Cuba due in part from the 1960 embargo that was placed on them by the US, and from the seemingly autocratic rule of Fidel Castro, with so much complex and rich history both on the world stage and at home, Cuba is a uniquely special place with some of the nicest people and most stunning landscapes, I’ve come across however the flipside to its amazing culture and complex past, is that there are a few things to avoid when traveling here, here are seven things not to do in Cuba.
1 – Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish
Like I said Cubans are some of the nicest people in the world, and many of them are very eager to practice their English that being said you should definitely try and learn a few words before you go, because anything you pick up will go a long way there, even if it’s only a few words it shows that you care enough about trying to understand their culture, but you’re willing to take the time to learn the language and trust me it will be greatly appreciated.
2 – Don’t confuse currencies
Cuba is unique because they actually have two national currencies, and those are the CQC, and the Cu P, this is where it can get a bit confusing now the CUC or Cuban convertible peso is actually always equivalent to one US dollar, this is the currency that you’re going to use a lot of the time in the tourism industry, the CU p on the other hand or the Cuban peso fluctuates although it’s typically around 25 for one US dollar, and this is the currency that you’ll use at local markets street food and giving out tips, that’s important to identify between the two currencies, because if you mix them up you could be giving someone 25 US dollars as opposed to what you thought was one US dollar.
3 – Don’t forget to tip
This is a big one for me no matter what your personal beliefs or take on the tipping system is, throw all that out the window when you go to Cuba, because the average monthly wage in Cuba is just under five hundred pesos that’s around eighteen US dollars which probably sounds insane to a lot of you, so keep that in mind when you go to Cuba.
4 – Don’t drink the water
While you should have no problem brushing your teeth with tap water it’s generally not safe to drink it, and you should always buy bottled water instead.
5 – Don’t fall for tourist traps
The most common way that people get scammed while in Cuba as I mentioned before is this CUC and Snoopy conversion, but even aside from that you can still get ripped off by other things like buying fake cigars, and in public transport in taxis, this one is tricky because it’s less about me telling you exactly what you should do, this is one’s really just about how good a judge of character you are but I will say that while people have gotten scam in Cuba, there’s absolutely no reason not to be friendly with people, and you should definitely try and talk to the locals as much as possible.
6 – Departure fees
This one can catch a lot of people by surprise, but to leave the country you actually have to pay a departure tax of 25 CUC which is equivalent to 25 US dollars, and they won’t let you leave the country if you don’t pay that tax, so make sure you have a little bit of cash left over so you don’t get stuck at the airport.
7 – Make sure you enjoy Cuba
The food, the people, the place, it really has so much to offer, and I really recommend trying to get involved in the culture, as opposed to just looking from afar apart from that I’m sure they’ll have a great time in the country of Cuba.