First Trip to Cuba: 6 Travel Tips

Cuba is vibrant and captivating! It constantly feels like you’re on a the set of a movie. Unexpected and amazing sights are around every corner and flowing from the streets.  Always have your camera ready because you never know what you’ll be seeing next!

Hotel Ambos Mundos - Calle Obispo, Havana, Cuba

Hotel Ambos Mundos – Calle Obispo

Money/Currency

The most expected and accepted type of payment is cash. Credit cards can be used at ATMs but it’s not common for businesses to accept them. And NOBODY wants to miss out on fresh churros from a push cart on the street! So carry cash!

Cuban Currency CUC Havana Cuba

Cuban Currency – CUC

Local banks exchange Euros at a reasonable rate. I wouldn’t recommend coming with US dollars. The local people use CUP which is a different currency than used by tourists, who use CUC’s.

Cuban currency conversion chart

Cuban currency conversion chart


Water


It’s not advisable to drink the tap water. Bottles of water are fairly easy to come by and typically sold for a low price. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a pretty good idea, you never know when water won’t be available and the last thing you want is dehydration and sickness while traveling!

Beer vending machine - Havana, Cuba

Beer vending machine


Restrooms

Carry tissues or toilet paper. Seeing a restroom with a supply of toilet paper was a rarity. Many public restrooms have attendants at the door charging to use the facilities. Your payment typically includes a rationed amount toilet paper of a few squares.

Bring hand sanitizer. Just like I mentioned the lack of toilet paper, the same is true for hand soap. Most public restrooms do not supply it. High end hotels usually have nicer bathroom facilities, including soap and toilet paper.

Prado Street, Havana, Cuba

Prado Street, Havana, Cuba


Cell Service & Wifi

One cell service provider is available in Cuba. I came with AT&T and wasn’t able to use my phone at all. A friend was using Verizon, she was able to send and receive calls and texts the entire time.

There is only one cell service provider, Ectesa. Sim cards can be purchased at the Ectesa store. The line was always out the door to get in. My wait was about an hour which included a lot of pushing and standing my ground, not to let others cut in front of me. The Sim Card was around $10 US and a passport is required to purchase it. $10 credit gave me 8 minutes to call the US.

Wifi was a bit confusing. A local guy directed me a bit and showed me where to purchase a WiFi card. The card was $3 CUC which was Internet access for 1 hour.

Wifi Hotspots were located at some hotels and parks. Access was good, but it wasn’t strong enough to load/upload Snapchats.

20160419_223822.jpg

Sitting in the park using Wifi


Passport/Identification

You never know when a passport might be needed. For example, some museums and attractions require passport information to enter.  In Cuba, passports are required to exchange money or buy a SIM card. Not to mention the safety reasons of carrying identification.

Museo de la Revolution - Havana, Cuba

Museo de la Revolution


Travel Insurance

Travel programs and agents will highly recommend purchasing coverage before traveling to Cuba. The program I went with, Jakera Cuba, was adamant that I needed it.

It was around $8 for a week of insurance. Ironically, my friend had an allergic breakout while we were there and had to be treated at the hospital. Good thing we purchased travel insurance!

Man walking with parrot - Havana, Cuba

READ MORE

How to go to Cuba if You are American

Havana, Cuba – A Photo Diary

5 Reasons to Love/Hate Cuba

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