Solo Traveller - March 7-21. A few Questions.
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Feb 18, 2013 2:59 AM Last Post By: enram
Feb 12, 2013 1:32 PM
Solo Traveller - March 7-21. A few Questions.Hi All,
Im from London (UK) and Im landing in Havana on 7th March and leaving on the 21st. I intend to travel around a bit and at the moment am thinking of visiting:
Bay of pigs
A small town (any ideas?)
Im am having trouble figuring out which currency to take, are EURO's or Canadian dollars best?
Also can I just get a tourist card when I land, do I have to do it here first?
If anyone if in Cuba around this time and fancys PMing me about meeting up, shreing car hire etc, let me know.
Thanks in advance
Feb 12, 2013 2:51 PM
1Marc. Going from England you need a tourist visa, which you will get from either the embassy or the travel agency. You may bring euro and Canadian dollars, which both needs to be exchanged into Cuban cuc pesos. Generally foreign exchange will not be accepted in shops or in restaurants. You may bring a European debit card, and draw Cuban pesos from banks. Your itinerary is feasible but really too ambitious. In two weeks go to Habana and then only either east or west. Cuba does not bring much variety in city life; the small places you look forward may just as well be seen in Habana suburbs.
Feb 12, 2013 3:28 PM
Feb 12, 2013 4:07 PM
3Hi Marc, if you go to the Cuban consulate in Holborn with all the necessary stuff, they'll do your visa in 10 mins: need to show:
1) Flight in and out of Cuba
2) Travel insurance
3) Valid passport
4) Confirmation of accommodation upon arrival...
For the accommodation upon arrival, an email from the casa you're planning to stay in will do... otherwise, I generally book my casa particular accommodation with CubaCasa and receive an automated confirmation email with all the info I need. The people at the embassy always seem to be happy with it so I'm guessing they're used to it and think it's reputable.
If you've got two weeks, I'd stick to Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad... that way you get a real mix of culture, city, rural bliss, beaches (Playa Ancon near Trinidad, and Rancho Luna near Cienfuegos) and beautiful colonial town. And from Cienfuegos you can do a day trip to Santa Clara for the Che's mausoleum.
Enjoy Cuba, I'm jealous!
Feb 13, 2013 12:23 AM
4You can get your tourist card on line through:
I have used them many times without any problems.
If you're from London then take pounds just make sure the notes are in good condition or they will be refused.
Feb 13, 2013 4:55 AM
Feb 15, 2013 2:16 PM
6I just returned from Cuba, and bought the tourist card for $60 at the airport in Havana. #3's advice is way way
too complicated, especially in light of the most interesting advice from #4. I had not heard of this easy way for
acquiring the card. When in Miami last month, trying to find out how to get the card I had to go thru 3 agencies
before finding Marianao agency, the latter telling me I could buy the card in Havana. However, I was pissed that the price has risen from $20.
Euros and CAD are almost excatly worth the same in CUCs, and I imagine this is true for Sterling also.
When in Playa Giron, (Bay of Pigs to non Cubans) you must go the extra 9 km to Caleta Buena. A not to miss
place. For $15 you get to become totally drunk to the point of alcohol toxicity, from 10 am to 5 pm, and also
you can stuff yourself with as much food as possible, all for the one price of $15. Swimming in a crystal clear
natural salt pool, then you switch to the fresh water cenote and swim with lots of fish. Punta Perdiz is nearby,
the diving center in that area. A rental car is almost mandatory for Giron. Wqtch out for the crabs on the road in March/April, since they can cause tire punctures.
Feb 16, 2013 10:36 AM
Feb 17, 2013 8:49 PM
8If you want a smaller town near Santa Clara, think about Remedios. I've got a local contact there (low key, excellent English) I'll furnish on demand. Having just been there, I wish I'd spent more time there and less in the usual places (e.g., Cienfuegos, La Habana, Trinidad). Give it a shot.
If anything, I'd skip Santa Clara entirely except to change buses if you're without transport.
Feb 18, 2013 12:43 AM
9Simple solution: Forget CDN and bring GDP. Unless you are bringing a lot of money (2000+) and can change GDP to EUR for a very strong rate, like exactly the bank rate, then you may gain 2% which on 2000 would be 40
In Cuba the currency exchanges are run by the government and sterling is OK.
I am from the US and travel there frequently. For USD Cuba charges 10% tax so if I change 100, they do the exchange as I am changing 90. I have access to foreign currency at interbank rates so before travelling I call a friend in Cuba and check the rates and then change to the currency which is best. Hypothetical, if I change $2000USD direct to CUC I get about $1780 but if I change to Euro and then CUC I might get $1940. If I did the same CDN maybe $1920, if I did in GBP $1900
Your queens silver is welcome in Cuba. You can get rates at http://www.bc.gov.cu/english/exchange_rate.asp. Of course this is the median, not the buy/sell. Those will be 2% +/-
Feb 18, 2013 2:59 AM
10I have noticed among certain posters there is an obsession for the cheapest solution, varying from street food, to rent prices for casas and cars. For me you need to be quite computerized to keep track of the continuous cheapest solution in Cuba.
The pricing picture in Cuba is fairly simple, and generally the prices are low. For those with little money the advice is to stay away from expensive hotels and restaurants.
When it comes to changing money the important rule is not to take dollars to Cuba because the Cuban banks surcharge a 10 % fee in exchanging USD for CUC, what they do not do for other currencies like C$, £ or €.
But all currencies change independently on a daily basis and most banks charge 1-2 % fees for changing money, depending on which bank you use outside, and maybe which bank you use in Cuba.
People in the US know that Cuba has fixed the exchange rate of CUC towards the US dollar, at 0,9 to 1, (actually 1 to 1 less 10 %), while the rate of exchange between USD, CAD, EUR, GBP change every day, so is also the case between CUC, CAD, EUR and GBP.
Complicated? Yes a little.
The thumb economy rule is never to take US dollars to Cuba, for the rest it is a matter of petty money, and very complicated to keep track of, unless you are a banking specialist or specially interested or obsessed.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$289.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$169.00 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$26.96 per night