The minute you get off the plane it will feel like you’ve been hit in the face with a glimpse of 1960. It’s the 1960s all over again, no credit card, no WiFi, and the traffic lines are full of old colorful convertibles except the radio and radio speakers are from 2017 and the salsa music is bumping!
A country that is so untouched that is full of culture, history, and life. It truly is something you will never forget! Which is why these are things I’ll never forget.
Which is why these are a few tips, tricks and rules I’ll never forget, and you should probably know before you depart to Cuba.
First things first, download these apps before you arrive in Cuba. There are certain apps that don’t work in Cuba and because WiFi is so limited downloading them might be slightly impossible.
1.Apps To Download: (To communicate with life back home)
IMO- this is communication App to help you touch base with people within Cuba or family back home. Make sure to tell your friend sand family to download this app too so they can keep in touch with you from where they are.
Maps.me – download a map of Cuba. This is like a Google maps for Cuba. You don’t need to be connected to WiFi to use it. It will work once you’ve downloaded the app.
Facebook Messenger Works pretty good for communications. Not so much for calls.
WhatsApp- Still works, but can be spotty.
If you’re from the USA you won’t need converters. If you’re coming from any other country you will need a converter.
3. Checking- Into Your Flight (To Cuba)
Go to the airport 2-3 hours BEFORE your flight time to Cuba. Whether it’s to check-in because you already have your VISA or purchasing a VISA. Why is this important?- There are usually so many families visiting so the lines are much longer for checking-in.
Check-in to your flight first, and then buy your VISA, and then check your bag in. *Lots of families, going to visit families and friends. People usually have lots of luggage.- I recommending trying to pack just a carry-on. This will save you time at immigration too.
You can buy a VISA at the airport. I traveled on American Airlines, which was $100.00 USD.
There are two different currencies in Cuba:
- CUP (Pesos)- Local Currency
- CUC- Tourist Currency
Conversion Tip: $1USD-$1CUC/ $1USD to $25CUP
Exchange money in the city. Only exchange a small amount at the airport. It is RIDICULOUSLY expensive.
DO NOT CHANGE IF IT IS UNDER 92 CUC (in the city).
PLEASE REMEMBER. THERE ARE NO credit cards, debit cards ALLOWED IN CUBA. YOU CAN ONLY CASH!! They are starting to install ATM machines, but they are super hard to find.
PRO TIP (special shout out to @mimaincuba): When you’re leaving Cuba, while you’re at the check-in counter, checking in, ask the person attending you (person checking you in) if they have money to exchange (CUP back to USD). It’s a way to save money on exchange fees if you have anything left over.
Renting a car in Cuba can be expensive. Usually, range from $60-80 USD a day.
I don’t recommend using public buses, if yon don’t speak Spanish and/or if you don’t know the bus routes. A little confusing and not the safest for tourist.
Taxi: (to get from within Havana)
Don’t get into the Government Cabs (yellow)too expensive. Use regular cabs.
Shouldn’t cost more than $25 to get into Havana central from Jose Marti International Airport. Anything more is rip off.
Probably one of the safest (although Cuba is fairly safe) and most cost-effective.
You can use a personal taxi driver to drive you anywhere within Cuba. This is a personal recommendation, he was wonderful, spoke English, and also works with big groups (was our taxi driver for Fit Life Creation Influencer Retreat).
6.WIFI: (Very limited and isn’t the greatest.)
You can access WiFi from parks, they are the cheapest but it isn’t very good.- You will notice lots of locals sitting at parks on their phone. This is the only place they can access WiFi.
PRO TIP: If you know someone in Cuba (citizen) and they are willing to give you their Nauta (internet provider) information (username and password), you can use WiFi spots in the parks or were provided. Doesn’t have to be at your hotel only. Also, the CHEAPEST option. It’s $2.00 CUC per hour.
I recommend using Airbnb (click on that link and get $40 on me!) and staying in a casa particular. This is the cheapest and probably the best way, to ‘see’ Cuba. You’ll get most likely get the best recommendations on where to eat, where to visit, and what’s the cheapest way to get around. Staying at a hotel in Havana is fine, except it would be more expensive. It all depends on how you like to travel.
*See #6 (above) for best hotel options.
Only drink bottled water. Water from Cuba isn’t sanitary.
Cuba is one of the safest countries I have ever traveled to my biggest suggestion is to not run out of money (cash) while you’re visiting. It won’t be easy to get money transferred. You aren’t allowed to pay with Debit or Credit Cards. ATM machines aren’t as common.
(ONLY ATM MACHINE IN HAVANA IS ON 23RD STREET SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1ST-14TH STREET, BY A SUPERMARKET.)
If you run out of cash you’ll have to borrow money from a strange or you’d have to find a way to wire money into a Cuban account. – Just don’t let it happen! It wouldn’t be an easy process.
If you like what you see, don’t forget to PIN IT!