5 Things You Need to Try Before Leaving Santiago

Cresonia Hsieh is a student at University of Florida and an ISA Featured Blogger. Cresonia is currently studying abroad with ISA- CP in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

5. Bargaining

Whether you’re at the Mercado Modelo or down Calle del Sol, you need to try your hand at bargaining. While you can’t do it in many places in Santiago, like brand name shops, established-looking business, etc., you can barter in small tiendas. Just be friendly and courteous, oftentimes store owners may hand out free stuff to you after you’ve purchased an item from their store.

Mercado Modelo hosts a ton of small shops that you can barter in. Just be careful inside and keep your belongings close to you.
Mercado Modelo hosts a ton of small shops that you can barter in. Just be careful inside and keep your belongings close to you.

4. Food: Bon

There are several things that you’ll see everywhere when you visit the Dominican Republic, and one of those are advertisements and eateries for Bon. Bon is an ice cream company. From storefronts to ice cream trucks to guys biking carts loaded with ice cream, you’ll see Bon everywhere. Seeing as the natives seem to love it, you probably should give it a try.

While I don’t personally find Bon to be extraordinary, you know what they say: When in Rome, do what the Romans do.

3. Dance: Bachata and Merengue

If you’re a girl who’s tired of dancing with guys with two left feet, fear not: Dominican men are here. Dominicans love to dance, and everyone seems to know how to. Two of the most common dances here are Bachata and Merengue. Bachata is a rather romantic-looking dance with specific step numbers and a soft hip movement at the end of the dance sequence. Partners typically embrace each other with one hand behind the partner’s back and intertwined fingers in the other. Merengue is a faster less feet-moving and more hip-swaying dance. According to the Dominicans, this dance is easier to learn.

2. Visit the Monument During the Day and at Night

The Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración is a signature historic site in the Dominican Republic. From the outside, you can admire it’s beautiful scene, but from the inside you can climb into it’s tall spiral and learn about the history of the Dominican Republic by stopping at the various levels inside the pole.

During the day the monument is gorgeous.
During the day the monument is gorgeous.
10387025_10203656600874835_9185514966772458065_o
The inside houses statues of important historical figures

However, at night everything changes. While you can’t go inside at night, the edifice is still beautiful and you can admire the nightlife that surrounds the monument. Musicians walk around looking for money, horse-drawn carriages are illuminated with lights for those who want a ride, and natives park near it to enjoy the view and listen to music.

The monument is equally gorgeous at night with it's illuminated structure.
The monument is equally gorgeous at night with it’s illuminated structure.
Musicians play for visitors at night as well.
Musicians play for visitors at night as well.
While you're there, don't forget to snag a couple pics of the beautiful city lights. I did!
While you’re there, don’t forget to snag a couple pics of the beautiful city lights. I did!

1. Ride in a Concho 

If you like the feeling of being on the verge of death, then riding in a concho is for you. For only twenty pesos, you can get as close to death as you probably ever hopefully will without actually dying.

You just wave your designated concho, jump in with a max of five other passengers, hand over twenty pesos, and tell the driver where you want to go. Drivers don’t adhere to lanes, streetlights or signs, often make up their own lanes and get dangerously close to other drivers. Nevertheless, they get you where you need to go and don’t cost much. Conchos are practical and functional, but definitely not comfortable.

Author: Cresonia Hsieh

Cresonia Hsieh is a 19-year-old journalism major at the University of Florida. She is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Dominican Republic and enjoys writing, reading, and watching endless episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Read along for interesting tips and insights of the Dominican Republic.

Leave a Reply