In recent years Cuba has become a hotspot destination for tourists. But there are certain differences that need to be noted as compared to other places. Other than basic services to meet tourist’s needs, Cuba has a number of regulations, unavailable services and other strange rules that tourists should know if they are to venture outside their hotel.
Traveling with Visas and Insurance
All countries that a tourist visits will require some paperwork and by that I mean a tourist visa, Cuba is no different. Visas can be got from your tour operator or on arrival.
Health insurance is also mandatory in Cuba. A health insurance is required for your length of stay in Cuba. Although a health insurance can be purchased at from your country of residence, it will still be recognized in Cuba. It is also possible to get insurance in Cuba itself.
Another useful advice is to carry cash and not rely on credit cards. Payment for products and services all require the payment of cash, very few establishments accept credit cards.
Customs regulations in Cuba impose a maximum limit of five thousand dollars that a tourist can bring into the country. Any amounts above this will be subject to declaration on arrival. In addition to this, dollars will have to be converted to Cuban money and that again will be subject to extra 10% over the normal exchange rate. It is advisable to get money exchanged in your own country to avoid the unnecessary hassle later on.
There are two types of accommodation available in Cuba, state hotels or private houses
Hotels, in addition to providing all the necessary services for any tourist, also benefit from their association with the State, as online booking becomes easier. If you are looking for Internet access in your room, then you are warned that it comes at a very high price. At times you will notice that the hotel does not necessarily meet your star rating and that you are not getting the value of your money so you have to be sure you choose among the most well-known hotels in Cuba to make the most of your vacation.
Quality in private homes depends on who is running the show, the neighborhood besides other factors. Websites such as Airbnb will help you in making a booking in this sector.
Travel with a Map
In Cuba internet comes at a steep cost. This means accessing google maps will not be possible when touring the country. Therefore it is advisable to carry along a map or screen shot of the directions of the place you want to visit. Although Cubans are helpful, it is always important to carry a map.
Expensive Roaming Services
Roaming rates in Cuba are notorious for their exorbitant prices. This is mainly due to the fact that all companies offer roaming services in Cuba have to have an agreement with Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, Cuba’s sole telecommunications provider. An important advice to note is to check up on roaming rates before venturing to use it in Cuba.
Transportation in Cuba is not a tourist’s best friend. Be ready to take taxis if you are travelling locally. A fun thing about these taxis is that you will get an opportunity to ride in American models from the 1950s. Prices vary according to the condition these taxis are kept in. In the cities the other options are buses, bicycles and horse drawn carriage tours. Buses are your best bet when travelling from city to city.
Tipping in Cuba
Cuban people are loud, talkative and friendly, they will even go the extra mile in helping you out. Don’t be alarmed if they come banging at your door to take away your dirty plates, its just the way they are. But of course as is the custom anywhere you travel always be on your guard, there are still those out there who will take advantage of you if you are not careful.
Tipping in Cuba is not the average 10% as is elsewhere. A 5CUC (5$) tip amounts to a quarter of the average salary. Waiters will be happy with anything from 1-3 CUC.