The Dominican Republic, or The DR for short, is popular for its crystal-clear blue water, and powdery white beaches.
I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and after a few years traveling solo around the world, I came home inspired to explore lesser-known places on my home island.
With more than six million visitors each year, The Dominican Republic ranks top five overall for tourism in the Americas.
This is one of the friendliest countries in the world, and exploring this Caribbean island with common-sense safety precautions in mind should be more than enough to keep you safe.
Here are my top six travel safety tips when it comes to exploring the Dominican Republic safely.
In 2019, the country was under media scrutiny over the suspicious deaths of 11 tourists. News articles claimed the deaths were due to tainted/spiked alcohol, but following investigations by the FBI, the deaths were deemed to have been by natural causes. But the damage was already done; there were news headlines warning people not to visit the Dominican Republic, causing a high number of hotel booking cancellations during the summer.
The government reacted to the media attention by setting up the Special Security Committee dedicated to ensuring the safety of visitors. Under new guidelines, hotels are now inspected four times a year, including detailed food and beverage control.
Each hotel guest room must now have an emergency information card with emergency numbers, such as:
Here are a few other tips to stay safe in the Dominican Republic based on my own and other locals’ experiences:
Overall it is safe for women to travel solo in the Dominican Republic, but like anywhere in the world, common sense and sensible judgment should always be on your agenda.
Avoid walking alone in dark alleys or back streets alone late at night.
Sexual harassment towards travelers is not common, although you might receive unwanted attention from Dominican men who might whistle or shout “hey mami” or “oye gringa”. This is not meant to cause harm, so just ignore them and keep walking.
At public beaches, you will see many sankis – young men trying to seduce travelers with the intention of extorting money or starting relationships in the hope that travelers will invite them to join them in their home country. If approached, say no.
The Dominican Republic has a high crime rate, but crime is most common in communities and areas travelers rarely visit.
Some high-crime areas in the capital city of Santo Domingo include Arroyo Hondo, Naco, Gazcue, Cristo Rey and Villa Agricola. Violent crimes such as theft, muggings and even murder have occurred. If confronted, always hand over your belongings.
Here are a few tips to keep yourself safe in urban areas of the Dominican Republic:
These are some of my favorite (and some of the safest) places to visit in the Dominican Republic.
The possession of drugs and drug use are illegal in the Dominican Republic. If you are caught buying, selling or consuming drugs you will be prosecuted and imprisoned.
The prisons in the Dominican Republic are poorly maintained. Better stay away from drugs and avoid the risk.
Around 95% of Dominicans are Christian and it is a conservative country when it comes to sexual orientation. Even though the topic of LGBTQ+ community is a sensitive one, everybody is welcome here. LGBTQ+ travelers may face discrimination or hear derogatory comments but are unlikely to encounter violence. Public displays of affection should be limited.
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