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Old 03-07-2017, 10:07 PM
 
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I'm trying to decide if going to Cuba is worth it. My feeling is that in a few years the country will have a great influx of investment and drastically change. I'm not saying that is a bad thing. I wonder though, if I would like to see Cuba before there are great changes.

For anyone who has gone, here are a few questions:

1. Where did you stay? Hotel or B & B?
2. Did you simply stay around Havana? Or did you see more of the country than that?
3. Can you recommend some "must-see" places in the country?
4. I understand you have to take cash to the country because American credit cards and debit cards don't work. Is that accurate?
5. Is there anything available like car rental?
6. Are there any good restaurants to eat at?
7. Are there disease and sanitation issues? Did you get sick on the trip.
8. Is there anything to purchase in the country to bring home other than rum and cigars?
9. Where are the best beaches?
10. Would you go back after having been once?
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Texas
54 posts, read 70,636 times
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My family is from there so I've been twice, mostly stayed in havana. It's definitely worth one visit. the first time I thought it was magical. the second time i was ready to leave after a week.

1. Where did you stay? i stayed in a youth hostel the first time, rented a house with my father the second. Though if I were going alone, I wold stay with a local since they often rent out rooms.

2. Did you simply stay around Havana? In havana, but some hotels have an office where you can arrange day trips to viñalles valley or trinidad. I choose viñalles from the hotel in the morning and was back in havana in time for dinner.

3. Can you recommend some "must-see" places in the country? the elegant decaying architecture of havana alone is a must see. Hotel Nacional has good cabaret shows thats cheaper than tropicana. all of the old fortifications are cool, at La Cabaña castle every night at 9 they put on a reenactment and fire the cannon.. vinalles if you like scenic nature. santa clara if you like che. i imagine there's colonial architecture and salsa in all of the towns.

4. I understand you have to take cash to the country because American credit cards and debit cards don't work. Is that accurate? yes, and cuba has two currencies to add to the confusion.

5. Is there anything available like car rental? yes, two Ukrainians at my hostel rented a car, check your hotel.
6. Are there any good restaurants to eat at? the food is bland because the embargo, though there are some good meals to be found.

7. Are there disease and sanitation issues? i didn't get sick but remember basic precautions.

8. Is there anything to purchase in the country to bring home other than rum and cigars? communist memorabilia, art work.

9. Where are the best beaches? east of havana, but good beaches are every where on the island.

10. Would you go back after having been once? no, not unless infrastructure improves.
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD
1,300 posts, read 1,099,301 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
I'm trying to decide if going to Cuba is worth it. My feeling is that in a few years the country will have a great influx of investment and drastically change. I'm not saying that is a bad thing. I wonder though, if I would like to see Cuba before there are great changes.

For anyone who has gone, here are a few questions:
1. Where did you stay? Hotel or B & B?
We stayed at an Airbnb outside of Havana in an area called Playa

2. Did you simply stay around Havana? Or did you see more of the country than that?
We took a tour that took us to out to Vinales but overall our time was spend in the Havana area

3. Can you recommend some "must-see" places in the country? Hard for me to say but at the very least I would start with a hop on hop off bus tours that will take you to some of the more famous sites around Havana

4. I understand you have to take cash to the country because American credit cards and debit cards don't work. Is that accurate?
Yes, the easiest things is to have Euros or Canadian dollars when you arrive. It may be possible to find someone who will convert US dollars for you but you want to avoid doing that at the bank since there is a higher surcharge to convert US dollars. If you do have to convert money at the bank, be sure that you have your passport with you and be prepared to wait. It took almost an hour to get some money exchanged and they are very strict at the bank, for example we couldn't have our cell phones out while we waited. Also when converting your money make sure you are getting CUC, this is the money that tourists are supposed to use.

5. Is there anything available like car rental?
I saw signs for rental car companies but I don't know how easy it would be to get one considering that you aren't able to use your credit card.

6. Are there any good restaurants to eat at?
We found some good places, but in general I would avoid going to places near the tourist areas. Food was overpriced. However if you are in some of the neighborhoods you can find good food for good prices but you also have to let go of your usual expectations. For example, it is not uncommon for places to run out of certain food items. They may prepare a certain amount of an item for a day and when they are out that is it, this includes items you may have even pre-ordered. Food service can be slow, they often don't cook an item until it has been ordered so don't expect your meal quickly. You should bring your own seasoning with you, packets of salt and pepper will be your friend, I would even have things like adobo or garlic salt, etc. This might be controversial but if you find that you have more food than you can eat and know that you aren't going to eat it for whatever reason, ask to have the food wrapped up to go and then give it away. We ended up doing this a few times and those we gave it away to were grateful and it was a sobering experience.

