If you are planning on embarking a journey to the unique and exotic land of Cuba, you may well be aware of the cost it will take to gallivant through the vibrant and historic island. It is unlike any other country, and although one might think of Cuba as a cheap one, you will be astounded to know that IT’s NOT!
Cuba is a communist government controlled state, and until recently the reins of all the businesses were in the hands of the government because of which there was no difference in classes, there was neither upper class nor lower class.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t make it any less interesting. Cuba has a mystique air about it. From its pristine white beaches to the colonial building of Santiago de Cuba, it’s a place that needs to be explored before it loses its charm and ends up like any of the Western countries.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
You may well be at ease knowing that you can swipe your card and save yourself the hassle of carrying money, but bad news! Cuba is a cash-oriented society for both visitors and locals alike. Few of the major hotels and upmarket stores might accept cards but do not depend on the idea. Better to be cautious than to bear the consequences. Even if you are allowed to make use of your cards, it comes with a list of restrictions. Any card issued by US Bank or having any link with US based companies would not be entertained. Secondly, there are several conflicting reports on which kind of cards might or might not be accepted. So before you leave for your trip, contact your bank to ensure whether the card works in Cuba or not.
Since ATM’s are rare in Cuba, you must carry enough money to get you through three, four days before you can find out your nearest ATM.
Trying changing your money into Canadian dollar, Europian Union Euros, English pounds or even Mexican pesos. Cuba has a closed currency so you can not acquire the local currency before you arrive. Once you reach the airport, it’s better to change your non-US dollars or withdraw cash there as the presence of a machine is guaranteed at the airport.
UNDERSTANDING CUBAN CURRENCY
The foremost thing to do is to understand the Cuban Currency
1 CUBAN CONVERTIBLE PESO (CUC) = 1 US DOLLAR
25 NATIONAL PESOS (CUP) = 1 CUBAN CONVERTIBLE PESO
The locals use the national peso (CUP), and it is what they are paid in but, foreigners too can use it. You can buy any essential items using the national peso. You can buy the following items by using this:
Rides in the local inter-city buses
Fruits and vegetables
Rides in a shared taxis
Groceries and juices
The Convertible Peso is the currency you will be mostly spending. It is used for all the luxury items. For a Cuban earning CUC is ideal. This currency is mostly handled by those in the tourist industry. With a CUC you can pay for:
Meals at the restaurants
eers and Cocktails
Hotels and Casa Particulares
Anything you want
Since both the currency look similar understanding of the two is necessary to save yourself from being duped.
HOW MUCH WILL CUBA COST?
A total breakdown of how much you will be spending in Cuba is given here. But then again you get to choose your way of travel either you could save from the amount you had planned to spend or you could end up running out of your savings.
$20 – $30 per night if you are staying in a Casa Particular although Solo travelers can get a discount or might have to pay more in some Casas.
A hotel can charge you from $25 – $180 per night for a room.
The best way to get the most of any trip is to blend with the locals. Staying in Casa Particulares is not only cheaper but also you get to know more about the lives of the people and hence the actual essence of the island. Also, the food provided in a Casa Particular is delicious.
Book your Cuba’s beforehand since once you reach Cuba finding the internet would be distressing and even if you manage to find it bring in something to pass your time while standing in a long queue.
Another way is to look around without booking, the locals are friendly and would greet you warmly. You can find the locals at the bus station offering you a room (Some might even lie that they are the owners of the Casa you booked).
MEALS AND BEVERAGES
The cost of meals and alcohol vary from city to city and place to place; some might be expensive while others might be cheap. Cocktails might be more inexpensive at your Casa for about $2 and $2 – $3 at the bar. A beer would be for $1 at the Casa.
Cuba is a hot country, and you would want to stay hydrated, so a bottle of water is a must. The cost of a 1.5L of water bottle is $0.70, however, to take advantage of the tourists some charge $1.50. Some Casas have fresh juices and water for free so make sure you do ask!
RESTAURANTS PESO FOOD
Pizza $2.50 , Spaghetti $5.50 Cheese Pizza $0.24 – $1.20
Tapas $1.50 – $3.00 Egg Sandwich with Cheese $0.36
Beef stew with rice and salad $8 Fresh fruit juice $0.04 – $0.08
Fish in sauce with rice and salad $9 Ice Cream Cone $0.04
Lobster/Fish with sides at restaurant $8 – $10 Grilled Pork and Rice $1.50
Fish, Pork or Chicken meal at Casa $7 – $10
Contradictory to the held belief, food in Cuba is superb.
CUBAN ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
You will have to cough up money in CUC for all of the sites you visit and activities you take part in.
Havana: Museum of the Revolution – $8 for the entrance, Fort of Saint Charles – $7 for entry, Museo de Bella Artes – $5 for entrance.
$15 – $25 for the ride in the Classic Car.
A horseback ride in Vinales for 4 hours costs $25 whereas in Trinidad it costs $15 for 3 hours. One scuba dive with equipment included (Cayo Jutias)- $40.
Cubans can visit all these places using CUP which is affordable and cheap but given the government controlled economy if the prices would’ve been high Cuban’s would’ve been deprived of their historic sites.
The price of transportation varies in each city.
Private Taxis charge up to $2.50 – $7 for a ride within a city. Traveling to Central Havana from Havana is $25.
Before hopping into the taxi decide on the fare.
Shared Taxis: $0.50/ride in the city. Make sure you pay with 10CUP and not CUC. Shared taxis can also be used for traveling intercity.
The City Bus
Since it is the cheapest $0.04, it is overflowing with passengers. Go for it only if you are aware of the routes.
It is a tourist bus which is on schedule with proper air conditioning. It charges up to $4 – $5/hour.
It is a regular intercity bus with only a few seats reserved for foreigners. Also, they aren’t as reliable. The locals pay in CUP while the foreigners have to pay in CUC.
$25/day and $20 if you rent for three days. The most reasonable ride.
Giving tips in Cuba is must as the locals depend on it!
So all in all if the budget is calculated it amounts about $40 -$50 per day for a person that too very comfortably and it’s worth every penny if you do not want to miss this beautiful island. Getting a digital detox for some time is refreshing. To connect with the people and surroundings instead of getting glued to the screens of your cell phones. A unique place to charge yourself up before returning to the frenzied world.