Dominican Republic : Safety by City
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean country taking up the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, while the western one-third of Hispaniola is in the country of Haiti.
This country boasts two coastlines: the one on the north along the North Atlantic Ocean, and the one on the south, stretching along the Caribbean Sea.
The Dominican Republic is the right place for any real adventurists because it offers a rather diverse ecosystem made up of tropical rainforests, vast deserts, alpine ranges, and even swamps.
This place is a paradise for both nature lovers and fans of outdoor activities such as trekking, mountain biking or any water sport, really.
Now, as for the coastlines, you can expect luxurious resorts, as well as cheaper hostels and accommodation right next to exotic bars, restaurants with delicious food and refreshing tropical drinks and numerous little shops.
Stray away from the coastline and you will encounter remarkable colonial architecture in the country’s capital Santo Domingo.
Also waiting for you are sugar plantations, picturesque villages and mountain retreats in Jarabacoa and Constanza.
Warnings & Dangers in Dominican Republic
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall, Dominican Republic is safe to visit, though it has many dangers and is ridden with crime. You should be aware that tourist hotspots, restaurants, shops and public transportation are places where most thefts and pickpocketing occur, and that violent crime exists on the streets, too.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Transportation is not too safe, especially at night. Avoid public transport whenever you can, since this is where robberies and pickpocketing takes place. Always call a reliable taxi instead of hailing one on the streets.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
As for pickpocketing, it is not as big of a concern in the Dominican Republic as the violent crime but you should exercise caution and keep your money and your valuables elsewhere, like in hidden pockets of your clothes and never ever keep all of your money in the same place.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There has been a Zika outbreak in the Dominican Republic, so remain protected from mosquito bites at all times. Apart from this, Dominican Republic is susceptible to hurricanes and earthquakes.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There have been cases of mugging and even kidnappings which usually involve criminals targeting a foreigner, taking them hostage and driving them to the nearest ATM to withdraw everything from their bank account. Be careful in the cities of Santo Domingo, María Trinidad Sánchez, Santiago, Santo Domingo Province and Valverde, as there have been reports of kidnappings there.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The risks of terrorist attacks in Dominican Republic are low, but since they shouldn't be ruled out, it is important that you remain vigilant at all times and aware of your surroundings.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There is a high risk of getting scammed in Dominican Republic. Be wary of weird people around ATMs or anyone trying to distract you. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Many women have traveled to Dominican Republic and had nothing but great time. However, this country isn't the safest in terms of females traveling solo since there have been reports of women being attacked or shamed, so be careful, especially at night and apply precaution measures at all times and avoid dark and empty streets and locations
So... How Safe Is Dominican Republic Really?
The Dominican Republic is somewhat safe to visit, and you should keep that in mind when planning your trip to this country.
It is ridden with both petty crime and violent crime.
You might encounter criminals impersonating police officials, making taxis or private vehicles stop and then robbing the travelers at gunpoint.
Keep in mind that you should simply avoid moving along this country at night when the situation is particularly bad.
There is also the common occurrence of motorcyclists swooping in at a red light and reaching into your vehicle, stealing whatever they can, so either keep your windows up or put a stronghold on your purse or bag.
Another form of crime dangerous for tourists are the break-ins, even in the luxurious all-inclusive resorts: people have reported having their rooms broke into, including the safes.
Others have been sexually assaulted at their resorts after having a spiked drink.
There have also been cases of criminals impersonating repairmen and maintenance staff entering rooms and then assaulting or even killing tourists.
Be wary of taxi drivers and avoid unmarked taxis, which may try to scam riders, usually with the assistance of other criminals, getting into your car and robbing you or making you withdraw all your money from the nearest ATM.
How Does Dominican Republic Compare?
- Visas - No tourist visa is required to enter Dominican Republic, for any stays shorter than 30 days. Make sure your passport is valid at the time of entry. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Dominican peso is the official currency in Dominican Republic. ATMs can be found throughout the country and credit cards are widely accepted in most tourism-related establishments.
- Weather - The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate, characterized by hot weather during the entire year, with two seasons in winter, a dry and a rainy season lasting from late April to October along the eastern and southern coasts. The northern coast, exposed to the trade winds, experiences rainy weather throughout the year with less rainfall from June to September.
