There are some things you should know about before you travel to Cuba, or at least have a rough idea about them to avoid unpleasant surprises. Sometimes a little advice for traveling to Cuba comes in handy.
I am not talking about planning every detail about your trip… just some basics
so here we go:
THE INTERNET: Cuba has an extremely poor internet environment, and most of the foreign companies have really high roaming fees for Cuba. And, yes I mean extremely poor internet environment, there is no private internet connection, just public WIFI in parks or hotels (2CUC -3CUC per hour). More about the Internet here. And more about Telefons and Cells here.
MONEY: There are two currencies in Cuba (maybe that’s going to change soon) the CUP and the CUC (similar value than USD). One CUP is 24/ 25 CUP, and you can pay with both of them in almost every place, you just have to know how much they are worth. You can change money in banks and CADECAS (currency exchange) or withdraw from the ATM with Visa or Mastercard. Just be careful with American cards, there are still some problems. Try to get money to the bank with your credit card, before you try the ATM. (The last advice is just for travelers with American Credit Cards). More about Money here.
Accommodation: Stay in BnB (Casas Particulares), more here.
TRANSPORT: There are buses and shared taxis all around the island. Also, you could hitchhike if you are on a budget or seek for authentic adventure. More about transport here.
Here are some general tips for behavior in Cuba.
Politeness: Be polite to the people. Please don’t just walk into homes, schools or official buildings without a permit. (Would you want people to do that at your home?) If you want to talk politics be polite and not hardly direct and accept it if people do not want to talk about that kind of topic. Also be respectful. If you want to bring a gift, please consider this post first.
Tipping: As in many countries, in Cuba, you also tip 10%. Sometimes the 10% is included in the check. You usually would tip in restaurants and bars, also tour guides or taxi drivers. In a restaurant you leave the money with the check, wait until the waiter returns with your change and then leave the amount you would like to tip.
Toilets: There is a thing about Cuban toilets that you shouldn’t forget: Do not through your paper in the toilet! Never! In most places like hotels or public restrooms, you should pay about 10cents or 1 CUP for the paper, or carry your own. Also be aware that most public restrooms are not in the best condition.
Safety: Cuba is a very safe place. Nevertheless, you should be aware that there are pickpockets and scams in touristic areas.
Water: Do not drink tap water. You should buy bottled water or drink boiled, and filtered water like most people in Cuba do. Don’t wonder if you cannot get water anywhere that happens. Make sure to drink enough because of the heat and the sun.
Check out my packing list, for your trip to Cuba.