We know you have LOTS of questions about what to expect when traveling in Cuba. I~Dared Travels provides all our participants with a Travel “Cheat Sheet.” While you wait for your Tips for Traveling in Cuba information sheet to arrive, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
Q: Can I really travel to Cuba?
A: Absolutely. Regulations regarding travel to Cuba have been updated by the US Department of Treasury. It is no longer necessary to apply for a license to visit the island. However, unrestricted travel for tourism is prohibited. In compliance with the updated regulations I~Dared Travels has developed partnerships with Cuban Institutions and governing agencies allowing us to provide a unique opportunity to visit the island.
Q: I heard there are two currencies. Is that true?
A: Yes, In a way. In December 2020, the Ministry of Finance unified the two currencies that were in use for many years the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). Beginning in November 2020, the government created a digital debit card system known as Moneda Libremente Convertible (MLC) which can be used by Cubans for making purchases in the MLC stores. These debit cards can be funded with digital payments from abroad. Payments can be made in US Dollars, Euros, and a variety of other currencies. These MLC cards cannot be funded with direct deposits to MLC accounts at Cuban banks. If you plan to use a friend of family members card to make purchases, be sure to make a deposit before departure.
The official exchange rate is $24.00 CUP to $1.00 USD. The unofficial rate varies. The best source for determining the free market exchange rate is www.eltoque.com. Currently USD can not be exchanged at Cuban banks. It is advisable to travel with Euros. Many restaurants will accept payment in USD and Euros. There are also a few opportunities for payment in Bitcoin. Payments for basic services can be made in CUP: farmers market, public transportation.
Q: Is tipping a cultural norm? How much should I tip?
A: Of course tipping is a personal choice. I~Dared Travels will provide all its participants with some suggestions. Keep in mind, wages in Cuba are painfully low, yet even Cubans tip for service: restaurant staff and parking lot attendants. The need to improve salaries is a key issue impacting the country’s continued economic development; one that is discussed in the press regularly. Cubans are not shy with their opinions on this topic.
Q: Will I be safe traveling in Cuba?
A: Most definitely. Cubans are extremely friendly. If you wander off from the group–and you should, occasionally–someone will come to your rescue. You may not understand the directions completely, but walk a block and ask again. You will find your way back “home.” Police officers may look intimidating, but they are eager to help travelers. Women can walk alone at night without fear. Of course, keep an eye on your wallet. Petty theft is universal.
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