When President Obama lifted the traveling restrictions to Cuba for US citizens, I needed to go!! Especially before Starbucks and McDonald’s take over and “Americanized” it. Sad but true.
Overall my experience of Cuba was great. It felt like I went back in time. From the city to even the countryside. It is simply a beautiful country that carries a lot of pride in their country.
Traveling to Cuba
As a US Citizen, you must have a reason to travel to Cuba. Please check the following website for the 12 reasons to travel to Cuba. Obtaining my visa was relatively easy. the airline company partnered with a travel agency that will process a visa. The visa was at the airport gate. It took some time for me to grab my visa from the travel agency so be mindful if you have a layover.
Cuba uses two different type of currency, CUC (tourist) and CUP (local). There is benefits to exchange your money to Cup such as things are much cheaper. However, after failed attempts to get CUP and the locals giving me the runaround. I settled with CUC.
Before going to Cuba, many suggest converting your dollars to euros since you get a better exchange rate. I highly suggest it as well.
Cuba is a Spanish speaking country. If your Spanish is as great as mine AKA trash. I suggest downloading Google translate.
Wifi is not readily available. They have wifi parks. How to locate one? Whenever you see a bunch of people not talking to each other and staring at their phones. No. We are not in America. You just found a wifi park. In order to use the wifi, you must buy a wifi card
You must buy a wifi card to use wifi. They usually cost 2 CUC. If you sit on a bench long enough like you are admiring the view, someone will approach you. Just make sure that your card is legit and the bottom number is not scratch off.
Traveling around Cuba
The cheapest way to get around Cuba is the bus. There are two types of buses: Omnibus (the locals) and Viazul (tourist). If you have a mapped out plan on where you are traveling to, purchase your tickets via their website. Make sure you have proof of purchase with your reservation, they have no way looking it up.
If it is a spur of the moment thing (like you are tired of Havana), go a day or two before to purchase the tickets. Day of travel tickets is usually sold out especially during high season.
The more expensive route, get a taxi to travel to the different cities. It can cost up 80-100 CUC.
The cheapest way to go is casas. I was able to make reservations for all my accommodations through Airbnb.
Also if you are traveling by Viazul, there will be plenty of people advertising their casas.
Bring toilet paper, facial tissues and hand sanitizers. Some or most establishments may not have these essentials.
Download “maps.me.” It was super helpful to have this to maneuver around Cuba without the use of wifi.
Bring enough cash with you and emergency cash. Although embargo restrictions have been lifted for traveling in and out of Cuba, it is not for lifted for US banks. I learned that the hard way (another blog soon to come).
Ready to see Cuba?