Essential Travel Information Before Going To CubaA beautiful country, rich with culture, historical significance and just a little controversy thrown in for good measure, Cuba has returned to be the tourism hotspot that it was pre-1959. While American travelers may have to be creative in order to revel in the pleasures of Cuba, the rest of the world is once again flocking to the country's gorgeous beaches and eye-pleasing landmarks.
In this age of eco-tourism, Cuba is also becoming one of the hottest destinations for vacations dedicated to learning about eco-systems and nature. The fact that much of the country is a beautiful expanse of rainforest makes Cuba a must-visit for anyone wishing for an educational and fun vacation. However, before you pack your bags and go, here is some essential travel information before traveling to Cuba.
Essential Suitcase Items Before Going to Cuba
To enjoy your Cuba vacation at its fullest, there are a few things you want to put in your suitcase. Of course, the sun can get quite intense in Cuba, so you are going to want to bring a quality sunscreen. A hat, sunglasses and lightweight, natural-fiber clothes are also important.
Since the best way to experience Cuba's cities is on foot, a very comfortable pair of shoes is necessary. The country’s primary language is Spanish, so a Spanish converting dictionary will definitely help.
Essential Information for Arriving and Departing Cuba
When you arrive in Cuba, you are required to have a tourist visa card, valid for at least six months beyond the time you are to return home. The tourist visa card is good for no longer than a 30-day visit, however, it is renewable one time for an additional 30 days. Canadians are allowed 90 days, with a one-time renewal for an additional 90 days. Upon arrival, the immigration and customs officer will want to see proof that you have legal housing already booked.
Whatever you do, be sure to save CUC 25 to pay your departure tax when leaving Cuba. If you do not have the money, it can cause problems. Payments are in cash, and there are no exceptions.
Traveling Around Cuba
Cuba's public transportation system is adequate, with the Viazul bus line as one of the country's best choices. Most of the buses are air-conditioned and comfortable. They get you where you need to go in a timely fashion.
Taxis can be much more expensive, but they can be a good idea for a quick jolt across town. The little motorcycle-type coco-taxis are especially fun rides.
Essential Cuban Currency Information
Cuba no longer accepts the U.S. dollar. Currently there are two types of currencies allowed: Cuban Pesos (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). Tourists will want to use CUP.
If you are an American traveling to Cuba, convert your American dollars to Canadian money before you catch your flight. It is near impossible to convert American money in Cuba, but Canadian money is not a problem. In addition, U.S. ATM and credit cards will not work in Cuba.
Information on Purchasing Cuban Cigars
Cuban cigars are some of the finest in the world. If you want to purchase some for the trip home, make sure that you shop at an approved store and receive the proper documentation to go with them. Of course, this is for all countries other than the U.S., where it is illegal to even smoke a Cuban cigar, let alone bring them into the country!
Always look for the origin warranty stamp of the Cuban government on the box of cigars. If it is not evident, odds are that the cigars are fakes. Additionally, never purchase cigars from street vendors, as they are always fakes -- no exceptions!
Essential Health Information for Traveling to Cuba
Visitors to Cuba should always drink bottled water and be careful about eating eggs or drinking milk, as both products are not pasteurized. It is also recommended to get a Tetanus and Hepatitis B vaccine before traveling to Cuba, simply because it is a tropical island.
Discover More About Cuba Online
Thanks to the Internet, travel information is instantly at your fingertips. To learn more about the essentials of Cuba travel, or to begin planning your visit, use the Internet to help get you started. Remember that the well-informed traveler has the best chance at having a wonderful vacation, especially in a country as wondrous as Cuba!