How to travel Punta Cana on a budget? (Backpacking Punta Cana)

Are you planning a vacation in Punta Cana on a budget? Good luck! 😉 While it’s not impossible to travel to the popular resort destination on a shoestring or even go backpacking in Punta Cana, it will take some effort and workarounds to seriously keep it cheap when traveling to Bavaro and beyond, which is supposed to be the most expensive area in the Dominican Republic. However, there are some options on how you can make it a great vacation without visiting an all-inclusive resort even if you are on a very tight budget. Let me show you a few tweaks and read my comprehensive guide about backpacking this part of the Dominican Republic and traveling Punta Cana on a budget.
Furthermore, you also find a lot of information on how to organize your vacation as cheap as possible, even if you want to stick to an all-inclusive resort. For example, I am shwoing you the best budget hotels and resorts in Punta Cana as well the coolest excursions in Punta Cana under 50 USD.

 Please note: this guide is for all visitors staying in individual accommodations, AirBnBs, hostels or guesthouses (even though you can find a few all-inclusive saving tips in the following articles as well). If you’d like to know how to save money on an all-inclusive vacation in Punta Cana, check out this article.
If you are interested in detailed prices of Punta Cana, please check out this article.
For resorts with the lowest prices, check out the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana.

Completely UPDATED October 2022

Preamble: Traveling Punta Cana on a budget and backpacking the area

 Before I am talking about the precise tips on how to travel Punta Cana on a budget, let me explain to you why it is not the easiest task – doesn’t matter if you are backpacking the Dominican Republic or if you are just looking for a cheap beach holiday outside of the all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. Punta Cana is made for package tourists arriving with their flight, heading straight to the provided shuttles, enjoying their all-inclusive resort and booking a few excursions. Therefore, the conditions for individual travelers might be a bit difficult at first glance, especially as the entire internet is full of the best tips for your all-inclusive vacation. 

Cocktails at El Cortecito beach in Punta Cana

 However, if you dig a bit deeper, it is absolutely possible to travel Punta Cana on a budget. Particularly in my first years in the Dominican Republic when I was still living in Santo Domingo, I have done around 30 or 40 trips to Punta Cana, most of them with a limited budget and looking how to get the best out of this area without spending too much. It just requires some knowledge which is usually hidden among all those all-inclusive resort reviews and excursion promotions out there. This comprehensive Punta Cana guide about budget-traveling and backpacking the area will help you, with all the personal experiences I made in the last years, including my time living here in Punta Cana!

Arrive: Airport transfers in Punta Cana when traveling on a budget

 Even your journey to the Dominican Republic starts with the flight, I won’t talk about this part as I assume you know how to book a cheap flight as a savvy budget traveler. If you need help finding the best flights to Punta Cana, let me know and send me a travel coaching request. You can also check the current flight promotions to Punta Cana here*.

 For your transfer from Punta Cana International Airport to the main area of Punta Cana (which is known as Punta Cana but actually called Bavaro), you‘ll have the choice of different transfer options.

 Your cheapest bet is to walk out of the airport and take a local guagua (a Dominican minivan) until Verón. Here you can change to busses bound for Bavaro and Cabeza de Toro. As of 2022, the entire journey cost around 2.50 USD (120 DOP) which is perfect for any backpacker and one of the cheapest airport transfers you can get in the entire Dominican Republic. However, it might take you around 90 minutes – mostly because of the waiting time and several stops along the way. Check out my airport transfer guide to find more information about this public transport option.

 Please note that public transport from Punta Cana Airport is only possible if you are traveling with light luggage and without suitcases.

Travel resources

Punta Cana Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
Santo Domingo Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
All-Inclusive Resorts: Info | Book It*
Apartments & Villas: Info | Book It*
Excursions: Info | Book It*
Rental Car: Info | Book It*
Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It

 If you don’t have to squeeze every dollar out of your pocket but still want to travel Punta Cana on a budget, my recommendation would be to book a shared airport transfer*. When booking in advance, they are already selling as low as 8-10 USD per person and get you to your destination much quicker and more comfortable than with public transport. You will be greeted by a representative of the booked company right at the arrival area and get accompanied to your shuttle. You might have to wait a bit for other travelers arriving during the same period than you, but in the end, it shouldn’t take you more than 60 minutes from passing customs to your booked accommodation. You can book a shared airport transfer from Punta Cana Airport directly here or check out further information in my airport guide.

