El Conde Street, the long outdoor mall in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, is the Dominican Republic’s unofficial shopping capital. Although eating the street food isn’t recommended, there are plenty of cheap designer knock-offs to wet your appetite. Santo Domingo’s best buys are authentic larimar or amber jewelry, especially pieces containing fossilized insects, and rocking chairs visitors must assemble themselves once they return home.
There are also modern malls such as Megacentro in Santo Domingo that offer convenient shopping under one roof, from hair salons, cinemas, and clothes to pharmacies, gift stores, and a supermarket. Acropolis mall also hosts brand name shops and a variety of eateries. Plaza Lama, featuring an interesting food hall, is the capital’s largest department store. For western-style grocery shopping, La Sirena, also in the capital, offers a great selection at good prices.
Bargaining is not only recommended at stores, but usually expected throughout the Dominican Republic especially at open-air flea markets like Pulga de Antigüedades, held every Sunday near Santo Domingo’s Parque Colón. Shoppers have plenty of opportunities to haggle at the Mercado Modelo two-floor indoor market. The more modest you dress and the more polite you are, the more successfully your bargaining will be.
Other high-quality Dominican Republic souvenirs include hand-rolled cigars, traditional faceless Dominican dolls, merengue and salsa CDs, and handbags. Several art galleries sell original works by artists from both the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti. Most merchants accept both Dominican pesos and United States dollars.