Good to know for travelling in Cuba

-The app “maps:me” offers a great offline map for free. Hostels, casas particulares, restaurants, bus stops and sights are visible. Since internet is only available in certain places, this app becomes particularly usefull in Cuba. This app makes it almost too easy to get arround.

-Buying internet cards in the official stores is cheaper than on the street

-Take your time to compare prices (food, transportation, accommodation..) and ask other customers for the “normal” price before paying

-Change CUC into Peso National (CUP) to avoid calculating when visiting cheap local stores, fruit markets and Cuban cafeterias. The Tourist currency (CUC) has sightseeing statues printed on and the local money (Peso national/ CUP) shows portaits of famous Cubans on the bills. Know about the actual exchange rate: 1 USD = 1 CUC = 24 Pesos nationales (May 2017)

-Learn some Spanish. It is very usefull to get around even though Cubans are hard to understand because they like to speak very fast, cut and use different words! “Cubañol” seems to be their own language 😉 Many Cubans did not learn to speak English unless they work in tourism

-Always ask many different people for directions to be sure you’re going the right way

-Ask for the price before you get in a taxi and dont accept the first offer. Dont be afraid to say no and walk to the next guy to compare the prices

-When using tourist taxis make sure to have the exact amount of money in your pocket because some Tourist Taxi drivers stuff the money directly in their underwair and show you their wallet without any small money to change

  • Show the money to a friend for a double check before handing it over. Another taxi-driver-trick is, to quickly change a note and pretending that you made a mistake counting the money. Just walk away and dont pay them for tricking you. Otherwise they will do the same shtrick to many others as well!

-Choose restaurants which show prices in Peso National (CUP) on the menu

-Dont buy goods (cigars, rum..) offered for high prices on tourist tours or in the streets! There is no such thing as a cigar festival and it is not everybodys birthday every day.

-Feel safe! Cuba is the most secure place in Latin America. You wont be threatened with knives or guns. Still watch your stuff and don’t create a tempting situation for thieves by exposing valuables.

-Trust the police, officials and the people in general. Kids already learn to be extraordinarily friendly towards foreigners. Cubans are very honest and people will always try to help you!

-Using local transport  (gua gua, camion, tren) safes money and gets you closer to the people

-In Camiones you might be charged a little extra amount when using public transport because the drivers are not supposed to take you and do it on their own risk. Like always, ask other travellers what they pay so you dont get overcharged totally.

-There are long distance busses which run to transport Cubans only. Some bus drivers, especially stopping at the official stations refuse to take you. Others dont have a problem if you pay a little bit extra. Its always worth trying!

-When taking gua guas (busses) or the ferry inform yourself in advance about the price, dont ask the driver but have the correct amount ready and just walk in

-Dont worry about bringing big luggage in Camiones. There is always some space to put it. Cubans also carry huge bagage in order to transfer goods to a different place. We met a woman with a heavy suitcase full of cheese for the black market in a distant city.

-Enjoy Cuba as it is now!

 

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