 If you are looking for a private transfer from Punta Cana Airport, you should calculate with at least 25 USD per way, which might be more than you’d like to spend as a budget traveler. If interested, you can check out the cheapest options here*.

Stay: Finding the best AirBnBs, guesthouses and budget accommodation in Punta Cana

If traveling on a budget to Punta Cana, you have plenty of options for where to stay. Punta Cana hostels, cheap all-inclusive resorts, cool Airbnbs, or cute guesthouses – Punta Cana (and the Dominican Republic) has it all. Let’s have a closer look at the accommodation options you have in Punta Cana, it doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking the Dominican Republic or simply are looking for a cheap trip to Punta Cana.

Affordable hotels & cheap guesthouses

 When looking for accommodation for a budget holiday in Punta Cana outside of the big all-inclusive resorts, I highly recommend you to stay in the area of Corales and El Cortecito. Those areas are located right in Bavaro and have the best connection to public transport, supermarkets, bars, restaurants and local life. They also feature the best public beach access to Bavaro Beach

 When looking for a cheap guesthouse or small hotel in Punta Cana, I can recommend to you the following options which are (usually) all below 50-60 USD per night and within walking distance to the beach:

Art Villa Dominicana (check prices* | check reviews*):
A small guesthouse-style hotel in the center of the Corales area with different kinds of rooms for a choice, including small studios with a kitchenette. Approx. 10 minutes walking distance to the beach

Green Coast Beach Hotel (check prices* | check reviews*):
A hotel right at the beach of Cortecito, perfect for some affordable beach vacations in Punta Cana. They have a small and cute beach club with great views as well.

Having a cocktail at El Cortecito Beach in Bavaro, Punta Cana

The Greek Boutique Hotel (check prices* | check reviews*):
Located in El Cortecito this small beachfront hotel is a good option for some relaxing days, even though I would prefer the Green Coast option mentioned above.

 If that’s not enough for you, you can see a list of further budget hotels here* – sufficient options for everyone traveling Punta Cana on a budget.
Cheaper accommodation (as cheap as 15 USD per night) usually can be found if you stay further away from the beach. However, if you are traveling to Punta Cana for a beach holiday, I would not recommend it as shuttling back and forth each day to get to the beach might be bothersome.

If proximity to the beach is not important for you, the following Punta Cana budget options are recommendable:

Nely y Pietro Guesthouse (check prices* | check reviews*):
A long-time favorite among budget travelers in Punta Cana, this cute little guesthouse offers great value for money and a decent location, especially for taking the public transport of Punta Cana to all parts of the province.

Punta Cana Macao Guesthouse (check prices* | check reviews*):
Located far away from the main Punta Cana area but close to the beautiful Macao Beach, this is a pretty new guesthouse with very modern rooms, spacious common areas and caring hosts, guaranteeing a perfect experience in Punta Cana and at Playa Macao.

Beautiful Macao Beach in the northern part of Punta Cana

Manaya Bed & Breakfast (check prices* | check reviews*):
A lovely B&B outside of the main tourist areas of Punta Cana. It is a hidden gem for budget travelers in Punta Cana if you’d like to explore the local life. Wonderful decoration, personal attention, a little oasis in the middle of busy Verón. If you’re not a beach person and are looking for local interaction, this is a very interesting guesthouse in Punta Cana – but take note that it’s far away from most things to do in Punta Cana.

Still, I would not recommend every single budget hotel in Punta Cana. There are some accommodations out there that have an unfavorable location – far away from everything, inconvenient to reach and partly not 100% safe. Therefore. I’d recommend you to stick with the options above or at least – if you don’t like the guesthouses and hotels listed – with similar locations.

The best Punta Cana hostels

If you are an experienced backpacker you might look for a genuine hostel in Punta Cana. Unfortunately, that’s not easy to find, especially since Macao Beach Hostel with its original backpacker vibe closed during the pandemic.

