Opening hours in Punta Cana
In general, the normal working week in the Dominican Republic consists of a full-day from Monday to Friday, plus a half-day (morning) on Saturdays. However, in Punta Cana, being a tourist destination, shops adjust their working day to the plans of the visitors, as many will prefer to stay on the beach during the most of the day.
Usually, they open from 9 am to 7,30 pm. Those in malls are open 7 days a week, 9 am to 9 pm, more or less, with shorter hours on some days.
If you want to take a break from the all/inclusive hotel for a bit of shopping, and leave behind the pushy beach vendors, there is a wide choice of malls and open markets to visit. Before you set out looking for bargains, remember that Punta Cana is a huge tourist trap. Everybody here lives from tourists and assume that they are all rich and eager for souvenirs. Therefore, prices become very, very inflated, and often for goods that are not what they are claimed to be (for instance the blue precious stone “larimar”, which can only be found in the Dominican Republic).
Plaza Bavaro (open every day from 9 am to 7 pm), near the Occidental Flamenco and Bavaro Princess hotels, is a street market with stalls selling a wide variety of goods, from beach clothing, to paintings, to colourful Dominican craafts. Be prepared to haggle if you are interested in any item. Offer one third of the initial asking price and, generally, you should be able to get it for less than half, or at least a 40% discount. The vendors don’t give up easily and may even follow you outside the shop if you leave without buying. You will get a mixture of nice and rude vendors, depending on whether you buy or not… Locals do shop there, so good haggling might get you a bargain.
The area has an Internet cafe, telephone calling centre, bank, pharmacy, bar, and restaurants.
Plaza Punta Cana, near Plaza Bavaro, is another open air market with a wide choice of merchandise: drinks, beach wear, T-shirts, hand-rolled cigars, among all the usual local arts & crafts (some, no doubt, “Made in China”!).
El Cortecito is a flea-market by the beach. It is an interesting and lively market where you will find also some informal restaurants like the Captain Cook’s, a sea-food experience not to be missed (open 12am to 12pm).
To get something closer to home, try some of the modern Shopping Centres:
Palma Real Shopping Village offers a free pick-up and return shuttle bus from, and back to most hotels. It is an upmarket, modern retail complex with a wide range of shops from fashion to jewellery, banks and money-changers, and plenty of gastronomic offers. So that you feel as if you were no longer in the Dominican Republic, there is a Hard Rock Cafe and Tony Roma’s to remind some of their US home!
San Juan Shopping Center provides another opportunity to find fashion boutiques, pharmacy, restaurants, supermarket, cinema, and just about anything you may need, but very little that you could call Dominican! Some would call it “too American”! It is not cheap (except, possibly, some items in the supermarket, like liquor), which explains why they also provide free transport from various hotels.
Caribbean Street is part of the 5-star ClubHotel Riu Bambu all-inclusive resort. Its shops laid out as in a truly Dominican street atmosphere are very colourful and make for a pleasant outing, if you are staying elsewhere. Unlike the outside markets, there is no bargaining here. You will find all kinds of stores: casual to chic clothing, gift shops, pharmacy, and others. There is also a branch of Harrison's Jewellers, considered among the best on the country, where you can appreciate, and perhaps buy, the rare blue larimar, a beautiful stone only found in The Dominican Republic.
Usually, open 8,30 am to 4,30 pm, with some branches opening on Saturday mornings.
If the need for a bank is to exchange foreign currency, you will find accredited money-changers (casas de cambio) in the tourist areas, from the airport to the Reception of your Hotel. As it is normal for most hotels and airports to give a lower rate, if you have time, compare it with what you would get outside; otherwise, change just the minimum amount for immediate needs.
The local currency is the Peso, but you will find that the "tourist currency" is the US$ (with the Canadian Dollar, the Euro, or the British Pound also readily accepted). As the American currency is the only one to have small banknotes ($1 and $2), these can be very useful on arrival to tip airport porters (if you need them), and hotel bell-boys, and during your stay to tip guides and drivers. On departure, to tip hotel maids or waiters, you can use European or Canadian notes (coins are frowned upon as local banks may only accept them at a much lower rate of exchange).
ATMs are widespread, even in many large hotels, but according to the UK's "Foreign travel advice" website, cloning of cards and identity theft happen frequently in the Dominican Republic. Be prudent also before handing them over to anyone other than major hotels and tour operators. Fraud is, unfortunately, something to bear in mind, especially when you are away from home.
While on the subject, be aware that there are many forgeries of the higher denomination Dominican banknotes of 1000 and 2000 Pesos. As many shopkeepers will not accept them for this reason, avoid them also when you exchange foreign currency. In any case, small bills are preferable to prevent being told by taxi drivers or street traders that they do not have change... The 50 Peso note, the one with the lowest value, is worth just over US$1.
Punta Cana is an All-Inclusive Resort and, basically, you will only need money for sightseeing tours, some souvenirs, and tips. Bring some cash from home, but keep it safe (see our main page on this subject).
Most business offices 8 am to 6pm. But many will close for a few hours around luch-time to observe the "siesta" (see our Barcelona page for information on this Latin custom). Some open half-day on Saturdays.
Government offices open from 7,30 am to 2,30 pm, Monday-Friday.
The standard opening times are 8 am to 6pm. Many open half-day on Saturday mornings.
However, as Punta Cana is, on the whole, a tourist destination, most travel agencies are in fact tourist agencies providing tours in and around Punta Cana. As such, they tend to be open every day and, depending on the tours that they offer, they may open or close at different, earlier or later times.