Cuba

Trapped in a time-warp, Cuba is an endlessly fascinating place with breathtaking beaches, classic cars, faded colonial buildings, people who dance the salsa and mambo, hand-rolled cigars and yes, the rum does exist. Cuba’s colonial cities are some of the best-preserved; from the remarkable restored grandeur of Old Havana to the rugged realism of Trinidad and tiny Baracoa, one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas.

When to Visit

The months from January to May are an ideal time to visit Cuba, when the temperatures are warm, the country is uncrowded by tourists and there is no threat of hurricanes, which can visit the coasts from June to November.

Highlights

HAVANA Explore Cuba’s unique historic capital with its faded colonial grandeur, including the Plaza de la Cathedral, the impressive Museum of the Revolution and the Havana Club Rum Museum where there may be the chance to sample the different rums.

CHE GUEVARA Santa Clara is where you will visit the mausoleum and museum dedicated to the extraordinary life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

TRINIDAD Trinidad is a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved colonial cities in the world.

CIENFUEGOS Cienfuegos is known as the ‘Pearl of the South’ due to its large boulevards, fascinating buildings and spectacular views over the bay. Admire the neoclassical structures and colonial theatre.

CUBAN CIGAR Pinar Del Rio province is known throughout the world as Cuba’s main tobacco growing region.

VARADERO Varadero is a famous beach resort, only a two hour drive from Havana, with soft sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Being generous and hospitable is a highly valued quality. Unlike in Central America, houses are not protected by metal fences, doors are left open, and visitors are always welcomed. It is rude not to greet every man with a handshake and every woman with a kiss on the cheek. Touching as a demonstration of affection is not taboo and does not carry a sexual connotation. Cubans do like to complain and argue heatedly; it is said that an argument is not finished until everyone collapses from exhaustion. But this kind of argument is performative and relieves social tension. More intense interpersonal conflict requires a more subtle approach; Cubans loath open conflict, and so the social norm is to minimize interpersonal conflicts by expressing them through innuendo rather than direct accusation.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Cuba. Vaccination against Hepatitis B should be considered by frequent or long stay travellers. Vaccination against Typhoid should be considered particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene. A Rabies vaccination should be considered for all travellers spending extended periods of time in Cuba, particularly if dealing with animals. Cholera is reported in Cuba but vaccination is generally not recommended, care with food and beverage selection is far more important. As Dengue Fever occurs in Cuba, insect avoidance measures are recommended. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Cuba should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug: Japanese Voltage: 110-120 AND 220-240 volts Special Tip: As Cuba uses two different voltages you should always check what power is available at each socket and its compatibility to your device before use. Source: Korjo Travel Products. Please view the adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au for further information.

Communications

Country Code for Cuba: +53 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz. Emergency Services: Police - 106 Ambulance - 104 Fire - 105 These emergency services numbers are only valid for certain regions. They will not generally have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the Canadian Embassy.

Shopping

If you are looking to go shopping in Cuba, the best Cuban stores are found in Havana, though by no means is the city a world-class shopping destination. Cubans aren't the richest people, so luxurious shops do not abound here, and if you are purchasing luxuries of any kind, they will definitely be at Cuban stores that cater to foreigners. Many visitors to Havana stay in or near Old Havana, and as such, this where you find the more upscale shopping choices. Those searching the Cuban market for interesting finds will almost always at some point look to buy cigars.

Tipping

Tipping is the norm in Cuba so it is important to know who to tip and how much to tip if you are travelling in this country. Tipping is a form of income for Cuban workers and they depend on their tips to support their families. When you do tip, do so discreetly and not for show. Cuban workers do not appreciate this form of “showiness” and it may cause them to lose respect for you.

Getting around

Though there is a reliable, good-value long-distance bus service, public transport in Cuba is generally slow, complicated and subject to frequent cancellations and delays. Improvements are creeping in but some services still work on a two-tier basis, with one service for convertible-peso-paying travellers and another, cheaper one for those paying in national pesos (foreign visitors are usually still obliged to pay in CUCs). Getting around the country efficiently means using buses or planes and, within cities, taxis in their various forms.

Language

Spanish.

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