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Tips for traveling in Cuba
Remember, if your expecting modern 5 star resorts, multi channel tv and fast internet - then Cuba is not for you - yet. Most buildings are 'tired' and amenities somewhat basic. There are some very luxurious all inclusive resorts, but even they are a little tired and dont expect the VIP treatment if you pay the extra for 'supreme' service. They just dont understand or appreciate the meaning of luxury in Cuba they way we do. But, you dont travel to Cuba for that. You come to have a holiday of a lifetime surrounded by beautiful countryside, wonderful people and relax on some of the best beaches in the world whether its an all inclusive resort or a small B&B in the town.
- Learn some Spanish!
- Do not take US dollars to exchange. They charge an additional 10% to exchange from dollars to CUC's.
- There is very little wifi. You need to buy a wifi card. If you see a shop - buy the card as the shops are few and the queues are long.
- Speak to fellow travelers and get their recommendations. This is a great way to chose restaurants and see interesting things not mentioned in any books.
- Get yourself a guide. They don't cost much and can overcome all language barriers as well as introducing you to the 'real' Cuba.
- Hot sauce and toilet paper are scarce, so bring some with you. The food though varied is a little bland.
- Bring any medications you might need as these are hard to find.
- Power outlets are USA standard, so bring adapters if needed.
- Travel by bus, stay in home-stays. Its cheaper, more enjoyable and you get to know so much more
- Take a few Pencils, pens, aspirin, tooth paste, crayons and color books etc. The local families will be so appreciative and give you ten times more back in gratitude.
- Driving is on the right-hand side of the road; speed limits are normally posted and generally respected. Taxis are available in busy commercial and tourist areas; radio-dispatched taxis are generally clean and reliable.
- There are two different currencies:
The Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC.
The Cuban National Peso (CUP) or Moneda Nacional (Nacional Money).
- 1 Convertible Peso CUC = approximately 24 Cuban pesos CUP
- CUC is used for most items and what you will get in exchange as a tourist, while CUP is a local currency used for buying small things and farm produce.
- BUT BEWARE. If your buying foodstuffs locally, you may be asked to pay in CUC for products priced in CUP (ie; 24 times more expensive). So let common sense prevail.
- Cuba requires a travel insurance policy to cover medical expenses for all travelers, foreign and Cubans living abroad, in order to enter the country. If you don't have an acceptable policy Cuban insurance policies can be purchased at points of entry into the country.
- Credit cards - except those issued by US banks or their branches in other countries - are accepted. Among those accepted are MasterCard, Visa International and CABAL
- Keep in mind, most Cubans are not rich and live very simple affordable lives. So don't expect all the mod cons. Expect instead a basic and happy people who will make your stay in Cuba unforgettable.