Rainforests, incredible beaches, savanna, highlands, and the highest mountain in the Caribbean; there’s no shortage of things that make the Dominican Republic an awesome place to travel.
It’s the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, but at the same time, is rife with poverty. Unfortunately, this dynamic leads to increased levels of crime; sometimes it’s pickpocketing, sometimes it’s a mugging. So the question of whether or not it’s safe to travel to the Dominican Republic makes sense.
Don’t worry. We have created this insiders guide on how to stay safe in the Dominican Republic because we at The Broke Backpacker believe that safe travel is possible. At the end of the day, getting to see incredible countries can be done if you travel smart!
Regardless if you’re wondering whether the Dominican Republic is safe for families, or if you want to know some tips for solo travel in the Dominican Republic, we’ve got you covered. All this and more will be addressed in our insider’s guide.
You’re right to be concerned about backpacking in the Dominican Republic, even if it’s just for a short trip. We get where you’re coming from, of course, but try not to be discouraged. Our guide is going to let you in on a load of ways to stay safe in the Dominican Republic.
Whilst COVD 19 has not gone away, the world is opening up again to travellers. Dominican Republic has lifted border closures and some commercial air travel has resumed.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
- How Safe is the Dominican Republic? (Our take)
- Is the Dominican Republic Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Dominican Republic Right Now?
- Dominican Republic Travel Insurance
- 26 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to the Dominican Republic
- Keeping your money safe in the Dominican Republic
- Is the Dominican Republic safe to travel alone?
- Is the Dominican Republic safe for solo female travelers?
- Is the Dominican Republic safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in the Dominican Republic?
- Is Uber safe in the Dominican Republic?
- Are taxis safe in the Dominican Republic?
- Is public transportation in Dominican Republic safe?
- Is the food in the Dominican Republic safe?
- Can you drink the water in the Dominican Republic?
- Is the Dominican Republic safe to live?
- How is healthcare in the Dominican Republic?
- Final thoughts on the safety of the Dominican Republic
How Safe is the Dominican Republic? (Our take)
The Dominican Republic is pretty varied for a Caribbean destination. It’s heavy on the package tourism, but it’s great for backpacking beyond the seascape of all-inclusives.
That may be the case, but that doesn’t mean that the Dominican Republic is totally safe. In fact, sometimes, it’s far from it. Reports of muggings at gunpoint during the day in residential areas is known. Assaults and robberies even at the airport DO happen. Night times can be very sketchy.
There’s a big focus on beaches and having fun in the sun, but the sea can be dangerous. Being ignorant of warnings, flags, and riptides is not a good way to start your trip.
There are also earthquakes here… and hurricanes, too… Nature as a whole can be pretty merciless in the DR.
At the end of the day, keeping your wits about you and being aware of impending weather or violence is a good place to start when thinking about safety in the Dominican Republic.
Is the Dominican Republic Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean; more than any other nation in this dreamy stretch of island-scattered sea.
Over 5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic in 2017. From the 1980s to the 1990s, the number of hotel rooms in the Dominican Republic went from 8,000 to over 45,000! Needless to say, tourism is the country’s primary industry.
That said, people of the Dominican Republic are friendly and welcoming. Despite the huge amount on offer for the casual, resort dwelling tourist, there’s plenty on offer for backpackers, too. There are sleepy villages, trekking opportunities, and some amazing beach communities, to give just a few examples.
As a backpacker traveling outside resorts, you’ll see some extremes, namely in terms of poverty. You’ll see poor living conditions, people openly carrying weapons, litter, possible threats to your safety, not to mention sex workers. This is more a sign of the fact that the Dominican Republic is still very much a developing country.
Is it Safe to Visit Dominican Republic Right Now?
The Dominican Republic has had a pretty turbulent 20th century. There has been a dictatorship, civil war, US occupation, authoritarian leaders…
Today, however, Dominican Republic is comparatively stable.
Unfortunately, poverty is a still an issue here. 20% of the population struggles to get by on $2 a day. Around 1/5 of all Dominicans live in shacks. Tourism may bring a lot of money to the country, but there are a lot of negative impacts as not every tourist is respectful of the locals. It’s partly your responsibility to make sure those serving you are taken of care of and to support local communities.
