Public transport in the Dominican Republic, or how to get around the country. A question that most tourists are interested in. It is good when there is an opportunity to rent a car, but if not. And travel around the Dominican Republic can only by public transport. I will tell you how it works here.
Table of contents:
- Types of public transport and general points
- All about buses
Resources to help the traveler
- The most adequate car rental – DiscoveryCar
- Tours to the Dominican Republic, cheaper only to steal – Level Travel
- Villas, apartments, hotels – Hotellook
- Excursions with Russian guides – Tripster
- Transfer from the airport to the hotel – Intui
In this article we will not consider options for travel within the city. There are literally two major cities in the country. And within the city, it’s most convenient to get around by cab or motoconcho. Or in the case of Santo Domingo by subway. Here is a great overview of the capital of the Dominican Republic.
On the country’s roads, this picture is not uncommon. When voting on the road or waiting for a GuaGua, it’s best to step aside. Something can fall out of such trucks.
Public transportation in the Dominican Republic: what it is and general points
I often say that public transportation in the country is poorly developed. This is true and not true at the same time. Let me explain. On the one hand, if you want, you can get to the most remote village of the Dominican Republic by public transportation. But on the other hand, you will do it in a couple of days, with a huge number of transfers. There is a direct, regular bus service only between the major cities. The rest is a haphazard network of local shuttles.
As you have already realized, to get around the country you need to use:
- Regular buses.
- The local shuttle buses of Gua Gua.
- You can also, of course, use cabs and motoconchos, but about that in the article about cabs in the Dominican Republic.
Important to know:
The Dominican Republic has very good roads. Throughout the country, with few exceptions, the asphalt is of excellent quality. And if your route is through toll highways, even by bus you can get halfway across the country pretty quickly.
One of the three Dominican bus carriers is Metro.
Transportation in the Dominican Republic: all about buses
There are no railroads in the Dominican Republic, or rather there are, but they are about 100km long and are not used for passenger transportation. Air travel across the country is also not developed because of the small area of the country. There is no river transport here. In fact, there are only roads.
All major cities and resorts of Dominica are connected by a good regular bus service.
It is useful to know:
For example, the country’s largest resort, Punta Cana and Bavaro, is connected to the Dominican capital by a regular bus route. Five to six flights daily. Three hours and you’re in Santo Domingo.
All interregional buses in the Dominican Republic are modern and comfortable. The fleet is almost all new. Televisions, toilets, comfortable seats, air conditioning – all this is in the buses that run between major cities. Many even have wifi.
There are three major bus carriers operating in the Dominican Republic:
Prices are about the same for buses from different companies. For example, a ticket from Bavaro to Santo Domingo costs about $7-8. From Santo Domingo to the Samaná Peninsula is also about $8-$9.
You cannot buy tickets in advance online. You have to come an hour and a half before the flight and buy them at the ticket office. Or, if your stop is intermediate, buy them from the driver.
Guagua shuttle buses
The network of small GuaGua shuttles is very developed in the Dominican Republic. What you need to know about it:
- The correct name for this mode of transportation is GUAGUAS.
- These are such Bogdan-type minibuses, usually up to 20-25 people capacity.
- Unlike buses there are no companies, as a rule there are private carriers.
- The schedule is not about Guahua. Locals, of course, know when and where the bus will be. But the plus or minus half an hour is not even a delay.
- On the plus side, it’s cheap; a ride costs literally $1 or $2. Also, Guagua has a huge number of routes all over the country. If you have conversational Spanish, you can get to almost the most remote village.
- Of the main disadvantages: there are no long routes linking great distances, everything is very local.
We went from Baiaibe Beach in La Romano to Guagua in the town of Sosua. It’s kind of close, only about 450km. And they are both major population centers. But it took us 14 hours to get to Guagua, with 4 transfers. One of them drops us off at the bus stop and tells us to wait here for the next bus. The bus we need arrives after 2.5 hours. We are driving another hour, and again change the same route.
The most important thing to know about Guahua. You can take them anywhere, but you have to ask and communicate. The drivers will always tell you where they will take you and what to do next, and sometimes they will take you by the hand and pass you to the next driver.