- Airports - Punta Cana International Airport is the busiest airport in the Dominican Republic and, at the same time, the second busiest airport in the Caribbean. It is located in La Altagracia Province.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we advise getting travel insurance when traveling to Dominican Republic, because it would cover not only medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.
Dominican Republic Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
30 Reviews on Dominican Republic
Tell us what to do when the police shake us down for money and threat to take us to jail if we don’t pay them?? That has happened to me and many people I know.
It’s true that the Police in DR is way underpaid.
For this cause they won’t miss an opportunity to get some extra cash, but only for minor violations, mainly traffic violations and that’s only if you tell them first to give you a break (which is not common in the USA) to avoid your US license from being confiscated as a guarantee that you will appear in court before leaving the DR.
However, the police do not force anyone to give them money; they may imply it by letting you know the inconveniences associated with breaking the law. The most obvious phrase they use is something like: “we haven had any breakfast today” or “can you cooperate with something ($$) for the sodas?” or any others along this line, but they don’t force anyone.
if you are wise you will give them five bucks ($5) or even ten. I have done it in order to continue my way. That’s it.
I wish I could do that for a traffic violation here in the USA. Oh, I can tell you that they are very friendly and respectful of tourists or foreigners on vacation.
Now, if you intent to give them a hard time, they’ll act as any police officer here in the USA to enforce the law.
Most of the time I’ve been there, I end up breaking the traffic law because people are very careless and don’t respect the traffic lights or patterns, they cut you off easily and sometimes you’re compelled to do that yourself; traffic is very bad, you have to forget that you are driving with civilized drivers next to you. Be careful while driving.
Dealing with police and traffic
Ok I lived there for 2 years, and I am a caucasian male. Police will pull you over for any reason, if you look like your from the states then you are a target. I never really saw them try and guilt a person into paying them off. The big scam they do is ask for your drivers license. I can not warn you hard enough, DO NOT EVER GIVE THEM YOUR ORIGINAL DRIVERS LICENSE, make copies and give them a copy. If you give them you real/original DL, they will extort you for a lot of money to get it back, same with passport your passport. If you are going to be there longer then a week, you should invest in a safety deposit box at the Banco de Reservas or if your hotel has a secure safe system then put it there. Passport theft is big business there. Another thing to remember, the longer you hold up the officer, the greater chance they will tell you to leave, there are always other tourists that they can shake down for some money. If you brave, you can wait for the traffic to open up in front of you (generally they will stop you when you are unable to leave the scene) and then just speed out of there. They do not radio to each other over traffic violations, mind you if the have a high powered motorcycle (when I was living there the officers you didn’t mess with were the Honda Nighthawk cops) it is best to just pay them off. If you try to run on them then they will get run you down and your bribe will be 10x what it could have been.
As for the driving, the laws are very much the same as the states. Very few people have auto insurance down there. So there are a couple things to be aware of: 1st- The unwritten law of the road is “I am bigger, I have the right of way”. Accept this as a fact, if a vehicle is bigger than yours assume your are invisible to them. 2nd- DO NOT CHECK BLIND SPOTS! I know this is completely opposite of what we have learned here in the states, but remember the 1st rule takes precedence. Also, vehicle safety regs do not really exist. You must pay attention to what is in front and to the sides of you. Turn signals rarely work and stop lights on cars don’t work on anything older than a five years or older vehicle. Learn to use your mirrors, and learn to do quick checks of each mirror. Before you need to turn into another lane, be sure to check those mirrors at least a mile before needing to turn. Know what is are in those lanes long before you attempt to turn and again remember rule one.
The most obvious phrase they use is something like: “we haven had any breakfast today” or “can you cooperate with something ($$) for the sodas?” or any others along this line, but they don’t force anyone.
Precisely my experience in a rural encounter. Thanks for posting it here. Actually a very friendly encounter. And you’re right — it’s a big chunk of what they have to live on. $5 or $10 goes a long way to help. It won’t kill you.
I did have a very bad experience in DR.. I 14 year old street kid tried to stab me because I refuse to give him money.
