International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Getting Around Santiago

Public transportation is, without question, the most common way to navigate and get around Santiago. The Santiago public transportation system includes taxis, conchos (half car/half bus) and buses. Students can expect to use public transport, especially conchos, on a daily basis, and sometimes, several times a day.

Commutes around 10-20 minutes are commonplace and expected-it is simply a part of everday life in Santiago!

To learn more about the different ways to navigate Santiago, please read the descriptions below.

Types of Transportation

Half car, half bus, the "conchos" are perhaps the most common form of public transportation in Santiago. Conchos are cars (of varying colors, makes, and models) that function like buses in many US cities. They have fixed routes, which are indicated by a letter on the side of the concho, like the "K" or "M," for example. You can hail them like a cab and can get on or off anywhere along the route. There is a fixed price (usually quite inexpensive) for anywhere you go on the route. The conchos are popular, so be prepared to share yours with a lot of other people!

Taxis are very inexpensive and a great way to get around Santiago. Just be sure to ask the taxi drivers their rates BEFORE getting into the taxi,make sure the driver knows how to get where you are going, and be sure to solicit your own taxi instead of getting into one that is offered to you.

**The prices for taxis to and from the airport and other locations outside of the city will be based on an official rate (which you can ask to see) and not on the meter.

The Dominican Republic has an extensive, and inexpensive, bus system for travel both inside and outside of Santiago. There are several levels of bus service available, and it will vary depending on where you are and how far you are traveling in the country. Prices are generally fixed no matter how far you go, and price cards are located in the front of the bus. The most comfortable bus lines are Metro Bus and Caribe Tours buses.

The common buses traveling from Santiago to the far points of the country are called "gua-guas" and are the major means of transportation for many Dominicans. The gua-guas may not be air-conditioned, but are usually clean and in good working order. Long-distance bus tickets may be bought in advance (some must be), and this is recommended for travel over the weekend. Rural buses stop more frequently, stopping often to pick up the local farmer heading to market with his vegetables or other items for sale. If you are in a rural area, you need only to flag down a gua-gua and the bus will stop and you will pay when you get on.

In Santiago, payment for bus rides is made to the driver upon entering the bus. The drivers are generally very friendly and willing to take the time to answer questions. Confirm the destination with your driver before you get on the bus.

Your resident directors will provide you with bus schedules, stops, and station information upon your arrival in Santiago.