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Drivers license and car rental

Hi,
My family and I will be in PC in December, and want to travel to Azua to visit our sponsor child.
If I read the map correctly, this trip could be done in half a day or so if driving.
We may want to take a couple of days and stop in Santo Domingo and a few other spots, but I guess my questions are ;
How are the car rental companies?, Does DR recognize Canadian licenses?Insurance?
Is it commonplace for tourists to rent cars?Any special rules or driving considerations?
Any safety issues?
Thanks
Brett

[quote=@bg409]Hi,
My family and I will be in PC in December, and want to travel to Azua to visit our sponsor child.
If I read the map correctly, this trip could be done in half a day or so if driving.
I would be surprised if it could be done in a half day. The ‘or so’ part would be bigger.
We may want to take a couple of days and stop in Santo Domingo and a few other spots, but I guess my questions are ;
How are the car rental companies? OK
Does DR recognize Canadian licenses? Yes
Insurance? Your Canadian insurance is null and void.
Is it commonplace for tourists to rent cars? No
Any special rules or driving considerations? Tonnage rule, biggest vehicle has right of way …
Any safety issues?
You’ve obviously not seen the way they drive there. Driving is a game and traffic signals, lane markings and the like are ignored. A traffic light is likely to be considered an indicator whether the electrical power is on today or not. If the road is full, there’s always the sidewalk … Oh, and if you have an accident, being the gringo, you’ll automatically be at fault and at a disadvantage unless you speak fluent Spanish.
Thanks
Brett[/quote]
If it were me, I’d hire a vehicle and driver, even if I had to put him up for an overnight in a hotel.
Oh, and don’t even consider driving at night. A significant portion of the vehicles on the road don’t have working lights. And motorbikes are EVERYWHERE …

Any idea of cost or where to find such a driver?
What about daytime only?Better?

Brett

I may be able to give some good advise here. I had a rental car business in the D.R. a few yeqars ago. I have also owned my own vehicles there. I also have rented cars on numerous occasions.

Number 1 rule… if you are a timid driver, DO NOT RENT A CAR IN THE D.R.!

Number 2 rule…if you are not a very good alert driver DO NOT RENT A CAR IN THE D.R.!

Do not rent a car in person in the D.R. Rent via the internet and be sure to print out all the particulars, including price including taxes. Rent the car from the airport of your arrival, departure. If this is your first time renting in the D.R. it may be best to buy the all inclusive insurance. Rent a smaller SUV if possible (more expensive). Have a digital camera available and take pictures of any dents etc. within a picture that includes the rental agent. Take a pic of the gas gauge with the rental agent in front of the car. Make sure any broken glass (even cracked) is noted. Checlk light lenses etc. and notate any deficiencies. Believe me…they will take advantage if they think you are a dumb ***. Act like you have rented there many times. Also be sure to notate any problems with the interiror and make sure everything works before you go because they will charge you for things that don’t work when you return.

All that being said, I have had good luck with Eurocar rental. Prices are good and as long as you do what I said above they will not try to scam you. I have also rented from Nelli. More expensive but the cars are clean.

Try not to drive at night! Driving in the D.R. is kind of like driving in a video game. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!!! Santo Domingo is actually a bit easier to drive in, albeit very congested, but people to tend to drive slightly more legal than in lets say Puerto Plata.

I have driven to Azua several times and it is a pleasant drive with decent roads from Santo Domingo. You drive pretty much along the ocean and some of the views are marvelous. One thing that may surprise you is that about an hour west of Santo Domingo you will get into what I would consider a desert… omplete with cactus!

As I recall it is about 2 or 3 hours to Azua from Santo Domingo. I just asked my wife (Dominican) and she said it is about 4 hours from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo. Allowing 1 hour to get through Santo Domingo so you may be looking at 8 hours on the road.

Probably the biggest problem with driving long distance in the D.R. is that the roads are not well marked, however, you should be on 1 road from Punta Cana to Azua.

Hey Phil,
Thanks again for sharing your great knowledge of the countryside and tips for travelers.
Not driving at night is something we can pick up in a Google search; Finding a desert about an hour west of Santo Domingo is priceless info. So is “roads are not well marked”.

Great information, I truly appreciate it…
What are the speed limits like?I found one mileage chart that shows approx 205kms to SD, and a total of 330 to Azua.This works out to about 200mi’s total…
Is it feasible to do 45-50 mph as an average?,or are they for the most part 2 lane rds with “chicken buses and donkey carts”?(Don’t mean any disrespect, but I need to know the extremes…)

Also, does SD have a lot of hotels?Any area in particular to stay away from if we overnight?

