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17 Top Santo Domingo Packing List Items for 2023 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to bring to Santo Domingo
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The capital city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, was the first capital to be established in the Americas by the Spanish in 1496. Today, the city is a bustling metropolis of the Caribbean, with attractions to experience for any traveler. From the beach, historical monuments, food, and vibrant nightlife, you will never get bored when it comes to visiting Santo Domingo. The city is known for both its warm weather and kindness of the Dominican people. A day trip to the beach is within an hour from the capital, and the region has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Below, you’ll find a list of essential items to pack for your upcoming trip to Santo Domingo, plus a list of items NOT to bring. Don’t forget to also check out our best travel tips and FAQs for the city!

See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for Santo Domingo - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Cooling Towel

    It is not unusual for the temperature to cross past 90°F in Santo Domingo. This cooling towel can be worn over your neck or shoulders and keeps you cool even in the hottest temperatures.

    cooling towel

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 2. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    Water is not potable in the entire city, even for locals. To avoid overpaying for bottled water, you can use a LifeStraw water bottle to fill directly from the tap. The bottle filters 99.99% of bacteria and viruses from water, making the potable water safe to drink.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 3. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Given that Santo Domingo is very hot and humid bringing lightweight and quick-drying items is a must. These quick-dry microfiber towels will dry faster and pack more efficiently than the average bath towel. They are also great for bringing to the beach!

    travel towel

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 4. Neck Wallet

    By storing all of your documents, cash, and cards in the HERO neck wallet, you can hide your valuables from plain sight of thieves and pickpocketers, giving you more peace of mind when navigating the city. It is also equipped with a protective RFID layer, which shields from e-theft.

    neck wallet

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 5. Bug Bite Relief

    Whether you are staying in Santo Domingo or traveling out of the city, mosquito bites are inevitable in the Dominican Republic. If you are a person who gets extremely inflamed and uncomfortable bug bites, this small suction tool may be a lifesaver. You simply apply it to any angry bite you may have, and it sucks the venom from the bite, reducing inflammation and itching almost immediately.

    Bug Bite Relief

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 6. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Having to sit down to charge at an outlet is time-consuming and can interrupt activities. This compact portable charger can be thrown into your backpack or pocket to allow instant mobile charging when you need it.

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 7. Sling Crossbody Daypack

    Because of the city’s incidence of petty theft, this compact crossbody daypack is the perfect addition for the traveler in Santo Domingo, as it can be comfortably worn in front when needed. It is compact in size but can pack a lot in volume, and it also comes with a USB attachment for easy access to charge devices while on the go.

    Sling Crossbody Daypack

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 8. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Santo Domingo receives about 40-60 inches of rain per year. This HERO windproof travel umbrella is an easy and compact item to throw in your backpack for the day to be prepared for any unexpected showers.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 9. Waterproof Phone Pouch

    When traveling to Santo Domingo, or the rest of the DR, there is no doubt you will get plenty of beach or boat time. By storing your phone in a water-resistant pouch, you can ensure that your phone won’t be water damaged. You can also still use the phone through the pouch, letting you take photos or videos with peace of mind.

    Universa Waterproof

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 10. USB Rechargeable Headlamp

    Electricity is not unlimited in Santo Domingo – chances are that the power will go out during your stay. Wearing a headlamp can keep you hands-free to do things while in the dark. This headlamp is USB rechargeable, so you don’t have to worry about replacing the batteries.

    USB Rechargeable Headlamp

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 11. Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes are a huge game-changer in the world of travel, as they can effectively organize all of your different clothes into respective compartments. With this 5-piece packing cubes set, you can have a more organized suitcase for a stress-free travel experience.

    Packing Cubes

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 12. Sun Hat

    The average maximum UV index in Santo Domingo is 7, which means you are at risk of sun damage without proper protection. This bucket-style sun hat has a UV-protective layer and covers your entire head, ears, and neck to avoid sunburns from the strong Dominican sun.

    Sun Hat

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 13. Travel Insurance

    It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Traveling with an insurance plan will give you more peace of mind in case you encounter unexpected travel plan changes, emergencies, or medical issues. We recommend TravelInsurance.com to compare policies from top companies and find the one that works for you.