Read an article about the language in the Dominican Republic. If you speak at least basic Spanish, it will be much easier. In the Dominican Republic in English they do not speak the word completely and do not understand. Communication is only in Spanish.
Parking with Guagua – local shuttle buses.
Public transportation in the Dominican Republic: tips for tourists
The main advice is one: it is easier, more convenient, faster and more comfortable to move around the Dominican Republic by rental car. But not everyone has the right, money and desire. So you have to go by public transport, and here are a few things:
- Yes, shuttle buses are more expensive, but if there is a bus route is better to choose it.
- Yes, if there is no bus to your destination city, but there is somewhere nearby, it is better to go by bus. And then take the last segment on GuaGua.
- I recommend to use Guahua only for short distances up to 30-50km between neighboring towns. And you have to know beforehand how often they go and with what intensity, at least approximately.
- In Guahua, the most thankless thing is the change. It is not clear how long to wait for the next one, and if it is full, then wait again.
- Be sure to have petty cash with you. Buses and GuaGua, this is where they don’t like to give change, especially to tourists. Usually they say there is no change or just pretend they forgot.
In conclusion: Public transportation in the Dominican Republic, on the one hand is fine. But if you need to travel across the country from one small town to another such, then you will definitely face logistical difficulties. No problem if you want to get to the capital, as well as the country’s major cities such as Puerto Plato, Punta Cano, Santiago.
Have a short transfers and comfortable itinerary for your trip to the Dominican Republic!
If you find a mistake, write in the comments.
IMPORTANT: Below are links without which you can’t organize your dream trip to the Dominican Republic.
Transportation in Punta Cana
Walking in Punta Cana is not interesting: the streets are narrow, there are sidewalks not everywhere, and you can only look at the fences of the hotels. It is convenient to use shuttles and cabs to get around. And here the main problem will be the language barrier. In the entire resort there are only a few people who speak English. So before the trip will have to learn Spanish and international sign language.
The roads in Punta Cana are perfect, though narrow
Transport hubs in Punta Cana
Guaguas (guaguas) are white city buses. Often it is a broken-down, broken-down bus with no windows or doors and a lot of people piled on top of it. Rumor has it that guaguas have a specific route (map), but in practice the bus can be stopped almost anywhere. The fare is 15 pesos.
Photo source: dominikana-kariby Photo source: tripadvisor
The ride is not fast: the driver is constantly recruiting new passengers. Not only people can ride with you, but also sheep and chickens. Each guaguas has a conductor, who collects the fare and informs you of the stops. Tell him your destination when you board. He will tell you if the shuttle is going there and tell you the time to get off.
Finding the stop can be a problem. The blogger donz_ru recommends consulting with locals:
The concept of stops seems to be non-existent in this country. There aren’t even signs that hint at them. So once you arrive at your intended bass waiting point, ask the locals if you’re standing correctly.
Keep in mind that the shuttles run out very early, at 4-5pm. After that time, only cabs are available.
Anna Kumantsova warns that Punta Cana has shut down a major loophole for thrifty tourists:
Uber, Gett or Lyft are banned in the Punta Cana resort, and you won’t get to your hotel or many points in the resort by public transportation.
If you need to get there quickly and in relative comfort, you’ll have to use local cabs. Drivers are on duty at hotel exits, shopping malls, and all major intersections. Punta Cana has a licensing system. If a cab driver gets into an accident or grossly violates the rules, his license is taken away. Therefore, drivers move slowly and according to the rules.
There is usually a table with prices in the cabin. If you drive inside Punta Cana, it costs about $15-20.
There are stands with cab prices in tourist spots. Photo source: nik-anna.blogspot
When negotiating with cab drivers, keep two things in mind:
- The Dominican peso and U.S. dollar icons are the same. Be sure to clarify which currency the fare is in.
- Distance on the odometer can be in miles or kilometers. It is more advantageous when in miles.
If you do not have luggage, but have a great desire to save money, opt for mototaxi.
The motorcycle cab or motoconcho.
