man in green t-shirt riding on black motorcycle during daytime
a view of a city at sunset from an airplane
aerial view of swimming pool surrounded by trees during daytime

Is Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic Safe?

Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Petty crime and scams targeting tourists are common, especially in crowded areas. Violent crime rates are relatively high compared to other Caribbean destinations. Travelers should avoid isolated areas, particularly at night, and remain vigilant. The risk of civil unrest during protests or elections should also be considered when planning visits.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is generally considered safe for travelers, but it's essential to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks. The city has a higher crime rate compared to other Caribbean destinations, with incidents of petty theft, robberies, and occasional violent crimes reported.

  • Petty Crime: Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft from rental cars are common, especially in crowded areas like markets, beaches, and tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Violent Crime: While not widespread, incidents of armed robbery, assault, and carjacking have occurred, particularly in isolated areas or at night. Avoid deserted streets and exercise caution when withdrawing money from ATMs.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams targeting tourists, such as overcharging for goods or services, fake tour guides, and rental car scams. Only use reputable companies and negotiate prices beforehand.

  • Civil Unrest: Occasional protests and demonstrations can occur, sometimes leading to road closures and disruptions. Monitor local news and avoid areas with large gatherings.

  • Disputes: Disputes between locals and tourists, often fueled by alcohol or misunderstandings, can escalate quickly. Remain respectful and avoid confrontations.

It's advisable to stay in well-established tourist areas, avoid carrying excessive cash or valuables, and follow the advice of local authorities and your accommodation's staff regarding areas to avoid. Exercising common sense and being aware of your surroundings can help mitigate potential risks.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the city has decent medical facilities, it's advisable to have comprehensive travel insurance and seek medical attention promptly if needed.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya are prevalent. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in air-conditioned or well-screened areas.

  • Food and Water Safety: Avoid tap water and only consume bottled or purified water. Be cautious with street food and ensure proper hygiene when eating out.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies vaccines depending on your travel plans.

  • Air Pollution: Santo Domingo experiences high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions. Those with asthma or lung diseases should take necessary precautions.

  • Medical Facilities: While private hospitals in Santo Domingo offer decent care, facilities may be limited outside the capital. Travel insurance with emergency medical evacuation coverage is highly recommended.

Natural Disasters

Santo Domingo, located in the Dominican Republic, is situated in a region that is prone to certain natural disasters, which travelers should be aware of. The city experiences a tropical climate, with a hurricane season that typically runs from June to November. During this period, there is a risk of hurricanes and tropical storms, which can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and potential flooding.

  • Hurricane Risks: The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean hurricane belt, making it susceptible to these powerful storms. Travelers should monitor weather forecasts and heed any warnings or evacuation orders issued by local authorities.

  • Flooding: Heavy rainfall during hurricane season can lead to flash floods and urban flooding in Santo Domingo. Avoid low-lying areas and be prepared for potential disruptions to transportation and infrastructure.

  • Earthquakes: The Dominican Republic lies within an active seismic zone, and earthquakes can occur. While the risk is relatively low in Santo Domingo, it's essential to familiarize yourself with safety procedures in case of an earthquake.

  • Landslides: In mountainous regions surrounding Santo Domingo, heavy rains can trigger landslides, which may affect transportation routes and infrastructure. Exercise caution when traveling in these areas during the rainy season.

Travelers are advised to stay informed about weather conditions, follow the guidance of local authorities, and have contingency plans in place. Purchasing comprehensive travel insurance and being prepared for potential disruptions can help mitigate the risks associated with natural disasters in Santo Domingo.


Transportation in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, can be a mixed experience for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and metro are available, their reliability and safety standards may vary.

  • Public Buses: The city has a network of public buses, known as "guaguas," which are an affordable option for getting around. However, these buses can be overcrowded, and pickpocketing incidents have been reported.

  • Metro System: The Santo Domingo Metro is a modern and relatively safe mode of transportation, but it has a limited coverage area within the city.

  • Taxis: Officially licensed taxis, identifiable by their distinctive colors and markings, are generally considered safe. However, it's advisable to use reputable taxi services or have your accommodation arrange for transportation to avoid potential scams or overcharging.

