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Shopping in the Dominican Republic - Shopping Dominican Republic

If you’re in the mood to pick up some souvenirs while in the Dominican Republic, you’re in luck: there are some good, affordable goods for your friends back home, especially if they like to sit around smoking and drinking all day.

The Dominican Republic is famous for its cigars, as much as any other place besides Cuba. There are shops everywhere you go, and the cigar factories often offer free tours. They’ll even pick you up at your hotel! Of course, the tour leads from the factory right into the gift shop. There are cigars for every budget, so if you don’t know much about them, just ask for help.

For the drinkers on your list, pick up a bottle of rum. Like the cigars, there are options for every budget: simply decide how much you want to spend and pick up a bottle. Brugal is a good brand of Dominican Rum.

When shopping for booze, you’ll also see little bottles fill of sticks, roots and leaves. This is to make a traditional Dominican drink called Mama Juana, believed to be an aphrodisiac. To make it, locals fill the bottle with special sticks and leaves before adding a mixture of red wine and rum. Let the whole mess ferment for two or three days, drink, and then call that special someone. In case you’re wondering, it tastes every bit as vile as it sounds. Imagine spilling a mixture of cheap red wine and rum in a forest and then sucking it up out of the twigs and fallen leaves, and you’ll get the idea.

In Santo Domingo and other places popular with foreigners, there are large stores with a dizzying variety of goods, from hand-carved African-style masks to painted seashells, cheap t-shirts and a surprisingly wide variety of pirate stuff (pirate keychains, pirate piggy banks, pirate drinking mugs, pirate bottle openers, etc). The DR is a big producer of cocoa and coffee, and you can find these products in most touristy shops. There is a small local Hawaiian-shirt industry, but the end results aren’t of very high quality.

The Dominican Republic is known for amber as well, and it is easy to find quality jewelry. The Amber Museum in Santo Domingo is surprisingly informative, and needless to say, there is a gift shop packed with amber jewelry.

One note about shopping in the Dominican Republic: when you go to any shopping area, you’ll be swarmed by hyper-aggressive “helpers” who will drag you to stores owned by their friends, cousins, etc. You’ll see them coming: they’ll make a beeline for anyone who looks like a tourist. These smarmy fellows are about as pleasant as head lice, but slightly harder to get rid of. If they accost you – and they will – the best thing to do is be firm that you don’t need any help and pretend that you’re not actually shopping. Once you’re in a store, they’ll generally leave you alone, but of course they’ll be waiting for you outside. Some tourists like to pick one and let him lead them around, as he’ll scare the others off. This is effective, but of course he’ll be expecting a tip when you’re done.  

Prices at most tourist places are not fixed, except for items like rum, coffee and cigars. If you want that pirate keychain, go ahead and make an offer!

Shopping










By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
25 Jan 2008




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