Five Top Tips for Travelling to Cuba - March 2016
Tracey Holt – 30/03/16
There are two currencies on the island of Cuba: the CUP (Cuban Peso) is used by native Cubans, whilst the CUC (Cuban Convertible) is often used by tourists and can only be bought and sold in Cuba - it is not tradeable outside Cuba. One CUC is equal to One US dollar and 25 CUP.
There is an exchange place in Havana airport, but there are usually long queues. Banks which exchange currency are available, especially in Havana, but not all banks will provide such a service. Also, once again, there are usually long queues, as everyone queues for everything in Cuba. It is easier to exchange money in the hotels, but the rate might not be so good.
The airport has the same rate as the banks and you will need your passport when changing money, wherever you do it. GBP Sterling and Euro are exchangeable, whilst US Dollars generally aren’t or, if they are, they will be marked down by 10%. Unfortunately, Scottish GBP Sterling notes are not accepted and neither are torn or defaced notes and coins.
Hotels tend to take credit/debit cards, though not ones with an American affiliation. Not many other places accept cards. Some banks have debit card machines but certainly not most.
Take plenty of 1 and 3 CUCs for tips (they are very much appreciated).
Taxis to/from the airport should be 25 CUC.
The State run Internet is usually available in hotels; you have to buy a card which lasts 1 hour. It should cost 2 CUC, but many places put a mark up on it. Make sure you log out properly; otherwise the server keeps the time ticking over even if you are off the network with your device switched off. The easiest way to log out is to put 188.8.131.52 in the browser, or open another browser session and try to log in with the same numbers. You’ll know it’s worked if you receive the message: “already in use do you want to disconnect?”
Take all medications you need or might need. Pharmacies which sell medicines are few and far between and don’t stock many items. Natives get prescriptions from local doctors, but only basic stuff and they can’t generally purchase the medications we are used to.
Electric sockets in Cuba seem to be a mixture of 110v and 240v, as well as two round pin (European) or two flat pin (US) sockets. Your best option is to get a universal travel adapter, which will enable you to plug your goods into just about any socket.
A Relaxing Soak
If you fancy a bath, be sure to take a bath plug. For some reason, bath plugs aren’t commonplace in hotels across Cuba, but you can still enjoy a bath by buying a cheap universal one from amazon/eBay (about £2) before you go.