Global Gaz website publishes handy tips for travel to Cuba

Posted: 28-Oct-16 11:01

For the first time in fifty years, Americans are able to visit Cuba after the Obama administration loosened travel restrictions. Global Gaz website recently published a list of important facts and handy tips for US citizens to take into account whilst planning a trip to this Caribbean island.

Global Gaz website publishes handy tips for travel to Cuba

Since the normalization process between the US and Cuban governments began on December 2014, diplomatic bonds were re-established between both countries and new possibilities appeared for harmonious collaboration.

One of the greatest forms of progress was the loosening of travel restrictions for US citizens. With legalisation of travel to Cuba through 12 different categories, Americans can now visit the island by qualifying into any of these motives which include family visits and people-to-people travel.

After returning from a trip to Cuba, Global Gaz website blogger recently published a list of important facts for Americans to keep in mind whilst planning a visit and helpful tips they can use during their stay.

Getting to Cuba

Since 31st August, with the arrival of the first commercial flight in over 50 years from the US to Cuba, flying arrangements between both countries have become more efficient for a lower cost. This news means no longer having to book charter flights or sneaking in from third countries like Mexico and Canada.

Currency in Cuba

Americans must bear in mind that they won’t be able to use credit cards during their stay, bringing enough cash to sustain the expenses of their trip is their only option. In order to lessen the amount of money they need to bring, prepaying for accommodations and excursions and things of that nature is a good solution.

Whilst Cuba counts with a dual currency system, foreigners are only concerned with the CUC (Convertible Cuban Pesos). Although the US dollar and the CUC have the same value in theory, Cuban authorities impose a 3% conversion fee and an additional fee of 10% for US dollars, making the rate shoot down to 0.87 CUC for 1 USD. Brining Euros or British Pounds could be a smart way to work around this loss. In order to avoid long lines at the bank when looking to convert cash, going to any of the major hotel’s lobbies is a good idea, as the services is usually faster.

Internet

Though Internet access has become significantly easier in the island during the past few years, the connection is still rather slow and the rates are somewhat expensive. There are a number of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the island, especially in the capital, Havana, as well as inside most hotels. To access the Internet you will need to purchase a scratch card from ETECSA, Cuba’s telecommunications provider which costs 2 CUC for one hour, though some hotels offer guests free Wi-Fi.

Taxis and travelling between cities

It is almost impossible to resist riding one the island’s renowned 50s’ American cars which flood the streets. Most of these antiques are taxis today and depending on the vehicles’ conditions, price rates vary. Pristine classics that look almost new are usually very expensive, with ten-minute trips costing 20 CUC, whilst the more humble rides offer lower rates but less comfort. Modern-looking taxis are also available.

When travelling within the country, there are three main options: taking a local flight, booking a seat in a Viazul bus and taking a private taxi. The first two options offer reasonable prices and comfort, but must be booked at least two days beforehand in order to avoid any inconvenience. As for taxis, a baseline is 0.50 CUC for each km but most drivers are open to negotiating.

Casas particulares

If staying within a hotel escapes your budget, renting a room at a “casa particular” could be a good option. These private-owned houses offer competitive prices and a more personal and close-up experience with friendly locals who are eager to let you know about their traditions and day-to-day life. Global Gaz blogger used Airbnb which meant staying with three different families during his time in the island; all hosts were polite and attentive and prices were much cheaper than hotels, averaging $45 per night.

Spanish and voltage

Though knowing a little bit of Spanish will always come in handy, it is not essential. Hotel staff, taxi drivers and hosts at “casas particulares” will speak varying amounts of English, enough to allow you to communicate. It helps to know words like “how much” and being able to count to ten in Spanish. When charging electric appliances, travelers must be aware of the voltage as many of the sockets in Cuba are 220 volts, and the voltage in the US is typically 110 volts. 


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