We booked a tour from our resort in Punta Cana to visit San Domingo (Santo Domingo) city. The Dominican Republic isn’t really somewhere you want to explore on your own and we booked through Nexus Tours again.
I’m not really one for really structured, tourist-y tours. I like to see cool things, explore the culture but know that I am in a safe place. Safety is really at the core of why we booked these tours otherwise we would have done it on our own.
We were first bused to a cenote on the outskirts of the city. There’s a bunch of deep fresh water caves that are pretty to explore. You are expected to tip at the end and there’s a lot of pressure to.
As with most touristy areas, there’s people everywhere to sell you crap. And generally speaking, it really is crap. They’re not too in your face but they will annoy you.
The city is very rundown on the edges and starts to improve as you reach the city centre. I’d be interested to learn more about how the Dominican Republic people live and wheat their houses are like inside. You very rarely see local women on the streets, only the men.
We visited a church and Christopher Columbus’ Old House (castle) to begin with – both were cool to see for about three minutes but half an hour later I was dying to do something else.
The lunch was disappointing too. It would have been great to visit a local eatery but instead we went into a hotel and had a buffet. Rice, chicken, salad.
We took a train around the city from there and they play an educational guide about the city which was quite fun. We got to see a lot of the streets (architecture in my fave to see and just normal life) so when we finally got a little free time, and it was a safe area, I knew where I wanted to go. We simply walked around, looking at the streets and taking photos. It was quite quiet, not the bustling, vibrant, noisy scenes I had imagined.
There are tourist shops EVERYWHERE. They take you to one on the tour and expect you to browse for 45 minutes. 45 minutes looking at crap. That was actually the ‘free time’ I was talking about. The guide was unhappy we left but there was no way I was hanging out in that tourist trap wasting my time.
After that we did get free time on the main street. About 20 minutes. I went and got a beer and people watched on the sidewalk, it was lovely!
So, there’s really not much choice than to do a tour from Punta Cana. Hopefully there are better ones. I would consider simply hiring a driver for the day (recommended by the hotel) to take you around so you aren’t forced into a bunch of activities you won’t enjoy. Approx $90USD