Cuba, the Caribbean – Travel Tips by Marianne

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Street Art on Callejon de Hamel
Street Art on Callejon de Hamel

What type(s) of travellers would your recommendations for Cuba suit?

My recommendations for Cuba will suit solo travellers, backpackers/budget travellers and also those who love culture and photography.

Street in Havana at dusk
Street in Havana at dusk

How many days would you recommend for one to spend in Cuba?

One week to comfortably visit the many sites that Cuba has to offer!

Local market
Local market

Where are the places for meals in Cuba would you recommend?

Lobster Meal!
Lobster Meal!

Eat at Paladares! These are home-based restaurants that serve local delicacies… like lobster. Food quality was better at Paladares than at the government restaurants on the main street, but don’t expect much variety overall.

A typical meal consists of rice (white or with black beans), a protein, a small portion of vegetables, and plaintain chips. There is international cuisine in Havana, like Italian and Chinese, but these are not as easily found in the other cities.

Any recommendations on where to stay in Cuba?

Stay in Casas Particulares(private homestays)! Outside Havana, hotels are rare. Instead, stay in a Casa Particular for a homely experience. They may even cook dinner for you for a fee!

When is a good time of the year to visit Cuba?

Avoid the summer months (July and August) if you don’t like sweltering heat. Air-conditioned premises are rare.

How should one get around in Cuba?

The ubiquitous bicitaxi in Cuba
The ubiquitous bicitaxi

Travel between cities on the Viazul buses, and within cities on bicitaxies.

For travelling between most places apart from Havana-Santiago, take the Viazul bus (https://www.viazul.com/). The tickets can be bought online and the buses are comfortable. Do buffer time for delays, though!

Within each town or city, get around on foot or on bicitaxies for medium distances. For longer distances in the larger cities, take a collectivo taxi (ask the locals or your casa for the routes) or book a taxi with your casa.

What are the acceptable payment currencies and modes in Cuba?

Cuba has two currencies – CUC and CUP (1 CUC = 25 CUP)

While most things you’ll need as a tourist are sold in CUC, it’s worth getting some CUP for shopping at local markets and street-side stalls.

Bring Euros or GBP to change into CUC, as there are additional charges for changing USD and hardly any ATMs around. The exchange rate is the same wherever you go since all the Casa Cambios (a.k.a. Cadecas) are government-run. They can be found in all towns, usually on the main street.

Any other tips for travellers visiting Cuba?

Flights – KLM and Air France fly from Singapore to Havana via Europe. Flight time is around 33 hours (from Singapore) for a flight with one stopover.

Visas – At the time of writing, Singaporeans do not need a visa to visit Cuba

How should one stay connected to the internet in Cuba?

ETECSA card -Ticket to connectivity!
ETECSA card -Ticket to connectivity!

Stay connected with the ETECSA card! The wifi situation in Cuba is such that it’s perfect for a digital detox. But if you do need to stay connected, some casas have wifi or you can access the public hotspots at the major squares using an ETECSA card (CUC 1.00 for one hour of connection). Mobile data is supported only on the Digicel network.

ETECSA cards are available from the official ETECSA shops, though there are usually street peddlers who will sell it to you for a small mark up.

Cost of Trip

Transport
15min bicitaxi trip: 3-4CUC

Food
Meal at a Paladar: 7-15CUC. 20CUC if you’re having lobster
Meal at a Government-run restaurant: Less than 50CUP (Less than 2CUC)
Juice or Ice Cream from local shops: 5CUP

Tell us a bit about yourself

Full-time office drone, and part-time wanderer.