The Dominican Republic is known internationally for its sex tourism. In a 2015 study, the International Justice Mission found that roughly a quarter of all sex workers were under 18. There’s also a high rate of HIV and AIDS in comparison to other Central American and Caribbean countries.
There’s nothing to keep you away though and, as we said before, it’s safe to visit the Dominican Republic right now. Go enjoy the beauty of it; just but be aware of abusive and unethical businesses.
You should get travel insurance coverage before your trip. Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in the Dominican Republic, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
For more info, check out our hands-on review detailing the plans, policies, and prices of World Nomads.
It’s a super popular destination for tourists, but the Dominican Republic isn’t without its problems. Violent crime against tourists, mainly in the form of robberies, definitely still occurs. By keeping your wits about you and making sure you travel safe and smart, you’ll likely avoid any trouble. To help you even more, here are some handy travel tips to safely travel in the Dominican Republic.
- Don’t walk by yourself at night time – Crime is more active after dark, beaches ESPECIALLY. Get a cab home.
- Don’t even TRAVEL at night – same.
- Flashing your cash in ANY way is a no-no – SLRs, phones, jewels, actually displaying large sums of money. These things make you look rich and therefore a target
- Change your money at banks or official money exchange places – anything else is not recommended at all.
- Learn some of the local lingo – it’s not necessary, but if you plan on going off the beaten track, knowing some (Dominican) Spanish is a good idea
- Get the relevant vaccinations before you head off – read up on what you’ll need and GET ‘EM.
- Keep your belongings close – pickpocketing happens in tourist areas, so be careful. Try investing in a money belt, and know how to safeguard your cash while travelling.
- Prepare for hurricanes! – the season is between June and November and you should know how to deal with them. Listen to local advice and keep up to date with the weather…
- Protect against mosquitoes – mosquitoes carry dengue fever and chikungunyi, both of which are just nasty. Cover up and apply repellent.
- Avoid stray animals – rabies is a thing here so it’s best to not pet stray dogs and cats.
- Be aware of your surroundings at ATMs – people may try to look at your pin and then steal your card. Seems simple but it happens
- Stay safe in the sun! – it’s a hot place in the Caribbean. Sunscreen, shade, and hydration, people.
- And stay safe in the water – beaches often don’t have lifeguards. Currents and waves in hurricane season can be dangerous. Swimming drunk, for that matter, will put you in an even more disorienting situation.
- Take care on the roads – seriously: many people die on the roads in the Dominican Republic. The rate is 10 times that of the UK.
- Be careful around the Haitian border – especially if you intend to cross it. Research what you need to do when crossing so you don’t have to linger.
- DON’T talk about Haiti either – it’s a complex situation.
- Don’t take drugs – you don’t know WHAT it is, WHAT it funds, PLUS it’s illegal with hefty prison sentences to punish offenders.
- Practise safe sex – AIDS/HIV is a problem here. Always wrap up.
- Don’t pay for sex – you don’t know the situation, who’s getting the money, anything. Child prostitution is also a big problem.
- Get a room – public displays of affection are uncommon. Best not.
- Don’t resist if you get robbed/carjacked – this can unfortunately happen. If it DOES happen, hand over the goods. Your life is worth more than a rental car.
- Keep your wits about you in remote/residential areas – even in daylight hours. Muggings aren’t uncommon.
- Walk confidently – anything you can do to look less like a tourist is going to lessen the risk to your safety.
- Know what to do in an earthquake – they happen here. Take shelter, and if you’re near the beach, go to higher ground – a tsunami could arrive in minutes
- Use your room safe or locker – things can get snatched from your room. Best to keep it out of sight.
- Lock the doors and windows of your room – just in case.
So whilst there is a lot to keep in mind when you travel to the Dominican Republic, most visits to here are trouble-free. Plenty of backpackers love it for good reasons – it’s relatively calm in terms of the backpacking scene, there’s loads to do, and locals are mostly friendly.
Follow your gut and avoid getting into bad situations. Knowing what to do in a natural disaster will help, too. Do these and you will have a great time without worrying!
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
Keeping your money safe in the Dominican Republic
More than any natural disaster, the number one threat to any traveler is going to be theft. Yep, anywhere in the world, you’re going to face some sort of risk to your immediate finances.
The Dominican Republic is no different. In fact, it can even be a little more sketchy than usual sometimes. Losing your money, either to a mugger or a pickpocket, isn’t going to be any fun at all.