  • Rental Cars: Renting a car can provide more flexibility, but driving in Santo Domingo can be challenging due to heavy traffic, aggressive driving habits, and poorly maintained roads. Exercise caution and familiarize yourself with local traffic laws.

  • Road Safety: Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, as drivers may not always yield the right of way. Poorly lit roads and the presence of motorcycles and scooters can also pose risks.

Overall, while public transportation options exist, travelers should prioritize safety by using licensed taxis or reputable ride-sharing services, especially at night or in unfamiliar areas.

Cultural Norms

Respecting the culture in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is essential for a fulfilling travel experience. The city boasts a vibrant blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno influences, reflected in its customs and traditions.

  • Festivals and Events: Attend lively festivals like the Carnival, celebrated before Lent with colorful parades, music, and dance. The Merengue Festival in July showcases the country's national dance and music.

  • Cuisine: Savor the flavors of Dominican cuisine, such as la bandera (rice, red beans, meat, plantains), and mamajuana, a traditional drink made with tree bark and herbs. Respect local dining etiquette.

  • Language and Greetings: While Spanish is the official language, learning basic phrases like "buenos días" (good morning) and "gracias" (thank you) can go a long way in showing respect. Greet locals warmly and avoid public displays of affection.

  • Dress Code: Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Cover shoulders and knees to respect local sensibilities.

  • Religious Customs: The Dominican Republic is predominantly Catholic. Observe proper decorum when visiting churches and during religious celebrations.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, are generally reliable but may have limitations compared to Western standards. The availability and quality of services can vary depending on the location within the city.

  • Emergency Response: The emergency response system is functional, with ambulances and fire services available. However, response times can be slower, especially in remote areas or during peak traffic hours.

  • Medical Facilities: Santo Domingo has several private hospitals and clinics that cater to tourists and offer quality medical care. However, public hospitals may have limited resources and overcrowding issues.

  • Tourist Police: The Dominican Republic has a dedicated tourist police force (POLITUR) that assists visitors and provides security in popular tourist areas. They can be identified by their distinctive uniforms and are generally helpful.

  • Language Barriers: While some emergency personnel may speak English, language barriers can be a challenge, especially in remote areas or with local authorities. It's advisable for travelers to learn basic Spanish phrases or carry a translation app.

  • Private Services: Many resorts and hotels offer private medical services or have arrangements with local hospitals and clinics to provide assistance to their guests in case of emergencies.

It's essential for travelers to research and familiarize themselves with the emergency services available in their specific area of stay and to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuations if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Santo Domingo safe for tourists?

Santo Domingo is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching occur, so keep valuables secure. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night. Use authorized taxis or ride-sharing services. Stay vigilant and follow common-sense safety precautions.

Is Santo Domingo safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise extra caution in Santo Domingo. Avoid walking alone at night, and be wary of unwanted attention or harassment. Dress conservatively and don't accept drinks from strangers. Use trusted transportation services and stay in well-lit, populated areas.

Is Santo Domingo safe for families?

Santo Domingo can be a suitable destination for families with children. Family-friendly resorts and activities are available. However, be cautious of petty crimes and take necessary precautions. Supervise children closely in public areas and use trusted transportation services.

Is Santo Domingo LGBTQ+ friendly?

While same-sex relationships are legal in the Dominican Republic, LGBTQ+ travelers should exercise discretion in Santo Domingo. Public displays of affection may draw unwanted attention or harassment. Same-sex marriage is not recognized, and societal attitudes can be conservative.

Do you need a visa to go to Santo Domingo?

Many visitors, including those from the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for tourist stays up to 30 days in the Dominican Republic. However, a valid passport is mandatory for all visitors. It's advisable to check visa requirements based on your nationality and purpose of travel.

Can you drink tap water in Santo Domingo?

It is not recommended to drink tap water in Santo Domingo. The water quality is generally poor and can cause illness. Bottled or purified water is widely available and should be used for drinking and brushing teeth.

What is the currency in Santo Domingo?

The official currency in Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (DOP). However, US Dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Dominican Republic Travel Advisory

The following government travel advisories provide additional helpful resources for your destination to stay safe and informed.

Related Content

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play