TRAVELING WITH ANYWHERE
As a travel agency, our goal is to customize an experience that matches
your interests and aligns with your expectations. We have arranged
thousands of trips in many different countries and take pride in our
ability to thoroughly know our clients and plan enjoyable, stress-free
trips. We believe good planning and organization an important aspect
to getting the most out of a trip to Cuba. With that said, there are some
Vacation Planner, Anywhere Cuba
things we want everyone to know about Cuba. Having an accurate
understanding of what to expect in Cuba will help to ensure that you
+1-888-456-3212 ext. 701
have a pleasant and smooth trip.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Cuba is an extremely safe country. Nearly every Cuban is friendly and
welcoming. Taxi drivers might offer you to have a coffee at their house, and
people you meet throughout your visit will engage with you and want to share
their time. However, there are some Cubans that earn a living by hustling
visitors on the street. They might sell cigars, usher you into their restaurant, sell
souvenirs, or offer tours. They may come across as sincere and genuine, but
ultimately they will want something from you — maybe a drink at a bar, or a tip
for the information they offered. In some cases they can be helpful, but at other
times the experience can be rather off-putting.
Petty theft is likely to occur when opportunities present themselves. Keep cash
in your wallet, and your wallet in your pocket or a closed purse. Don’t leave
items unattended in restaurants or forget them in taxis. Most Cubans would
not steal your possessions, and if you left them behind they would attempt to
The entrepreneurial spirit has been
alive and well in Cuba for years.
However, much of it has been “on the
left” or outside of the “legal system.”
Many Cubans have had to hustle to put
food on the table for their family and
there have been many lean years here.
Recent changes have created a legal
framework for some businesses to be sanctioned by the state.
However, this is still very new and many Cubans are nervous that these
changes will not be permanent.
Nearly all Cubans enjoy a light discussion of politics, but it is important to allow them to initiate the
discussion. Many Cubans are aware that they have paid a dear price for living under a government
that has neglected investment in the country and limited development for most of its citizens.
However, the issue is nuanced and it is important to not project a value system upon Cubans when
you have not experienced what they have been through. Although many people will tell you what
their experience has been like and share their opinions, hopes and dreams for the future, they will
often stop short of direct criticism of the government and of Cuba’s political system. It is important
to be respectful while traveling in Cuba. A good rule of thumb is to listen more than you talk if
politics comes up.
ARRIVAL TO CUBA
As airlines continue to expand flight options to Cuba it will gradually get
easier to coordinate travel. Direct flights arrive to Cuba from Mexico,
Canada, The Bahamas, Miami, New York, Germany, England and
dozens of other countries. Before you will be allowed to board
your plane you will need to purchase a Visa for around $30.
Cuban customs requires a fairly standard amount of paperwork and
declarations, and your airline will provide you with all the necessary
We recommend that you try to avoid checking bags on your flight to Cuba. It is
common to wait more than 1 hour for bags to arrive in the baggage claim area —
if it shows up at all. If your bag does not arrive in Havana it is unlikely you will see it
for the rest of your trip.
We will have a driver waiting for you at the arrivals terminal holding a sign with your name on it. If your
arrival is in the afternoon, we recommend getting picked up in a classic car and taking a cruise through Old
Havana and having a beverage before being dropped off at your hotel or casa particular. We can also
arrange for you to be picked up in a normal car.
Most Cubans earn a very basic salary of approximately $25 per month, while doctors, lawyers and
scientists make around $50 per month. Therefore many extremely over qualified Cubans seek to
work in the service economy so they have the opportunity to earn tips. Your taxi driver might be
a chemical engineer or a history professor and driving a visitors around is their best opportunity
to provide for their family. They depend on earning tips to supplement their very low salary, and
your generosity is greatly appreciated.
However, at many government restaurants (about 95 percent) chances are you will not get
very good service. The years of being poorly compensated have reduced motivation.