Luckily, there’s one way to at least keep SOME of your money safe: a travel money belt!
There is definitely a lot of choice in the world of money belts. It can seem tricky to choose from them all, but we at The Broke Backpacker recommend the Active Roots Security Belt. Every time.
Our favorite part of this money belt is how it just looks like a NORMAL belt. Being sturdy, as well as affordable is a big plus too!
So if a pickpocket tries to pick your pockets, there’ll be nothing there. Even if your wallet falls victim to a robbery, your main stash for the day remains hidden in the belt. If someone goes through your room? You still have your money belt to fall back on. Always, always: money belt.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
Backpacking is becoming more popular here and it’s easy to see why: humpback whales, colonial architecture, adventurous landscapes, and those beaches… Wowsers. That being said, solo travel in the Dominican Republic is as safe as one would expect.
Solo travelers are always a little more vulnerable so it’s important to be careful when you’re traveling around the Dominican Republic alone. It may be safe on the whole, but crimes against tourists aren’t uncommon and you’re more likely to be targeted when by yourself. Obviously, it pays to know HOW to travel solo in the Dominican Republic.
- It’s a good idea to hop on a tour to discover places easily and safely. Whether that tour may be a long or short one makes no difference – this is a great way to get acquainted with the island.
- Obviously, it’s down to how you want to travel. Resorts are safe, but you’ll be less likely to meet other backpackers. Punta Cana is good for nightlife, whilst Cabarete attracts a mix of travelers.
- Meeting other backpackers is a good idea. This will help you to keep sane and happy by talking to other like-minded people, plus you can share travel tips for the Dominican Republic – and/or further afield, too. Win-win.
- Going around by yourself at night time isn’t a very smart move. This is a good time for a robbery, though in some areas it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. The general rule of thumb here is to avoid walking through quiet/sketchy areas by yourself. Case closed.
- You might also want to get yourself a local guide. Not only will you be able to safely explore different areas of the Dominican Republic with someone who knows the local scene, but you’ll also get to learn A LOT more. Fumbling through your guidebook as you squint at bilingual signs is a both annoying and sometimes precarious.
- Be positive and friendly! Especially if you’re moving through more ‘local’ areas. Say ¡Hola! with a smile on your face and the country will open itself up to you, to an extent. Obviously, greeting some gang members chilling out at a mall in Santo Domingo isn’t smart, so use your common sense.
- If you’re a male traveling alone you may be approached by prostitutes. Be aware of this and say a firm “no” before moving on. Sex tourism has created this state of affairs, so don’t contribute any further.
- When you’re out at night, getting crazy drunk isn’t a good idea. You’ll lose your senses and be a lot more vulnerable to robbery or anything else unsafe.
- Tell someone at your guesthouse, or keep in touch with people at home, if you’re going out to explore more remote places. Someone knowing where you are is better than no one knowing where you are.
Though there are risks involved with traveling by yourself anywhere, the Dominican Republic is safe for solo travelers. Keeping your wits about you, meeting other people and even getting a local guide will really help you explore this country to the fullest. In the end, it’s an easygoing place that you’re going to love, and you’ll love it more if you stay safe!
Is the Dominican Republic safe for solo female travelers?
Whilst the Dominican Republican is used to solo female travelers, as many do visit here, there are some cultural dynamics to be aware of.
Local women struggle in the Dominican Republic due to a hyper-masculine society. In fact, many have emigrated to the US to escape this oppression. For female tourists, some could become the object of the same attention (and belittlement) as well.
To avoid becoming a victim of chauvinism or worse, it definitely helps to know how to stay safe as a female traveler. Here are a few tips on how to travel as a female in the Dominican Republic:
- Many people are friendly and speak English. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you think something dodgy is going on around you, you’re lost, feel like you’re being followed – anything. People will be happy to help you.
- Walking around at night is not a good idea; don’t do it. Get a taxi or walk with people, but whatever you do don’t wander around by yourself.
- Dressing appropriately for the situation is a good idea; wandering around town in a bikini top and shorts is not, so we’d recommend against that. To avoid receiving to the wrong kind of attention, try blending in with the local women. Wear what they wear to gain extra respect.
- Don’t take drinks from strangers. Drink spiking happens, so be careful.
