LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: STAY IN A CASA PARTICULAR
Casas Particulares are basically rooms for rent in Cuban households. I recommend this option for those of you on a budget or travelling independently. It is a great way to see Cuba and their locals from a different and less censored perspective. If you are backpacking or planning on ‘going with the flow’ on your holiday you don’t even need to book your room. There are so many of them EVERYWHERE and they are easily distinguishable as they contain a symbol on their doors in blue with the sign “Arrendador Divisa.”
I wrote a whole post about this which you can read about here.
AVOID RENTING A CAR – STICK TO THE TAXIS
Renting a car in Havana is not recommended as street signs are sometimes nonexistent, roads hard to navigate and drivers dangerous. The taxi service is the most efficient means of transport through my eyes and if a price agreed on beforehand it is unlikely that the driver will prey on your vulnerability as a tourist. Many of the taxis are classic cars which is also quite exciting and different, making your journey a little more interesting.
ENROLL IN TRADITIONAL CUBAN SALSA CLASSES
One of the things that made my trip to Havana so great was the salsa class I attended in a Cuban’s home. The instructor was a former Tropicana dancer who was extremely patient and kind. If you ever read my first post about How to Experience Cuba you’ll know that this class is what changed my perspective on Cuba entirely and was the difference between my trip being utterly disappointing to extremely fulfilling.
USE THE LIMITED INTERNET AND SERVICE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Internet in Havana is not common and if you ask for the wifi password in a restaurant you will most likely find yourself looking at a confused face. Telephone boxes overcharge and as a consequence are expensive. Rather than obsessing over the fact that your friends at home aren’t going to know you’re alive or worrying over unread emails and being behind on gossip, use it to your advantage. How often is it that you find yourself completely off the radar – allowing yourself to contemplate life and appreciate your surroundings? Consider it therapeutic.
CURRENCY & ATMS
Cuba currently has two currencies: Cuban convertibles (CUC$) and pesos (MN$). Tourists usually use convertibles for accommodation, museum admission, taxis etc whereas pesos are usually used by locals. Prices are often listed in both convertibles and pesos depending on what part of the city you visit. One Cuban convertible sells at 25 pesos. The best thing to do in Cuba is arrive with a stash of cash to change there and have a credit card or debit card incase of an emergency. Most places in Cuba do not accept credit cards and only accept cash so its better to have cash on hand anyway. This has come first hand from locals and hotel workers as they have found it is often difficult to find ATMs and most of the time they will put a hefty commission.
If you’re interested in learning more about Havana I have a FREE GUIDE that is only accessible if you’re subscribed to my newsletter. You can do this here.