Thanks
Brett

The roads are marked for KMH but they are only suggestions. Drive what others are driving and being a gringo make sure you have your seat belt on! You will go from 2 lane roads to 4 lane roads without knowledge of change.

The main road is pretty good and you should not have a lot of problems.

Stay away from any hotel that says ‘cabanas’. Other than that I have no particular advise on hotels.

Disreguard the ileage chart… 6 to 8 hours from Punta Cana to Azua.

I guess my point is that driving is a full time job in the DR. You can drive or sightsee, but not both. If you have a hired car and driver, everyone in your party can enjoy the scenery.

Bob… I agree with you to a point. You certainly need to be alert but there is nothing better than having your own agenda, your transportation and your priorities. Not all roads in the D.R. are horrible and once you understand the rules and the supposed (or lack of) ettiquette driving is not overly difficult and you can take in the sights while maintaining alertness.

Please understand me when I say driving in the D.R. is not for everyone. And yes, it can be dangerous and also very expensive if you have an at fault accident. But, when people want to really explore, there really is not any other way to travel.

I do not suggest that all people should rent a car in the D.R., but if renting a car is on their agenda I will try to advise and also will try to protect.

Exactly my point. I didn’t say a canned tour with ‘their’ priorities. If you have your own vehicle with a driver, then you have your own agenda, your transportation and your priorities. Then the would be driver can avoid looking out for other cars/trucks, potholes, dogs, pedestrians etc etc etc, and spend 100% of his time enjoying the passing scenery … The absolute best one can do in this situation is about 50%. If you travel this way every day, then fine, but for a once in a lifetime …

We all know what happened to the young Canadian in Cuba who was driving a rental car and had an accident.

Not saying the rules are the same in the D.R, but when in a foreign country don’t assume things will work out they way they do at home if something happens!

Not worth the risk IMHO!

Aside from renting a car in the USA where the rules and driving is as in Canada, you take matters in your own hands. We are going to Italy in September and we had a choice of having a rental car or transfers from Rome to our destination. We opted for the transfers and taking the local transportation and trains. Both my husband and I speak fluent Italian and would have no problem with the language but the Italian drivers would swallow us up. My motto - If in doubt- chicken out.

From my experience I have found it much easier and cheaper to find a local driver and hire him and his car for one, two or three days, agree a price for him and pay for the gas, tell him if overnight stays are needed and find my own hotel, let him find his, he will probably have friends or family that he can stay with and you just pay a little extra for his overnight costs. Then sit back and enjoy the views, safe in the knowledge that he knows where he’s going and how to drive on the roads. I know I am at a disadvantage anyway as we Brits drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road so I have never driven in the DR. When I have checked out the cost of a good hire/rental car compared to the cost of hiring a friend of a friend with thier car I often come off with more money and a lot more peace of mind.

Just my thoughts on this matter, cheers Amandalou :-*

[quote=@bobfromcanada]

[quote=@bg409]Hi,
My family and I will be in PC in December, and want to travel to Azua to visit our sponsor child.
If I read the map correctly, this trip could be done in half a day or so if driving.
I would be surprised if it could be done in a half day. The ‘or so’ part would be bigger.
We may want to take a couple of days and stop in Santo Domingo and a few other spots, but I guess my questions are ;
How are the car rental companies? I had two experiences with car rental… one was informal, with a DR guy who was a friend of my landlord’s.  The car was OK, but he doesn’t do insurance.  I drove very carefully, but it’s probably insane, given the traffic down there, so I wouldn’t do that again.
I went on a day drive with a friend who had rented a car from a “legit” agency.  After a while, we heard noises and then felt shaking from the rear.  I looked in the passenger-side mirror and saw the rear wheel wobbling wildly.  We stopped and I found it had already shed two of its five wheel nuts, and the others were loose.  I went to the trunk and — no wheel wrench.  Just a big pair of pliers. It’s a lot of fun explaining to locals in a small non-tourist town (although they were kind and helpful) what a wheel wrench is without a language in common.
I helped another couple who had also rented a car from an agency, and we found that the battery had now hold-down straps or nuts, and the clamps on the battery post were loose because the battery jumping up and down (someone had noticed this and tried to tape a piece of plastic foam under the hood to mute the sound of the battery banging on it.  We improvised a fix so the car would start… but my advice is, if you do rent, check for safety equipment and have a look under the hood before you drive away.
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