HAITI ITINERARY FOR 2021 – THINGS TO KNOW IN PORT AU PRINCE AND CAP HAITIEN
April 22, 2021
Whenever one plans an excursion to the Caribbean, one would never place Haiti amongst the countries they’d want to visit. There is almost no information about it online, and most travel blogs from those who visited before are now outdated, so it’s challenging to put together a good Haiti itinerary. Luckily, my friend and I managed to piece down all the information we researched and successfully implemented it during our visit to Haiti. In this blog, I will share the Haiti itinerary we followed during our visit.
Do I need a visa to visit Haiti?
Most probably not. Most nationalities, including Filipinos, can visit Haiti visa-free for 90 days.
Do I need a covid test before traveling to Haiti?
Yes. The Haitian government started asking travelers for an Antigen Covid test taken at least 72 hours before their flight beginning February 09, 2021. The airline will not let you in on the flight if you don’t have one.
Is Haiti a cheap destination?
Not at all. I got surprised that Haiti, being a developing country, is an expensive destination to travel to. Food costs in Haitian restaurants cost around $12 to $15 per meal, while hotels cost around $50 to $150 per night. The cheaper hotels are at the center or in Petionville, and we were not comfortable staying there due to the protests, so we stayed in Servotel, which is near the airport and bus station.
How do I reach Haiti?
Some airlines fly to both Port au Prince and Cap Haitien. Companies such as Jetblue, Spirit Airlines, and American Airlines have flights to both cities from Florida. You can also check out direct flights from Santo Domingo to both cities via Hahn Air and Sunrise Air.
What is the currency in Haiti?
Haiti officially uses gourde as their legal tender ($1 = 83.70 G as of April 2021). However, almost everyone will quote you in USD. Be sure to bring small dollar bills to pay for tips and small purchases.
Can you cross the land border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic?
The Ounaminthe (Haiti) and Dajabon (Dominican Republic) were fully open when we crossed it in April 2021. Travel time between Cap Haitien and Santo Domingo is 10 hours (including the immigration process on both land borders).
Is Haiti dangerous?
Unfortunately, certain parts of Haiti can be dangerous to visit. According to the research I made, the road going to Jacmel is out of bounds due to the ongoing political crisis in the country. There are also occasional protests by militant groups in downtown Port au Prince, which we narrowly avoided when we visited.
HAITI ITINERARY – PORT AU PRINCE
Port au Prince is the capital city of Haiti, and it will be familiar to everyone due to the devastating earthquake that happened in 2010. It prompted a cycle of international aids and foreign interventions that also hindered the recovery of the city.
Here are some of the things you need to know about Port au Prince:
- Haiti’s capital was a no-go zone due to the ongoing protests against the current president. We almost got caught in one of the massive protests. Luckily we left 15 minutes before everything escalated.
- We paid a $10 tourist tax before at the immigration in the airport.
- We stayed at Servotel, a 3-star hotel near the airport. It was a very strategic place due to the proximity to the bus station and the relative safety of its location.
- You can buy your tickets to other Haitian cities at the Sans-Souci bus station near the airport. Our ticket to Cap Haitien from Port au Prince cost $20 and left at 07:30 am.
- Remember that when buying the bus tickets, the initial payment is not the ticket itself. You will need to go back early to the bus station to exchange the stub you got for the actual bus ticket.
- PaP is a destination that you can’t do DIY travel because it doesn’t have a developed tourism infrastructure, so it will be tough for foreigners to visit the sites. What we did was rent a driver that toured us around the city for the day.
- Some of the interesting sites to visit are Petionville, Downtown PaP, and the peak. We were supposed to see an apothecary, but we cancelled it due to the protests.
HAITI ITINERARY – CAP HAITIEN
Cap Haitien used to be one of the most prosperous cities in the Antilles, whose wealth came from the sugar plantations during the French colonial period. It underwent different name changes, from Cap Français to Cap Henry, then finally to its current name.
This city is considered the country’s cultural capital, and most of the structures from the colonial period still survived today.
- We went here after a two-day excursion to the capital city. Cap Haitien is a tamer version of PaP, but you can still see and feel the poverty and chaos everywhere.
- We arrived here by bus, which we took at Sans Souci tours near the hotel. The ticket cost $20 per person, and it was a supposed 6hr drive that turned to 8hrs after our bus broke down and got stuck in an unpaved, muddy street near Milot.
- We also thought we would get kidnapped! Our taxi driver suddenly let his two friends in the car, drove us to a slum area, and we realized that the vehicle doesn’t have a doorknob! Good thing he let us out after promising to hire him for the tours.
- We stayed at Hotel du Roi Christophe and hired their recommended driver($120) to take us to the Citadelle Laferrière and Sansouci Palace. We had our obligatory guide and horseback to the Citadelle (you can walk, but the guys there will bug you a lot). All of these cost $75 per person plus tips if you want to give them to your guide.
BORDER CROSSING BY LAND FROM HAITI TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
As of April 2021, the border between Haiti (Ounaminthe) and the Dominican Republic (Dajabon) is open. You can reach either Santo Domingo or Santiago from Port au Prince and Cap Haitien via Caribe Tours. We took the Cap Haitien route, and we paid $30 for an almost 8 hours trip to the Dominican Republic’s capital.
Aside from the bus ticket, we also paid the $10 tax to enter the Dominican Republic. We first drove from Cap to Ounaminthe for two hours, then passed by the immigration to have our visa stamped. We then proceeded to the Dominican side and waited for at least an hour before getting our passport stamped. You will also need to go to their customs office to have your luggage inspected. It was smooth sailing after that, and we arrived at the bus terminal before the city-wide quarantine kicked in.
HAITI ITINERARY: EXPENSES
As I mentioned earlier, Haiti is an expensive country; almost everything is quoted in USD and they always quote us higher than the local price. Luckily, I traveled with a friend so I kinda saved a bit, but we still ended up spending more than normal.
Here’s a detailed expense report during our 4 day stay in Haiti:
PORT AU PRINCE
|Taxi to hotel||480.00||10.00|
|Dinner day 1||576.00||12.00|
|Rented car (divided by 2)||3,600.00||75.00|
|Lunch day 2||720.00||15.00|
|Dinner day 2||6,240.00||130.00|
|Hotel 2 days (divided by 2)||576.00||12.00|
|Bus Ticket to Cap Haitien||960.00||20.00|
|Taxi to hotel||960.00||20.00|
|Hotel 2 days (already divided by 2)||5,760.00||120.00|
|Rented car (already divided by 2)||3,120.00||60.00|
|Entrance to Citadelle and Sans Souci Palace||2,400.00||50.00|
|Horse to Citadelle||1,200.00||25.00|
|Dinner + coctail||1,200.00||25.00|
|Bus ticket to Santo Domingo||1,440.00||30.00|
|Immigration tax to SDQ payable in Caribe Tours||480.00||10.00|