- Men can be pushy in the Dominican Republic. In fact, they can be quite aggressive in their pick-up technique. This happens mainly in local bars and clubs. Our advice would be to dress conservatively and be firm in turning men down. At the same time, heading out to a local bar or club alone isn’t wise. Find some travel buddies to go with.
- Speaking of which, making friends with fellow travelers or backpackers is always something you should do. It helps to beat the blues of traveling alone, gets you some safety in numbers when hitting the local drinking holes (or going anywhere), and if you stay in a female-only dorm you might get to meet some pretty cool people doing the same thing as you. Shared experiences are fun!
- It’s not unsafe to travel around by yourself, but if you want to take ALL the stress out of it, book yourself onto a tour. A walking tour, a snorkeling tour, any sort of tour. You’ll get to meet people and see the country without having to lift a finger. Being a well-touristed destination, these are easy to come by.
There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while traveling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.
The Active Roots Zipper Scarf is your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!
At the end of the day, backpacking as a solo female traveler ANYWHERE is “risky.” Being aware of your surroundings, making sure you don’t wander alone at night, and generally being smart with how you travel is going to make your trip safer.
It may have a macho society, but the Dominican Republic is safe for solo female travelers. You’ll be able to explore this amazing country safely, so get ready for some amazing times ahead!
Is the Dominican Republic safe to travel for families?
Completely! The Dominican Republic is very safe to travel for families. Parents and their children have been hitting up this popular destination for years – and continue to do so.
If you’re planning on staying in a resort area, and the only time you’ll be leaving is on a tour, then you won’t need to worry about anything except natural disasters. Not staying in the sun too long, being careful in the sea, not petting stray animals, protecting against mosquitoes, being careful around pool areas; these are easily done and ensure that everyone stays happy.
Just remember a few extra things to make sure your family holiday in the Dominican Republic is safe.
- The Dominican Republic is small so getting around is pretty easy.
- Cities aren’t very fun with children. They are hot and a hassle.
- When it comes to child safety, there won’t be things like car seats for children.
- Breastfeeding is ok in public. Discretely, in a quiet spot, but not in a restaurant for example. Again if you’re in a resort, everywhere is ok.
Is it safe to drive in the Dominican Republic?
One of the biggest dangers in the Dominican Republic is its roads. Well, the roads themselves are good, but the drivers are terrible.
Aggressive driving and a lack of road signs and traffic laws being enforced don’t help matters. Around 3,000 people are killed on the road per year according to WHO.
Despite these hazards, tourists can and do drive in the Dominican Republic all the time. It’s about weighing up the risk and adventure levels involved.
If you DO rent a car and decide to actually drive it, be prepared to be switched on at all times. We’d recommend having experience of driving in a developing country before.
One thing that might happen is being pulled over and solicited for a bribe. Use your own prerogative here. Some have made them go away by starting to film them on their phone, others have paid a tiny amount.
IF you’re in a car accident and someone gets hurt, you’re held in custody until it’s worked out. This could take a couple of days…
Because of the craziness of the roads, we’d say, while doable, it’s really not safe to drive in the Dominican Republic. Don’t bother.
Is Uber safe in the Dominican Republic?
Uber is sometimes safe in the Dominican Republic, and sometimes not. Whilst Uber is easier because you don’t need any language to book a cab, there’s still a BIT of risk involved. Because it’s still Dominican road travel and the roads are a little dangerous.
You get good drivers and bad drivers, of course, so it’s kind of luck of draw. Some drivers may try to scam riders with classic fare hiking techniques, like the ol’ roundabout method or dropping you off beyond your intended destination. These types are rarer though and, most likely, you’ll have no issues using Uber in the Dominican Republic.
Uber is also cheaper than taxis (when there’s no traffic, otherwise the price surges).
We’d say Uber is safe in the Dominican Republic, at least compared to driving or walking yourself. Currently Uber is available in Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerta Plata.
Are taxis safe in the Dominican Republic?
The taxis are surprisingly safe in the Dominican Republic.
Drivers don’t cruise around looking for riders though – instead, you’ll find them at designated ranks near bus terminals, hotels, tourist areas, parks, and any other sort of big, official-looking place.
Rates from the airport are pre-arranged (there’s a board of prices to certain destinations at the taxi rank). Otherwise, it’s best to do research on certain routes to make sure you’re paying at least NEAR the proper amount. Make sure you haggle a price before you get in – and in Dominican pesos, not US dollars.
