Some American phone companies like Verizon and AT&T, now offer service in Cuba. Check with your phone company about their service and rates. You can call the U.S. from a hotel for around $2 per minute. There is internet service at all major hotels and at several hot spots around town. Consider installing WhatsApp on your phone before you depart for your trip so you can communicate directly with family members when you are online in Cuba.
Most outlets in private houses and hotels are 110v like we use here in the U.S. but European hotels like the Meliá brand, and a few others would require a converter for hairdryers and shavers. All computers and phones have international chargers that can be plugged into with 110v or 220v.
Traditional Cuban food is rice and black beans, with meat, fish, or chicken, and salad. They also often serve a vianda, starchy food like plantains, boniato (white sweet potato), or yucca. Over the last 5 years there has been a culinary renaissance and you can find many new privately owned restaurants with vibrant and delicious menus prepared by excellent chefs.
Cuba is one of the safest places in the world. Crime rates are low and violent incidences are rare. However, petty theft, like camera and purse snatching, is on the rise. Keep an eye on your things when you are out and consider leaving extra cash and valuables in your casa or hotel room.
Gifts and Donations
Many travelers wonder what they can bring to contribute. Here are a few suggestions: aspirin, ibuprofen, cold and flu medicine, and vitamins for adults and children; also books in Spanish (including kids books), toothbrushes, sunglasses, deodorant, tampons, AA batteries, disposable razors, perfumes, nail polish, hair accessories, baseball caps, T-shirts, and backpacks. For musicians and dancers, consider bringing things like tights, dance shoes, drum sticks, and reeds for woodwind instruments.
Money in Cuba
Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC/Chavitos):
You will need to bring all of your spending money in cash and exchange it for Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) upon arrival. Purchases in Cuban stores, restaurants and hotels can only be made with CUC. You will lose 13% in the exchange, so if you change $100 USD, you’ll receive $87 CUC.
We suggest at least a 10% tip for meals in restaurants and paladars. Tip the taxi drivers about $1-2 CUC per ride.
On our programs, we encourage a group tip donation which gets distributed among many Cuban people who work hard to make this trip special, including your tour guide and bus driver, hotel front desk and kitchen staff, people who work at the music school, and others that are behind the scenes at group events. We suggest $25CUC per person per week.
You can bring back art, musical instruments, souvenirs, and consumer goods, including tobacco and alcohol for personal use. There are general restrictions on the amount of alcohol and tobacco Americans can bring into the U.S. and those guidelines also apply for travel to Cuba.
No inoculations are required for travel to Cuba.There are excellent hospitals for foreigners. All flights from the U.S. include Cuba’s obligatory medical insurance. This covers medical treatments, hospitalization, doctor visits, and medicine up to $7,000.
When traveling for a PlazaCUBA tour, you will be met at the airport and receive a transfer to the hotel. We will also provide ground transportation for scheduled group activities and excursions. Details about included transportation will appear on the itinerary. To attend activities not listed as included on the itinerary, plan to take a taxi. Travelers are departing on many different flights, we ask you to plan to take a taxi to the airport at the end of the tour.
Most Cubans drink tap water, but we recommend that you drink bottled water because unfamiliar bacteria can cause stomach problems for travelers. It can be purchased in stores much cheaper than in the hotels.
In Spring, the weather is usually warm with temperatures ranging in the 70’s and 80’s, but there can still be an occasional cold front getting into the low 60’s or even cooler. Summer temperatures are in the low 90’s with high humidity and this is the rainy season with frequent afternoon showers. Winter weather is usually in the 70’s during the day and 60’s at night, but frequent cold fronts can bring in chillier temperatures in the 50’s, but with little rain.