Therefore, as of 2022, the following options are the best Punta Cana hostels:

Eco-Hostel Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*):
A pretty new place just opened around 2020/2021, which is currently the most authentic typical backpacking hostel in Punta Cana. You have everything characteristic of a hostel, such as dorms, common rooms, a shared kitchen, relaxation areas, people who can give advice and other budget travelers to connect with (with whom you maybe can go on one of the budget adventures mentioned below in this Punta Cana Backpacking guide).

Gava Hostel (check prices* | check reviews*):
This is not a true hostel as you are used to in typical backpacking countries, it is more a cheap place to stay with all the amenities you need, but without the typical backpacker vibe. The location in Bavaro close to the Corales Beach area is perfect and you have everything you need within walking distance. It’s also a long-time favorite, serving travelers on a budget in Punta Cana for many years.

Art-Hostel Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*):
Art-Hostel is marketed together with Eco-Hostal Punta Cana and shares the same facilities, hence you have common areas, hammocks, a shared kitchen and all the backpacker services as well in this hostel in Punta Cana. What makes it different is that Art-Hostel has private rooms, while Eco-Hostal sells the dorms. Hence if you are budget traveling as a couple to Punta Cana, check the prices of Art-Hostel instead of Eco-Hostal.

The Punta Cana public beach in the area of Los Corales

Cheap Airbnbs in Punta Cana

 AirBnB is also an extremely popular option in Punta Cana. There are more than 4000 (!!) AirBnB accommodation in Bavaro, Punta Cana and the entire area, which also includes a massive amount of budget options – for as low as 10 USD per night in a double room. While you can look for your favorite one here*, I have selected some options I can recommend to you considering the location, the place and the reviews – and of course the budget as we are talking about traveling Punta Cana on a shoestring here 🙂 :
Double room in Costa Bavaro (check prices and reviews here*): a super cheap and well-maintained place in a super safe residential area (in general Punta Cana is pretty safe) with pool and approx. 20-25 minutes walking to the beach; I have stayed there as well.
Cute studio in Corales (check prices and reviews here*): one of the best budget bargains you can find in Punta Cana with walking distance (5-7 minutes) to the beach, bars + restaurants + supermarkets even closer; incl. nice furniture and a kitchen.
Budget beach apartment (check prices and reviews here*): literally only a few steps away from the beach, this is a well-maintained and beautiful apartment for less than the price of a restaurant meal with drinks for 2 in Punta Cana.

Not convinced of those selections? Have a look at my comprehensive post about the best Airbnbs in Punta Cana.

Punta Cana budget vacations in all-inclusive resorts

The last option to stay on a low budget in Punta Cana is by booking one of the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. Even though I definitely would not call a resort a backpacking vacation in the Dominican Republic, it might make perfect sense if you don’t travel on an ultra-thin shoestring and are ok to pay a few bucks extra for the super comfort of a nice all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana where you get pampered around the clock.

After all, you also have to consider what you’re paying when you organize your holiday on your own, particularly as restaurants in Punta Cana are not cheap, street food stalls are not too abundant and the resort prices particularly in the low season are super low.

Let’s assume you spend 40 USD per night for a cheap hotel or guesthouse (any accommodation without all-inclusive), 50 USD per day on drinks and meals for 2 persons (as long as you’re not cooking on your own, you can calculate 10 USD for breakfast, 10 USD for lunch, 20 USD for dinner and maybe 10 USD for drinks – all based on a couple traveling on a budget to Punta Cana) and 10 USD for beach chairs, that’s making a total of 100 USD. And you will be surprised to learn that the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana are already available starting at around 100 USD per night per couple (!) (not per person).

Therefore, if you’re just planning to enjoy a cheap trip to Punta Canas beaches for a couple of days and don’t want to explore much of the surrounding area, one of the very affordable all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana might come in handy.

If this sounds like an option for you, here are the three most recommendable all-inclusive resorts when traveling to Punta Cana on a budget.

Whala Bavaro (check prices* | check reviews*):
Whala Bavaro is a true barebone resort and perfect for budget travelers to Punta Cana. It doesn’t offer much more than a few pools, 2 buffet restaurants, a couple of bars and pretty modern rooms (as the resort was completely renovated in 2018), hence you shouldn’t expect full-day entertainment, haute cuisine or fancy drinks, but it does its job, doesn’t cost more than a regular Bed&Breakfast in the United States (particularly in the low season) and feature a prime beachfront location right at one of the best stretches of Bavaro Beach. The location is also perfect if you want to explore the surrounding bars and restaurants in the Corales area, which is also suitable for some Punta Cana nightlife.

