6 things to know before you go to Cuba
- Australians need a visa — known as a tourist card — to enter Cuba. It’s possible to obtain the visa at check-in at most airport departure points for Cuba in exchange for US$15.
- The smartraveller.gov.au website advises exercising a normal degree of safety precaution in Cuba. Most Cuban people you’ll meet will be friendly and welcoming, however, don’t be surprised if strangers ask you for spare pesos, candy and soap. There is widespread poverty and imported items are coveted.
- Spanish is the official language, and the local dialect is known as Cuban Spanish. While English is widely spoken, it’s a good idea to brush up on your Spanish basics before you go.
- Wi-Fi is hard to find, and internet cafés in general are scarce, often with slow connections and usually expensive.
- Don’t rely on using your credit card in Cuba: this is a cash economy and most businesses do not accept credit cards. It can also be difficult to withdraw cash from ATMs, so it’s essential to take as much cash with you as you’ll need. Cuba is not a cheap destination: arriving with prepaid hotels and flights, we brought with us US$1000 per person and spent it all in a week. Save $25 for the departure tax.
- It’s better to bring euros. Travellers must change their currency to CUCs (the Cuban convertible peso) and are charged a 3% fee to do so. However, those converting from US dollars are whacked with an additional 10% tax. Australian dollars are accepted at some, but not all, currency exchange vendors.
Click here to read about our trip to Cuba
Accommodation www.hotel-saratoga.com & www.habaguanexhotels.com
Air Canada flies from Sydney to Havana via Vancouver and Toronto. www.aircanada.com
LAN flies to Havana from Sydney via Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru. www.lan.com