18 things to know before you visit Cuba
What should a tourist know before going on vacation to Cuba? Cuba is not just a place for a beach vacation or a trivial trip to the sea, Cuba is a special culture and history and a real time machine itself. Cuba is a dream! But we recommend to prepare for the trip thoroughly. Here are some useful things to know before you travel to Cuba.
1. Take cash with you.
This is a really good idea at least for the first time. There are not ATMs everywhere, not everywhere you can pay with a card. And after 8 pm it is very difficult to find an ATM, even in Havana. Some banks may even withdraw dollars from your ruble card with a commission of up to 25%.
2. give preference to the euro or the Canadian dollar
Dollar in Cuba is not in favor, and for this reason, the exchange rate on it unprofitable. In addition to inadequate rate for each exchange of dollars you “will take” even a fee. The euro and Canadian dollar (which are exchanged at a more favorable rate than the euro) are much easier to handle in Cuba. Although Cuba’s relations with the United States have been getting warmer lately, the attitude to the dollar is also changing in the same direction.
3. nuances of Cuban currency exchange
Do not change money at the airport. As in many countries around the world, the exchange rate there is extremely unprofitable. Also, money should not be trusted to street money changers – it’s an easy way to meet crooks. In tourist areas, as a rule, there are no problems with the exchange. In Havana, for example, you can change money at the reception of some hotels.
4. Cuba has two currencies
Cuba’s national currency is the Cuban peso. Two currencies are in circulation – the Cuban peso and convertible Cuban peso (CUC or Kuk). The former currency is used in general stores and other areas of Cuban life, while the convertible peso is used in tourist areas. The CUC is essentially money for tourists.
5. Keep receipts from purchases.
Try not to buy anything worthwhile without a receipt – a proof of purchase may be required anywhere. Without receipts it may be confiscated.
6. Be prepared for barter.
In Cuba, you can easily barter your shabby sneakers for something, for example, yummy;). This is not a joke. Some tourists take with them something for which they can exchange it for something interesting. In reviews of tourists, for example, often encountered tinned tuna or capron pantyhose as such a means of barter.
7. Do not forget about the insurance
Insurance is made out in the travel agency of your country. It’s better to have it with you, because if you don’t, you’ll be asked to arrange insurance at the airport, and it will cost more.
8. Weak Internet
Internet in Cuba is poorly developed. Some hotels have internet cafes, but Wi-Fi is not everywhere.
9. Print all travel documents
Have your tickets printed just in case. Internet and printer are not available everywhere in Cuba. It’s also best to have photocopies of all documents.
10. Visa-free country for Belarusians
Visa to Cuba for Belarusians is not required, provided that the stay is not more than 30 days.
11. large suitcases can cause problems
There is a small nuance, which, of course, will not affect everyone, but it is impossible not to mention it. Some Cuban buildings have rather narrow doorways and similar stairways. With huge heavy suitcases it can be very uncomfortable.
12. the best time of year to visit Cuba
As with all Caribbean islands, in Cuba you have to keep in mind the hurricane and rainy season. The rains begin at the end of May, in June and last through August. All summer through October there is a danger of typhoons with showers and winds. The dry season, from November to April, is the best time to visit Cuba. Bathing season in Cuba lasts all year round.
13. A few words in Spanish
Even the most basic Spanish words from the phrasebook can diversify your holiday. Locals love to talk to tourists, and if you answer them in a familiar language, surely will be friendlier.
14. Take care of the cookies!
As a tip in the hotel is good to give one cookie. You will be grateful, because the average wage in Cuba is about 20 kukas.
15. Dance Salsa!
Cuban salsa is known all over the world. You can take salsa lessons from locals. Even if you don’t become a great dancer in a couple of hours, you’ll feel the local color a hundred percent, and also have a lot of fun. If you’re invited somewhere to dance, dress appropriately. Cubans don’t like that the official invitation can come in a T-shirt and beach shorts.
16. Bring ballpoint pens.
Local kids love accepting small gifts from tourists. Ballpoint pens are especially revered.
17. Rum and cigars
The most popular souvenirs are rum and cigars. When buying rum, keep in mind the overweight luggage and customs rules of the destination country. The most popular brands of cigars in Cuba: Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, HoyodeMonterrey, Partagas.
18. Take a flashlight on your trip
If you are going to walk around the city streets in the evening – do not forget the flashlight. The streets are not lit at night. Tourists in Old Havana are not advised to stay out past 10 p.m.
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