It was like 5 PM in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Santo Domingo. People also overprice everything at restaurants and at the beach. They think that tourists are stupid!
I rented an Airbnb condo in front of Parque mirador (their central park) and a few blocks from Venezuela and other Embassies, Yet, one night in that building, a Guy that lives there killed with gunshot a Mugger who enter into the facility that night.
The food is very good and the people are friendly, but I won’t come back. The Government in that country is the first narco cartel…
I feel sorry for Dominicans. They do have an amazingly beautiful country!~ But they have awful law enforcement and government.
Its Great and Really Dangerous
I go there every three month for a week. True, the police will hold you up. So give them $10. Its true the are two prices for anything – the Dominican price and the tourist price – so get the price straight in advance.
Follow these rules religiously:1. Never get drunk in public. You’re finished if you do. 2. Don’t go on any beach at night – you could get hurt. 3. Don’t leave a public areas to go some place not public with any stranger – no matter what you are promised.
Enjoy sitting under a palm tree at the beach sipping a drink. Enjoy warm breezy weather every day. Swim in the forested waterfalls. Ride horses thru the trees. Feed potatoes to the wild iguanas.
Lay in the sun at your hotel pool. Have a great meal at a reasonable price (not on the beach).
Enjoy the friendly vibes of the general population. Walk down El Conde mall in Santo Domingo.
Hasta la vista
DR is as safe as you make it .
This is very good advice. I go stay 6 months every year to punta Cana ,I stay in an apartment. In the 10 or so years I’ve been doing this (I’m a single white female) I’ve had no problems as I follow these same guideline he’s written about .If you do travel around by car. Have extra police money separate from your hidden other money. That way they don’t take every cent you have because they will.
I want to travel to Dominican for 2 months. January and Febuary 2021. Love Punta Cana. What are price of apartments to rent.
Can you advice.
Thank you kindly
Was driving from Playa Macao to Miche. Half way there two officers, one with radar and the other signaling to move to left side of the road.
Noticed the officer with radar would lower it when old vehicles would show up.
Was told I went over 70 km/ hr speed limit.
I could pay 1000 peso and be on my way or have car impounded.
I asked for a receipt for the fine.
Was told to leave.
Don’t t really know if it was due to my insisted for a receipt or that a higher official pulled in front of us.
Question- we’re going to punta Cana next May- you mentioned not to get drunk in public, does this include the resort we’re staying at? Our resort is gated, do you think that will help make us safer? I’m starting to rethink this and maybe book our honeymoon somewhere else…
What resort are you staying at? I’m reading the reviews and we’re going in October…. I’m highly rethinking it also.
Go at least once. Never return.
Went down there last year. The locals are friendly. Don’t get too drunk unless you can handle yourself. Keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. Foxxy in Santo Domingo is a right laugh.
Ultimately for Santo Domingo at least, its a city of sin. Keep that in mind and you should be fine.
Don’t go you will return with a head
I am going to the Dominican for over 20 years and never had any problems of course in puerto Plata, I feel safe in dominican I also have lots of Dominican police friends, there’s no place on the planet is safe so why all you idiots out there are taking shit about Dominican, why not talk about the USA where crime is happening every second, I am tired of hearing you people talk negative things about beautiful Dominican.
Amen and I live in the US
Hello can you honestly say its safe were booked in fully inclusive for 2 weeks I’m scared now reading all these reviews
Safer than NYC
I agree with you 100%. I go to Santo Domingo DR every 3-4 months and I haven’t heard one gun shot. On the other hand, I hear gunshots at least once a month in Harlem NY where I have my business.
