Whether or not you have any problems traveling through the Dominican Republic depends to a large extent on whether you have reservations in a popular tourist destination or if your hotel is in a remote area of the country. The most convenient methods of transportation to use are shuttle flights from the airports within the country, taxis that can carry small or large numbers of passengers and public buses. Many visitors to the Dominican Republic choose to rent a car and drive themselves around.
Air Santo Domingo is the island’s airline. This is the quickest way to get around the Dominican Republic because of the difficult terrain. This airline flies to and from Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romano. The fares are quite reasonable especially when you consider the amount of time you save in travelling.
There are two forms of public transportation that you can use for traveling through the Dominican Republic. Publicos are large unmetered taxis that travel along the main routes stopping to pick up passengers. You will recognize this mode of transportation by the white seal on the front door. It is essential that you tell the driver where you are going when the public stops to pick you up because it may not be going to that destination. Then there are public buses that are actually large trucks or minivans. They provide the same type of service as the publicos, but they are usually very crowded. The larger buses of this type operate outside of the main towns. On both of these methods of travelling through the Dominican Republic you have to be wary of your fellow passengers as there have been many incidents of pickpocketing.
The taxis that carry only two or three passengers are not metered. Before you sit in a taxi, make sure you arrange the price of the fare to avoid having to pay a high price when you arrive at your destination. If you don’t speak Spanish, this may present a problem. The best places to obtain a taxi are at the hotel or at the airport. You also have to be extremely careful when hiring a taxi in Santo Domingo because many passengers have been robbed or assaulted when they hire an unmarked taxi. Ask at your hotel which taxis are the most reliable.
If you really want to see the real Dominican Republic, you should rent a car. While most of the main thoroughfares are in good condition, the secondary roads are not paved and are very rough. There is very little lighting on the roads and they are now well signed out, which makes it very easy to get lost. You have to drive on the right and you need to allow yourself lots of time for arriving at your destination. The police are corrupt and may pull you over for an invented infraction of the law. You can adopt the policy of the locals and give them a small amount of money as a gift for their children and you will be allowed to go on.