7. Are there disease and sanitation issues? Did you get sick on the trip.
Generally I found bathrooms to be clean, however be prepared to find that many toilets do not have toilet seats, and this can include your accommodations even in a hotel, also toilet paper can either not be available or you need to pay an attendant for some. Also it not recommended to flush the paper so you may need to avoid doing so within reason. We brought rolls of camping toilet paper (no center tube) so we were generally fine. I also brought soap strips (they are kind of like those Listerine breath strips and honestly I think they should be a permanent item in your purse) and had hand sanitizer.

8. Is there anything to purchase in the country to bring home other than rum and cigars?
Yes. There is art, music, handcrafts, and coffee just to name a few things. Also if you have an opportunity you may try to go to some of the local stores to buy things like tote bags, towels and even shower curtains that feature artwork. Art is made accessible to locals in this manner and you have to find out where to go to get these thing and may even need to get the help of a local in order to purchase it.

9. Where are the best beaches?
Not sure about this, we went to a beach but it was mostly to take pictures but I'm sure there are amazing ones out there.

10. Would you go back after having been once?
I would definitely go back because I barely scratched the surface to what there is to see and do. I think that the biggest part of the experience was being confronted with my privilege. I realized how much I took for granted, like the expectation that toilet paper is free and available or that I can connect to the internet whenever or wherever I wanted. The other thing that was amazing to me is how big the island is, most of my time in the Caribbean has been spent in the Cayman Islands so it was interesting to be on an island that is so big that you need fly to other parts of it to get there in a reasonable amount of time, or that they even have/had a railroad system set up.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:52 PM
 
2,554 posts, read 1,651,088 times
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I don't know about the price now but my friend took a tour when first opened 2 years ago. He paid about $3k per person. I thought it was a waste of money. I could tour multiple Caribbean islands, or exotic South America or Asian countries with that kind of money.

The scenery and archtecture in Cuba is similar to the rest of the Caribbean, not worth it for me .

What so bad about new development and change?
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:09 AM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,752 posts, read 9,062,151 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nn2036 View Post
I don't know about the price now but my friend took a tour when first opened 2 years ago. He paid about $3k per person. I thought it was a waste of money. I could tour multiple Caribbean islands, or exotic South America or Asian countries with that kind of money.

The scenery and archtecture in Cuba is similar to the rest of the Caribbean, not worth it for me .

What so bad about new development and change?
The cost is why I haven't pursued going to Cuba. The Caribbean in general doesn't appeal to me much but for $3k I can think of a lot of other places I'd like to visit.
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Old 03-10-2017, 11:19 AM
 
2,554 posts, read 1,651,088 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
The cost is why I haven't pursued going to Cuba. The Caribbean in general doesn't appeal to me much but for $3k I can think of a lot of other places I'd like to visit.
Cuba should be very cheap since it is so close to the US and it is a third world country stuck in the 60s. I think the price is high is because the tour operator trying to milk the tourists. I personally see nothing fascinating about a small communist country stacked in the 60s.

Myanmar is similar and is infinitely more beautiful and interesting.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:30 AM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,752 posts, read 9,062,151 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nn2036 View Post
Cuba should be very cheap since it is so close to the US and it is a third world country stuck in the 60s. I think the price is high is because the tour operator trying to milk the tourists. I personally see nothing fascinating about a small communist country stacked in the 60s.

Myanmar is similar and is infinitely more beautiful and interesting.
That's exactly why the price is so high. My interest in seeing it is that I want to see it before it just becomes another Caribbean island.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:49 AM
Status: "Send HIM back- to Queens!" (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Eureka CA
8,293 posts, read 11,146,731 times
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There have been many, many threads on this board about travel to Cuba.
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Old 03-11-2017, 01:28 PM
 
2,554 posts, read 1,651,088 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDak15 View Post
That's exactly why the price is so high. My interest in seeing it is that I want to see it before it just becomes another Caribbean island.
Well, my friend spent all that money and was disappointed with all the hype.
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Old 03-11-2017, 02:14 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,752 posts, read 9,062,151 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eureka1 View Post
There have been many, many threads on this board about travel to Cuba.
What's your point?
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