Prices at this budget all-inclusive resort are starting at around 100 USD per couple in the low season and 150 USD per couple in the high season.

The cheapest all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, whala Bavaro

 Alternatively, you can also check out whala Bayahibe*, another super cheap budget option, where you also can find an extensive review here.

Impressive Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*):
Another cheap all-inclusive resort, currently (as of 2022) the cheapest besides whala Bavaro, is Impressive Punta Cana. This is a full-service all-inclusive resort, with many different restaurants (including à-la-carte restaurants), a full bar menu, a spa (not included), day and night-time entertainment and large tropical gardens. It is located right at Bavaro Beach, between Corales and El Cortecito. Considering the price you pay, the quality here at Impressive Punta Cana is good, but if you are expecting top-notch cuisine, impeccable service and well-elaborated cocktails, it is also recommendable to look for a better Punta Cana Resort. Impressive Punta Cana is simply a perfect hotel for a Punta Cana beach holiday on a budget and is recommendable for this kind of traveler, as it’s clean, offers many services, features modern rooms and has a prime location.

Prices at this budget all-inclusive resort are starting at around 100 USD per couple in the low season and 175 USD per couple in the high season.

The beach at Impressive Resort in Punta Cana

Serenade Punta Cana (check prices* | check review):
For the perfect combination of an affordable all-inclusive resort and a high level of service, my recommendation would be Serenade Punta Cana. Here you’ll find creative menus at different à-la-carte restaurants (among them an Italian, Mexican or steakhouse restaurant), modern rooms (the resort was only opened in 2020), and various pools, including a small water park in this Punta Cana resort. The liquor selection is also outstanding considering we’re talking about affordable all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, and so is the view from the bar. Check out the extensive Serenade Punta Cana review for more impressions of this resort.

 Prices at this all-inclusive resort used to start at around 150 USD per couple in the low season and 200 USD per couple in the high season. Currently, it seems more expensive as prices start at around 200 USD in the low season, hence it might be worth waiting for promotions or checking out similar resorts.

Stunning lobby at Serenade Resort

In case you are considering a resort or need further accommodation options, check out these three articles for the cheapest Punta Cana vacation:
the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana
the best affordable resorts in Punta Cana
how to save on an all-inclusive vacation in Punta Cana

Eat: Cheap eats in Punta Cana

 When visiting Punta Cana, you’ll find a lot of fancy and recommendable restaurants. But most of them are quite expensive, compared to other areas in the Dominican Republic. A lunch or dinner plate at a regular restaurant easily sets you back at 10 USD + tip + drinks + appetizer etc.. That’s at least what I don’t consider budget traveling when being in Latin America.

 However, if you know where to go, you can also fill up your tummy for much less. You can find typical Dominican meals for around 3 USD in a “Comedor”, which are Dominican eateries. They are all around Bavaro and are usually open for lunch. A typical fare is rice, beans, salad and meat for 150-200 DOP. Vegetarian options are not always available (well, besides just eating rice, beans and salad).

 If 1 or 2 dollars more are not stretching your travel budget for Punta Cana too much, I am highly recommending you Delicias de Bavaro (probably the best local place to eat in Punta Cana) or the food trucks south of Corales (approx. 5 minutes walking), where you can sit in a comfortable surrounding and eat delicious local dishes for around 4-6 USD.

A typical Dominican dish, Mofongo, at a typical Dominican restaurant, Delicias de Bavaro

 Furthermore, Punta Cana has also plenty of big supermarkets (Jumbo, Lama, Iberia), where you can buy groceries for local prices. In this article you get a good overview about all the prices in Punta Cana.

Connect: Where to meet other budget travelers and backpackers

 Connecting with other like-minded travelers might be the most difficult part when traveling to Punta Cana on a budget. There are just not that many backpackers. Furthermore, as there are no hostels, typical do-it-yourself adventures or other hangout spots for individual travelers, it needs a bit of creativity to connect. Most foreign people you are going to meet are probably either expats living in Punta Cana or all-inclusive tourists roaming outside their resort. However, if you check the spots above, especially in Corales and Cortecito (particularly accommodation and places to eat), you might be able to find and connect to other travelers in Punta Cana on a budget. 

