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Currency Exchange -- All banks will exchange your currency and all maintain ATMs. Two of the most central and convenient are Banco BHD, Avenida 27 de Febrero (tel. 809/243-3232), and Banco de Reservas, avenidas Duarte and Mella (tel. 809/960-2000).

Mail -- Chances are if you use regular mail in the Dominican Republic, your cards and letters will arrive at their destination long after you've returned home. Many Dominican residents mailing money back to their homeland have their letters stolen and the money removed. If you must use the postal service (and we recommend that you don't), the main office -- and the most convenient -- is Instituto Postal Dominicano, Parque Colón, in the Zona Colonial (tel. 809/534-5838), open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to noon. If you've got to ship something home, try the more reliable Federal Express, Avenida de los Proceres, corner of Camino del Oeste (tel. 809/565-3636), open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 12:30pm.

Medical Services -- The best hospital in Santo Domingo, and the one recommended by the U.S. Embassy, is Clínica Abreu, Calle Beller 42 (tel. 809/688-4411). Most of its English-speaking doctors trained in the United States. It is always open.

Newspapers -- There are three major dailies. One of the most comprehensive listings of local events, cultural or otherwise, is found in Hoy's "Revista" section. The same data also appears in Listin Diario's "La Vida" section. The afternoon daily, Ultima Hora, also carries helpful listings, including movie schedules.

Pharmacies -- Carol, Ricart 24 (tel. 809/562-6767), and San Judas Tadeo, Av. Independencia 57 (tel. 809/685-8165) are open 24 hours.

Safety -- Exercise extreme caution when walking around Santo Domingo at night, and keep your guard up during the day as well. Violent crime against tourists is not commonplace, but muggings are. Avoid the overcrowded slums at all cost. They are some of the worst slums in the Caribbean, and crime is rampant. One of the worst sections is on the west bank of the Río Ozama just north of Puente Duarte, the bridge. Another section that's riddled with crime is on the east side of Avenida Máximo Gómez north of the Río Isabela. The safest zones are the Zona Colonial or the Malecón, even though these sections are rife with pickpockets and muggers.

Telephone -- The area code for the Dominican Republic is 809. You place calls to or from the Dominican Republic just as you would from any other area code in North America. You can access AT&T Direct by dialing tel. 880/872-2881. You can reach MCI at tel. 800/999-9000 and Sprint at tel. 800/751-7877.

Travel Agencies -- There are a number of travel agencies that can handle your arrangements if you're venturing out of Santo Domingo and into the country. The best ones include Colonial Tour & Travel, Calle Arzobispo Meriño 209 (tel. 809/688-5285; www.colonialtours.com.do), open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1:30pm and 2:30 to 5:30pm, Saturday 8:30am to 1:30pm. Giada Tours & Travel, inside Hostal Duque de Wellington, Av. Independencia 304 (tel. 809/686-6994; www.giadatours.com), also gives good service. It's open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to noon.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.