If you travel to the Dominican Republic you will use the peso as this is their national currency. It is also known more properly as the peso oro. Unusually it is symbolised by the standard dollar symbol, although it usually appears with the letters RD in front of it, as in RD$. This clarifies the fact that the peso is the currency being referred to for this country.
The peso is a decimal currency and is therefore divided into 100 parts known as centavos. However coins of the centavo denomination are no longer issued, so this is largely pointless now.
There are four coins issued for this currency, and these are the $1, $5, $10 and $25 coins. As far as banknotes are concerned there are seven of them – the $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000 and $2,000 notes.
The history of the Dominican Republic peso goes all the way back to 1844. Before this time the country used the Haitian gourde and when the first peso was introduced it was done so on a par with the old currency.
Another currency, the franco, was introduced for six years between 1891 and 1897 before being discontinued. During this time the original peso was still legal tender so the two currencies ran alongside one another. When 1905 came along the country decided to replace the peso with the US dollar. This was the official currency for some 32 years before the peso returned, this time as the peso oro, the currency that is in use today. The US dollar still remained as legal tender alongside it though and lasted this way for a decade before the peso oro finally took over as the one official currency for the Dominican Republic.
Since this country is very popular among tourists there are cash machines in plenty of different places, towns and cities. This is particularly true of the tourist areas so watch out for them. Similarly it is easy to pay for goods and services using either a credit or a debit card. Make sure your card issuer knows you will be using these cards in the Dominican Republic so you don’t run the risk of your card being refused or withdrawn in a cash machine. However just because you can pay like this it doesn’t mean you should. There is a caveat here – cloning happens a lot with cards which means someone could easily get hold of all your information. Tourists in the know often don’t bother taking cards at all. They take enough cash to last them throughout their entire holiday instead. If you are going to do this plan ahead and consider how much you will need. If in doubt take extra! Just remember not to carry it with you all the time – take what you need and lock the remainder in the hotel safe until you need to access it.
Getting the peso before you travel is easy if you go to a bureau de change where you live. You can also order your currency online via a reputable site if you wish. It might also be good to take some US dollars with you however; many of the tourist areas are happy to take them and it does give you another possibility. Don’t assume everywhere will take US dollars though. Another good thing about this is that you will always be able to find somewhere to exchange your US dollars if you do take them and you want to transfer them into the local currency.
You can do this prior to leaving home by accessing a website with a currency converter on it. You might have to search to find the peso but if you look at the drop-down boxes that are usually provided on these sites you will find the currency more easily by typing in DOP. This is the currency code for the peso here and it should bring you to the correct currency in no time. Make sure you opt for this as the ‘to’ currency and add your own currency as the ‘from’ option.
For those who are considering going to the Dominican Republic it is a good idea to visit the UK embassy website prior to planning any travel. This will provide information about various areas that may be prudent to learn about. The site is available at http://www.dominicanembassy.org.uk/.
This is a popular country with tourists and more than 90,000 people from Britain alone visit it each year. We have mentioned the prevalence of card cloning already and this should be borne in mind if you are considering withdrawing cash or using any cards at all.
Crime is also prevalent here. Some of this is petty crime which see tourists pickpocketed and having their bags snatched among other things. Not all of this crime happens surreptitiously or at night in remote areas either. The UK government website has reported of daylight robbery – quite literally – taking place on busy streets in Santo Domingo.
For this reason it is unwise to carry any more valuables than you absolutely need to. Keep cash, cards and anything else you have in separate pockets. Wear a money belt if you can. Store everything else in the hotel safe. You are more likely to experience problems if you flaunt wealth in any way, including having a camera around your neck. Exercise some common sense and you will reduce the odds of being attacked.
The Dominican Republic is an island nation that shares the same land mass as Haiti. The latter takes up a portion of the western side of the land mass, while the Dominican Republic takes up the rest of it on the eastern side. The Dominican Republic isn’t far to the south east of Cuba, the Bahamas and beyond that the southern reaches of America such as Miami.
Many people go to the Dominican Republic for great beach holidays. There are some great resorts here that offer an all-in experience for those who want to turn up and not worry about paying for much else. These include Sanctuary Cap Cana, Paradisus Palma Real and Zoetry Agua Punta Cana.
Of course the country is about far more than just resorts. There are many beaches you can see during your time there, but you can enjoy many other experiences too. For example you can visit the Samana Mountains, far away from the beaches, and see the famous El Limon Waterfall. It is quite spectacular and often referred to as a highlight of any trip here. You might also like to visit Haitises National Park, which can be found to the north east of the island. This too is spectacular.
You might also slot in a visit to Isla Catalina, otherwise known as Catalina Island. Many visitors go here and few come back disappointed! It’s not just about reclining on the beaches or swimming in the sea though. You can also head to Altos de Chavon, a beautiful city situated on a hilltop that has earned the name the City of Artists. It’s a rustic city and one that is pleasurable to explore. The cobble-stoned streets are a little bumpy underfoot but that just adds to the charm of the place – and it certainly has plenty of that.
Of course few would think of visiting the island without at least a brief look at San Domingo. It lies on the southern coast and boasts a Colonial Zone which is definitely worth a closer look. It has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status and thus its many stunning buildings are preserved for many to see and enjoy. These include Catedral Santa Maria La Menor and Museo del Ambar. There are many houses (casas) here that date back hundreds of years as well.
As you can see the Dominican Republic has far more to offer than just good beaches and great resorts with five star service. It also has a history that is easy to find signs of if you know where to look. You can also explore many natural sights that are nowhere near the main tourist areas and resorts.
As such if you stick to a particular resort you will have a great holiday but you will be nowhere near most of the best sights the country has to share with you. Explore and do your research prior to booking your holiday or trip to the Dominican Republic and you may just end up enjoying your holiday even more than you would have done otherwise. Beaches are wonderful but this island has a lot more surprises in store.