Below you will find questions and answers, the frequently asked questions from first time travelers to Cuba we often get in our mailbox. It is advisable to read these questions and answers to start with when you are intending to go to Cuba.
Is crime a serious issue?
Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere. Even in neighborhoods that you would avoid in other major cities you are unlikely to suffer any incidents of violent crime. Incidents, which do happen, are generally tied into a more personal encounter with 'dubious characters'. Petty crime is more of a concern and a bag left unattended in a major city may well be swiped. Pick-pocketing does happen in certain locations, especially in certain busy discothèques or in public artcraft markets, even on busy streets, although it is relatively rare and should be preventable with a certain degree of caution and lack of ostentation. Take care of items such as handbags, cameras, neck chains and other items that can be snatched away. General hassling is pretty prevalent at least in Havana and Santiago de Cuba in major tourism spots. Hustlers are called jiniteros/as literally jockeys and while they can be an annoyance are generally pretty good natured and non-threatening once you accept their existence and learn to politely but firmly decline their offers of cigars/'friends'/special paladares etc. Begging does exist in certain spots but again is pretty minimal and non-invasive.
Is cuba a good place to travel alone as a woman?
This really is a question of your own attitude. Some woman are OK with the flattery and the attention, which is omnipresent, others find it threatening and unpleasant. You need to bear in mind that a Cuban guy is simply programmed to whistle and shout compliments at a pretty woman walking down the street. Anything else would be considered an insult. Having said that as in any country, especially in major cities you need to use your female instinct. Don't go down dark streets at night, the same streets you wouldn't go in your own hometown. Take a taxi when you go out at night and ask the taxi driver to wait until you close the door of your home behind you. Smaller towns like Trinidad or Vinales are safe at night time for female travelers.
Are there any diseases you need to be aware of?
Cuba is normally safe as long as you are reasonably careful about what you eat and drink. The common travel-related diseases, such as dysentery and hepatitis, are acquired by the consumption of contaminated food and water. While Cuba has a relatively low incidence of HIV any visitors should take obvious precautions if engaging in intimate relations on the island. Mosquito born illnesses are not a significant concern on most of Cuba although you should be aware when there is a periodic outbreak of dengue. Sand flies can be a serious irritant on certain beaches but this is to be expected as the price of paradise! Tap water in Cuba is not considered as reasonably safe to drink. Most Cuban households will boil water before drinking and foreigners should follow this procedure unless you have good quality purification filters.
What are the insurance procedures to be followed?
Since May 2010, Cuba has made it obligatory for all foreign visitors to show proof of their medical insurance when entering the country. Basically all foreign policies are accepted and any review is cursory if any at all. As when traveling in any country having valid travel insurance is a sensible and important step. Cuba has its own state owned insurance company (ASISTUR), which will (if you prefer) provide travel insurance for around US$ 2.50 per day for non-Americans (US$ 8 per day for Americans). In the event that you need medical treatment you will need to pay following your treatment and make a claim back from your insurance company. ASISTUR is the entity, which will deal with the paperwork. Typically treatment is relatively cheap (a simple consultation and prescription is likely to be under US$ 50), although prolonged hospitalization will obviously increase costs exponentially (a week treatment in intensive care with all of the associated care, tests might run to US$ 5,000).
How good is the health care provided for foreigners in cuba?
The Cuban government has established a for-profit medical system for foreigners called SERVIMED, which is entirely separate from the free, not-for-profit system that takes care of Cuban citizens. There are more than 40 SERVIMED facilities throughout the country including in all of the major tourism centers. The major clinic for foreigners in Havana is the Cira Garcia one in Miramar. In the event of an accident or other emergency foreigners may be taken to the nearest accident and emergency center, which may be at a Cuban state hospital. Conditions here at least aesthetically are likely to be below expectations for many foreigners although the standard of care is typically very good from the doctors. Once a foreign patient can be moved typically he will be transferred to a SERVIMED clinic such as Cira Garcia in Havana, which is set up to deal with foreigners.
What is the availability of pharmaceuticals?
There are special pharmacies for foreigners also run by the SERVIMED system. These have limited supplies however and should not be relied on especially outside of Havana for specialist medicines or prescription medicines (although typically they will have alternatives). As in many countries a fully stocked medical kit should be packed as part of your travel luggage.