Get your free e-book now – “17 amazing things-to-do for free in Punta Cana”!

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Get Around: Public transport in Punta Cana

 When you are visiting Punta Cana on a budget, you also want to move around. The cheapest option is to use public transport, which just costs around 1 USD (50-60 DOP) for all journeys within Bavaro, Verón and Punta Cana. However, public transport in Punta Cana takes its time, especially as connections are not pretty good. Sometimes you have to spend around 2 hours to cover just 20 kilometers. Before using it, please read my comprehensive guide about public transport in Punta Cana and make sure there is a connection to the place where you want to go.

 Another option, while not particularly cheap, is to rent a car, as it will save you a lot of time and makes planning your trip much easier. Especially if you’d like to venture out and see the hidden gems of Punta Cana and beyond (check here for the 13 best day trips from Punta Cana), a car is nearly essential. Check out this article for more information on renting a car in Punta Cana.

Road-Trip through the west of the Dominican Republic with views on the Sierra de Neyba

 If a rental car doesn’t fit your travel budget for Punta Cana, don’t worry. Public transport will bring you to most places, even you might have to bring a lot of time and patience.

Experience: Backpacking adventures when traveling Punta Cana on a budget

 A vacation in Punta Cana doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of things you can do when traveling on a budget or backpacking Punta Cana. Your first resource for budget-friendly activities is my guide with 16 amazing things you can do for free in Punta Cana.

Best DIY adventures when backpacking Punta Cana

If you want to explore Punta Cana on your own, you need to know that it sometimes might be difficult, particular due to public transport limitations. It is certainly possible, especially if you’re flexible, speak a bit of Spanish and don’t mind getting up early, but it needs time and patience. Therefore – even if you are traveling to Punta Cana on a budget – it might be smarter to rent a car in Punta Cana, as this makes it much easier to visit most of the following places. Still, it is partly possible with public transport as well.

Waterfalls in Punta Cana:
I particularly recommend exploring the different waterfalls in the area of Punta Cana, which makes up for some great adventures, especially if you are used to traveling on your own. Salto de la Jalda is certainly the best waterfall adventure you can have in the east of the Dominican Republic, but you need a rental car to make this trip possible in one day – with public transport it would be a two-day trip. Salto de Anamuya is the waterfall in Punta Cana which is easiest reachable via public transport.

Travel budget needed: just the rental car and/or public transport, the waterfalls are free.

A waterfall near Punta Cana, Salto de Anamuya

Hiking Punta Cana:
There are some pretty cool hikes in Punta Cana which you can also do on your own if you are experienced in walking with a GPS tracker and finding trails. Just don’t underestimate the tropical jungle and the intense heat, hence you have to take plenty of water and snacks. For specific hiking recommendations, you can also check out this hiking guide for more things-to-do on a budget in Punta Cana or book a guided hiking tour*.

Travel budget needed: just the rental car and/or public transport, hiking in Punta Cana is free.

View of the Anamuya Mountains close to Punta Cana

TOP 12 Punta Cana Excursions

Isla Saona: Saona Info | Book it*
Private Saona Island Tour: Private Tour Info | Book it*
Dune buggy and ATV excursion: Buggy Info | Book it*
Punta Cana Ziplining: Zipline Info | Book it*
Party boat & booze cruise: Party Boat Info | Book it*
Best Nightlife Show: Coco Bongo Info | Book it*
Scape Park Cap Cana & Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon Info | Book it*
Los Haitises National Park: Los Haitises Info | Book it*
Santo Domingo: Santo Domingo Info | Book it*
Samaná (Salto El Limón & Cayo Levantado): Samaná Info | Book it*
Helicopter & airplane tours: Helicopter Info | Book it*
Whale watching (Jan-Mar only): Whale watching Info | Book it*

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the 40+ best Punta Cana tours!

Pristine Beaches in Punta Cana:
While you have the most beautiful beaches right in Punta Cana listed here, you can also visit the different pristine beaches of the area, such as Playa Limón, Playa La Vacama or Playa Esmeralda, even though all of these beaches would require a Punta Cana car hire (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*).