    Travel Insurance

    Compare policies at TravelInsurance.com ➜

  • 14. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    If staying at a small hostel or hotel, it is very common for bathrooms not to have much counter space to place your toiletries. This hanging toiletries bag is the perfect companion for the frequent budget traveler, as you can hang it from whatever bathroom or door for easy access to your items, while also being compact and easy to pack.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 15. Sunscreen Stick

    Wearing sunscreen in Santo Domingo is essential, as you will be exposed to a lot of full sun. This compact sunscreen stick is easy to apply to your face, and perfect for the beach when you have sandy hands. It also is 100% mineral-based, so it will not harm coral reefs when you go swimming.

    Sunscreen Stick

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 16. VPN

    A virtual private network (VPN) provides an encrypted server to use the internet, protecting your information from hackers. This comes in handy when traveling, as you will have to connect to many different wifi networks to get connected. An additional plus is that you can still access all of your favorite websites and shows while using a VPN abroad.

    vpn

    View options at NordVPN ➜

  • 17. Universal Travel Adapter

    The Dominican Republic uses type A and B plugs and sockets. However, if you are traveling from a country that uses a different outlet, you’ll need to pack this adapter. It has ports that can accommodate over 100 countries worldwide.

    Peru power adapter

    View on Amazon.com ➜

What to Wear in Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo has an extremely hot climate almost all-year round, so be wary of this when packing. It is advisable to wear synthetic or quick-dry clothing, as even a casual walk around the city will have you sweating. For footwear, make sure to bring comfortable and walkable sandals, and that the closed-toe shoes you bring are lightweight and breathable.
What Should WOMEN Wear in Santo Domingo? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Women should dress comfortably yet slightly conservatively in Santo Domingo. The cultural norm in the capital city is to wear long pants, even if the weather reaches over 85°F. It is still fine to wear shorts. However, wearing overly short pants or tops may attract unwanted attention. This also includes wearing flashy jewelry, such as an engagement ring. A great and lightweight option to pack is a maxi sundress, which will keep you covered and cool at the same time.

What Should MEN Wear in Santo Domingo? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Men should also be aware of wearing overly flashy or expensive clothing and jewelry in Santo Domingo, to avoid unwanted attention and petty theft. Lightweight and quick-dry clothing goes a long way in the city’s sweltering heat and will keep you dry during the day. Try to wear closed-back sandals or tennis shoes over flip-flops when walking around during the day, as they are more functional.

Dressing for the Seasons

WET SEASON – May, June, July, August, September, October, November

This season gets the most rain in Santo Domingo, so be sure to pack a rain jacket and quick-dry clothing. A pair of rainboots might also be helpful, depending on the amount of walking and exploring you plan to do. The weather is quite hot this time of year with averages around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to bring warm weather clothes and definitely don’t forget your swim suit.

DRY SEASON – December, January, February, March, April

The dry season is characterized by cooler weather, so be prepared for temperatures to sometimes drop into the 60s°F during early morning and at night. Pack some light layers for these times, like a windbreaker or lightweight socks. The sun is still strong during the day, however, so make sure to bring appropriate sun protection and hats.
Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Going to the beach: The sun is very strong in the Dominican Republic, so you appropriate sun protection any time you go to the beach. This includes tee shirts or beach coverups for when you are done sunbathing. Always remember to bring sunscreen with at least a 50 SPF rating.

Walking around the city: For casual walking around Santo Domingo, it is advisable to wear synthetic or quick-dry material, as you will get very sweaty. Most stores or establishments will not have air conditioning. Regardless of if it is cloudy, you can still get sunburnt. It is smart to always wear a hat when going out, as your scalp can very easily get sunburnt.

Dinner in Zona Colonial: There are tons of both budget and high-end restaurants to explore in Santo Domingo, most notably in Zona Colonial. For a nice evening dinner date, a maxi sundress and sandals for women and a linen button-up and khaki pants for men will have you feeling dressed up yet comfortable.

What NOT to Bring to Santo Domingo

  • 1. DON’T Bring Excessive Amounts of Cash

    Carrying large amounts of cash can make you more susceptible to accidental loss or theft. Take only the bare minimum you need, and take the rest out from ATMs in-country, as you are able to find many with reasonable exchange rates.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Uncomfortable Shoes

    You will be doing a lot of walking in Santo Domingo, and it is very hot. Only pack lightweight and functional shoes and sandals to avoid painful blisters and heavy suitcases.

