Cuba Travel Information & Guide
Use our unique and in-depth Cuba Travel Guide to ensure are prepared for your getaway. From etiquette, to customs information, popular landmarks to emergency contacts, this guide includes all pertinent and interesting information for your Cuban getaway.
About Cuba: Cuba is the largest Caribbean island and also has several other islands to make up an archipelago. It is home to 11 million people and is also the most populated country in the Caribbean.
The western part of the main island is mostly flat with some hills while the southeast part holds the Sierra Maestra mountains. The climate is tropical like most other islands in the area. There is a drier season from November to April and a wet season from May to October. Due to its location Cuba is prone to hurricanes which occur usually in September and October.
Cuba has a socialist economy. Most of the labor force is employed by the government. Cuba's standard of living is very low with the average income ranking at about $20 USD per month.
Anthem: La Bayamesa (The Bayamo Song)
Time Zone: UTC -5
Languages: Spanish, Castillian
Power Outlets: 110V/60Hz or 220V/60Hz
Currency: Cuban peso (CUC)
Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted. American Express and any credit card issued in the United-States will not be accepted.
Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted.
Side of road to drive on: Right
: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS
- Passport must be valid for at least one month beyond your intended
departure from Cuba.
- Tourist card, usually provided when you arrive and is approximately $30.
- Return ticket home.
- Sufficient funds for your duration $50CUC per day.
- If travelling with children you will have to carry proof of your parental rights and identification for your children (birth certificate)
- You must present proof of health insurance, please verify with your insurance company that your policy is covered in Cuba, if not you will need purchase coverage there. It is best to consult with the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba prior to you traveling to Cuba as requirements may vary for different countries.
: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION
When arriving and when leaving the country the passenger cannot carry with
-Drugs, narcotics and psychotropic substances or hallucinogen, accept those of medical use accompanied by the corresponding physician prescription.
-Fire arms and ammunitions, unless when submitting the expressed authorization from the appropriate institution
-Obscene or pornographic literature, articles and objects, or those publications considered a threat to the general interests of the nation.
-Endangered species registered in the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in case of not submitting the permit issued by the appropriate authority (CITES permission)
Passengers importing to Cuba other articles in addition to their personal items must fill out the Customs Declaration providing all the information required in this document. If a passenger is carrying an amount in cash exceeding $5000.00 USD or the equivalent amount in other currencies when entering Cuba, the Customs Declaration must be filled out.
: : SALES TAX AND FEES
The sales tax can vary from 2.5 to 25% depending on the product purchased.
25$ CUC departure tax
: : MEDICAL INFORMATION
The emergency number in Cuba is 106 for the police and 105 for the firemen.
Cuba has long been a popular Medical Tourism destination for patients worldwide that seek high quality medical care at low costs. Cuba has the highest doctor to patient ratio in the world and hospitals here are abundant.
Bringing in prescriptions:
Medications should be kept in the original container and packed in carry-on luggage. As pharmacies sometimes run out of stock, visitors should also bring basic medicine, particularly if travelling to outlying areas.
The following vaccinations are recommended 4-8 weeks prior to travel to Cuba; Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus-diphtheria. For anyone travelling where they will be in contact with animals and bats the Rabies vaccination is highly recommended. Travelers should also be up to date with all routine vaccinations.
: : CRIME
Drugs, prostitution, and pornography are 3 things to avoid when visiting Cuba. Drug laws are enforced very strongly and the same can be said about prostitution. Cuba is considered to be one of the safest tourist destinations in Latin America, and violent crime is very low. Petty crime however is abundant due to the poor economic situation of its residents. Take precautions when visiting large crowded areas.
Accused of a Crime in Cuba:
If you get caught breaking the law in Cuba, expect to go to prison and serve your full sentence. Cubans have very strict laws especially concerning drugs, prostitution and pornography.
We urge travelers to keep in mind Cuba is a third-world country and going to prison there will be an extremely unpleasant experience.
Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime in Cuba you should contact the local police and your embassy and/or consulate for help. This includes the loss or theft of a passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local Cuban authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Traveling to Cuba with a Criminal Record:
Typically you should not have a problem traveling to Cuba with a criminal record especially if it has been pardoned. However do exercise caution while there and respect all their laws. It is always best to verify with the embassy/consulate prior to travel to avoid being denied entry.
: : TRANSPORTATION
Drivers should be cautious when renting a vehicle in Cuba. Although insurance is offered, coverage differs from that in other countries. If the traveler is in any way at fault in an accident, rental agencies will nullify coverage and seek damages to cover the cost of repairs. Contract agreements do not cover occasional drivers, and the signatory is responsible for all people driving the vehicle. Rental agencies are government-controlled and can prevent your departure from the country unless payment is obtained. Charges associated with accidents can range into the thousands of U.S. dollars.
Radio taxis are generally reliable. Unlicensed private taxis should be avoided. Yellow, three-wheeled Coco taxis are unsafe and should be avoided.
City buses are infrequent and overcrowded. The new viazul buses are modern and air conditioned but it is best to make a reservation the day before and to bring a sweater as they can get very chilly.
Drivers License Info:
To drive in Cuba, you must be 21 years or older and hold either an International Drivers' License (IDL) or a valid national driver's license. You must also have at least one year's driving experience.
: : CULTURAL INFORMATION
Motto: Patria o Muerte (Homeland or Death)
Wardrobe: Cubans are more informal when it comes to their wardrobe. Men will wear short-sleeved cotton shirts and pants. Men should however avoid wearing shorts unless on the beach. Women dress a little more modest and should keep that in mind when visiting religious sites.
Smoking: Smoking is banned in most public places but 30% of Cubans are smokers and you will find that if you are a smoker there will be places to accommodate you.
Etiquette: Cubans are very laid back and informal in their greetings. It is concerned respectful to learn basics in Spanish while visiting, for example; please and thank you. Otherwise there is no need to fret in Cuba. Keep in mind it is not socially acceptable for same sex couples to kiss while in Cuba.
Tipping: Most Cuban workers rely on their tips to survive so it is best to tip accordingly. 15% is acceptable for good service and 20% for excellent service. Gift-giving is also very big in Cuba as many workers lack basic essentials, it is considered very generous to leave your maid shampoos and other products and if staying in a private home leaving the family linen and children toys will be greatly appreciated.
: : POPULAR LANDMARKS
Che Guevara Monument
Cuba Capital Building
La Plaza de la Revolucion (The Revolution Square)
Castle of the Royal Force (Castillo de la Real Fuerza)
: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS
-Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.
-Take precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while travelling to avoid being a target of crime.
-Be cautious when taking a taxi and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.
-If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.
-Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.
-Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.
-Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.
-Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended