Dominican Republic, this and that for the budget minded
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Sep 29, 2012 1:02 AM Last Post By: RobertoGustavo
Sep 20, 2012 3:47 PM
Dominican Republic, this and that for the budget mindedI am currently in Pedernales and thought I would post some information. I arrived yesterday at Santo Domingo's main international airport. The taxi mafia had fought having bus service at the airport but I went upstairs and found a gua gua into town for 70 pesos (less than 2 US dollars). From where it dropped me, I was able to walk ( OK, it was a long walk) to the Caribe Tours terminal for a bus to Barahona. Arriving in Barahona at night, I was about 2 blocks to the atmospheric Hotel Loro Tuerto. The cafe is in front, painted brightly. Today I took another gua gua the three hours to Pedernales on the border with Haiti. It is a legal crossing and there is a market at the border.
I am staying at the charming and good value Dona Chava. I walked around Pedernales today.
My quick impression of both Barahona and Pedernales would be they aren't destinations in themselves but the areas around them are beautiful. The coast between the two is made for dreams.
I have found places to eat but can't say they are places I would want to go back to. Empty (almost closed yet sullen service) , not having much that is on the menu and trying to overcharge are things to look out for. Maybe my luck will change on this.
The area I am staying in isn't for the "all inclusive resort" crowd. But it has beautiful natural appeal. My trips to the Dominican Republic show me that you don't have to spend a bomb to enjoy it.
Sep 20, 2012 9:50 PM
1Thanks for posting. I liked poking around that corner of the D.R., but I had my own transport. I met an American couple who didn't, and they seemed to have to rely heavily on tours or private taxis to get to a lot of the out-of-the-way spots. Everything seemed to take them a lot longer, too. On the other hand, they met more locals than I did, largely because they were blundering around a lot more, while I could mostly decide where I wanted to go, then go there.
I don't remember any interesting or outstanding food down that way either. Nice landscapes--sometimes pretty, sometimes bordering on the bizarre--and an absence of other tourists. I'd be interested in hearing more about how it goes for you.
Sep 21, 2012 8:26 AM
2Thanks for your kindness, Mark.
For anyone visiting Pedernales, my advice would be not to wait until way out here to change money. The one bank I found had an hour long line ( I'm not kidding) and gives a bad exchange rate. Of course, I had to wait to get to the teller to find it out. If you are coming from Barahona or Santo Domingo, there are better places to change.
Today I visted the international market at the border and went over to Anse A Pitres, Haiti for a look. I have paid fees at other crossings but was not eager to pay them for a quick morning visit this time. So when I got to the chain fence and the Dominican guard saw me...the only non Black person around... he just smiled and opened it. Although I hate to be an illegal alien, who am I to argue? No one stopped me on the Haiti side. Anse A Pitres is a friendly but impovished town. After I walked back to Pedernales.
The market at the border sells second hand clothes and such. Not tourist trinkets. No one bothered me to buy anything.
Haiti has so much to offer and I am not suggesting this for people who have not seen its sights. But if you are out this way and want to just say you have been to Haiti, it is a nice look-see.
I played a little game walking to the border. People smiled and greeted me, so I tried to guess if "Bon Jour" or "Buenas" would be right. "Bon Jour' won out as it is almost all Haitians going this way. Also, if you can't tell by the color, men in Haiti often carry a French style elegance while Dominican men often try a macho swagger.
I can not stress enough how beautiful the coast is coming out this way. If lonely beaches are what you are after with blue green water, this is the place.
Sep 21, 2012 2:03 PM
3Thanks for posting! it's always good to read about the other side of DR (and Haiti). Do you have a clue about your next destination or...?
Yeah, it seems like a lot of people are disappointed with good in DR in general. How much do they (over)charge you for meals there? :)
Sep 21, 2012 4:11 PM
4Thank you, kkzd05. Concerning your money question, I am of the opinion that most people are honest but when you are a tourist especially there are those who try to take advantage anywhere.
It is nice that the hotels here did not ask for payment up front (I would if I were running a hotel!)
So far in two restaurants the bill did not reflect the menu price, even considering taxes. I had a fish dinner for about the same price it would cost me in the USA. At a supermarket items rang up a higher price than marked (that happens at home too...funny...it is never lower than marked!) You have to speak up in Spanish. The cashier insisted the price listed or marked was the old price but they didn't have time to change it. No, to hell with that.
This area of the country sees few foreign visitors and isn't very sharky. It also has some businesses that really don't understand the standards of places elsewhere, in big cities. I like Pedernales but find it amusing that you can't buy a piece of fruit after breakfast time ( the fruit stands close and the supermarkets don't sell any) and asking for a salad you might as well ask for something from Mars.
Sep 27, 2012 7:47 AM
5Great postings, merci! :) So true about taxi mafia at SDQ--- It costs $180 one way to Las Terrenas (northeast corner of DR); however, rental cars are fairly cheap, about $240/week-- My Haitian friend in Las Terrenas built our second house there and manages our rental properties- He's a wonderful man and we hope to travel with him to Haiti to visit his relatives- I will continue to follow your tips!
Sep 28, 2012 2:43 AM
6You are very kind LivesInAirports.. Thank YOU.. I am headed to SDQ this morning to spend the weekend in Puerto Rico. I am going to take the Gua Gua even if I can only find one to the highway turn off just not to have to spend the taxi fare! My hotel room in the Dominican Republic actually costs less than the taxi fare to the airport!
Sep 28, 2012 4:54 AM
7Couldn't agree more about the taxi rip-off rates en RD, and especially in the capital. I have always stayed at Hotel Independencia, spartan but clean and safe...across from Parque Independencia for US$14 a night. Compared to the US$40 preset standard taxi fare for getting-out of SDQ, something's just not right! Thankfully, it's possible to negotiate with drivers around la Zona Colonial when heading back to the airport, and I got a hotel pick-up for the airport costing US$25/RD900.
But just going from this vicinity the 12-or-so blocks to Parque Enriquillo for catching express buses, the taxi cost RD150. The bus from here all the way to La Romana RD 140. ¡Coño!
Sep 28, 2012 7:40 AM
8Thanks, Jose, for tip abt taxi FROM downtown to airport-- good to know, also abt cheap hotel--
When I arrive too late at SDQ to drive to Las Terrenas, I always stay at Hotel Mango in Boca Chica-- Only 1000pesos, friendly and safe for a solo woman and her dog!
And Roberto...why are you going to Puerto Rico???
Have a wonderful weekend-
Sep 28, 2012 3:26 PM
I am writing this from Puerto Rico, for a change of pace for the weekend. On Sunday I return to the the DR for a while.
Jose, this morning leaving Santo Domingo I passed the Hotel Independencia as I was staying on the corner at the art deco Foreigner's Club Hotel. The FCH however has gone downhill since the fabulous Alberto is no longer the manager, but was still OK. My room (a/c, wi fi, cable, hot water) was $35 including taxes and breakfast. The gate is locked for security, but that leaves you outside ringing the bell to get in. My take on your mentioned Hotel Independencia from the outside was that it was friendly and safe if no frills. The block is not so wonderful at night and you have to keep your eyes open. More than once someone wanting money followed me and I was glad to get indoors. When I return Sunday to Santo Domingo, I got a good deal at the plusher Hotel Discovery around the corner for $33.
I walked to the Parque Enriquillo area ( I like to walk and am light on luggage) and at the gua gua terminal for the Boca Chica vans, I hopped on an air conditioned one going to the airport (and not just the turn off). It was express and costs 70 Pesos (less than $2 US)
Sep 28, 2012 5:24 PM
10WoW; chévere on that Boca Chica van stopping at SDQ for 70 pesos!!! Now that's the kind of info from actual on-the-ground research that used to appear in LP guides decades ago - when the series were truly geared to the budget traveler. Trouble for me is I'm a regular on that first AA flight out in the morning, but - fantastic for mid-day departures.
Yes, I'm familiar with walking by FCH on the corner in that neighborhood. Hotel Independencia is definitely no-frills as in no television, fan only, sometimes questionable water pressure, and a bit worn but it's safe/secure, comfortable beds, en suite baño, and sufficient. As for nighttime on the block, thanks for mentioning this for others...as I don't notice or think anything of these types of things after living in Spanish Harlem for years. I guess the same could be said for potential noise from daytime traffic or all-night discos.
However, you certainly can't beat the prices anywhere in the capital! Don't remember what I paid the first time I found this place in '97?, but - a single has been RD500 a night for years.
Where you staying in San Juan? Hope you enjoy, and have had the opportunity to explore El Yunque ~ :)
Sep 29, 2012 1:02 AM
11I'm at a motel in Isla Verde.
I can see the hotel you stayed at in Santo Domingo is a good budget find. I noticed friendly older people sitting out front as I walked by on the sidewalk. I was glad for that as the rest of the block is rather dodgy in my opinion and very dark at night. Nobody tried to rob me but I still got my back up when druggies start to walk with me chatting me up.
The Foreigner's Club on the corner was once a Gay hotel and I think druggie type guys have the idea they might be able to make money as male prostitutes by chatting up people coming and going. Anyway, none of this resulted in any harm to me... it is just a "heads up" if people walk around here at night.
In the daytime, there is a heavy set blind woman who has sat around the corner begging for many years. If she hears an English conversation she says "one dollar, one dollar!" She seems to be a neighborhood fixture and I have often seen other people sitting talking to her. An interesting area and near the Conde, too.
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