|Jewel Punta Cana All Inclusive Beach Resort
|The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel
|New York City
If your dream holiday involves pristine palm-lined beaches lapped by the turquoise waters of the warm Caribbean Sea, then you won’t be disappointed by the magnificent coastal region of Punta Cana. With its string of sugar white beaches stretching 56 kilometres, Punta Cana has developed a well-earned reputation as one of the friendliest destinations in the Caribbean, thanks to the Dominican Republic's lively, Spanish-influenced culture and music. Visitors can enjoy a range of exhilarating land and water based activities including parasailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, snorkelling, diving, and even golfing at one of the area’s five world-class golf courses. Punta Cana’s countless luxury resorts are surrounded by numerous fascinating cultural and historical sites as well as some spectacular natural scenery featuring lush tropical forests, intriguing caves, endless sugarcane fields and some extraordinary regional wildlife.
New York City
From Wall Street's skyscrapers to the neon of Times Square and Central Park's leafy paths, New York City is widely regarded as the heart of the US. It pulses with vibrant energy during the day and is magical at night. From incredible art galleries and museums to some of the best restaurants and most iconic buildings in the world, the Big Apple’s vibrant cultural scene makes for an unparalleled experience for visitors. There is so much to see and do that it is impossible to cover every cultural highlight in a single trip. Visitors with limited time should head for the main attractions: the Statue of Liberty, MoMa and the Empire State Building, while those with more time can begin to explore the city’s lesser-known neighbourhoods and outlying green spaces. No matter how you choose to spend your time and no matter how high your hopes are, New York is guaranteed to exceed even the highest of expectations.
Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is not your typical Caribbean destination. Endowed with the idyllic beaches and aquamarine waters that the archipelago is famous for, its unique geographical and cultural features are what set it apart. From its vibrant, rhythmic merengue music and warm, hospitable people to its lonely desert lowlands and ancient Taino rock art, it certainly keeps travellers on its toes with its diverse offerings. There's so much to do, see and explore here: sunbathing on exquisite beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving and whale-watching along the coast. Experience the island's fauna and flora on ecotourism tours, dance the night away at clubs in the many cosmopolitan cities, enjoy fabulous local cuisine, and play golf on world-class courses.
Dominican Peso (DOP; symbol RD$). Notes are in denominations of RD$2,000, 1,000, 500, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of RD$25, 10, 5 and 1.
The import and export of local currency is limited to RD$20,000 in notes and RD$100 in coins; the import of foreign banknotes is allowed provided they are declared on arrival and if they are over US$10,000 and re-export is intended.
The peso is not available outside the Dominican Republic. Currencies of Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA may be converted into local currency. On departure, up to 30% of the exchanged currency can be reconverted into US Dollars at any bank, provided original receipts are shown. All exchange must be done through official dealers such as banks and hotels approved by the Central Bank. Most resorts quote prices in (and are happy to accept) US Dollars. Some street vendors in touristic areas also accept US Dollars although these are not legal tender in the country.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 08h00-15h00, Sat 09h00-13h00. In shopping centres: Mon-Fri 09h00-19h00, Sat 09h00-13h00.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are all accepted.Most ATMs in the Dominican Republic accept international bank cards.Traveller's cheques are accepted by some banks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.
Servicios Aéreos Profesionales (www.sapair.com) runs regular flights between Santo Domingo, Santiago, Samaná, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Planes may also be chartered.
There are several car hire companies in Santo Domingo. The minimum age for car hire is 25. A credit card is required for car hire transactions. Insurance is compulsory. The speed limit is up to 60kph (38mph) in cities and 80-100kph (50-63mph) on motorways. Seat belts are legally required to be worn.A national or International Driving Permit is accepted, but is only valid for 90 days. Vehicles are driven on the right side of the road.
