Just a few Cuba tips that will help travelers visiting the country:
ATM machines are available within the city. Any non-American bank card should work. Limits depend on your bank. You will be charged in dollars with conversion fees of about 4% (to get 100 CUC you would be charged 104 USD) apart from any bank fees you might incur.
Credit card machines are almost non existent in Cuba. Be prepared to pay everything in cash within the country. Another option for cash is what they call POS. With this option, you can swipe your card at the bank and they will give you cash in return. A 4% fee is applied to any amount. Not all banks provide this option so do check with them before waiting in line (lines can be very long at Cuban banks). Make sure you have your passport on you as this is the only form of identification they accept to perform this transaction.
Currency exchange can be done at the bank as well. We suggest you avoid exchanging at the airport as it is more expensive than in the city. You might be asked to show some ID. The best currency to exchange is Canadian Dollars and EURO.
There are 2 currencies in Cuba, CUC (Cuban Convertibles) and CUP (Cuban Pesos). CUC is for tourists and most tourist restaurants, hotels, shops ,etc.. deal in that currency. You will find shops selling in CUP in mostly residential neighborhoods or shops targeting locals. 1 CUC is equivalent to 1$ or 24 CUP.
Move Within the City
Collectivo Taxis are a great way to get around the city. You share a taxi with other people going in the same direction and only pay 1 CUC per person. Just hail a cab and give him your destination and he’ll let you know if you can hop on or not.
Bus tickets can be a tedious task. Although the website says that you can book online, you in fact cannot. We recommend that you buy bus tickets from the Viazul (bus station) in whichever city you are in a few days in advance. A ticket from Havana to Trinidad costs 25 CUC. Another thing you can do is go to the bus station early in the day and try to find a collective heading there. It will cost about 8 CUC more but you will be dropped off at your casa.
Wifi is not available easily and there is no mobile data provided by any Cuban telecom company. There are certain wifi spots around the city where you can connect to within the city. Most major hotels also provide a wifi hot spot in their lobbies. To connect, you need to buy an internet card from Nauta which give you access for an hour each. If you buy it directly from the telecom store you can get it at the price of 1.5 CUC, however, these are very hard to find and you are better off buying it from resellers at the wifi spots. They are sold at 3 CUC. In Trinidad, there is an “ETECSA” store at the plaza square where you can buy it at the original price.
Phone lines are available at about 70 USD. A pretty steep provided there is no mobile data services.
Make sure to try our favorite tour in Trinidad, Cuba: the Horse Riding and Waterfall Food Tour for a new and adventurous experience.
Contributer: Mary Freij – @maryfreij
Please note that this information is provided to the best of our knowledge as of Feb 16, 2017.
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