Travel budget needed: just the rental car and/or public transport, beaches in Punta Cana are free.

Camping at La Vacama Beach near Punta Cana at Costa Arrecife

Montana Redonda:
Montaña Redonda is a great day trip from Punta Cana you can do on a budget. It is reachable by public transport and instead of taking a truck up, you can hike up by just paying a minimal entrance fee of 2 USD. You will be rewarded with amazing photo opportunities.

Travel budget needed: approx. 8 USD for public transport (return) and 2 USD entrance fee.

Spectacular Montana Redonda between Miches and Punta Cana

You can also head one day to Higuey to visit the most important basilica of the Dominican Republic and to see the bustling life of a local city. Visit the market, eat at the various food stalls and (don’t) get overwhelmed by the chaotic surrounding with its multiple influences. Higuey can be easily reached by public transport.

Travel budget needed: approx. 6 USD for public transport (return)

Best cheap excursions (under 50 USD) when traveling to Punta Cana on a budget

 Of course, you can also book one of the several excursions in Punta Cana which would be a straight-forward option to experience some unique things in the Dominican Republic. Some of the cheapest excursions, such as Buggys, Booze Cruises or Horseback Riding, already start at 40 USD per person. Check out the best prices here*.

The widget below shows you some of the coolest and cheapest excursions in Punta Cana under 50 USD – perfect when looking for cheap trips and excursions on a budget.

Dune buggy excursion:
Dune buggy excursions in Punta Cana are probably the epitome of cheap day trips in Punta Cana. They start for as low as 35 USD and are great fun, especially if you’re around with friends. You get to know some parts of the countryside around Punta Cana and visit a fantastic beach, Macao Beach. While driving and speeding around, you’ll have a blast and for sure get super dirty. If you’re looking for your experience to be a bit more personal than just a cheap budget tour, you can also check out this article about the best buggy excursions in Punta Cana

There is even an ATV adventure on a budget which you can get for 50 USD. ATVs are usually much better vehicles than the old and rickety dune buggies.

Party Boat:
Who doesn’t dream of heading to the Caribbean and hopping on a boat which cruises through the turquoise sea, while listening to Latin sounds and party music and drinking a few alcoholic drinks – all together with an animated and happy crowd. That’s exactly what’s expecting you on a party boat in Punta Cana. Usually, those tours are around 60 USD, but currently, there is a special offer that makes it possible to have such a catamaran trip in Punta Cana for under 50 USD. 

Higuey City Tour:
Higuey is the capital of the province La Altagracia and a very bustling city. While you can go here on your own, a guided tour has the big advantage that you’ll have a guide with you, who can explain to you everything about local traditions, daily life and hidden gems of the Dominican Republic. He can also take you to places where you usually won’t go on your own – it doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking the Dominican Republic or just traveling to Punta Cana for a beach holiday. 

The Basilica La Altagracia in Higuey

Chocolate Workshop: 
The Dominican Republic is famous for its cacao production, a lot of organic chocolate bars are coming from here. If you want to learn more about this unique product and would like to produce your own chocolate bar, this interactive workshop is a perfect choice for you, particularly as it is so cheap.

Rum Tasting:
Another famous local produce is sugar cane, which is processed into world-renowned rum. Indeed, the Dominican rum is super delicious. If you want to learn more about it, try some of the best local rums (much better and much more exclusive than in any all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana) and have a great time in a really cool tasting bar, this Punta Cana rum tasting is for you. Considering the professional organization and the high quality of rum, the low price for this experience nearly seems ridiculous.

A professional rum tasting in Punta Cana at this exclusive culinary experience

Local Tour:
This is a new cool tour through the countryside where you learn a lot about the local products and the Punta Cana countryside. You visit a local garden and get explained all the Dominican fruits and vegetables from your guide. As this is a pretty off-the-beaten-track tour, it is usually a very small group or you even might be lucky and have a private tour – unbeatable for a tour of under 50 USD.

Get Out: Traveling the Dominican Republic on a budget and backpacking the country

 Once you have seen the most important highlights of Punta Cana, you might want to see other parts of the Dominican Republic – especially because those areas are more suitable for backpacking and individual travelers, as they offer much better conditions for traveling on a budget.