Do I need a visa to enter cuba?
Regular tourists who plan to spend up to two months in Cuba do not need visas. Instead you get a tarjeta de turista (tourist card) valid for 30 days, which is possible to extend for another 30 days once you are in Cuba. Canadians get a special deal and can stay for up to 90 days. Tourist cards for travelers arriving from the Americas can typically be purchased at the airport of departure although will generally be provided or sold ahead of time by the travel agency or airline office for US$ 15-20). For travelers from Europe typically departure airports are not allowed to sell tourist card and you must have a valid tourist card before arriving at the airport. These are available at the relevant Cuban consulate although again for a small additional fee can generally be ordered from travel agencies. Once in Cuba tourist card extensions or replacements can be arranged at the relevant immigration office for US$ 25. This process can be something of an ordeal if you dislike bureaucracy but is relatively straightforward (if time consuming). You cannot leave Cuba without your tourist card so should take not to lose it. If you overstay your visa this will present a serious issue when leaving the country and care should be taken not to do so.
Do you need to write a hotel where you are staying on the tourist card?
On your tourist card you need to fill in where you are staying. If you are staying in multiple locations you need simply put the first one. Cuban unwritten rules say you have to book a hotel for the first night. This is not an actual regulation and it is legal to stay in a licensed casa particular. Many people just find it simply to put the name of Hotel down. It is rare that immigration officials will ask for evidence of a confirmed/paid for reservation although it makes sense to have a print out of any confirmation that you have even if this is only a non-confirmed, non-paid for quotation.
Customs regulations. What restrictions are there on what i am allowed to bring in?
Travelers are allowed to bring in personal belongings including personal jewellery, camera and video camera a mobile telephone, one personal computer, sporting equipment, wheel chair for the disabled, personal portable devices that allow to extract or introduce information into personal computers, such as flash memory, MP3, MP4, IPOD, electronic book, and the like. It is prohibited to bring in global positioning systems, satellite telephones or other communications equipment such as listening devices. Electrical items (including toasters/irons etc.) are also not permitted. Fresh food is not allowed although enforcement is somewhat sporadic on this. Other items on the no-no list include narcotics, pornography, explosives etc. No need to fill out the customs declaration for passengers if they just bring with them those items considered to be personal belongings or an amount of cash not exceeding $ 5000, 00 USD or its equivalent in other currencies; or other appliances.
Am I allowed to bring gifts into cuba?
Strictly speaking the maximum value of any gifts brought to Cuba must be less than US$ 50. The key to this is not to overtly flout the rule bringing in say 50 baseball caps or expensive electronic equipment. Items that are classified as gifts (over US$) will be subject to a 100% tax on their cost price. For details, refer to the FAQ page of the Cuban Customs www.aduana.co.cu, which clarifies the details.
Communications. Are there many internet cafes in cuba?
Internet access in Cuba is notoriously expensive and slow although has improved recently as ETECSA has set up an increasing number of Telepuntos that offers reasonable internet access for CUC$ 4.50 per hour. The national system requires that you buy a scratch card with user name / password which you then enter into the terminal. The national nature of the system means that you can use any unused part of the time as any other telepunto location. In Havana a number of the more upmarket hotels offer Wi-Fi access for CUC$ 6-8 per hour. This is an incredibly popular service since it allows you to use your Blackberry / IPAD / lap top and not be restricted to a telepunto computer. The quality of service varies and will almost be slower than you expect. The best hotels for this are the Parque Central and Panorama. Outside Havana options are more limited and even though most major hotels will have their own internet cafes the speed of access is often enough to make you dream of your old dial up connection back home!
Will my cell phone work in cuba?
ETECSA, the national phone company, has roaming agreements with most major international carriers (excluding US carriers) so theoretically your phone should work in Cuba. It is worth checking rates before you go since horror stories abound of people who have used their cell phones to access data packages as well as voice and received huge roaming bills back home! As a general rule roaming is great for texts, extremely expensive for voice calls and variable for data access.
Can I send a postcard from cuba?
Letters and postcards have a funny way of arriving from Cuba at unexpected moments and are worth sending just for the surprise when the day comes that it arrives. This may be in a few weeks or a few months but typically will make it. Notionally regular mail should take a month to Europe or North America. Stamps are available both in local currency and in convertible currency. Given that the postcards are only US 65c to all countries it is worth spending the extra cash for the boost in reliability. For important documents you should use the DHL office which has branches in all the major cities.
