Time in Santiago, Dominican Republic

Crossing the Haiti Dominican Republic borderSharon and I are natural explorers and the temptation to visit another country when it is only a few hours away is strong. However, there are many warnings for Haiti. There are security, violent crime and health concerns. In fact, any concern you can think of is probably listed in the government advisory warnings for Haiti. For this reason, we couldn’t take the kids to Haiti. We were both curious though so, after a lot of research, we decided I would head over to the safer and closer Cap-Haitien for a few days to visit the UNESCO listed Citadel and Sans Souci Palace. I was looking forward to the adventure! But first, I had to get there.

Getting to Haiti from Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Bus from Dominican Republic to HaitiThere are many ways to get to Haiti from the Northern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is possible, but time consuming and uncomfortable, to take the local vans, guaguas the whole way. I decided to catch a nice big bus from Santiago direct to Cap-Haitien, my final destination in Haiti instead. This bus would supposedly take me across the Haiti Dominican Republic border and make everything easier and smoother.

Step one: Cabarete to Sosua to Santiago, Dominican Republic

There is just one of the direct Haiti buses a day from Santiago and I wanted to make sure I was on it. I left Cabarete for Santiago early. This journey involved catching a guagua from Cabarete to the next town, Sosua, in time for the first bus to Santiago at 8:20am. This took me to Santiago’s main Caribe Tours terminal, Las Colinas.

The Haitian border post crossingStep two: Buying a bus ticket to Cap-Haitien

The Las Colinas terminal is the larger of Caribe’s two terminals in Santiago and is in the north of the city. The bus to Cap-Haitien leaves from here. The terminal has some useful facilities, such as an exchange bureau (with better rates than around Cabarete), a reasonably stocked food outlet and a heavily air conditioned seating area. Tickets for the bus to Haiti are sold from a small office on the side of the terminal, facing where the buses park, with a small sign saying “Ruta Internacional.”

I knocked on the door, and entered. The man behind the desk spoke English as well as Spanish without issue. He explained the costs, which I asked for in both US dollars and Dominican pesos. A return ticket was $50 US or 2100 pesos. In addition to that there was $25 – payable in USD only – for entry and exit fees. I asked if this covered both ways and was told it did. However it did not, and more money was required on the way back.

I had to nominate the dates for both legs of the journey and the tickets were valid only for those days. I elected to pay for the ticket in pesos, being slightly cheaper and received tickets for both legs of the journey. I was asked for my passport, the details were recorded, and I was told I would see it again at the border.

I could have, in theory, booked a ticket on the Caribe Tours website. However it didn’t work for me, and other people online seemed to have the same issue. Getting a ticket in person was the only way.

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