If you’re traveling with children, it’s ok for them to sit on your lap in taxis. In fact, it’s legal.
You can ask for an English-speaking driver from a lot of taxi companies. Don’t forget, the Dominican Republic is super used to tourists.
Don’t go to unmarked taxis. These are not licensed and most likely not safe.
Licensed taxis in the Dominican Republic are safe and are a good way to get around – and it saves you from navigating the chaotic roads yourself!
Is public transportation in Dominican Republic safe?
Public transport in the Dominican Republic is cheap, extensive, and highly varied.
First off are the publicos. These are old minibusses or trucks and you can find them in towns or cities. They don’t particularly have any signage designating them as publicos but you’ll know them when you see ’em. Safety isn’t the highest concern; they squeeze people on and drive erratically.
There’s also motoconchos. These are motorbike taxis and are often the quickest and cheapest way to get around, especially if you’re a solo traveler. Note that these can be dangerous. They drive very fast and if you’ve got luggage, it’s not the best idea for long distance travel. Not really what we’d call ‘safe’.
Buses in the bigger cities are pretty normal. However, overcrowding is common.
There are also minibusses that travel between towns and city neighborhoods. These are cheap and frequent. We’d say they’re a good option if you know where you’re going. Again: get ready to be squashed, especially in rush hour.
Then there’s the metro, which you’ll find in the capital, Santo Domingo. It doesn’t have to contend with traffic obviously, so it’s fast and safe. It’s clean, modern, comprehensive, and is expanding every year. This is by far Dominican Republic’s safest mode of public transport.
If you book a tour through a resort, most likely the transport you’ll encounter will be more luxury, and A LOT less crowded, than actual public options.
Privately owned bus companies offer up more deluxe buses with air-con and sometimes even a film! These are a bit more high-end and a good way to get across the country.
Overall, public transportation in the Dominican Republic is safe, if not a little hectic and uncomfortable. Just be sure to watch your pockets and bags when there are lots of people around.
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in the Dominican Republic safe?
A mix of indigenous Taino, Spanish and African-influenced dishes make the food in the Dominican Republic a pretty hearty cocktail of tastes. Expect rice, mashed plantain, root vegetables, salami, avocado, salads and a lot of meat and fish, all of which we approve of.
Best of all, the food in the Dominican Republic is safe! Food is tasty and definitely a good way to get to grips with the melting pot of cultures in the country. By following these tips you should extra safe against possible viruses and stomach aches.
- Avoid things that are served cold. Stuff that’s been cooked fresh and hot is always going to be less of a risk than something that’s been pre-cooked and has been sitting around for a while and most likely collecting germs.
- Keep an eye out for the oil that ingredients have been cooked in. We’re not going to lie, fried food is dreamy but if the oil it’s been cooked in looks dark and gross, then it probably IS dark and gross. Avoid it. Fresh oil is, well, fresh and so much less likely to make you ill.
- Go for the street food, we beg you! It’s amazing and some of the finest street cuisine in the world. As with all street food, just make sure that what you’re about to eat has been freshly cooked, of course. Another rule is to look at how busy it is – if it’s busy, it’s worth queuing because the food is probably delicious and safe to eat. Popular = tasty. Popular = sanitary.
- Don’t have salads, unless you’re at a nice resort. It may look delicious, but if that’s been washed in tap water… yeah, that won’t be good for you. Same for fruit and veg. Unless boiled, peeled or washed (in bottled water), don’t even bother.
- The most important thing as ever: wash your hands before you eat. Can’t wash ’em? Carrsanitizerer.
- Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Dominican ingredients in Latin American Spanish.
Thanks to tourists and their picky, picky ways there are a ton of different restaurants – especially in cities and resort towns – that cater for pretty much everyone. You’ll find everything from sushi joints to American chains, all of which are pretty safe. While we certainly don’t suggest traveling to the Dominican Republic to eat a burger, at least you’ll know it’s safe.
Can you drink the water in the Dominican Republic?
Nope – the tap water in the Dominican Republic is not safe to drink. It’s treated, but the piping system is old, leaks and lets all other contaminants in. Not even filtered water is ok.
All Dominicans drink bottled water. Do the same. You can find bottled water everywhere – just make sure it’s sealed.