Does skype work in cuba?
Skype does work in Cuba from one of limited number of locations, which offer wi-fi service. Periodically attempts have been made to block this however it does seem to function reasonably well from hotel lobbies such as the Parque Central or the Panorama in Havana.
Can I purchase a cuban sim card to use in my own phone?
The big advantage of a Cuban cell phone is that making calls within Cuba is much cheaper than with a roaming international phone. Bear in mind this still does not mean that it is cheap (see below)! You are able to rent a Cubacel SIM card from many of the major airports in Cuba, which have an ETECSA office. Alternatively you should look for the nearest ETECSA office in the city. You will need to show your passport and you will need to pay CUC 3 per day for this service. In order for your phone to be able to use the Cubacel SIM card it will need to be unlocked and to operate on the 900mhz frequency. You will need to simply top up your phone through purchasing pay as you go Cuban phone cards which generally retail at CUC 10 or CUC 20 per card.
What is a private house?
A private house in Cuba is a private family establishment that rents one or more rooms to foreigners. In other words, a private house is a private accommodation or a private stay in Cuba. If you stay in a private room, sharing space with the family that hosts you, you get a very similar to a bed and breakfast or hostel service in any other country. You can also choose to stay in complete private homes. In these cases the service is like that of a holiday rental.
How do private houses arise in Cuba?
Until 1997, all tourist accommodation belonged to and was managed by the Cuban State. In 1997, in order to meet the demands of tourism and improve the economy of citizens, the Government allowed Cuban families to register their homes as private businesses for renting their rooms to foreigners. Since November 2010 the Government has made more concessions, allowing its citizens to have their own family business. In this way, a Cuban can also offer his / her complete house to foreigners as independent rental property and also can open paladares (as well known in Cuba to restaurants run by a family) and run hotels.
Are all private houses legal?
No. To have a legal private home, homeowners must obtain a housing license issued by the Cuban government. To be able to access this type of licenses the owners of the houses must offer a minimum of amenities to the guests. Maintaining a hosting license is very expensive. The homeowners must pay a high tax to the government whether there rents as if the house is vacated da: Between 30 and 100 CUC per room each month plus tax gastronomic (be able to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner). At the end of the year they must pay an extra tax that represents between 10% and 30% of the collected during the year. Along the island, especially in the most tourist destinations, there is a whole network of private homes without a license. These are usually homes that do not meet the minimum comforts and still decide to risk accommodate tourists despite lacking the necessary permits. You have to be very careful about staying in a house without a license because it is ILLEGAL
How to identify a legal private home?
All the legal private houses on the island show a distinctive symbol at their entrance. This symbol is a blue uppercase letter H rotated 90 degrees. The top bar of the symbol is larger than the bottom bar. The symbol tries to look like a house with its roof, but the truth is that it looks more like an anchor. Below the symbol you can find the words "Landlord Currency". This means that the owners of the house can rent rooms in the currency for tourists: The CUC.
Is it safe to stay in private homes?
Private houses are very safe. The security and privacy standards of houses in Cuba are comparable to those of a hostel or B & B in any other country. Most of the rooms for rent to tourists have a lock and, especially in the most tourist destinations, you can also find rooms with safe. When you arrive at a private house, the owner asks for your passport and enters your data in a log book that will be delivered to the Immigration Office within 24 hours of your arrival. In addition, you will be asked to sign the book with your data. If they do not ask you to sign or they do not ask for your passport, you may have gone to a house that is not legal. This is the usual procedure whether you are staying at the most luxurious resort on the island or if you decide to stay with a humble family.
Can you rob me in a private house?
Renting rooms to tourists is often the main source of income for homeowners. Families, therefore, strive to provide a service that will satisfy travelers. It would be counterproductive for them to steal their guests or allow staff or other tenants to steal at home. In addition, Cuba has very strict laws against those who rob or attack tourists, as tourism is the main income channel of the majority of inhabitants of the island.
Is there privacy in a private house?
