Your satisfaction is of the utmost importance, therefore, Havana Journeys would like to share with you some useful information that you should know before arriving in Cuba.
Visa and airport tax:
The majority of tourists visiting Cuba are required to obtain a visa or a Tourist Card. This Tourist Card allows you to stay in Cuba for 30 days (Canadian and Spanish nationals for 90 days). Depending on the country, the tourist card is provided sometimes by the airline or the tour agency through which you are traveling to Cuba. If this were not the case, then you will have to request the visa at the Cuban consulate or embassy in your country. You should check this information before booking your flight.
While in Cuba, make sure you do not lose the Tourist Card since the Cuban Immigration Counter at the airport will demand this card on the day you are leaving.
Pedestrians do not have the right to go!!! You must look both sides when crossing the street.
Cuba´s health care system has a very good reputation and international recognition. You should have medical insurance before traveling to Cuba. You can buy this service at the airport in Havana if you are not covered. Because of the island´s tropical weather, it is recommended to drink only bottled water. The water and cocktails at restaurants or “paladares”, which are subject to the Ministry of Health´ inspections, is safe to drink.
Bring mosquito repellent if you are traveling outside Havana. There have been some reported Zika and dengue cases, although the situation is under control.
In Cuba two currencies are used: CUC and CUP. The CUP is mostly used by locals to pay taxes, buy vegetables and food from local farmers or from street vendors. The CUC, on the other hand, is widely used both by tourists and locals since most of the things are available in this currency. Therefore, once in Cuba you are going to need to exchange your money into CUC. Avoid US Dollars if you can because there is a 10% tax on each US Dollar so you will end up losing more. Euros and Pounds are NOT subject to the 10% tax. We suggest you exchange your money either at a bank or at an Exchange House (CADECA) where the rate is better. If requested, we can take you to a bank during our tour. For you to exchange money at the bank, you will need to show your passport.
Cuba is still a cash paying country. Visa and MasterCard credit cards can be used in ATMs and in some high-end restaurants but do not expect this as cash is widely used. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at as long as they are not issued by US banks or their branches. Please check that your credit or debit cards are not American or you will not be able to withdraw money. The US embargo prevents tourists from using their credit cards if these were issued by an American bank or any of their branches. If you are an American travelling to Cuba under one of the 12 authorized categories by US government, please contact your bank in advance informing that you will need to use your credit cards in Cuba.
Calling abroad from Cuba:
In order for you to call home or abroad from Cuba you must dial:
- 119 + country code + city code + telephone number.
There is Internet access at most hotels in Varadero and Havana, as well as in the WIFI hotspots throughout the country. It is NOT free. The speed has significantly improved since the Wi-fi Hotspots have been introduced. An internet card needs to be purchased to use the internet. The price is 1.50 cuc per hour if you buy them directly at the ETECSA offices. The first time you log in, your computer or phone will inform you the connection is not safe. You need to click on the option that states “I understand the risks” otherwise you will not have access.
Electricity, Adaptors, and Plugs in Cuba:
Most places will only have 110V (60Hz). However, newer buildings and hotels will provide both 110V and 220V (60Hz). Make sure you bring an adaptor for American type flat prong outlets for your laptop or any other appliances.
Be aware that hotels run by Spanish corporations such as Meliá, etc will have European outlets.
Avoid buying cigars on the street for less. Besides being illegal to engage in these purchases, quite a few cases have been reported in which they have sold banana leaves for real cigars. If the cigars do not have the proper stamps, they might be confiscated at the airport. If you are interested, the tour takes you to a state-run cigar shop right next to the Cigar Factory H. Upmann. In most cases, these state-run shops take credit cards.