Welcome to Cuba!
Cuba is the biggest island and the most populous island nation in the Caribbean. Its people, culture, and customs draw from diverse sources, such as the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, Cuban Revolution, and its proximity to the United States. The Culture of Cuba enjoys an international reputation as being one of the richest cultures in the world and is a meeting point of European, African and continental North American cultures. Cuban enjoys a rich heritage in the field of art, music and literature. Religion holds an important place in the life of Cuban with the main religions being Catholic and Santeria. The best time to go to Cuba is between December and April. Please also bear in mind the following useful Cuba travel tips, taboo, dos and donts for a safe enjoyable trip to Cuba.
Cuba Travel Taboo
Every kind of device which is capable of receiving signals from satellites is strictly prohibited on the island.
Cuba Travel Donts
- Do not drink tap water though it is drinkable. Drink bottled water to avoid tropical illnesses.
- Do not carry excessive amounts of cash. Bag snatching and pickpockets are common, especially in the area of Old Havana.
- Do not get involved with drugs. Penalties are very severe in Cuban law. Do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
- Do not bring credit cards or traveller’s cheques from American-based banks, including AMEX, which are not accepted in Cuba. Visa, Mastercard, Cabel and Visa Electron are all accepted credit cards.
- Do not take photographs/videos of military or police personnel or installations. You may well be arrested for spying.
- Do not draw attention to yourself as a tourist, especially if you are with Cuban friends of the opposite sex as the police will be quick to ask your friends for identification.
- Do not take urban transportation, such as the “camel” as they are always crowded and unreliable. Cuba has an excellent taxi services as well as car, van and motorcycle rentals.
- Do not travel alone at night. Do not stay out late at night in unfamiliar parts of town or in areas of Old Havana.
- Do not spit and blow your nose in public.
- Do not littering which is against the law.
- Do not speak anything against the government.
Cuba Travel Dos
- Do learn a few Spanish which is official language in Cuba.
- Do shake hands upon greeting someone and farewelling. It is common to greet friends and family with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Informalities like addressing a stranger with ‘mi corazón’ (my heart), ‘mi vida’ (my life), or ‘cariño’ (dear) are common.
- Do bring sunglasses, hats and enough sunscreen. Sun in Cuba is quite hot and the ultraviolet rays can burn you.
- Do dress casual. Cuba is a warm, tropical island, so cotton and other light fabrics and flat comfortable shoes are ideal for outdoor activities. Shorts are not needed.
- Do wash your hands before eating especially after being on the beach to prevent sickness and flu bugs.
- Do make sure you have medical insurance cover before travelling. And do bring some anti-diarrhea medicines and antibiotics.
- Do take good care of your wallet and passport in crowded places; keep them in your front pocket, and leave valuables, important documents and the money in the hotel safe. Keep a photocopy of your main passport page.
- Do watch out for money exchangers, count your change, short giving is a plague in Cuba. Only exchange in official places such as hotel, bank or Cadeca (official Governmental exchange bureau).
- Do take the necessary adapters/converters for any appliances you bring, and enough batteries and a charger for your camera/recorder. Cuba’s electricity is 110 volts, 60Hz, but most hotels and resorts have 220 volts. Electrical outlets take flat plug prongs.
- Do be aware of customs restrictions of Cuba. Check Cuban customs website: www.aduana.co.cu for restricted items.
- Do take extra care when driving in Cuba. Traffic accidents that result in the injury or death of third parties are treated as a crime. You are unlikely to be allowed to return home until you have been cleared by police investigation, a process that may take several months.
- Do beware of those offering an unsolicited and unofficial guide service, they may be part of a team of thieves preying on tourists.
- Do bring enough funds for your stay and your return journey. Obtaining additional funds through local banking channels can be frustrating, difficult, and not always successful.
- Do make sure to save $25 CUC (Cuban Convertible pesos) in cash for your departure tax at the airport. The tax of 25 CUC for all visitors, including infants on departure must be paid in cash.
- Do aware that homosexuality is frowned upon by Cuban society and law enforcement agencies. However, violence towards homosexuals is null.
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