In general, the level of privacy is greater than the one you will find staying in a house in another country. In most cases, the rooms that are rented to tourists have a lock and the owner will give you the key. Normally, the rooms also have a private bathroom and even a minibar and air conditioning. Often, the space where the family lives is physically separated from that destined for tourists (in different plants or areas). Usually there are common areas like patios or terraces where you meet other travelers or sit and chat with the owners. The family is always at your service and ready to answer your questions and give you suggestions. But that does not mean that you will be with them 24 hours a day. Take advantage of the breakfast to get good advice on what to see and where to eat (many houses offer food and is very advisable to take them, the best of Cuba) and spend the day exploring the city on your own.
Why stay in a private house?
It is much cheaper than staying in a hotel.
It allows you to know firsthand how to live in Cuba.
You can count on the owners of the houses to indicate places to visit or activities that do not appear in the tourist guides.
Many of the houses offer meals and dinners that are better than the ones you can find in restaurants.
The hosts will give you tips on how to avoid certain areas of the city or be alert ant and potential scams.
If you stay during a long stay or if you have a special affinity with the family, they will start to treat you like a good friend and even as a member of the family.
In order to be impregnated with recent history: Chatting with homeowners about the Revolution or politics will enrich your point of view and is a fantastic way to discover aspects that textbooks do not have.
You are helping small Cuban entrepreneurs to make her business.
You can meet other travelers like you who also stay in the house.
How are the accommodations of a private house?
You can usually stay in one private room. Generally, private rooms have their own bathroom, although sometimes the bathroom is shared with other tourists (but not with the family). Most of the houses have a lock in the rooms. Depending on the rules of the house, the owners will either keep your key or give it to you until you leave the house. You can also find Private rooms with separate entrance. These are refurbished houses or apartments where the accesses for tourists of the accesses to the house that the relatives and personal use have been divided. It is also possible to find holiday apartments. They are completely furnished and independent rooms of the zone reserved for the family of the house. Sometimes the apartment is part of the house, separated from it by a partition with a door that connects both parts. You can also stay in Stays studio or mini-flat: This is usually type "loft" spaces with a single room, kitchen and dining in one room, and a bathroom. Sometimes these apartments are part of the house and are separated from the main house by a partition. Finally, you can find independent houses or "Villas". These are independent properties with several rooms such as bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom. Some of these may even have other amenities such as swimming pool.
What comforts does a private house offer?
It depends a lot on the type of house you choose. Many of the houses, especially outside the most touristy areas, are quite modest and will not have all the amenities. The least you should expect to receive are clean sheets, towels, and toilet paper. In my opinion, you may need them if you plan to visit a city or region that is not frequented by foreigners. If you decide to bring your towels or sheets, do not bring them back. It may be a nice touch to leave it to the family of the last house you stay in just before returning from Cuba. Most likely your room has air conditioning or at least a fan. It is advisable to check it in advance as the nights in Cuba can be very hot, especially between June and October. If they do not have air conditioning you should pay less. You will also have a closet or shelf to leave your clothes and a bedside table with lamp. Some houses have a safe, TV and refrigerator inside the room. Most rooms have a lock. Depending on the rules of the house, the owners will give you the key or guard it for you. Some houses have separate entrance, which gives more privacy. Many rooms have their own bathroom, although sometimes the bathroom is shared with other tourists (but not with the family). Most of the colonial houses, although they are very attractive, can not have a bathroom in the room due to the distribution of the house. We recommend that you consult or ask the owner about the items that are important to you: Safe, air conditioning, private bathroom or elevator. Keep in mind that there are private houses that are not on the ground floor and you may have to climb (and go down) with suitcases up the stairs.
Do they offer shampoo and soap like in hotels? And hair dryer?
Many homes have basic hygiene such as toilet paper or soap. However, you may find it difficult to find a hair dryer, deodorant or even shampoo. Keep in mind that these products are considered luxury and are very expensive to purchase in Cuba. It is advisable to carry everything you need for your hair care, oral hygiene and personal care, as well as a small medicine cabinet (aspirin, bandages, antacids, preservatives). As for the dryer, considering the sunny and warm climate of the island, surely you can do without it and let the hair dry in the wind.
How much does a private house cost?
