Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, or often known as the DR. It has a population of about 2 million people, a diverse mixture of Caribbean African, Spanish and native Indian. It is in fact the oldest European settlement in the western hemisphere and it offers the tourist both a cultural as well as historical experience.
Getting there - The cheapest and most frequent flights depart from gateways such as Miami and New York, as well as recently from Fort Lauderdale. Flights from New York average about US$450 to $550. Spirit Airlines has direct non-stop flighs from Fort Lauderdale, with connections from Washington, DC, New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tampa and many more. JetBlue also operate from New York, and Delta will begin servicing the island starting in June 2007.
Entry Requirements - Citizens and permanent residents of the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and all EU countries, don't require visas when visiting the DR, but must obtain a ninety day Dominican Republic Tourist Card for US$10 (US dollars only) at the airport on arrival.
Arriving and getting around - You'll be arriving at Aeropuerto Internacional Las Americas, the country's largest, located about 13 km east of the city proper. Unless you're renting a car, the most efficient way to get to the city is via taxi. The taxi rates will be about US$35.00, one way. Due to the currency fluctuations over the past year, it's difficult to quote a rate in RD$. The most recent exchange rate has been about 30 to 35 pesos to the US Dollar.
There is no official public transit in Santo Domingo, but the informal network of publicos and guaguas (buses), manage to cover every inch of the city and can get you pretty much anywhere for under RD$15. Just stand on the corner of a major street and wave your arms at the first car with a taxi sign (often there is no taxi sign). More comfortable are the private taxis, however they're substantially more expensive. (still reasonable by American standards)
Hotels - Some of the gay and gay-friendly hotels in close proximity to the gay entertainment area, are the following. Please remember that we can assist you with reservations for these and all other hotels.
Caribe Colonial Hotel - This hotel located in the centrally located Colonial Zone, has 54 rooms offering all the amenities of a first class hotel. It is a gay-friendly hotel with staff that is professional and bilingual.
Foreigners Club - A 10 room art-deco guest house in the Colonial Zone. From the fulfilling breakfast to cocktails on the rooftop garden, Foreigners Club is the new address for casual elegance in Santo Domingo. First Class Service is the goal. Free WiFi, lock box, and 24 hr security. Also they don't charge for visitors.
Hostal Nicolas Nader - A 10-room guest house also located in the Colonial Zone, in a renovated colonial mansion. It has all the amenities such as cable tv and air conditioning, along with an open-air private courtyard. The rooms are large, with high ceilings, bathtub and the staff is bilingual and gay-friendly.
Duque de Wellington Hotel - An old traditional and well known hotel with the gay traveler to Sto. Domingo, due to it's low cost and closeness to the bars and clubs, as well as for the boys who hang out in the lobby for most of the day. If you're looking for a low-key place, then the Duque might not be for you. If however you're looking for a place to party without having to leave the hotel, the Duque might just be your cup of tea.
Hotel Mercure Commercial - A member of the French Accor chain, this hotel is located right on the Conde', a pedestrian mall that runs through the Colonial Zone. A first class hotel with all the amenities.
Adam Suites Hotel - A wonderful new addition to the gay hotel travel scene in the beautiful Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. Casual elegance will make you feel at home the moment you arrive. It is a small hotel with currently 12 rooms and prices to suit your budget.
There are many more hotels, especially of the deluxe variety, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to bring guests to your room. We'll be happy to advise you on prices and availability.
Nightlife - The Malecon (oceanfront drive) is the traditional focus of nightlife, however the gay nightlife is centered primarily in the Colonial Zone. Some of the nightspots are:
Jay Dee's - This bar caters to both gay Dominicans and tourists, you'll find strippers, drag shows, wet t-shirt contests, drink specials and in general a great time. Open everyday except Monday & Tuesday, from 9:30 pm to 2:30 am. Generally gets busy around 11:00 pm. Cover charge is 100 Pesos on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 150 Pesos on Fridays and Saturdays. Entry ticket will get you one Cuba Libre or Presidente Beer.
Parios Bar - New on the bar scene in the Colonial Zone. Great drinks, videos and a welcoming atmosphere.
Bar Friends (Formerly Bar Phoenix) - The bar owned by Enchanting Encounters has undergone major renovations on the second and third level, in order to provide more attractions and space for our customers. Along with the change of interior and exterior, a change in atmosphere, staff and clientele was necessary. We are proud to say that we are now an alternative, distinguished bar, who caters to the Dominican and foreign population, not only focused on tourism. Regularly we host live events (music, shows, exhibitions). Please check it out on your next visit to Santo Domingo.
Club Arena (formerly Club Aire) - Home to the sexiest and most beautiful-people set in the city, this is a pretty remarkable high-end rave joint with a mixed straight/gay clientele, however mostly gay. This large disco dance palace is open daily, except Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10:00 pm till 3 am, 5 am weekends, busiest from midnight till 3 and 5 am. Located on Avenida Mercedes 313 in the Colonial Zone.
CHA - A new nightclub on the Malecon, that opened on Feb. 9, 2007. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Sundays it opens at 4 pm.
Food and drink - Local breakfasts are traditionally starchy and huge, and typically include huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), sometimes con jamón (with bits of ham mixed in); mangú , mashed plantains mixed with oil and bits of fried onion; and queso frito , a deep-fried cheese. Dominican lunches are the day's main meal. Aside from the omnipresent chicken, popular main courses include mondongo , a tripe stew strictly for the strong of stomach; mofongo , a tasty blend of plantains, pork rinds and garlic; and bistec encebollado , grilled steak topped with onions and peppers. Special occasions , particularly in rural areas, call for either chivo (roast goat) with cassava , a crispy, flat bread inherited from the Taínos; or sancocho , a hearty stew with five different kinds of meat. For the very best in Dominican eating, go for the seafood , which is traditionally prepared one of five ways: criolla , in a flavourful, slightly spicy tomato sauce; al ajillo , doused in a rich garlic sauce; al horno , roasted with lemon; al orégano , in a tangy sauce with fresh oregano and heavy cream; and con coco , in a tomato, garlic and coconut milk blend especially prevalent on the Samaná Peninsula. The best local fish are the mero (sea bass), chillo (red snapper) and carite (kingfish). Other popular seafoods include langosta (clawless lobster), lambí (conch), camarones (shrimp), pulpo (octopus) and cangrejo (crab).
As far as drinks go, Dominican coffee is among the best in the world. Most Dominicans take it solo , with a great deal of sugar added, which is the way it's sold for RD$5 by morning street vendors, and handed out for free in the petrol stations. Dominican café con leche is made with steamed milk and is extremely good. Jugo de naranja , fresh orange juice squeezed as you order it, is another omnipresent Dominican morning drink; be sure to ask for it sin azúcar (without sugar). Later in the day you should sample the fresh coconut milk sold by street vendors, and the many Dominican batidas , popular fruit shakes made with ice, milk and either papaya, mango, pineapple or banana.
There are several Dominican beer brands, but by far the best and most popular is Presidente , served in both normal-sized and surreally large bottles, and comparing favourably with beers from across the world. Also popular are the very good, inexpensive local rums , Brugal, Barceló and Bermúdez.
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