There is a reasonable network of roads, including the Sanchez Highway running westwards from Santo Domingo to Elias Pina on the Haitian frontier; the Mella Highway extending eastwards from Santo Domingo to Higuey in the southeast and the Duarte Highway running north and west from Santo Domingo to Santiago and to Monte Cristi on the northwest coast.
The new Autopista del Coral motorway links Santo Domingo with Punta Cana and La Romana. Driving from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana now takes around 2 hours, whilst from Santo Domingo to La Romana is 30 minutes.
Not all roads in the Dominican Republic are all-weather and 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for wet weather. Checkpoints near military installations are ubiquitous, though no serious difficulties have been reported (those near the Haitian border are most likely to be sensitive). Keep doors and windows locked at all times. Driving at night is not recommended because of poor lighting and and signage.
Travellers are advised to hire tourist taxis or radio taxis that can be arranged in advance. Avoid unmarked taxis.
Santo Domingo has flat-fare bus and minibus services, and an estimated 7,000 share-taxis called Carro de Conchos. These operate a 24-hour service in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Puerto Plata. Hotel taxis are also available. In old Santo Domingo, the streets are narrow with blind corners, so care should be taken, particularly as Dominican drivers have a tendency to use their horns rather than their brakes. Horse-drawn carriages are available for hire in tourist areas for tours around parks and plazas.
Lightweight fabrics are best suited to the tropical temperatures. Waterproofs are essential during the rainy seasons. Sunglasses, sunscreen and a sunhat are essential.
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated and sterilisation should be considered essential. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is pasteurised. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Native Dominican cooking combines Spanish influences with local produce. There is plenty of fresh fish and seafood; island-grown tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, mangoes, passion fruit and citrus fruits are delicious.
Hotel and restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge (on top of a 12% charge for tax purposes) but an additional tip may be given as an appreciation of good service.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Dominican Republic are very similar to the electrical outlets found in the United States and Canada, and if your appliance has a North American plug, it's possible that you won't need any adapter at all in order to plug in there. However, there are two potentially very important physical differences that may need to be addressed with an adapter: grounding and/or polarization. If your plug has one or both, and the socket doesn't, then the plug may not physically be able to fit into the socket without an adapter.
In the case of a North American appliance plug, grounding is accomplished by the third, round pin beneath and below the two vertical blades on the plug. Polarization is accomplished by the left vertical blade being taller than the right, so that the plug can't be inserted upside down. U.S. and Canadian sockets are required to be both grounded and polarized. But in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Japan and other areas which use U.S. style sockets, grounding and polarization often are not required, and in fact, the majority of sockets in many of these areas do not accept the taller blade and/or the third grounding pin. This will prevent a North American appliance plug from being able to plug into these sockets, if the plug is either grounded or polarized.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Dominican Republic usually supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts AC. If you're plugging in a U.S. or Canadian 120 volt appliance, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 110-120 volts the socket is supplying. If your appliance is from another part of the world, and it is built only for 220-240 volt electricity, or a Japanese appliance built for 100 volts, then a travel plug adapter by itself won't be sufficient. The voltage will have to be changed from 110-120 volts at the socket, to whatever voltage your appliance requires. This is accomplished with a voltage transformer.
The Dominican Republic is hot and tropical, with little seasonal variation in temperatures, which average about 77°F (25°C). Seasons can, however, be determined by rainfall, with October to April being the rainy season on the north coast, while May to November is the wettest month in the south of the country. The driest area is the west. Cooler temperatures and less humidity are generally experienced between November and April, while the mountainous interior is always cooler than the rest of the country.
Hurricanes occur on average once every two years on the island, most striking the south of the country and most happening in August and September. The busiest time of year to visit the Dominican Republic is between December and April when North Americans take a tropical break from their winters, and from June to September, which coincides with European summer holidays.