Depending on where you want to stay and what time of year, staying in a private home it can cost at least about 20 -25 CUCs off season and in season 20-35 CUCs and more, as there are houses of high standard. The price of the accommodation includes the cleaning of the same and change of the bed linen, towels, soap and toilet paper. The most expensive destinations are the houses in Vedado and Miramar in Havana. Prices also vary depending on factors such as: Main factors that influence the price of a private house in Cuba The number of guests alojéis years. The number of nights you spend in the house: Long stays (3 or more weeks) usually have discounts that you can negotiate with the owner. The location of the house: The less touristy the area, the cheaper it is. The amount of taxes that homeowners have to pay for the house is determined by a formula that takes into account the number of rental rooms the house has, the area of the house intended for tourists (including common areas) Location. The popularity of the house: There are houses that have become a reference and have a great reputation online or by word of mouth. Many often take advantage of their fame to "inflate" their rates, especially when more demand has in high season.
Is it better to stay in a house or a hotel?
If you have a reduced budget, private houses will offer you better value for money than hotels that you can pay with your money. If you prefer or you can afford to stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel, go ahead. But between staying in a 3-star hotel and a private house, choose the second option. In addition, you already have the rest of the world countries to stay in hotels. Accommodation in Cubans' homes is an authentic experience in itself, and is part of the appeal of traveling to Cuba. If you are one of those who prefer the comforts of a hotel but want to tour the island, I recommend that you do not completely discard lodging in private homes during certain stages of your trip. For example, Viñales Y Trinity are highly demanded destinations and have little hotel supply, so staying in private homes can be a safe option to enjoy these cities.
Are house prices negotiable?
Due to the high demand of tourists, it is becoming more difficult to negotiate discounts with the hosts, since they usually have their rooms occupied without having to make discounts. This becomes even more difficult if you do not speak Spanish. Keep in mind that if you travel alone you will find it very difficult to get some discount. A single traveler usually pays 70 or 75% of what it costs a room for 2 people. If you are traveling as a couple or family with younger children and share the same room, you will get the most out of it. If you are traveling in low season, try to negotiate a lower rate. If you are going to have a long stay (a month or more), it might also be interesting to ask that you apply a monthly rate instead of daily. N will strive because homeowners apply reasonable rates and often can even help you get discounts for being a student or plan a long stay.
Does the price include breakfast?
There are very few houses that include breakfast in their accommodation rate. Most offer good breakfast for an additional price per person CUCs 3-5. Usually full breakfasts including tropical fruit juice, coffee, fruit, bread toast and even French omelettes. The menu does not usually change from day to day, so you may, if you stay several days, want to have breakfast at a nearby cafe for a change. Keep in mind that private houses can only offer food to tourists if they pay an additional gas tax. Thus, the owners of the house of your choice may not be allowed to offer you breakfast. If so, do not worry; It is surely located near cafes and paladares (restaurants run by Cuban families) where you can also have a good breakfast for about 5 CUC.
Can you dine in private homes?
Not only is it possible but it is highly recommended. Most homes pay a monthly gas tax that allows them to offer meals to their guests. These houses often serve varied, tasty dinners and generous portions at very reasonable prices. Private houses serve authentic homemade food that, in many cases, is better (both price and flavor) than you can find in restaurants and hotels.
Can I travel to Cuba without accommodation booked?
Until early 2014, you could risk traveling to Cuba without reserving accommodation in private homes during the off-season months (May-June and September-October). It was enough to ask a taxi driver at the airport, because everyone has contacts with private legal houses. However, due to the explosion of tourists on the island, most of the legal houses is reserved in advance and if you choose to get carried away by a taxi driver, is likely to lead you to an illegal house without license to accommodate tourists. This is a problem. My recommendation is that you have insured, at least, the first night in Cuba. Once at a host's home, you can ask for help finding legal accommodation on the following nights. Even so, keep in mind that finding accommodation in high season (from November to April) can be really difficult in highly sought after destinations such as Havana, Viñales, Varadero or Trinidad.
How do I get to my pre-booked house in each city?
Even with a reservation, it's a good idea to call or email the owner of each house before you get to your city. T he owners are willing to call ahead to your next home to inform the host you are on the way. Many times your host will greet you at the bus station with a sign with your name or send a taxi driver you trust to pick you up. It is important that you organize the collection to avoid possible scams with the "jineteros" that usually prowl the stations in search of unsuspecting tourists.