When you tip, keep in mind that you are most likely providing much-needed funds to an
Many tour guides and drivers also earn most of their income from tips. It’s common for drivers
to not own their vehicles, so earning a tip often generates most of their compensation. A good
rule of thumb for tipping is 10-15 percent, and if you get really good service you should give more.
Many Cubans are aware that they have paid a dear price for living under a government that has
neglected investment in the country and limited development for most of its citizens, but they
have also suffered the consequences of more than 50 years of US embargo.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN CUBA
Casa particulares are apartments and rooms owned by Cubans that are available for travelers to rent.
The owners generally live next door or in the same building. They are often are quite spacious, and may
range widely in terms of comfort and amenities. Most rooms have
private bathrooms, and many include a TV, mini-fridge, and fan and/or air
conditioner. Often the decorations are dated, simply because it is hard to
get nice furniture in Cuba. The beds and pillows are basic, with mattresses
that range from firm to a dense foam. They are all sleep-able, but do not
expect a modern pillow-top luxurious bed in casa particular. The beds
tend to be singles, but some rooms may have double or queen-size beds
All hotels in Cuba are owned by the government, although some are operated by a 3rd party or foreign
business. The hotels may lack regular maintenance. A significant percentage of the rooms are often unusable
—for example, even though there might be 200 rooms in a hotel, only 30 percent are in a condition that can
be rented to travelers. The U.S. has discouraged people from staying in hotels and has tried to push visitors
to stay in casa particulares. This helps provide Cubans with income and supports the emerging private
TELECOMMUNICATIONS & INTERNET IN CUBA
Currently it is expensive to communicate and connect in Cuba. It costs $0.39/minute to
make a cell phone call and between $2-4/hour to use the internet. Our excellent planning
services eliminates the need to communicate excessively with our team in Cuba. However,
we will give each client a cell phone and a phone number that they can share with their
friends and family in case they need to be reached. The phone also allows our clients to
communicate with our team on the ground, and will come stocked with $10 worth of credits.
We will also provide a single 1-hour internet card per person. This is just a small way to reduce
one source of stress and frustration while traveling in Cuba.
If you want to get online, it’s best to do so at a hotel. Nicer hotels usually have Wi-Fi that both guests and
non-guests can access, as well as computers that are available for use. Aside from hotels, travelers can use
internet at state-run ETECSA offices and at public WiFi spots. These offices may have long lines, especially in
The currency in Cuba is the CUC.
Officially it’s tied to the dollar, but in reality
$1 USD will buy you about 0.87 CUC. In Cuba,
lines for money exchange, ATMs and banks
can be frustratingly long and stressful. If you
are coming from the U.S., or rely on the U.S.
banking system, bring cash (USD & Euros
preferred) to exchange upon arrival in Cuba.
We reduce the burden of our clients needing
cash by pre-arranging and paying for many
services in advance—that way, you won’t need to wait in line to get money
as often. We can also help you estimate how much cash you should have in
order to pay for meals and other common travel expenses.
The tap water in Cuba is not drinkable, but it is safe for showers and tooth brushing. Most Cubans
boil their water at home because bottled water is quite expensive—generally, water costs about
$1 for 0.5 L and $3 for 1.5 L. Water is, however, more expensive at restaurants. The stores are
sparse and can run out of water. If you plan to rent a car and drive in Cuba, it’s a good idea to stock
up on water before you hit the road. You don’t want to run out of water in a rural area. We require
each casa particular owner to have one 1.5 L of bottled water in the fridge for our guests. They will
also sell you additional water as needed. Alternatively bringing a water bottle and SteriPen will give
you the most reliable access to purified water. http://www.steripen.com/Aqua
EATING IN CUBA
Many of the restaurants in Old Havana are owned by the
state. These restaurants are generally clean, but all offer
variations of the same
basic menu. At these
restaurants, the service
tends to be slow and the
food mediocre. You will
street food while walking
around, and unlike some
places, we do not
recommend trying it. It is very easy to get sick from
food in Cuba and street food presents an unfortunate
risk to travelers. Bringing along Pepto-Bismol and other
antacids can help protect the stomach from discomfort.
