Driver Alert: As is the case with many Caribbean islands, driving can be dicey for tourists – very few traffic lights, motorbikes buzzing everywhere and pedestrians darting in and out of traffic. If you decide to drive, carry a detailed map and consult your hotel beforehand for preferred routes. Gas stations are scarce in rural areas, so fill up beforehand (in addition, watch to ensure that your gas meter starts at zero). Most car rental agencies like National and Budget have outposts in Santo Domingo. Renters must be at least 25 years old. We would suggest renting a four-wheel drive vehicle as road conditions can vary.

Eat smart: Except at the best resorts, always drink bottled water and avoid salads. Sidewalk food vendors are tempting but risky to eat. Allow your gastrointestinal tract to adjust to the food which for most people is in about 3 days.

Amber alert: Watch out for dishonest amber dealers – many sidewalk and beach vendors try to pass off cheap, plastic rip-offs as the real thing. For genuine amber, the shop at the Amber Museum in Santo Domingo is your safest bet.

Bugarrones and Prostitutes:

Prostitution in the Dominican Republic is not criminalized. It is legal.

The term “bugarrones”  refers to male sex workers or prostitutes that often wonder the Colonial Zone and the famous “El Conde” Boulevard. They consider themselves straight men because they “only do it for money”.

There is also the famous Parque Duarte which has become the de facto hub for the capital’s LGBT. A handful of  “bugarrones” or sankypankies (male prostitutes for females) discreetly work the crowd as well as other nearby streets. So, be careful as to who you meet and bring to your hotel room. He may ruin your vacation if you are not careful.