What is a jinetero and how to avoid his scams?
Jineteros are opportunistic people that hover around airports and bus stations and who will do everything possible to take you to houses (not always legal) that guarantee a commission for each customer that they find. If you have a reserved house and one of these people offers to get you to your house, try to convince yourself that your reservation is not worth: Sometimes they will tell you that the house you have reserved is full; other times they will take you to the door, put the key in the lock and pretend that it is closed, saying that the owner is gone; or they will even tell you that the owner has moved / died / traveled ... and that can lead you to a very similar house nearby (from which you receive a commission). Due to the economic difficulties that many of them live in, the jineteros will not hesitate to use all their tricks in order to get a commission. Be alert and do not be fooled by these tricks. If you have a reservation, stand firm and secure and insist on taking you to the house where you have your reserved accommodation.
What is expected of me as a guest of a private house?
If you have made a reservation, you must respect it and present yourself on the agreed date. If you do not show up, you're causing the host to lose around 25 CUC. Probably not a lot for you, but it's a small fortune for a Cuban. It is important to respect this system based on mutual trust because those who do not are those that push some owners to stop respecting reservations. If you present without prior reservation and the house is full, the owner will suggest the home of a relative or friend where you can stay. There is no obligation to stay in these places, but they can save you a lot of time and traffic, especially if you carry a lot of luggage. Just be prepared to pay any commission. And, above all, make sure you stay in legal houses. If you are going to stay in a modest house, plan on bringing a small detail to the family, especially if they have kids. Pencils, notebooks, medicines, toiletries, clothing or a set of towels is something that will suit them very well and that will allow you to establish a special bond with your hosts and enjoy even more of the stay. Finally, do not forget to make an assessment of your stay on the Internet. A good valuation costs very little, but it has a lot of value. This is especially important if you have had a good welcome and you have felt at home. A sincere and honest assessment will not only help the family business that welcomes you to your home, but will also help other travelers like you to choose better among the wide range of houses that Cuba has.
Can I invite a boy or a girl to the house?
It depends. Always ask the host first before bringing someone home. It may allow you to invite a friend to dinner or to organize a small party in the courtyard of the house. But if you go out at night and meet someone after drinking a mojito or two, it is not very appropriate to bring that person for a night of unleashed passion. Even if you are a guest who is paying for your room, you are staying in someone's house. Be respectful. If on the other hand, you stay in a full house for yourself (without the staff or the family), it may be less uncomfortable for you and your host to bring someone to spend a night. However, if you think it is likely that during your stay you bring someone, it is best to tell the host to you when you arrive, as there are houses that do not allow companions and even do not accept reservations of single men.
What should I expect from my landlord?
The main advantage of staying in a house is that it is a fantastic way to meet and interact with Cubans. Something you really can not do in "official" resorts and hotels. Most hosts will be happy to advise you on places to visit, prevent you from possible scams, recommend you places to eat and drink, help you organize transportation to your next destination, make phone calls to your next home or even help you find good cigars cohibas. Of course, your host must respect your reservation. However, if you have not booked through US , the host may consider not keeping his word. Since it is not customary to confirm reservations by paying a deposit in advance and, unfortunately, many guests end up not showing up, some owners are forced to accept the first tourist to ask for accommodation in the fear that their room will be empty. If you have a reservation and this happens to you, understand it and ask them to help you look for an alternative. There always is.
What is the best area to stay in Havana?
It depends on what you are looking for. A house in Old Havana you will be located in the heart of the old city and will allow you to walk on foot to the main sights of Havana. Downtown Havana has many private homes, but some consider it a residential district inhabited by a heterogeneous and multicultural population that can generate a certain sense of insecurity. Vedado and Plaza de la Revolución offer accommodation in mid 20th century buildings with great views of the city. Vedado is a residential neighborhood where you can find dozens of wonderful private homes. All private homes in Beach, Miramar and beyond are residential areas that are far from the main tourist spots. To move from them to the center you will need a rental car or a taxi.
