Cuba: Things you need to know

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Things to be aware of when you travel to Cuba

  • Airport. Be prepared to spend hours at the airport on arrival and departure. Especially in Havana. They can stop you and ask very detailed questions. I recommend to check in 3 hours before your flight from Cuba. Be sure to keep your part of the tourist card!
  • Eat breakfast at the Casa Particular – it is not easy to find breakfast in Cuba especially not before 9 am, except at hotels. Breakfast at casa particular will be around 5 CUC per person.
  • Long Lines: Be prepared for waiting a looong time in lines at banks and CADECA to exchange money. Remember to bring your passport for exchanging money.
  • Bathroom: Don’t be surprised that you need to pay a few cents to go to the toilet, even inside restaurants.
  • Don’t Drink the Water. Similar to travel throughout other Caribbean or Latin American countries, it’s best to drink only bottled water.
  • Carry On Your Luggage. If you can, carry on your luggage. It is very common for the airlines destined for Cuba to lose luggage.
  • Taxi Colectivo is a taxi which is usually a modern car and you share it with people that are going the same way.


  • Cuba Junky

A brilliant blog, which tells you a lot about the country. Visit Cuba Junky for details.

This is like Google Maps just offline.
Download the Map.Me and type in Cuba and make sure to download the map before you go! This makes you be able to zoom in where you are and find the destination you need.  We also used this while a taxi driver didn’t know the direction, so it is pretty helpful when Google Maps is not available.


We will then pick those up at the boarding gate, buy in bulk from embassy in NY. call our name at the boarding gate $50 each. confirmation will be emailed.

Some things to note: bring a pen, make sure we write the date correctly (they write is backwards from us). We have to make sure this is correct bc if there are any discrepancies we will have to buy another visa at the gate for another $50 and do it over again.
FYI Visa is good for: 30 days.

 Our budget

Click here for the spreadsheet of our expenses. 


  • Cuba has two currencies:
    1. CUC (Cuban convertible peso or ‘Cuban dollar’) aligned to USD which tourists must use, and
    2. CUP (Cuban national peso) worth around 1 CUC = 22 CUP.
  • Don’t bring US dollars to Cuba it is a total 13% tax and penalty to exchange that. Euro or Canadian dollars have a better rate.
  • Cash is king, cards won’t work
  • You only need CUC.

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  • Purchase Medical Insurance: Cuba requires us to purchase medical insurance. I called Delta and they let me know that was covered in the price of our ticket for $25. The Delta rep sent us all an individual itemized tickets in an email so we need to all print those to show proof that we have paid that fee.

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What to print

  • bring a black ink pen
  • Black sharpe
  • Flight tickets,
  • accommodation,
  • transport, and
  • travel insurance paper.
  • Copies of your passport. You can keep a paper copy on your or on your phone

To Take

  • toiletry bags
  • lotions
  • cotton candy
  • candy


Coco taxis – you’ll see these around town, they are basically little motorcylces with what look like fiberglass helmets attached. I freakin loved riding around in them, impossible not to laugh and smile. Definitely more expensive than other modes of transportation, we usually ended up paying ~10 USD for a ride, or more.


What you can take and bring back

See this page. 


I always register with the US embasy before I travel, click here to do so