We repeat: The water in the Dominican Republic is NOT safe.
If you don’t want to carry a plastic bottle around, then invest in a filtered travel water bottle. Alternatively, you can invest in a tough refillable bottle, like the Active Roots water bottle, and fill up on purified water from your accommodation.
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
Is the Dominican Republic safe to live?
A stable economy combined with established expat communities and opportunities for English speakers means that moving to the Dominican Republic is definitely viable.
On top of that, the incredible beaches, trekking opportunities, the general nature and the landscape of this varied country make it a very nice place to live.
Obviously, there are things to watch out for. As we’ve discussed, safety can be an issue and there are high crime rates in cities like Santiago. Tourist or not, if you look like you’ve got something to rob and you’re in the WRONG area, then you’ll most likely be deprived of whatever valuables you’re carrying.
Ultimately, the overall security situation isn’t too alarming so you shouldn’t have to live in a gated community or anything like that. There are more dangerous areas than others, so doing your research is going to help you pick the place that’s right for you. Chances are you won’t be moving to an impoverished area of a Dominican city, anyway.
The police might not always behave as you’d think they would behave – asking for bribes is not uncommon. Similarly, the judicial system is not great.
The lifestyle is going to be a lot simpler than you’re used to. Power outages happen.
You should probably learn to speak the official language – Spanish. This will definitely help you bat away things like scams and also just help ingratiate yourself into the country itself. Besides, it’d be rude not to.
Generally, the Dominican Republic is safe to live in. Do your homework, make friends with expats as well as locals, brush up on your español and just make sure you’re not flashy with your money. That way you should have a pretty trouble-free time in this beautiful place.
How is healthcare in the Dominican Republic?
There’s public healthcare in the Dominican Republic, which, we’re going to be honest, you probably won’t want to use.
The public services are run by good people, of course, but they’re underfunded. When visiting a public hospital, you’ll have to do things like providing your own pillow, if you want one, and toilet paper, amongst other things. Regular power outages put extra strain on an already thinly spread system as well. In the end, we wouldn’t recommend them, really.
On the other hand, privately run hospitals and clinics are frequent around Santo Domingo, Santiago, and other tourist areas. These are good and have high standards. There are almost always English-speaking staff on-hand and you should feel relatively at home.
Ambulances are only just appearing nationwide. In fact, they’re still working on emergency services that cover the whole country. Bear this in mind.
Pharmacies are all over the place and are open for most of the day. You can get a WHOLE LOAD of medication over the counter without a prescription in the Dominican Republic. Pharmacists themselves can often diagnose you and prescribe you something on the spot. Pharmacies can even deliver medication if needed!
Take note of the name of the medication you’re supposedly taking. There have been reports of fake medication.
Spanish Travel Phrases
Learning a bit of Spanish is a great way to get the most out of your trip. It is such a useful language to know! You can speak it in over 20 countries!
Here are a few helpful/basic Spanish travel phrases with English translations for your Dominican adventure:
Hello – Hola
How are you? – Como estas?
Good Morning – Buenos dias
I don’t understand – No entiendo
How much? – Cuánto cuesta?
Stop here – Te detienes aquí
Where is the toilet? – Donde esta el baño?
What is this? – Que es esto?
Sorry – Lo siento
Help! – Ayudame!
Cheers! – Salud!
Dick head! – Cabron!
Final thoughts on the safety of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the star player of Caribbean tourism. It’s well established as a tourist destination, people are very, very used to foreigners, and a lot of locals speak English. All-in-all, the Dominican Republic is a pretty safe place to travel to. But poverty, combined with an influx of relatively rich tourists, has meant that robberies committed against visitors aren’t all that rare.
At the end of the day, it’s all about how you travel, and we’d recommend you do so SMARTLY. That means not being flashy or cocky. Showing any money, a wallet, wearing expensive jewelry, carrying designer bags, shouting around in English, looking lost; all of these are to be avoided.
Millions of people travel to the Dominican Republic each year. Away from the tourist areas, the crazy scenery opens itself up as a haven for backpackers looking for an adventure in the backyard of an otherwise well-trodden, cruise-ship-visited destination. Our insider guide is full of tips of how to go about keeping safe in the Dominican Republic, so you’ll get to explore with peace of mind.
However, above all, make sure you’re travelling with insurance.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.