Recommendations for student travelers
If you are going to study in Cuba, staying in a private house is a good way to get into Cuban culture and enjoy affordable accommodation. If you need to stay for a long stay (a month or more), it is convenient to ask the house if you can apply a monthly rate instead of daily. Try also to agree a price for meals (at least breakfast and dinner). The location and comfort are aspects that you must take into account when choosing your house, as it will be a long stay. If you do not know the city well or you are not clear which neighborhoods are the best for you, I always recommend reserving a house for a short period of accommodation (7-15 days). On the spot and talking to the local people it is easier to find the ideal house. And more in Cuba, where the owners of the houses are especially hospitable.
Recommendations for senior travelers
Cuba is a very pleasant destination for senior travelers. In Cuba it is treated with respect and deference to the elderly. In addition, Cuba is a particularly safe country, with low crime levels in the streets. And if we talk about eating food and drinks, it is safe in general and just take the usual precautions when changing diet, water and schedules. However, do not expect to find specific discounts for senior tourists once you get to the island. In Cuba you will be considered one more tourist.
Recommendations for family travelers
Cuba is excellent for families, especially if you are looking for a beach destination with a variety of activities and entertainment. If your children are a little older, they will love to explore the colonial wonders of Old Havana, with its forts and castles. Hotels and tourist attractions make discounts for children under 12 years, as the tourist bus serviceViazul. Horseback riding, visiting the Indio cave in Viñales (3 hours from Havana by car), getting lost in the streets of Cienfuegos and Trinidad (3 and 4.5 hours from Havana by car) or swimming in the falls The Niche (3 hours from Havana) are excellent activities outside of Havana to do with the whole family. If you choose to stay in a private house you choose to share the same room, you will get the most out of the budget for the accommodation.
Recommendations for women travelers
Although Cuba is a really safe country for tourists, it is convenient to take the usual precautions if you are a woman who travels alone. Women should be careful when walking alone at night, both in Havana and in other more remote destinations. However, walking alone home at night in small provincial towns is quite safe. Cuba is a country with a marked macho behavior and men often have a very open sense of sexuality. It is very likely that a woman walking alone on the street receive glances, comments, whistles or compliments, especially in Santiago and Havana. The best thing is, instead of trying to respond, ignore the situation and keep walking. The Cuban men are quite insistent, but they will catch the message if you ignore them. If not, just say "Leave me alone". In the (rare) case that the situation is out of control, an insult will work. As for the nightlife, Havana offers many places to party in which to have fun. Yes, you should know that, since most islanders do not have much money, do not spend a lot on noct party polls. The people of Cuba do not usually frequent bars and nightclubs, making them mainly find other travelers like you. Cubans usually stay with friends in a public place like a park or along the Malecon, to chat, drink and play music. If you stay in a private house and want to enjoy an authentic Cuban holiday, ask your host. Sure there is someone in the family (a son, a nephew) your age who will be happy to approach one of your impromptu parties. Let yourself go and see how it can be one of the best experiences of your life.
Recommendations for lonely travelers
Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world for tourism. Remember that there are serious repercussions for Cubans who commit crimes against tourists and countrymen, so traveling alone to Cuba poses no danger or specific threat. Of course, you should never forget to carry your common sense in your luggage. Thus, solitary travelers, especially women, should be careful if they decide to walk alone at night in the streets of Havana and other more remote destinations. Perhaps the biggest drawback to tourists traveling alone is the "jineterismo" which is a way of life in Cuba face. In many cases the jineterismo is synonymous with prostitution, but not always. Sex tourism and prostitution are common in Cuba and it is very common for tourists who travel alone (both men and women and of any sexual inclination) to receive constant offers of accompaniment and even more. In some cases, the terms are clearly stated and both parties agree on a price. At other times, the jinetero or jinetera seeks only to invite you to a good meal in a restaurant, something to drink, to buy some clothing, food or products of need or simply looking to have a good time with you. Many jineteros seek to cement a relationship with foreign tourists that can lead them to marriage and thus improve their long-term way of life, whether in Cuba or abroad. If you are staying in a private home and want to bring someone to your room, we recommend that you do it only if you have the express permission of the owner.