Cuba’s private restaurants, known as paladares, are
sprinkled around the city in converted apartments and
houses. The service at these privately-owned restaurants
is typically much better, the menu more diverse, and the
setting more interesting than the state-owned restaurants.
Many of the best paladares do, however, require
reservations—we can make these for you when needed.
VEGETARIANS & VEGANS
Cuba is not particularly vegetarian or vegan friendly. Nearly every standard dish is
served with a meat or dairy product. However, we have made arrangements with
owners of casas particulares and paladares that can accommodate all dietary
requirements. With a little bit of planning and coordination we can easily
accommodate dietary restrictions.
Finding a convenient store to walk in and find everything you need and discovery
many others that you want is just not a reality in Cuba. The stores are government
operated and have a very limited selection when compared to almost anywhere else
in the world. Basic staples like rice, beans, canned food, oil, frozen meat, juice, soda,
alcohol and sometimes eggs are available. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables can be
pretty hard depending on where you find yourself. Some neighborhoods get deliveries
and have an open market with potatoes, melons, pineapples, onions and whatever
might have been delivered that day.
There is lots of talk about Cuba's medical system. Healthcare is free for all Cuban
citizens and there are more doctors per capita than in most countries in the
world. The public hospitals, however, are not in very good condition. Should you
get sick or injured during your trip you will be brought to a private hospital
intended for foreigners. The treatment you receive will be top notch and
inexpensive compared to most places in the world. For example, a consultation
with the doctor, blood tests, an antibiotic shot, and prescription medication will
take about an hour and set you back about $75. The facilities are clean, but are
not cutting edge or modern. The medical personnel is very capable and
There is no smoking ban in Cuba, so it’s very likely that you will be around people smoking cigarettes or cigars – this
is Cuba, after all! Not all restaurants allow smoking, and generally if you are indoors you will not encounter smoke.
However, if you are on a patio or balcony you are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Travelers with
children will want to take this into consideration when planning a trip.
THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF HAVANA
Old Havana is beautiful and is studded with plazas, churches, and art deco buildings. It is
one of the primary attractions in all of Cuba, and has received a significant amount of
investment over the years. That said, the streets can smell, it can be crowded, and some
buildings are in poor condition. Even so, staying in this area is ideal if you want to be in the
heart of Havana. It’s a great place to stroll through the streets and soak up Cuban culture.
Vedado is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Havana. About 2.5 miles (4 km) from Old
Havana, Vedado is much quieter and the casa particulares are more spacious. This
neighborhood is where many of Havana’s middle and upper class families live. The treelined
streets are home to an interesting mix of mansions, foreign consulates, and rundown
Centro Havana is the closest neighborhood to Old Havana. This neighborhood does sport
some good casa particulares, but it’s mainly recommended for more adventurous visitors. It’s
completely safe here, but it may be outside the comfort zone for many travelers as far as
noise, smells and decaying infrastructure go. Still, it is within walking distance to Old
Havana, is right alongside the Malecon, and may be a good option for some travelers.
Classic cars are classic, but the tradeoff is that the exhaust can be suffocating and the engine loud. Non-classic cars are
generally in pretty rough shape as well. Due to a very limited supply, cars are extremely expensive in Cuba. Russian cars from
the 80s and 90s that might fetch $500 in other parts of the world are worth more than $10,000 here. Due to the high cost of
cars and fuel, the price of transportation is also frustratingly expensive in Cuba. Taxis may charge $15 to go a few miles and it
can be hard to negotiate cheaper rates. What’s more, renting a car can set you back hundreds - and sometimes thousands -
Throughout Cuba, particularly in Old Havana, you will find lots of short-distance transportation options. There are bike taxis,
horse-drawn carriages, and the adorable Taxi Coco, which is a micro-taxi shaped like a coconut. After hours of sightseeing
and being on your feet, jumping into one of the micro-transport options is convenient and affordable. Tip your driver for
their effort and you will help sustain these friendly ambassadors for Cuba.
PLAN YOUR VISIT