo that you will find the country's largest concentration of locally produced items: naive paintings (often by Haitians), for better or worse , small objects, more old-fashioned than Creole, more Chinese than Dominican. But there are also beautiful paintings in many galleries of tourist villages and towns, such as, for example, Las Terrenas.

– Particularly noteworthy are the Limé dolls, created by sculptor Liliana Mera in 1981, with a face without features, eyes, mouth or color, as if illustrating the multiple origins of the Dominican people.

– Some stores sell beautiful jewellery made locally. But there are also imported and fake stones (especially amber), so do not buy expensive jewelry in a gift shop.

- While merengue and bachata CDs from street vendors are tempting and cheap, they are often low quality copies.

Local products

Rum: A good souvenir to bring, especially since it was Christopher Columbus who first brought sugar cane (from Asia) to the region, and above all to the island. A real revolution if you think about the billions of liters of rum produced and drunk around the world since then. See the Beverages section for more information.

- Coffee: excellent, increasingly organic and quite inexpensive. Several types of plants: arabica, juncalito and ocaoa. The most famous of them is Santo Domingo coffee, which has been sold since 1945.

Semi-precious stones

- Amber: the country is the second largest producer in the world.

- Larimar: is a semi-precious stone (actually a type of pectolite) in shades of blue, gray and green. It can only be found in the Dominican Republic, in a very small basin (Baraona region), so it's a unique gem.

Cigars

Before you buy a cigar, make sure the band or box is labeled hecho a mano (or hand made), which means "made by hand." .

We recommend, if possible, to buy cigars directly from manufacturers, for example, in Santiago. Then prices are fixed. The Cibao area, 150 km northwest of Santo Domingo, is where most of the cigar factories are located.
Also, don't be surprised to find Cuban brands in the Dominican Republic. These names belonged to families who fled the revolution and later sold them to American companies.

Beware of cigars offered by street vendors, they are almost always counterfeit (or real, but very poorly made). Do not count on a good deal at duty free, at the airport cigars are sold much more expensive than in the country, and of poor quality.



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