Recommendations for travelers / as gay / lesbian
Homosexuality is not illegal in Cuba but in general, the island is not a benchmark for the rights of gays and lesbians. Although the situation has improved in recent years, are still prevalent homophobia and social rejection towards gays and lesbians. Fortunately, gay tourists often receive better treatment than they receive Cuban and Cuban gays and lesbians. Keep in mind, however, that you are in a sex-mongering society and that same-sex affection looks like something weird all over the country. It is important that you keep in mind the social climate of Cuba and that you are aware that some gestures and behaviors may not be well seen. The only tourist destination that declares openly accept gays and lesbians is Santa Clara. There is celebrated in mid-May a carnival of gay pride and transsexual. If you stay with your same - sex partner in a private home, we recommend choosing accommodation "gay- friendly". A Mamos diversity and we asked our hosts if they allow gay couples stay in their homes. 80% of our houses, scattered throughout the island, are "gay - friendly".
Recommendations for vegetarian travelers
Cuba is not a country for vegetarians. A vegan or vegetarian will not die of starvation, but neither do they have much to choose from on the menu ...Although there is not a large variety of vegetables on the island, the abundance of tropical fruit in restaurants and markets can satisfy your desire to eat green. With regard to vegetarian dishes, the Moors and Christians (rice with black beans) are the signature dish. Because they prepare it very well and because it is practically the only vegetarian recipe typical of Cuba. It is advisable to locate some Agromercado (vegetable market) near your accommodation where you can buy fruit and vegetables. You can find hundreds of street stalls selling peanuts. And if you follow a ovo-milk diet, you will not have trouble finding eggs, although dairy products are not widespread. If your diet allows you to eat fish, you can enjoy many places that prepare good seafood dishes and fish.
Recommendations for passengers with reduced mobility
Having reduced mobility should not stop your desire to travel. Today there are more options and resources than ever, Cuba has always been one step ahead when it comes to recognizing the rights of persons with disabilities or reduced mobility. Nevertheless, Cuba is not an easy country to travel. Although there are several hotels adapted to passengers with reduced mobility they are less than desirable. In addition, adapted transportation (public or private) are almost nonexistent. Many of the streets of Havana are poorly paved and busy and in many neighborhoods, there are no sidewalks or are in very bad condition. This situation also extends to other cities. Cubans, however, are very considerate and give preferential treatment to people with disabilities. If you dare to travel to Cuba, my recommendation is that you try to stay at a high end hotel during your stay in Havana. If you plan to take a trip to a destination that does not have a lot of hotels, you should consider staying in a private home.
Is it advisable to bring Americans to Cuba dollars?
If you stay in a private home, you should know that the stays are paid in CUC and always in cash. I recommend that you avoid traveling with American dollars if you can travel with another currency such as euros, Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos, as the Cuban government applies an additional tax of 10% when switching from US dollars to CUCs in exchange offices , banks, hotels , ATMs and any other establishment that allows you to change American dollars CUCs .
Can I get in trouble if I stay in a house without a license?
Yes. And serious. Staying in an unauthorized house is considered a serious breach of the law. How are you illegal houses lack logbook of visitors, you can have problems leave Cuba if verified that there is no record of where you've been during your stay. Avoid illegal houses and stay only in those with distinctive blue Lessor currency.
What are the 10 essential rules to stay in a nice private house?
10 Golden Rules to stay in a nice private house in Cuba
1. Booking through a portal expert legal accommodation in Cuba as us.
2. Choose a home with good recommendations and distrusts the very low prices (less than 15-20 CUC a day in Havana? No better ...)
3. Be patient if the host or the person who communicates with you take or respond to your reservation requests. Currently, communications with Cuba via email are really complicated.
4. Reserve your stay in advance. Unlike hotels, which have dozens of rooms, your favorite home may have 1 or 2 bedrooms.
5. Find out or ask the owner for the important aspects for you: safe, air conditioning, private bathroom, accessibility (elevator that works in the building if the house is not a ground floor).
6. Contact Host about 10 days before the trip to let you know that your reservation is firm and should respect it. It is also a good time to arrange pick up from the airport with the owner.
7. It carries a cosmetic bag with everything you need to care for your hair and skin, oral and personal hygiene as well as a small kit (aspirin, Band-Aids, antacids, condoms).
8. It estimates that breakfast will cost about 3-5 CUC (not usually included in the price). Many houses also offer dinner.
9. Reserve cash to pay for your stay which can take place at check -in or check-out , depending on the house rules.
10. Make yourself at home: the hosts will respect your space and privacy. But you should not miss the opportunity to chat with them and through them discover the real Cuba.