Punta Cana is one of the most popular sunny destinations for Americans going abroad.
A resort town in the Dominican Republic, bounded by the Caribbean Sea, it is famous for its highly-developed resort scene, tourist infrastructure, and excellent services.
Regrettably, for those looking to explore other parts of the country beyond their luxurious all-inclusive resort, it’s always been more difficult, as public transportation options are limited, buses are not always reliable and safe, and tour companies can charge exorbitant prices for a private guided tour.
Soon enough, however, Punta Cana resort guests will no longer be isolated from other regions as the local government looks set to bring back trains, linking Punta Cana to the DR’s leading cultural destination:
A New Train Linking Punta Cana To Santo Domingo
Tourists staying in Punta Cana will soon be able to board a fast train to visit the exciting cultural capital Santo Domingo for a day.
In the biggest news to have come out of the tiny Hispaniola nation in maybe years, Resumen Turismo reports that, by the end of this year, construction of a new National Railway System for the whole of the Dominican Republic will begin.
It will help link several coastal settlements on the island’s Southeastern coast, with the first section, dubbed ‘Taino Train’, leaving from the capital city of Santo Domingo and terminating in Punta Cana.
It is a privately funded project, spearheaded by Empresas Ares, at an estimated investment of over US$3 billion. According to local sources, funds for the mega project are available, and construction will be going ahead with ‘five phases of execution’.
Other than the initial stage, other phases have not yet been detailed, but Jose Alberto Ares, president of the company, has reiterated the train will cover the ‘entire’ national territory, connecting ports, airports, and all provinces.
The first phase includes a planned Santo Domingo-Santiago de los Caballeros line, and it is ‘certain’ that a so-called ‘phase 2’, with tracks expected to be laid across the Eastern region, where Punta Cana is located, will be concluded before the Northern section.
More Hotels And Development Zones To Follow
The phase 2, which refers to the Santo Domingo-Punta Cana line, will help resort guests reach the national capital more easily, without resorting to sketchy bus companies or privately-arranged transfers. In total, 6 stations are planned, spanning a 93-mile route.
Resumen Turismo adds that further development is expected in towns where the train will call at, such as the construction of shopping centers, food courts, children’s areas, and the opening of more hotels, museums, restaurants, and supermarkets.
The following destinations will be served by the Taino Train:
- Santo Domingo
- Juan Dolio
- San Pedro de Marcoris
- La Romana
- Punta Cana
The journey from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo will take only 58 minutes to complete, faster than buses or even cars, and local news outlets report that tickets will be very affordable, though it it is still far too early in the project to estimate prices.
This is the second major railway project announced in Latin America in the last five years, following Mexico’s Tren Maya, a tourist train traveling on a loop around the Yucatan Peninsula set to launch this December.
Santo Domingo Is The Oldest City In The Americas
As recent studies have confirmed, a growing number of Americans are actively seeking cultural expeditions when going abroad, and it is becoming increasingly more common for them to add a side trip or two during their tropical, all-inclusive getaway.
This trend has been noted all over the Americas, with previously ignored cultural hotspots within driving distance of resort zones in Cancun soaring in popularity this year and as far South as Brazil, where the likes of Ouro Preto and Salvador de Bahia are now trendy to visit.
The Dominican Republic is no exception.
Its capital, Santo Domingo, is the oldest European settlement in the Americas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a well-preserved, walled colonial core, where beautiful Spanish-era civic buildings and Iberian architecture can be admired and a monumental post-medieval fortress.
Santo Domingo has seen its arrival figures increase in recent months as ‘colonial tourism‘ grows. The newly-coined term commonly refers to tourism activities based in historical American cities established by European colonizers and that have retained much of their Old World charm.
Popular examples of perfectly-preserved colonial cities include Merida in Mexico, Quebec City in Canada, and Antigua Guatemala, in Guatemala.
Unlike in Mexico, where major investment in infrastructure has been made in recent years to connect all cultural hotspots across the Yucatan Peninsula and diversify the tourist offer, the Dominican Republic had only promoted its destinations individually up until now.
Beach lovers vacationing in Punta Cana would rarely add Santo Domingo to their itinerary, as it is a little over two hours away driving and a different atmosphere altogether, while tourists landing in Santo Domingo for the culture would not necessarily go out of their way to visit Punta Cana.
Additionally, bus service is suboptimal, to say the least, as comfort tends to be minimal, and they’re usually running late, which has always made day trips unfeasible for most.
Fortunately, the train will help link both areas and make travel smoother and much safer for tourists and locals alike.
The ‘Taino Train’ does not yet have a launch date, but we will be sure to keep you posted as more exciting updates are announced.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com