Updated April 2016
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.
The normal opening and closing times for banks in Santo Domingo are 9am to 5pm, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. However, even within the same bank, some branches have slightly different times: for instance, BanReservas, the nationally-owned bank have offices that open at 8am or 8:30am and close between 4pm and 5:30pm.
Besides, they are present in most Shopping Centres (see below) where they open at 8am (Agora), 9am (Galeria 360), or 10am (Sambil), all of them closing at 9pm; and most are open on Saturdays from 9am or 10am to 6pm or 7pm. Some even open on Sundays from 9am to 2 pm (Agora) or 12noon to 6pm (Galeria 360). However, the business transactions that can be undertaken at the malls is not as comprehensive as in the normal branches.
Generally, shops open from 9am to 7:30pm. Those in malls are open 7 days a week, 9am to 9 pm, more or less, with shorter hours on some days.
Shopping in Santo Domingo has evolved from the often hot and dusty streets into the new, modern, air-conditioned malls. The street shops, of course remain, in particular those near popular tourist sites, focusing on foreign visitors. The old central market that supplied the city's needs in the past, continues but has taken a different charcter, catering now for locals and tourists alike (see below). Around it, street vendors and artisans sell and repair just about everything.
Blue Mall: Ave. W. Churchill/Gustavo Mejia Ricart - one of the most exclusive, upscale shopping malls hosting brand names like Louis Vuitton and Cartier; restaurants serving local, Japanese, and American cuisine (e.g. Hard Rock Cafe); fashion, banks, cinema, and a lot more.
Agora Mall: Ave. John F. Kennedy/Av Abraham Lincoln - very central and one of the nicest and locals' and visitor's favourite. Modern, safe, with lots of shops, cinemas, banks, supermarket, cafes, restaurants, and ice-cream retailers. Shopping, entertainment, and international cuisine, all under the same roof.
Galeria 360: Ave. John F. Kennedy/Calle Euclides Morillo, 106 - one of the best with international retail stores, good food options, and easy parking. Two circular levels: the lower with shops, the upper for entertainment.
Novo-Centro: Av. Lope de Vega, 29 - Sharing the same tall office building with major businesses, it houses a large number of shops, banks, pharmacy, and offers a wide choice of international gastronomy.
Acrópolis Center: Av. Winston Churchill - The first five floors of a 20-storey tower in the centre of town. Wide variety of shops, banks, and even hairdressers, but fewer fashion retailers than in other malls (Mango and some local names are present, though). Here you can find restaurants (e.g. Tony Roma's, Outback, Hotters, or Fridays) and fast-food court (e.g. Kentuchy, Taco Bell).
Megacentro: Ave. San Vicente de Paúl/Carretera Mella - Largest mall in the Dominican Republic with a very extensive number and type of shops, including clothing and accessories, health & beauty, electronics, banks, restaurants, cafes, and cinemas. There is also a supermarket.
Sambil: Ave. John F. Kennedy/Paseo Los Aviadores - Another mall claiming to be the largest in the country. Very modern, not with many international brands but has a good food court; difficult to reach and sometimes to park. It has nice facilities for kids: an aquarium, video games, and dinosaurs in 3D.
Calle El Conde: Zona Colonial - Calle El Conde is one of the main arteries of Santo Domingo running the entire length of the Zona Colonial. It is embedded in early colonial history, owing its name to a 17th century Spanish governor of the island. Today, it is a pedestrian street with hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shops, many of them with the tourists in mind.
The street has plenty of souvenir shops, jewellers selling amber and the blue larimar (the semi-precious stone only found in the Dominican Republic), street vendors trying to sell their colourful paintings, hand-made hats and bags, and a lot more.
Calle El Conde is a must in itself, day and evening, as an old-wordly promenade, watching the people go by, and indulging into a reverie of days long-gone. It is a shame that many of the buildings are empty and in obvious decay!
Mercado Modelo: - Until the 1970s this was strictly a fruit & vegetables market, that has since changed its character and function to become not only a tourist attraction but dedicate itself chiefly to the sale of local arts and crafts: Caribbean paintings, faceless ceramic dolls depicting the undifined Dominican race, due to the mixture brought in by the colonizers; jewellery (amber and larimar); objects in carey (tortoiseshell); Haitian wooden carved masks; traditional fabrics; music instruments; CDs of bachata and merengue; and, of course, the national drink: rum.
It is a covered bazaar, from where it is difficult to walk away without souvenirs. Here you come across all the elements that define the Dominican culture, and are displayed in an unforgettable, and imaginative festival of colour.
Prices here must be negotiated to avoid paying three or four times what is asked at first. Don't be timid; the vendors expect the bargaining. It is part of their culture.
You can still see the fruit & vegetables, meat, fish, and other foodstuffs, but they are now at the back, for the locals. They are also outside, in ambulant stalls around the Mercado Modelo, selling also spices, cigars, and many other goods. Even santeria and voodoo shops and stalls are there for those who practise them.
Chinese Farmer’s Markets: Barrio Chino, Ave. Duarte - >The local Chinatown, one of the biggest in the Caribbean, although it is very recent (inaugurated only in 2006), has its own market, that sells fresh agricultural produce. A visit gives you a chance of tasting their cuisine, buy some fruit, and generally spend some time observing their activities.
Flea market: Plaza María de Toledo - If you happen to be in Santo Domingo on a Sunday (the only day on which it takes place), go to the Flea Market. Stroll through the square as early as possible (it starts at 9am and stays until 4pm) among ussed books, old clothes, well-worn shoes, local handicrafts, pictures and paintings, and an array of objects that could, with some imagination, be called antiques. You never know, you could actually find a gem and get it for a very agreeable price, after the usual hard bargaining; and if you don't, you will certainly find a cheap, interesting souvenir or two.
If the seach resulted in nothing, at least you spent an enjoyable hour or so, and you can proceed to the adjoining park and see one of the main tourist attractions of the city: Parque Colón,the historical main square of the Zona Colonial, where you can visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, the first in the New World.
There are plenty of supermarkets in Santo Domingo. The best ones have fixed prices and are used by the locals suggesting that they have competitive prices. For the sake of comfort, the bigger chains are in the modern malls. Below is just a sample. Their hours of business are normally from 8am to 10pm, and at week-ends from 9am to 8pm.
La Sirena: Ave.Mella/calle Duarte - a chain with supermarkets throughout town.
Jumbo: Agora Mall - everything from food and drinks, to clothing.
Plaza Lama: Ave. 27 de Febrero - Several supermarkets in Santo Domingo.
Most business offices 8am to 6pm. But many will close for a few hours around luch-time to observe the "siesta". Some open half-day on Saturday.
Government offices open from 7:30am to 2:30pm, Monday-Friday.
The standard opening times are 8am to 6pm. Many open half-day on Saturday mornings.