DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SCAMS
Scams happen all over the world. They happen here in the States and abroad. There will always be people trying to scam you. The sad reality is that scams are a part of the travel experience. You can’t run away from them and lucky for you, articles like this one, help you avoid being scammed when traveling to the Dominican Republic.
We are not trying to discourage you from visiting the Dominican Republic, we loved it so much that we want to go back ourselves. However we do want to give you a heads up so you can be prepared in case they try to scam you.
Wow, I have never experienced the amount of overpricing like they do in the DR. Particularly in Punta Cana, I understand a lot of wealthy people vacation here but what about us regular folks? We had to sacrifice time & money to save up and come on a family vacation.
Souvenirs that normally cost $3 were being sold for $25, bracelets $75, 10 minute taxi service $30 and more. Before you get on a taxi, or before you purchase something, ask what the price is and haggle a big chunk off the price. Chances are they are quadrupling the price of that item.
In addition, make sure you know what the conversion rate is. They will tell you the price in Dominican Peso but if you don’t know the conversion rate, you will end up paying excess amounts of money for something that should not cost a lot.
MONKEY & PARROT SCAM
What is the first thing people do when they see a cute little monkey and colorful parrots? Answer: You go and check them out and take pictures with them! The pet owner encourages it too, he offers to take pictures of you, he tries different poses. He has the monkey do something funny for the camera and tries different angles. He takes so many pictures that your phone memory almost runs out.
Then you look at the pictures and smile because they are good. The owner approaches you and asks you for money…so you ask “how much is it?” You’re probably thinking maybe $20….$30 at most…. but no. The guy tells you “$100 for the pictures.” WHAT?!?!
I was ready to delete every photo from my camera! I had no cash and I was not about to use my credit card to pay $100 for some pictures, so I told him, “delete all the photos.” Man, I would have paid the guy $30 for the pictures, but not $100.
I argued with him in Spanish and told him to delete the pictures from my phone. At the end he got mad and just walked away so I did the same. If you see a guy with a monkey or a parrot, ask the price first. Don’t let them take pictures until they tell you a price, that is their trick. They don’t ever tell you how much it costs until you have tried it.
AIRPORT -TAXI SCAM
If you are going to a resort, we highly encourage you to book a shuttle/taxi ahead of time. We paid $40 for 7 people to go from the airport to our resort, but before that a different shuttle service was trying to charge us $20 per person. That would have been $140!!
We were ready to pay it too because we just wanted to get to our resort but luckily the shuttle that we reserved was actually there. If it’s just you or two people, expect to pay at least $20 each but if it’s a big group then you wont be paying much as long as you haggle the price. Unfortunately the taxi service is not run by a company or a union, it’s pretty much run by locals who do taxi rides with their personal vehicles (in Punta Cana).
I paid $20 for a 10 minute taxi ride from the barbershop to the resort. That haircut ended up costing me almost $100. If you are going to take a taxi, google the place you are going to and then ask the taxi driver how much it cost to get there. If it’s a 10 minute drive then you shouldn’t pay more than $10. Or just stay in the resort and avoid this scam altogether.
THE COVID TEST SCAM
Be careful, make sure you do your COVID test 24 hours before your departure. Anytime over the 24 hours and they will make you take an emergency covid test at the airport and you are going to have to pay extra $$$ for it. Now, I call it a scam because they never asked us for our test when leaving the airport, NEVER. Some of the people flying with us had to take an emergency test at the airport because they did their test 36 hours before departure.
When they came back in line, they had their test results ready but the time never came. Now, I am not encouraging you to leave without getting tested because you never know when they will ask for proof, I am simply saying get tested 24 hours before your departure flight, no more.
WOLF OF WALL STREET
Man can these people sell! Now this one is not a scam alert but more of a “be ready” alert. My Dominican people know how to sell and they are really good at it. I don’t know who trained them or how they got so good but I almost bought a house in Punta Cana!
LOL no but seriously, on the last day I went to the market to buy two little keychains. I was not expecting to pay more than $5 and I ended up spending about $250 in souvenirs. Yes I get it, you’re thinking I am a fool for being persuaded into buying things so easily, but you don’t understand. These guys are friendly, they connect with you, they give you a free shot of Mama Juana, then they sell you everything.
Right when you think you’re done, the next salesman comes over and tells you he has something that no one else sells and it’s cheap. You say no but he says, “it’s ok ma friend only 5 seconds”. But you stand strong and you walk away, then the lady sales person shows you her shop and it’s mesmerizing. She won’t let you leave until you buy something, then it’s time to pay but you only have a credit card.
Now you have to go to the one store that accepts credit cards for all purchases. Once you’re in there the salesman there convinces you to buy one last item. Man it felt like being at a car dealership at the end of the month!
My best advice to you is to not look like a tourist. Leave your wallet in your room, only bring the amount of cash you want to spend at the local market.
This one pretty much happens everywhere around the world. We suggest not to take money out of the ATMs located in random places. These ATMs will they charge you a ridiculous amount of money to take cash out. Also, since you are not familiar with the Dominican Peso, you simply click yes and go on with your day. But when you check that card statement at home you realize you paid a high fee just to take out $100.
These ATMs are located in very random places so anyone can put a scanner on them and get your information when you swipe. Avoid the ATM’s when traveling, instead exchange your money at the airports, at the banks or use an international credit card.
Like I mentioned earlier, scams happen everywhere. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you travel to, there will always be someone trying to take advantage of tourists. Always be vigilant, don’t let your guard down and enjoy your vacation. If they happen to scam you, don’t worry too much, it’s part of the trip. 🙂
Please if you find this useful and know of someone who is going to the DR soon, send them our way. We will be posting more blogs on the DR soon. Thank you