Cuba Holiday Tips
What to buy in Cuba
Spending money in Cuba is very easy when the island is so well equipped for shopping. Cuba is most famous for its cigars and rum, both of which make excellent purchases. A tour of the cigar factory is highly recommended, even for those not cigar shopping in Cuba, as you can see the cigars being handmade. The Partagas factory in Havana is well worth a visit, and is just a short walk from the Capitolio building. If you can, try and visit around 10-11am, as you may witness the tradition of the official news being read to the staff making cigars which gives a real sense of the traditions maintained in Cuba.
The Havana Club rum factory also makes an excellent excursion and again you may be interested in shopping for Cuba's rum or a selection of Havana Club branded goods in the shop. This factory is located near to the Santander hotel in Old Havana.
There are many other cigar and rum factories available to visit across Cuba, please ask our local representatives for further information.
In Cuba, shopping for goods and art may give an unusual but unique memento of your trip, and the open air market gives the option to buy such items. The market can be found next to cathedral square in Havana, and is open every day except Sunday when it is replaced by a smaller art market.
Havana airport also features some duty free shops, which have a selection of tax free cigars, alcohol and other Cuban mementos.
We recommend that if you receive good service on the island it should be rewarded with some money. Cuba's workers, in our experience, often provide a higher level of service once tipped (wrong as it may be). Salaries in Cuba are usually very low so a small tip can make a big difference!
Cuba Health Care
We strongly recommend that you arrange suitable Travel Insurance for your holiday.
Should you require health care in Cuba many larger hotels have 24 hour medical staff on hand. Cuba's health care is probably the best in the Caribbean!
The Department of Health website offers information on any recommended immunization for any destination in the world. Please check www.dh.gov.uk for up to date information.
As Cuba has a tropical climate we recommend that you take insect repellent with you as mosquitos can be an occasional nuisance. We also recommend that you take sufficient supplies of any medications that you require and also basic first aid supplies. The ongoing US embargo does make it difficult and expensive to obtain many medical supplies that are easily available in the UK.
It is advisable to drink bottled water instead of tap water. Most hotel shops and bars will sell bottled water. Please note that while many hotels will supply free bottled water in your room not all hotels do.
Safety and Crime in Cuba
Cuba is a very safe destination for tourists.
The foreign office website is a good source of information on visiting any country. The website is www.fco.gov.uk. If you select Cuba in the Travel Advice section then you will be given up to date government recommendations and information on visiting Cuba.
In Cuba, like many poor countries, the comparative wealth of tourists can make theft a tempting crime. Fortunately, Cuba's crime rate is quite low and violent crime in Cuba is very rare. We recommend taking the same precautions you would use in any new environment. If you are interested in buying cigars or exchanging money ensure that you carry out transactions at an official shop or bank and not in the street. Most hotels offer a safe in the room and we would recommend that you place valuables securely in the safe and only carry required items with you.
In the past there have been instances of theft from luggage at Havana airport and as a result action has been taken to try to remove the people involved. We strongly recommend that you do not put any valuables into your checked baggage and as an extra precaution we would advise to have your luggage wrapped at the airport before it is checked. This service is now free of charge for passengers on the Cubana Airlines flight from Havana to London Gatwick. For other airlines the cost is 5CUC per suitcase.
Most hotels have 110 volt, some have 220 volt and some have both! Sockets should be clearly marked with voltage. You will require a two pin travel adaptor. Many hotels provide hair dryers and irons for your use.