Just what are guaguas,
publicos and motoconchos?

Gua guas, Publicos and Motoconchos

It's not until you have travelled in a guagua, publico or on a motoconcho that you can say you have had the real 'Dominican Republic – Public Transport' experience.

These forms of transport are peculiar to the DR...and as much a part of local life as the Merengue, Dominican Rum, Cigars and Presidente beers!

All three forms of transport are 'unregulated' and operated by 'private' drivers, and form the backbone of local transport systems in many areas where they provide the main methods for locals to get around and about. They are all VERY cheap to use...which is another bonus! BUT road worthiness and safety issues are perhaps not high on the agenda of the operators concerns...so you have been warned!!

Gua guas

Guaguas set-off from certain regular spots, and can (if they still have room,) be flagged down to pick you up almost anywhere. They usually run from one township to another and you may then have to transfer to another gua gua to go further on. Shorter trips will cost only around RD$10 (maybe less!) up to RD$40 for travel from starting-point to terminus.

A couple of words of advice…

Firstly, always carry the right money to pay your fare on entry (try and confirm the 'fare' BEFORE you get on from an 'independent source'...as if you look like an 'obvious tourist' the fare will probably automatically inflate as the gua gua driver pulls up to let you on!

You should also be aware that gua guas take on passengers and their luggage, goods and chattels, until the suspension is at collapsing point...larger items may be stacked on the roof, smaller items, like the odd live piglet, or chicken will be in the cabin...and maybe 'on your lap'...so don't generally wear your 'best clothes' to take a guagua…remember they're an economical form of transport for local Dominicans and as such they REALLY let you 'soak up' a bit of local 'atmosphere' (and maybe more if the piglet is incontinent!!!)

Publicos

Publicos are pretty much ubiquitous in the Cities and towns, particularly Santiago, and Santo Domingo, as a 'cheap type of unofficial taxi. They are also a common feature on the North coast running out of Puerto Plata along to the neighbouring popular resorts.

Often publicos are older Japanese makes of car, but nowadays, running out of Santo Domingo you will more frequently find better quality, often air conditioned, mini-buses in operation. Publicos are a 'multi party' affair…so don't expect them to pull off with just you aboard...they will wait until all seats are taken and you will 'share your ride' to the pre-determined destination.

Generally 'publicos' just ferry 'passenger loads' between one town and the next, and so on, back and forth. Away from the 'wealthier' South coast environs, publicos may be a bit 'run down', and often a little cramped (depends on the size, and number, of other passengers!!) but they are very modestly priced for a useful lift, at around RD$5-10 a trip.

Motoconchos

If you want to get around and about in town, one of the fastest and certainly the cheapest form of transport (outside of 'Shank's pony') is the 'hair raising' motoconcho!

You will frequently see locals precariously perched, with a pile of purchases (often as not) on the back of these 'low powered' motorcycles, or motorcycle based three wheelers. As they wind through the crowded and often grid-locked streets with a 'whizzing' whine, they can wangle their way to getting you to your destination for the derisory sum of RD$2 faster than a taxi, gua gua or publico...but whether you'll get there in one piece is a matter of debate!

Just remember that...when a motoconcho pulls away it does so with a jerk, so hold on tight!...There's no such thing as a 'crash helmets'...and many a passenger meets the Dominican dirt with a sudden wallop as a result of being 'ill-prepared', every year in the DR!!

Spoilt for choice...so give them a try!

So you are 'spoilt for choice' as far as getting between most local ports of call using the 'unofficial public transport options'…but each form of transit from point-to-point has it's own distinct Dominican character…and 'rustic charm'! Don't forget to check out our...

  • Coach services
  • Taxis
  • Auto rental

    ...pages, if you plan to use less 'colorful' forms of transport, or have longer journies in mind!

    We really hope that you will give one or more of these very Dominican forms of transport a try when visiting our homeland - at the end of the day they are one of those experiences not to be missed if you want to know what the REAL DR is like!

    In fact, why not write and let us know any amusing/hair-raising anecdotes about your experiences using the Dominican Republic's 'quaint' transport systems...use the form below and we'll include the best on our site, or in our blog at: Visiting the Dominican Republic - Our Blog!

    Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
    First Name*
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    Ruth and Esther

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