Here are some insider travel tips:
Money Exchange / conversion – Don’t exchange in your home country or at any airport!
You will get much better exchange rates in Sosua and Cabarete. Any local DR bank will exchange at good rates (have a copy of your passport with you) or you can even do it at many money exchanges in town.Credit Cards -most US or Canadian banks no longer require you to tell them that you will use your credit card out of the country; however, it’s advisable to call them to make sure your card will work in the Dominican Republic.
It’s a great idea to use your phone to take a picture of the photo page of everyone’s passport who is traveling with you. You will often need a copy in the DR (using a credit card, renting a car, money exchange). We suggest you have a photocopy in your wallet and a copy in every suitcase as well. Embassy: in case of a lost or stolen passport (always keep it in the safe in your room), it’s a good idea to have the phone number to your country’s embassy stored as a contact in your phone.
The DR is a safe country; however, like anywhere in the world, there are places you shouldn’t go. Tourist areas are safe, even at night; however, the same caution you would use at home should be used here. The Dominican Republic thrives on tourism and has a vested interest in ensuring the safety of visitors. We even have a tourist police force: Cestur. If you have a problem they are there to help. You will see them patrolling tourist areas and driving in their colorful trucks.
If you are not in a hotel, it is a good idea to rent in a gated community. This extra measure of security protects your valuables and offers you a level of service not found in stand-alone villas or condos.
Transportation Getting to/from the airport
When arriving, you will see a large sign as you exit the baggage area that lists prices to various hotels & developments. All prices are fixed, so when getting into a cab, ask the driver to quote the price and make sure it’s the posted rate. It is $30/US to get back and forth to Casa Linda. We can also arrange for your airport pick up/drop off. Rental cars: If you rent a vehicle be sure and make a copy of your driver’s license and keep it in your wallet. As with medical insurance, check with your credit card company to see if vehicle insurance is also included with your credit card. Don’t rent a car at the airport! Prices are always much higher – you can do much better if you book a car in town. If you stay with Casa Linda, we can have a car waiting for you at the airport, or on your driveway when you arrive. If you don’t want to rent a car, you have use of our free shuttle bus which goes to Sosua and Cabarete several times per day, every day.Help on the Road: The Dominican Republic has its own version of AMA called MOPC. You will see these white pick up trucks with flashing lights everywhere you go. If you break down, have a flat tire, etc., they are there to assist.
Hospitals: There are several great local hospitals (one less than 5-minutes away), each with English speaking doctors. They all accept international travel insurance.
Travel Medical Insurance: Check with your credit card company, many cards offer travel medical coverage as a perk – you may not need to buy any at all; however, you will likely have to book your trip using that card for the coverage to be effective. Many times your airline will offer medical insurance when you book your flight. Banks also offer medical insurance now, and often at cheaper prices too.
Prescriptions – It’s a great idea to take a photo of all your prescription meds. That way if you lose them or run out, you can simply show the photo to the pharmacist to get a refill. For glasses, it’s advisable to bring an extra pair. If they break or are lost, it will take up to two weeks for replacements.
Cell Phones: Most carriers now have international plans so you can use your regular cell phone in the Dominican Republic (and avoid huge roaming charges). Really inexpensive texting and data plans are available. Ensure you tell them where you’re going and for how long. What about internet? If you don’t have data as part of your international plan, not to worry – almost everywhere you travel in Sosua and Cabarete is a free WiFi zone. At Casa Linda Villas, all rental homes have great quality internet and so does our restaurant.GPS – why not download the north coast of the DR on Google Maps or MapsMe? You won’t need any data on your phone to use, and the map function will help you get around the area, find local beaches, restaurants, shopping, etc.
The Sosua and Cabarete area have incredible restaurants that offer the flavours of the world. You can expect three types of restaurants here: 1. Local Dominican places where you can buy chicken at the side of the road with rice and beans (it is really good!); 2. Beachside or town restaurants with low to mid prices. Any type of food can be found, and 3. Fine or high-end dining for that special night out. Water and ice. It is not advisable to drink DR tap water – bottled water is safe as is the ice you buy in the store. Restaurants serve bottled water and bagged ice. Some places have UV water treatment systems, making the tap water drinkable. Groceries – We have a similar selection here to North America but with some Spanish and local brands mixed in. We have small local supermercados as well as large big box grocery stores. Depending on where you’re from, you’ll probably find prices similar to the US or Canada. Meat is local and can taste different from your home country. Milk is sold in tetra packs (like orange/apple juice) and doesn’t have to refrigerated until it’s opened. Tax: You may notice “ITIBS” on your restaurant bill or something you purchase. This is part of DR sales tax. Beer and Alcohol: A rule here is that if it’s locally made, it’s cheap. Presidente Beer, Barcelo and all brands of rum are lower. Imported liquors tend to cost a bit more than in North America.
Tours & Excursions
It is often cheaper to book directly from the tour operator instead of at your hotel or rental manager. Many hotels upcharge almost 50% and tell you it’s not safe to leave your resort; however, this is usually just a ploy to keep you buying from their vendors and going with their tours.
Insurance: It’s important to know that your excursion is reputable and insured (in case of accident or injury).
Souvenirs: Haggle! Never pay retail with vendors. Start at 1/2 price and work up.
Private villas with the services of a tropical resort
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Carretera El Choco, Sosúa, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
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