The country of Cuba is easily identifiable despite the fact that it is the 105th largest country in the world. Cuba has carved a path that differs from many other countries. Its fundamental appeal, vitality, and history provides visitors with many unique experiences. Guests of the Caribbean island may see communist militants smoking premium Cuban cigars, long lines outside food rationing shops, and men on the roadside playing games or banging drums.
Traveling to Cuba requires little more than a passport, cash, and a backpack. It is an easy country to roam with few boundary restrictions. If you speak Spanish, you will have an advantage, however, it is not a must. Touring Cuba with patience, a sense of humor, a flexible schedule, and an adventurous approach will bring you greater success than most tourists find. Since Raul Castro became president in 2008, Cubans are permitted access to tourist hotels and cellular phones. This allows for honest communication with the locals.
The best time to visit Cuba is between January and May. During this time, there are no hurricane threats, and it is pleasantly warm. Festivals take place throughout the entire year, but peak travel times are during Easter, Christmas, July, and August. Throughout July and August, most of Cuba becomes uncomfortably hot and crowded. You may also find that hotels are overbooked or atypically expensive during these times.
Cuba provides free health care and has superior doctors and medical facilities. While numerous types of medications are available, it is best to bring what you expect to need during your visit. Having insurance coverage is also a good idea. In tourist-filled areas, there are excellent clinics available to guests of the island. These clinics are equipped with the best supplies and English-speaking physicians. You may be charged a nominal fee for services. Free health care should be used as a last resort when there are no clinics nearby or pharmacies to buy.
There are two forms of currency used in Cuba. Cuban convertible pesos are used for virtually every tourist-based purchase on the island. Cuban pesos, which are also known as moneda nacional, can be used for street fair. Convertible pesos can be exchanged for Canadian dollars, British pounds, Swiss francs, euros, and US dollars. There is an 8% government fee added onto the normal global exchange rate for these currencies. In addition to the 8%, American dollars accrue an additional 10% in fees. If you are looking for you can simply use internet at any postal office in Havana.
Cuban convertible pesos are essentially unusable outside of Cuba. Prior to passing through the immigration check at the airport, you may do a reverse exchange of this currency. It is not recommended that you exchange currency with street vendors or other unreliable sources. You can access ATM machines throughout Cuba, however it is best to use them in larger areas like Havana.
You can use credit cards in Cuba, however, the 8% commission charge is placed on these as well. Visa is a commonly accepted and recognized credit card on the island. Using a credit card in more upscale resorts and hotels may be the least problematic option. Certain laws in Cuba prohibit the use of a credit card that has been issued by a United States bank or its affiliates.
You can use travelers checks in addition to credit cards, however, many hotels and businesses do not accept them. In most instances, they can take a long time to cash as well. Travelers checks also have additional commission fees, and they cannot be used in the provinces. If you wish to use travelers checks because of the extra security they provide, carry Thomas Cook checks.