Someone was just asking about Cuba and since I just came back from Havana I thought I’d write my thoughts here so everyone can see it.
First of all, the visa is really easy so don’t worry about that.
Something really important to know is that Cuba is a “poorer” country, so if you’re not into that I’m not sure you’ll enjoy it.
One of my favorite trips was Nepal and some of my friends aren’t into that because they really enjoy European countries/trips more.
We only stayed there for 5 days – all in Havana and one day trip to Vinales. If you are staying a week or more make sure you include Vinales, Trinidad and Varadero.
Where to stay in Havana:
I’m really iffy about where I stay and was panicking because all the hotels and homes there are really.. kitschy?
We ended up using Airbnb after a lot of research, was pretty good since it was simple and really small and really clean.
We stayed in Vedado which is the real city I guess but I think you might enjoy more to stay in old havana (Habana Veja) so that you’re close to everything touristic.
How to move around in Havana:
Airport to wherever you’re staying will cost around 30$. First couple of nights we were using taxis and would pay 15$ one way to restaurants and old town etc..
We found out later that we should use a “taxi collectivo” that cost us both 1$. We just basically share the taxi with other people. We never really knew exactly how to spot the difference. So we would just find a taxi that already had people in it and jumped in!
AVOID SCAMMERS in Havana:
First day we got there we decided to walk to the old town so that we can really see the city (which was really nice and safe). People kept stopping us and asking us where were from etc.. They would tell us that it was whatever celebration and that cigars cost only 100 USD instead of 300 USD just for today! Which was a total scam. Don’t fall into it.
They are also really friendly which made us fall into the trap of walking around with some natives who offered to point out some place we were asking about. And later telling us they are tour guides and we have to pay them 😀
Currency in Havana:
Cuba has two currencies. One for nationals and one for tourists. You will only deal with CUC (currency for tourists) which is equivalent to the dollar. Which means the country isn’t necessarily cheap for us Egyptians.
Internet in Havana:
There’s no internet in Cuba like we’re used to (not in homes or restaurants or hotels). The only solution is to buy cards to sign in that cost 3$ an hour and then you have to find a wifi hotspot. These are scattered around the city.
So you’d be walking around and you’d see like 20 people sitting in the street or in a park looking at their phones. Well you’d know that this is a wifi hotspot! Luckily there was a spot at our corner so we would use like 15 minutes to search for something or just say hi to our families and then turn wifi off and use 15 minutes the next day.
Tip: don’t forget to turn your wifi off when you’re done.
This also means try to do as much research as you can before you get there and then just leave the rest to luck and random wandering 🙂
Most important app ever: Maps.me
Download it! Wherever you’re going! You can only download it online not on the App Store. Choose the city you’re going to and you’re good to go. Helped since there was no internet in Cuba. And also helped when we went to Mexico too it’s genius and offline. We used it instead of GPS for recommendations and everything.
By Heba ElKest