getting around in dominican republic

Old May 4th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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getting around in dominican republic

My hubby and I are flying into Santo Domingo in Sept late at night, but our hotel is in Punta Cana. I was strongly advised to not rent a car and drive at night here, but don't know how else to get to our resort. The resort told me to take a taxi for $200. one way. Does anyone have any other ideas? Should we stay the night in Santo Domingo and rent a car for the next day? Is that safe to do? If so, where should we stay that is nice and safe?

Been feeling a little frustrated, had to cancel mexico for tomorrow and got it changed to dominican, but it's been a hassle coming from California.
Thanks for any and all help!!!!!
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:54 PM
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You should stay in Santo Domingo for the night. It is a long rough drive to Punta Cana and there is no way you want to do it at night.

If you have the option to take a taxi, that is what I would do. If I remember correctly, it was about 4 hours. I was 7 months pregnant when I did it, so it may have seemed longer than it was. Have you driven in the Carribean or Mexico? If not, definitely do the taxi. If you speak some Spanish and have driven out of the country you may be fine. The road rules are totally different, so be prepared if you do drive.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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I'm really sorry that you chose to fly into Santo Domingo because this is going to take away from your trip significantly. It's a particularly inconvenient airport for Punta Cana. It's going to be a bear to get back to your return flight as well. Expect the travel time to be between 3 and 4 hours. If there's any possible way to change your hotel to something closer to SD or your flight to Punta Cana, please do that. If you can get a hotel in La Romana, that will make your transfer much much easier.

You have a couple of options for airport transfers. You can certainly rent a car, but I would strongly advise you not to travel at night. If you are arriving really late, stay at the Quality Hotel Real Aeropuerto Santo Domingo. It's probably the cheapest and closest hotel to the airport, which is actually east of SD proper. There's also an Embassy Suites in Juan Dolio.

Now, here's the deal on driving. It can be trying, but it's certainly possible. Cars are really expensive there (you'll probably pay at least $60 a day for the car, and there may be a hefty drop-off fee if you don't keep it for the entire trip). You will NOT need or want a car in Punta Cana itself, which is why most people recommend taking the taxi. If you end up renting a car, be sure to arrive an hour earlier than necessary on your return to SD airport because it will take a while to deal with the formalities. It's not a simple drop-off in the DR.

Prieto Tours does offer private-van airport transfers from SD to Punta Cana, and that might be worth looking into. They have a Web site (www.prieto-tours.com). I have read about another company called Dominican Airport Transfers (www.dominicanairporttransfers.com), but I don't have any personal experience for them and can't vouch for them.

I don't know the costs but $200 sounds about right because of the long distance and time involved. It's obviously going to be much cheaper to take a bus from Santo Domingo, but you'll have to deal with the hassle of going into town and finding it. There's information on how to do this in our Dominican Republic guide. It might be cheaper and less hassle to fly on Air Century from SD to Punta Cana, but you would need to price everything out, and that would certainly require an overnight stay on your arrival though would probably speed your trip back. But domestic flights are from Dr. Joaquin Balaguer airport (usually called "La Isabela"), and that's in Higuero, a northern SD suburb. So you'd have to figure on the cost of transfers there.

Any way you look at it, this is going to be a major hassle, so consider your options carefully. You have plenty of time to make changes if your tour company will allow it.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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trishnrich---Doug has given you some excellent advice, and he beat me to the punch on a couple of points. A lot depends on which piece of your arrangements is easier/cheaper to change.

If you can change your flight to PUJ, that would be ideal. Any change penalty should be offset by avoiding the SDQ-Punta Cana transport. Or, if you can change your flight to LRM, you'll at least be that much closer to Punta Cana.

I'm guessing it's the beaches of PC that you're after, so changing the arrival airport would be the first thing to try.

If, OTOH, you have any interest at all in the sights of Santo Domingo, but still want some beach time, please consider Doug's idea of switching to a hotel in LaRomana. The Bayahibe beach is gorgeous in its own right, and the hotels in that area tend to be smaller than the mega-resorts of PC.

I have flown AirCentury (Santo Domingo to Samana) and found their prices reasonable, so that suggestion is also a smart one, if it turns out you still need to get from SDQ to PC.

It's understandable that you were in a tizzy over the last-minute MX cancellation scenario, so relax and take a breath before making any changes. (I don't remember reading whether you are working with a TA, but if so, he/she should be giving you much better guidance/service----this stress-inducing position you find yourselves in should never have come about, IMO.)

Worst-case scenario is you'll have a long, relaxing bus ride to gaze out at tiny Dominican towns, sugarcane fields, and more interesting vehicles on the road than you could have imagined ! Please report back to let us know how the planning is going, and what changes you've made.

Either way, all the hassles will be forgotten once you arrive and get yourselves on "Dominican time !"
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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thank you guys so much for all of the helpful info. We are not going through a ta and have a timeshare co that is not very helpful and are using airlines miles which is why we have to fly into SDQ. I'm trying to work out changing to PC airport, but coming from California, it adds about another 11 hours to the trip! Not sure why they do that? We only have until sept to use our timeshare week and miles which is why I was panicking. I have never been to DR and can't wait. Everything I read makes me think it might be my new favorite island. We were married in ST John USVI, but this sounds just as incredible. Can't wait to get there- Anyone have any suggestions to move the calendar ahead a few months for me now? LOL Thanks again, this has been very helpful!
Trish
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Let me make another suggestion. Try Puerto Plata instead. There are a lot of timeshares up there, and you might be able to use miles more easily than at Punta Cana. I don't know the name of the resort, but family went there a couple of years ago and enjoyed it---and it will be AI for a small supplement. Though I warn you that most of the timeshares in the DR simply don't compare to those in Mexico.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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ok well, less than three weeks to go and I am sooo excited to get there. I was able to change the return flight from santo domingo to punta cana airport, but am still flying into santo domingo. We are now leaving a day earlier so we can stay the night in santo domingo and leisurely take our time getting to punta cana. any suggestions on a rental car co? we want to drive around the island throughout our stay so I am ok with keeping a car for a while.
Thanks again for all of your help!
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Old Aug 26th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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trishnrich,

I wouldn't recommend you renting a car (cheaper to take the bus from SDQ to Punta Cana, and in Punta Cana you won't need car, there's not much to do outside the resorts--driving in the DR is absolutely crazy--never mind where you've driven before in the US, even Manhattan compares favorably with driving here).

In any event, I would rent a car online from a major US rental car company. Why? First, some companies like Budget will give you a cheaper rate if you have a US drivers license (but in my experience they do it only if you reserve online in the US site, if you try their local sites or directly at the airport, they make it substantially more expensive). Second, you will have an option to buy full coverage insurance. Small companies in the DR have a huge deductible and do not sell additional coverage.
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Old Sep 8th, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Ok I took your advice and am not renting a car. We are flying into SDQ Fri night and staying the night there then either taking a bus or hiring Conexion tours to take us to PC. Do you know how long the bus ride is? And where does it leave you off in PC, is it easy to get taxi from station to the hotel?
Only three days to go!!!!!
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