We just got back last Sunday night from our 2 week vacation in Cuba. What an interesting country! Since this is a financial blog, I will give you the financial scoop on Cuba:
- Cuba has two currencies: the National Peso (MN) and the Covertible Peso (CUC).
- US Dollars have not been accepted anywhere since November 2004
- If you exchange US Dollars into any other currency you will pay large surcharges
- If you ever go to Cuba, take as much cash (CAD or EUR) as you can. Doing a cash advance on a credit will cost an extra 11-12% surcharge as well as a $6 fee for each transaction back hom
- There are many items and stores that only sell things in national pesos. But these places are meant for Cubans, Cubans that work for low salaries as part of a communist society. Do not listen to the Lonely Planet and try to get deals by paying in pesos nationales (movie theatres, Copelia, street food, etc…) Try to pay a fair amount in CUC, or often paying CUCs on par (while 25 times more expensive) is actually a more reasonable price to pay for a tourist.
- Cuba is evolving in to a two-tiered society: those who have money (ie. tourist dollars) and those who do not, since Castro allowed Cubans to have bank accounts (initially in US Dollars, now in CUC) and allowed more tourism and allowed for some self-employed occupations (bed & breakfast, paladares, etc…).
- Cost of travel: In casas particulares, we paid $25/night in Habana including breakfast plus $5 each for dinner. In Vinales and Cienfuegos it was $30/night + $3 each for breakfast + $7 each for dinner and in Trinidad it was $20/night + $3 breakfast and $7 dinner. In other words, it’s pretty cheap there. The most expensive thing is the airfare but at the end of the day for the 2 week vacation it is still cheaper than an all-inclusive resort and the food is FAR better and you can still go to the beach whenever you want.
- Many menus, especially those as lunch/snack type places list the weight of the food! So you know exactly how bit something is compared to everything else on the menu. Neat eh?
Well that’s all I can think of for now, if I can think of any more interesting facts about Cuba on the financial theme I will add them.