Editor’s Choice: the best experiences 2024

Most unique experience in a small group: Authentic rum tasting* (rating 4.78/5)
Best Rated Punta Cana excursion: Isla Saona Premium in small groups* (rating 4.95/5)
Most booked through Punta Cana Travel Blog: Small-Group Snorkeling* (rating 4.91/5)
Best off-the-beaten-track excursion: Montana Redonda & Costa Esmeralda* (rating 4.79/5)
Best excursion for family fun: Jungle Buggies + Zipline Combo* (rating 4.91/5)
New and trending for 2024: Evening Buggy Tour with Water Cave and Dancing*

Not the right tour for you?
Check out the 45 best Punta Cana excursions here at Punta Cana Travel Blog!

 A must-see is Santo Domingo, which features the most beautiful old town in the entire Caribbean, with plenty of historic buildings dating back to the 17th century. It is a true pleasure to stroll through the Colonial Zone and experience this kind of history. A comfortable air-conditioned direct bus is running between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo 6 times a day, so it is very easy to get there and suitable for any budget. Continue reading here for the departure times and further options on how to get from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo.

 Once in Santo Domingo, you have the full choice of exploring the Dominican Republic, which offers so much more than most people think. Direct busses are heading in all directions and it is easy to reach the North Coast, Samaná or the Central mountain area. There you will find perfect conditions for all budgets and plenty of things-to-do. It is the perfect contrast once you have explored Punta Cana and allows you to explore the Dominican Republic in all its facets.

Contrary to Punta Cana, you can also find some great backpacking hostels in the Dominican Republic, perfect to meet like-minded travelers and explore this underrated country. The best hostels in the Dominican Republic for backpacking are:
Island Life, Santo Domingo*: the only true backpacking hostel in Santo Domingo, created from travelers for travelers in the Dominican Republic
Manty’s Guesthouse, Las Terrenas*: Dominican hospitality at its best, thanks to the welcoming owner, the huge common terrace and the daily delicious Dominican dinners
La Ballena Backpacker, Las Galeras*: if you look for a quieter village on the Samaná peninsula than Las Terrenas, this hostel in Las Galeras is your best bet.
Laguna Park (El Castillo), Cabarete*: the No. 1 backpacking hostel in Dominican Republic’s surf capital. Even though the hostel does not have a surfer vibe and its quality might be erratic, it’s great for all kind of backpackers.

Are you looking for further information to determine your travel budget? Check out the following articles:
How to save money when booking an all-inclusive vacation … in case you decide for a resort in Punta Cana instead of Airbnb (+ a list of the best cheap all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana)
Is Punta Cana expensive? A guide about all the prices in Punta Cana …


The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris


Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

4 thoughts on “How to travel Punta Cana on a budget? (Backpacking Punta Cana)”

  1. Thanks for taht articel.

    But the “food trucks south of corales” are a bit vague. Where are they or cacn you five a place/address close buy to know where to go? We are in that area right now and would like to make use of them.

    Could you help us out?


    1. Hi Kevin,
      there are three Food Truck areas south of Corales along Avenida Alemania:
      – one around Foodies Temple
      – one around Don Camaron
      – one around L’Amour Crepe (that’s the main one, I think it is called Bavaro Food Truck Park).
      Cheers from Punta Cana

  2. Hi Chris,

    My husband and I are planning a trip in February. It will be our first time. He is not the touristy type so all of this information has been so helpful. He loves adventure and I love the beach. We are on a budget and would like to stay somewhere nice and affordable and walking distance to the beach. We would like to sight see and eat local food. He is also looking for a fishing charter to go on. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      thanks for your comment.
      Regarding places to stay, have you checked out the section above “affordable hotels & cheap guesthouses” with my personal recommendations? I think Corales area would be a great place to stay for you.
      Regarding adventures, you can check out my hiking guide or my waterfall guide here at Punta Cana Travel Blog. You can also consider renting a car:
      To eat local food, you also have recommendations in the article above in the section “Eat”.
      For a fishing charter, you could check out the following:
      I hope this helps.
      Cheers from Punta Cana

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