I tell you what it is, go to London, New York, Paris, and any other so called civilised country and wollop the crime is everywhere, what i am seeing and hearing about DR is mild compared to these big white cities, if a black persons country has a few crimes it seems everyone becomes petrified. LOL. go to the bronx NY in fact any major city in USA, Gipton UK, Halton Moor UK (POLICE DONT GO THERE AT NIGHT ON THERE OWN). London, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Leicester, Birmingham, or any major city in Europe or uK, OR even towns: The Grove in Halifax had a documentary on how rough and poor this area was, so they went out and rioted (This is a white area with not a massive influx of foreigners so 99% mainly British. Throw a stone and thats were the crime was yesterday or 2 seconds a go in most areas of the UK. and these people have issues with DOM REP: PLEASE… ITS ON MY LIST TO IMMIGRATE again from the UK, I TELL YOU I WOULD SOONER LIVE in DR, JA, BB, PR, THAN THESE OTHER PLACES MENTIONED. I Lived in Mississauga Canada, just got up for a glass of water middle of night early morning and heard what was a gun shot, yeah and the Caribbean has problems but these places are safe give me a break, THE Caribbean, IS A tropical paradise, THERES CRIME EVERYWHERE IN EVERY COUNTRY, ITS JUST THAT WHEN IT HAPPENS IN A COUNTRY OF BROWN PEOPLE THERES AN ISSUE, IF IT HAPPENS ONCE ITS RIFE. Amir Khan in London Professional boxer x world champ robbed at gun point. Met police being stripped to the core with corruption, sexual assaults, Career rapists in the met, murderers and this is just the police, Enough said. AND STILL MOST OF THE CARIBBEAN IS UNSAFE. MY MY MY…….
I like to go
I like to go with my family there, is something I need to do for all of us to be safer
I will not go
It’s very unsafe and unsecure
Some people are stupid because in America there are many dangerous cities, even you are not safe when you take a train. Because they can rape or attack you, all countries have the same problems, some more than others, but not all say about the DR. we must take the same precaution in any country in the world. My experience there have been the best.
I have been living in Puerto Plata 4 1/2 years and never felt unsafe. More likely to get shot/robbed/killed in the US and I am a US citizen
Use common sense. If your inner voice tells you your in danger then you probably are. The people are mostly nice. The majority of them want no harm to come to you. If you happen to come across the few that do just give them what they ask for, and they will be on their way most likely. Don’t and you could very well be on yours, up to that bungalow in the sky that is. I’m in Santo Domingo mostly when I go, and each time have the time of my life. COVID really sucks because before it came to me my trips there was always very much looked forward to. NOTHING like it. Now it’s still great just not as much fun. I’d recommend anyone to go. It’s just like any American city……. DON’T BE A DUMBASS! Money goes a long way, but you can be taken advantage of for it, as anywhere. Make some friends just be careful.
Not like USA!!!
For you bleeding heart liberals that claim the DR is the same as the US you are sticking your ignorant heads in the sand and are clearly denying reality. The crime rate in DR is much higher than in the US. Police corruption and a weak police force/system leaves travelers at risk and less protected. Now there are certainly ghettos in the US that I would not set foot in but (ie Baltimore) those are few considering the overall size of the country. Crime is also on the rise from BLM.
With that said, however, you can still enjoy a visit/vacation in DR. I have a couple of times, but realize your risk is increased once there. To minimize the risk follow recommended precautions – stay with others, avoid being out at night etc. We go to dive and stay at the resort. So don’t completely avoid DR but don’t think you are safe when traveling there either. We all manage risk in our lives and sometimes an increase in risk is worth it.
My guy nobody here has said they’re liberal or conservative, it’s exactly this kind of behavior from both sides that’s destroying the country. Like just say your piece and go back to watching Fox News without bringing politics into every single aspect of your life.
A beautiful country
There are plenty of very beautiful spots to visit in this area like the 3 Eyes National Park, Saona Island which I loved, Bavaro beach or Altos de Chavon. The people are generally friendly but yes, there’s a bit of a problem with Police which you sometimes have to pay off to get rid of problems. It’s not too bad and hasn’t ruined my experience.
I’ve been going there since 1986,my wife is from there.It’s turned into a bad place,the unemployment for young men has turned a lot of them into petty thugs,they rob Dominicans not just tourists.The average Dominican doesn’t venture far from home at night.Haitians have had an impact also on excessive panhandling and crime.Too bad Ramfis Trujillo couldn’t run for President to fix things.
We went to Puerto Plata and Punta Cana and we never had any issues! I never put anything in the safe and nothing missing!!!! We are going this weekend for 4 weeks to Puerto Plata! Don’t be afraid, completely safe to go there!