  • 3.DON’T Bring a Spanish Dictionary

    Because phones and international data are so accessible nowadays, you can fully rely on using an app for translating, rather than lugging around a large dictionary you need to flip through in order to maintain a conversation.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Large or Heavy Beach Gear

    There is no need to pack full-sized chairs or umbrellas for the beach, as there are plenty of options to rent when you arrive. Most times, you just need to buy a drink or pay a small fee to rent a lounging chair, umbrella, or table at the beach in Santo Domingo.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Too Many Books

    Although it may be tempting to bring all the books you’d been meaning to read for your trip to the beach, it will weigh down your luggage and take up a lot of space. Consider investing in an e-reader, like a Kindle.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Beach or Bath Towels

    Packing full-sized bath towels can take up an enormous amount of space in your luggage, especially if you pack extra for the beach. Only pack travel microfiber towels, which take up half the space and take half the amount of time to dry.

What NOT to Wear in Santo Domingo – (Click to expand)
Do not bring any clothing that is meant for cold weather! The high heat and humidity of the city will make it impossible to feel comfortable in these clothes. Opt for lightweight and breathable clothing instead. Do not only pack shorts, though, as you will need some long pants and sleeves for mosquito and sun protection. It’s also advisable to leave any valuable or flashy clothing and jewelry at home, as they will make you a bigger target to pickpocketers, thieves, and opportunistic vendors. Do not pack bulky shoes such as boots or platform sandals, as they will cause you a lot of uncomfortable blisters when walking.

FAQs about Visiting Santo Domingo

  • 1. What language is spoken in Santo Domingo?

    What language is spoken in Santo Domingo?

    The national language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. English proficiency is hit-or-miss in the capital, so be prepared to use a translator. The Dominican accent is one of the most difficult to understand for Spanish speakers – remember to remind locals to speak slower when talking to you! People are very friendly and will be more than happy to speak slower if you make an effort to speak in Spanish.

  • 2. What food should I eat in Santo Domingo?

    A popular dish is the traditional Dominican breakfast, comprising of mangú (mashed green plantain) topped with pickled red onion, fried salami, egg, and cheese. Other popular street foods include empanadas (savory fried turnover), habichuelas con dulce (sweet beans), and fresh fruit with honey.

  • 3. What are the best things to do in Santo Domingo?

    What are the best things to do in Santo Domingo?

    You can’t miss Santo Domingo’s antique district named Zona Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the oldest European settlement in the Americas, founded in 1498. Here, you can go souvenir shopping on Calle Conde, have dinner in Plaza España, and visit Dominican history museums. Santo Domingo is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean so there is no shortage of interesting things to see and do!

  • 4. What is the best beach near Santo Domingo?

    If taking a day trip, check out Juan Dolio beach, located about an hour outside the city. It is a quieter escape from the bustle of the capital, and the beaches are a lot less crowded during the week.

  • 5. How do I get around in Santo Domingo?

    How do I get around in Santo Domingo?

    Santo Domingo has an extensive public transport system consisting of the underground metro, buses, and public cars. The city is most known for its aerial cable car system, where you can see 360° aerial views of Santo Domingo – a great activity even with no end destination in mind! Walking around a new city is always a great way to discover it. Santo Domingo has a lovely walkable downtown so be sure to explore it on foot!

  • 6. What are the best drinks to have in Santo Domingo?

    The DR is one of the world’s largest producers of rum, so you can’t leave without trying a Brugal or Barcelo. Another must-try is the country’s national beer called Presidente.

  • 7. What are the best souvenirs to buy from Santo Domingo?

    What are the best souvenirs to buy from Santo Domingo?

    You can buy a ring or necklace made of larimar, a rare stone only found and mined in the Dominican Republic. Make sure to only buy it from reputable artisans. Additionally, don’t leave the Dominican Republic without bringing home a bag of delicious Dominican coffee. The most known brand in the country is called Santo Domingo, and can be found in almost any store.

  • 8. Can I drink the water in Santo Domingo?

    NO – tap water is not potable in the entire country. To avoid getting sick, always buy or filter your water before drinking.

  • 9. What is Carnaval?

    What is Carnaval?

    Carnaval (Carnival) in the DR is a month-long celebration of the country’s independence in February. The streets of Santo Domingo become filled with parades, costumes, music, and dancing. It’s a great time to see the authentic culture of the Dominican Republic and be a part of an important national holiday.

  • 10. When is the cheapest time to visit Santo Domingo?

    The low season in Santo Domingo is during the months of September and October because it is peak hurricane season. You will find that flights and hotels will be a lot cheaper. Traveling during this time is possible, just a little riskier – consider investing in travel insurance for your trip.