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Dominican Republic shopping guide – where to shop and what to buy

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Rum, cigars and amber are just a few of the native treats you can expect to get your hands on in the Dominican Republic. Negotiate your way through the packed Mercado, and hustle with the locals, head to the boutique-lined streets and take in the artesian culture or, for those on the look-out for international brands, head to one of the premier shopping malls for more relaxing retail therapy.

Ivo & Almudena Tonda

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Dominican Republic

Shopping on the island is centred largely on Santo Domingo. Which region of the city you are in will determine the types of items you can pick up. However, rest assured, souvenir hunters will not leave empty handed. Though, as to be expected, for the more unique items it’s best to journey further afield to rural areas where the quality is generally better and prices often cheaper.

 

Santo Domingo

 

From the expensive western brands to handcrafted native items the capital has it all. Peruse Calle El Conde, the only pedestrian street in the city. This colonial street lined with trees and rammed full of boutiques and local stores makes for an ideal location to pick up clothes, bags and other crafted gifts. Located just a short walk north of the Zona Colonial is Mercado Modelo. A popular spot with locals and tourists alike, this bustling market filled with various arts and crafts makes a great spot to pick up a souvenir. A word of warning: be prepared to put your best bargaining technique on show to ensure a good deal.

 

Santiago de los Caballeros

 

Located in the heart of the island, Sanitago sits neatly in the El Cibao Valley. This region is rich in agriculture, particularly rice, coffee and tobacco. The latter is one of the reasons the city attracts many visitors. Almost like a rite of passage, be sure to visit one of the cigar factories and learn the art of cigar making and be sure to leave with your very own box of ‘cohibas’ freshly rolled. Elsewhere, Calle del Sol offers another chance to stalk the streets for authentic gifts, it’s also a great chance to get your hands on larimar, a semi- precious stone native only to the Dominican Republic.

 

Punta Cana

 

Offering respite from the haggling and bargaining the San Juan Shopping Center, on the east coast, is an ideal place to satisfy all your retail needs in relative comfort. Though not, perhaps, the most cultural of shopping experiences you could opt for, the mall is laden with a large selection of stores selling western, as well as local, items and is a popular shopping destination for many.

 

Dominican Republic shopping tips

 

If shopping for amber or larimar it’s a good idea to visit one of the museums in Puerto Plato, where you can learn to tell between the real thing and a fake. Although street vendors do sell the real thing, it is recommended either to stick to main retailers or visit the regions where it is mined to guarantee a fair price and a quality product.