Replies: 13 - Last Post: Dec 4, 2012 10:17 AM Last Post By: north_boy
Dec 3, 2012 2:16 AM
BackpackingHey there everyone,
i'm planning on going for a two week backpacking-trip starting this week.
I was going to go varadero to enjoy the beaches, but also im definitely spending a few days in Havana.
I do know cuba isnt the world most famous spot for backpackers - but, do you still think there are cheap (group)hostels, "hotspots"... both, in varadero and havana?
or are there other cities that would be more like that?
thanks in advance,
Dec 3, 2012 8:17 AM
1Daniel, put down the bottle of Jack and pick up your guide book.
There's no (thank God) backpacker ghetto like Khao San Road and there are almost no stereotypical hostels yet so independent travellers in Cuba really are for the most part, "independent." That's not to say you won't meet other backpackers, but it'll usually happen in other ways than the usual hostel scene. Here's one of the (very few thus far) "hostels" in Cuba:
For casa particulars (Cuban version of a Bed & Breakfast), local guides and other local services and info have a look here:
Dec 3, 2012 8:26 AM
2By the way, do you realize that Varadero is a package tourist enclave famous for its dozens and dozens of all-inclusive resorts?
There are a few nice casa particulars "downtown" in the small and (in my opinion) crushingly dull village of Varadero, but unless you're the type of person who is happy simply vegging-out on the beach that scene is going to get really boring, really fast. Different strokes though...
Dec 3, 2012 11:27 AM
I think Terry's response is excellent. Veradero does have cheap flights due to the all-inclusives, but it is mostly a bubble zone hermetically sealed from mainstream Cuba. And proportionately expensive. There is a Cuban part of town (separated from the "zone") that does have casas particulares, but as Terry mentions, it remains almost entirely a tourist trap.
For little more than backpacking dollars (i.e. $20 - $25/night) you can find yourself a casa particulare that will provide some insight into Cuban life as well as a breakfast. These are scattered throughout the island, but even if all you want to do is lie on white sand (abundant at Veradero), you should take some time in Havana.
I did not come across a backpacking "scene" anywhere on the island. But you will find you do not miss it, as you will be spending time with locals -- something the Khao Sahn crowd talks about while drinking lattes!
(I say this as a guy who used to go to the Pudding Shop in Istanbul, Pie Street in Kathmandu, Chicken Street in Kabul, Poppies Gang in Bali etc. You won't miss it).
Dec 3, 2012 11:51 AM
4Pie Street in Kathmandu... thanks NB, you just made me throw up a little it in my mouth... those were the days though! ;-)
Dec 3, 2012 3:48 PM
Dec 3, 2012 3:50 PM
6Keeping in mind that actual coach surfing is illegal in Cuba...
Dec 3, 2012 5:37 PM
Dec 3, 2012 5:55 PM
Dec 3, 2012 9:25 PM
9Without contacts in Cuba "couch surfing" can lead to "pluck me" situations - whether the plucking is outright/bold (you wake up and your "friend" and you stuff is gone) - or with Cuban sublety (gets snatched on the street from you right as you leave).. Fact is that even the expanded legitimate casa system acts to hold a lot of that in check - sure, it leads to city accomadation planning $25-$30 but small price to pay overall for the safer "legitimate" system.
Dec 4, 2012 1:31 AM
10Thanks everyone for the very interesting posts.
I am most certainly aware of how "touristy" varadero is supposed to be. Its just that i got really cheap flights to there, so ill touch down there and might just hang out on the beach for couple days to get over the jetlag.
After that, however, ill work my way west! so itll be matanzas, havanna... Do you think further towards vinales is worth a trip? i might just see what i can get done in 2 weeks.
What about santa clara or trinidad as to the other direction? LP said santa clara is a "student place" to be.
From what ive found, at least in Havanna, there are a few "backpackers hostels" with group rooms and stuff.. Prices around 10$
Dec 4, 2012 5:51 AM
11Hey I plan on doing same thing as you two weeks backpacking ! Staying at a hostel in Havana (Ronaldos) http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/cuba/havana/70878/ and hopefully meet up with some people there !
Dec 4, 2012 7:12 AM
12Do you think further towards vinales is worth a trip? i might just see what i can get done in 2 weeks.
With 2 weeks I would take in Vinales. Completely different landscape from Varadero and Havana and easy to get to from Havana. Try not to miss it.
Have a great trip
Dec 4, 2012 10:17 AM
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