The sheer size of the US prevents any kind of all-encompassing statement about the typical American experience. From the state-of-the-art skyscrapers of New York City to the scenic country lanes of New England, the United States of America is a place of astonishing beauty and extraordinary diversity. Nothing can remotely prepare you for your first glimpse of the glorious Golden Gate Bridge, the glistening Empire State building, the neon lights of Las Vegas, or the iconic Statue of Liberty. Not to mention the natural treasures on offer - the country’s beautiful national parks are home to some of the world’s most treasured wildlife and landscapes; the west and east coasts are strewn with spectacular beaches, and the Rockies provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. In fact, it is a country of such epic proportions that you could easily spend a lifetime in the US and still feel like you have barely scratched the surface.
The US Dollar is the currency of United States. The currency code for Dollars is USD, and the currency symbol is $. Notes come in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations and coins come in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1 denominations.
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when the final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.
Travellers' cheques are widely accepted in US Dollar cheques; Pound Sterling traveller's cheques are rarely accepted and few banks will honour them. Change is issued in US Dollars. One or two items of identification (passport, credit card, driving licence) will be required.
Americans drive on the right hand side of the road. Driving is a great way to see the USA but distances can be huge eg 4,716km (2,930 miles) between San Francisco and New York City. Nevertheless, for those visitors with ample time, travelling by road is an ideal way to get a sense of both the vastness and the diversity of the country. Besides, road tripping is a favourite method of travel for Americans, and some of its great roads are iconic, such as the famous Route 66.
Taxi service varies considerably from one city to another, and is often not available in rural areas at all. In big cities, taxis are readily identifiable and can be found easily. In smaller cities and towns with taxi service, you may need to call a company to request a taxi.
Major international companies have offices at all gateway airports and in most cities.
Nearly all the long-distance trains are operated by Amtrak, which serves more than 500 communities in 46 states and three Canadian provinces over a 35,000km (21,000 mile) route system. Rail is not considered the best way to travel within the USA, as trains can be slow, infrequent and expensive.
It really is casual in America. Outside of the main cities, it is advisable not to be bothered with dressy clothes. However if you plan to visit city restaurants then you may feel more comfortable in smart casual wear.
Clothes in natural fibers will work better in the heat and it is worth popping in a lightweight sweater, cardigan or pashmina wrap for cooler weather or overly fierce air conditioning.
Travel light and buy your toiletries there. Must haves include sunglasses and wear plenty of high factor sunscreen.
If you are planning to visit very hot areas then we would recommend that you pack a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline to prevent burning. A sunhat is also very useful in the intense sunshine and our packable one is just perfect for travelling.
Frequent eating out is a relative novelty for many Americans, particularly in suburban areas, and is just one of many consequences of the popularization of television shows that feature celebrity chefs and a focus on culinary history and popular culture.In large cities, restaurants are mostly modern and very clean, offering a vast range of cuisines, prices and facilities. Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from fast-food, self-service and counter service, to drive-thru and table service. There are numerous options for casual and fine dining alike.
There are also many types of bars, cocktail lounges, café-style bars and English-style pubs. Generally speaking, waiter/waitress service costs more than self-service or take-out. Drinking laws are set by the individual states, counties, municipalities and towns; on average, closing time in bars is between midnight and 03h00.
Tipping is widely practised, as service charges are not usually included in the bill. Waiters generally expect 15 to 20% gratuity. Often, service charges are included for larger parties; if the restaurant's policy is not clearly stated on its menu, ask the server. It should be noted that a cover charge is for admission to an establishment, not a tip for service.
Electrical sockets in the United States of America are one of two electrical socket types: The 'Type A’ and ‘Type B’. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets in the United States of America usually supply electricity at 120 volts AC. If you're appliance is is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 120 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.
The overall climate in the United States of America (USA) is temperate, with notable exceptions. Alaska has an Arctic tundra climate, while Hawaii and South Florida have a tropical climate. The Great Plains are dry, flat and grassy, turning into arid desert in the far West. The climate is Mediterranean along the Californian coast.