VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE:
To visit Cuba, you need to have a Visa and a Health Insurance plan that covers the entire stay.
You can obtain the visa at the Cuban Embassy in the country from which you are traveling or process it with some authorized airlines.
You can obtain Medical Insurance from your provider or, upon arrival at the airport in Cuba, you can pay for a health policy. Before the pandemic, the cost ranged from $ 2.50-3.00 USD per day. At this moment, it´s required to show a COVID vaccination card and a negative PCR test valid for 72 hours upon arrival.
Face masks are not mandatory anymore in open areas but still inside government places such as museums, markets or hotels wearing face masks is mandatory for everyone, therefore you must bring one with you all the time. It´s also a way to show respect for Cuban people who have suffered all sorts of sad situations during the pandemic and don´t have the possibilitiy of finding the necessary medication or keeping themselves well-fed and with a stronger immunity system. Most of the population in Cuba have been vaccinated against COVID, but there is still a lot of fear that the collapase of the Healthcare institutions could be repeated.
MiCubaOnline does not manage Visas or Medical Insurance but we can help you with more information if you need it.
The official currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso, CUP. The official conversion against the USD so far is set at 1.00 USD = 24.50 CUP.
This conversion has been recently established by the Cuban State, in January 2021 and may vary as the global and local situation returns to normal after the pandemic, so it will be updated if necessary.
Currency exchange is done at the different State banks: Metropolitano, BANDEC or BFI, and at the exchange houses: CADECA. You can also withdrauw money form the ATM´s all over Cuba. In all cases, tou will only get the CUP, Cuban Pesos. IT´S NOT POSSIBLE TO GET FOREIGNER CURRENCY, ONLY PESOS.
Outside of state offices, Cubans offer a better rate. Our recommendation if you decide on this option, is to do it directly only with the owners of your accommodation, MiCubaOnline guides and drivers and never with strangers on the street. At the moment, most private restaurants, homestays and other private service providers take the foreigner currency such as USD, Euro or British Pounds for 50.00 CUP to one. Some restaurants have a second menu in foreigner currency, others show the total amount of the service in sevral currencies on the bill. We highly recomend to keep some cash in your currency to do paymentes in the private sector since you get a much better deal.
Exchange some amount into Cuban Pesos for the payment of State services such as the Internet, museums, markets and shops; for this, you HAVE to use the Cuban Peso CUP.
The media are all state-owned: radio, television, newspapers, telephone service and internet are only possible with state providers in Cuban Pesos. With the development of the internet in recent years and access to 4G technology, Cubans have developed dissimilar software and platforms to advertise their private businesses and attract local and foreign customers.
For this we depend on ETECSA, the only telephone company in Cuba, responsible for fixed, cellular and WiFi telephony.
WiFi service is not available everywhere, only in some rental houses, parks, state hotels or private cafeterias.
For foreign visitors, it is most convenient to buy a WiFi card and use it in a WiFi zone.
It is not possible to buy a SIM card, just rent it for 75.00 CUP per day, about 3.00 USD, and then recharge it with enough balance to buy 4G packages, for which you will need help from a local due to the complexity of the system.
Always ask at your accommodation or MiCubaOnline team about the options available and how to obtain the service.
Currently, due to the situation of the pandemic, we have a serious shortages in the markets in CUP, especially those in which cleaning products and canned food are sold. The fruit and vegetable markets do have a wide offer and are all open every day. In the informal market and private cafes, you can find almost everything but at triple of the price, which is sometimes convenient to avoid the endless lines.
The government recently opened a parallel option to the markets in CUP: the markets in MLC or Freely Convertible Currency. In these markets you pay only with foreign currency (USD, BP, €, MXP, etc.) and with a credit or debit card, they DO NOT accept cash and the queues are also endless. We assume that when international tourism increases, tourists with their passport will have priority in these markets as they do not have the time necessary for these queues.
However it works, we will update it in due course.
Usually there are not big restrictions on taking photos. In the case of people, it is always better to ask for their permission and have some money on hand, the equivalent of 1.00 or 2.00 USD. Even when they do not represent characters, some take advantage of the moment to make extra money.
Due to the recent access to the Internet of the Cuban people, many have used social networks to expose the Cuban reality, criticize the government and even make fun of the leaders or their decisions with memes. Therefore, queues, schools, and hospitals are very sensitive places where you must exercise extreme care and respect when using your camera.
Tips are not mandatory in Cuba but they are highly valued and accepted depending on the service provided. To give you an idea in USD:
OK — 1.00-5.00
Good — 5.00-10.00
Very good — 10.00-20.00
If you have several services with the same guide, driver or another, you can consider a daily tip of between 10.00 and 20.00 USD depending on the type of service.
From the conquest of the Spanish until the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, the official religion of Cuba was Catholic. The black slaves were allowed to practice their ceremonies in a limited way, which led them to mix both beliefs to some extent, giving rise to a great process of syncretization. There were also innumerable Protestant churches, Masonic Lodges and fraternities.
With the development of Socialism in the country starting in the 1960s, all kinds of religion, brotherhood or fraternity were restricted and many people abandoned their faith for fear of the consequences.
Since the end of the 80s and with the economic crisis of the 90s, the immense material and spiritual need of the people made religion occupy an important place in society, and the government welcome the first Pope who visited Cuba: John Paul II in 1998, as well as Benedict XVI in 2013 and Francis I in 2016.
The Catholic and Protestant churches have recovered many of their faithful and in the same way, there has been an increase in followers of the Afro-Cuban religion: Santeria, as well as in the Masonic Lodges and all sort of Christian home churches.
In Cuba we say we all believe in something, but we are not exactly religious.
Access to places for people with reduced mobility is very scarce in Cuba, especially for wheelchairs. We have houses enabled for these cases but there are not many. The same happens for some restaurants, hotels, and even banks. It is important that you inform MiCubaOnline before reserving any service, if you are a person with any type of physical motor limitation or if you travel with someone who needs these requirements. It is a very important detail to take into account.
How to help the Cuban people has always been a question our clients make. The most simple way is to bring extra toiletries and medication with you. But anything is very welcome!
School materials, candies, make-up, nail polish, and even the toiletries samples of the hotels. Regarding medication, all sort of antinflmmatories in pills or cream, vitamins, antibiotics, atiallergy…
MiCubaOnline team is also committed to help some animal protection projects in Cuba; animal lovers have transformed their homes into dogs and cats shelters since the Government facilities of this kind doesn’t exist. Therefore, these exceptional persons are also needing of many basics for this purpose. Even expired medication is useful!
If you are on the willing of donating anything, just contact us for extra info. Thank you very much in advance for your generosity.