Cuba Don’ts

  • Do not drink tap water though it is drinkable. Drink bottled water to avoid tropical illnesses.
  • Do not carry excessive amounts of cash. Bag snatching and pickpockets are common, especially in the area of Old Havana.
  • Do not get involved with drugs. Penalties are very severe in Cuban law. Do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
  • Do not bring credit cards or traveller’s cheques from American-based banks, including AMEX, which are not accepted in Cuba. Visa, Mastercard, Cabel and Visa Electron are all accepted credit cards.
  • Do not take photographs/videos of military or police personnel or installations. You may well be arrested for spying.
  • Do not draw attention to yourself as a tourist, especially if you are with Cuban friends of the opposite sex as the police will be quick to ask your friends for identification.
  • Do not take urban transportation, such as the “camel” as they are always crowded and unreliable. Cuba has an excellent taxi services as well as car, van and motorcycle rentals.
  • Do not travel alone at night. Do not stay out late at night in unfamiliar parts of town or in areas of Old Havana.
  • Do not spit and blow your nose in public.
  • Do not littering which is against the law.
  • Do not speak anything against the government.

 

Cuba Do’s

  • Do learn a few Spanish which is official language in Cuba.
  • Do shake hands upon greeting someone and farewelling. It is common to greet friends and family with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Informalities like addressing a stranger with ‘mi corazón’ (my heart), ‘mi vida’ (my life), or ‘cariño’ (dear) are common.
  • Do bring sunglasses, hats and enough sunscreen. Sun in Cuba is quite hot and the ultraviolet rays can burn you.
  • Do dress casual. Cuba is a warm, tropical island, so cotton and other light fabrics and flat comfortable shoes are ideal for outdoor activities. Shorts are not needed.
  • Do wash your hands before eating especially after being on the beach to prevent sickness and flu bugs.
  • Do make sure you have medical insurance cover before travelling. And do bring some anti-diarrhea medicines and antibiotics.
  • Do take good care of your wallet and passport in crowded places; keep them in your front pocket, and leave valuables, important documents and the money in the hotel safe. Keep a photocopy of your main passport page.
  • Do watch out for money exchangers, count your change, short giving is a plague in Cuba. Only exchange in official places such as hotel, bank or Cadeca (official Governmental exchange bureau).
  • Do take the necessary adapters/converters for any appliances you bring, and enough batteries and a charger for your camera/recorder. Cuba’s electricity is 110 volts, 60Hz, but most hotels and resorts have 220 volts. Electrical outlets take flat plug prongs.
  • Do be aware of customs restrictions of Cuba. Check Cuban customs website: www.aduana.co.cu for restricted items.
  • Do take extra care when driving in Cuba. Traffic accidents that result in the injury or death of third parties are treated as a crime. You are unlikely to be allowed to return home until you have been cleared by police investigation, a process that may take several months.
  • Do beware of those offering an unsolicited and unofficial guide service, they may be part of a team of thieves preying on tourists.
  • Do bring enough funds for your stay and your return journey. Obtaining additional funds through local banking channels can be frustrating, difficult, and not always successful.
  • Do make sure to save $25 CUC (Cuban Convertible pesos) in cash for your departure tax at the airport. The tax of 25 CUC for all visitors, including infants on departure must be paid in cash.
  • Do aware that homosexuality is frowned upon by Cuban society and law enforcement agencies. However, violence towards homosexuals is null.