The most common way to travel among locals and expats. Mototaxi in Punta Cana is not the scooter familiar to tourists, but a real motorcycle, with all that implies: high speed, maneuverability and crashworthiness. Before the ride, be sure to tell the driver: “Despacio porfavor”. It means “slow down, please”. Mototaxis are considered the most unsafe transport in Punta Cana.
The cost of a motoconcho ride is 25-75 pesos. It is customary to negotiate the price in advance. Just name your destination, and the driver will tell you the price. Bargaining is possible and necessary.
Photo source: nakanikuly
Motorcycle cab drivers usually wear neon-colored vests. You can catch them at major tourist centers or call them by phone through the hotel reception.
One of the main advantages of ordering a transfer in Punta Cana is that there are no language difficulties. The order is made on the site through the Russian-speaking service, where you have the opportunity to quietly learn all the terms of the reservation. Prices are fixed, there is no need to discuss them with the driver, trying to get a discount.
Transfer removes the problem of moving long distances, especially when you have a mountain of suitcases. The driver will not only come to the appointed time, but also will help with the luggage.
Ariston Aristarkhov Traveling is easy!
advises not to listen to the guides and hotel administrators:
Package tourists don’t have it easy here. They are intimidated from the very airport. I had a chance to ride as a hare on the bus of Tez Tour. So they strongly recommend to their tourists to rent a car only at the hotel, otherwise they will cheat and do not blink an eye. By the way, a daily rent a car in a hotel is $100 more expensive than in international companies, where you can book a car online.
Renting a car in Punta Cana is more profitable than buying excursions. There are several local rental offices in the city, as well as offices of international companies. To rent a car you need a driver’s license (Russian will do), a passport and a bank card (the latter not always). The minimum rental price is 40 dollars a day. In international companies take a deposit of $ 500 and $ 10 a day for insurance. Gasoline is relatively expensive: diesel 51 rubles per liter, 92 – 63 rubles, 95 – 69 rubles.
Petrol prices in Punta Cana (in pesos)
Blogger Vladimir Sobolev notes the main difficulty when driving on local roads:
I have the impression that speed bumps are made by piling asphalt/concrete on the road and then grinding them to the desired height by passing vehicles. The entire upper part of such cops was a neatly scraped surface.
A speed bump in Punta Cana is a test for the car’s suspension
Order on the roads is monitored by traffic police officers, they are easily recognized by the acronym AMET. Often you can see cars with blinkers with the words “MPS” on them. This is a service of road technical support, which helps lost tourists and provides first aid in case of breakdowns.
Blogger donz_ru warns that difficulties may arise where you do not expect them:
The measurement system is American. That is, miles instead of kilometers, pounds instead of kilograms, gallons instead of liters.
Shared cabs (conchos, carrito, carro publico)
A strange mixture of a cab and a minibus is especially loved by the locals. They are ordinary cars, often badly battered by life, which follow predetermined routes and stop at the request of passengers.
Source of photo: embarcado
The author of the publique dominicana_faq recommends preparing for the inconvenience:
A carro público is usually an older Toyota Corolla passenger car that seats 4 people in the back seat and 2 people in the front passenger seat. Carro traveling helps you not only to save money, but also to make new acquaintances, because Dominicans are very sociable and open-minded people.
Carrito fare is 25-50 pesos, depending on the distance. You can pay for two seats to travel in relative comfort. It costs 20 pesos.
You can catch a carrito on the Aeropuerto Highway and the main tourist streets, near the beaches, near the National and San Juan shopping centers. Such cabs run until late in the evening.
Transport hubs in Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Bus Station . It is located 3 km from the city center in the village of Friusa. From here you can get to the capital Santo Domingo, Los Memísos, La Llanada, El Seibo and La Romana.
- Punta Cana Airport . It is located 7 km from the city. It is the only airport in the Dominican Republic that accepts direct flights from Russia.
Transportation in Punta Cana does not claim to be the most orderly, but more than satisfies the needs of the average tourist. You can walk between the hotels and beaches, and to the nearest attractions – by cab and shuttle buses. Do not forget to take a Russian-Spanish phrasebook and do not be afraid to contact the locals: they are always ready to help.