Havana Tourist Traps

  • street
    by xaver
  • Rent car for tourists (see the plate)
    Rent car for tourists (see the plate)
    by Rebecca_jp
  • Car owned by a Cuban family
    Car owned by a Cuban family
    by Rebecca_jp

Most Recent Tourist Traps in Havana

  • georgelondon's Profile Photo

    side street by opera house and hotel inglaterre

    by georgelondon Written Aug 15, 2010

    be careful when walking up this street. there are some guys that hang around to try and get you in their bar from the street.
    they will sit you down and give you "mojitos" but they are very overpriced and watered down.

    guess its a lot of money to them but not so much for a western tourist but nevertheless still a rip off.

    Unique Suggestions: smile and walk on!

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  • xaver's Profile Photo

    No esta niun festival de la salsa!

    by xaver Written May 25, 2008

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Once you start walking in Havana, you'll notice lots of people, mainly guys willing to talk with you, they'll even accuse you to not want to talk with locals if you do not stop a minute.Most of these jineteros will try to offer you cigars(fake) or a convenient(fraudolent) money change, but ALL of them will tell you that today the international salsa festival starts.The 3rd or the fourth that stopped us said: you are so lucky and I: yes because today we have the festival de la salsa, and he: how do you know? and I: how? all the city talks about it, don't tell me you think to be the only one to know that, and finally we got rid of him.

    Unique Suggestions: Just tell them: no me gusta bailar or, as my casas owner told us to say: aqui no hay niun festival de la salsa, but this is a bit direct.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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  • Clang's Profile Photo

    Car Rental

    by Clang Written Feb 5, 2007

    Be careful when you rent a car through the internet or travel agency in Cuba. You might not get what you asked for and you are already billed. As they dont have computers or networks, they cannot check the status of your reservation. Worst part there is no one to complain.
    I was offered a 2006 car for 10 days. They gave me a 2001 old car in terrible mechanic conditions, they doubled the enforced deposit from 100, to 200 CUC, and they charged me an arbitrary price of 43 CUC for the gas tank.

    Unique Suggestions: If you go on low season, rent directly when you arrive, it is cheaper. But on high season is cheaper from the internet, bt the risk is high.

    Fun Alternatives: Sorry this is Cuba, you are stuck.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel

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  • Rebecca_jp's Profile Photo

    Everything is a tourist trap if you are a tourist

    by Rebecca_jp Updated Nov 13, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The whole "visiting Cuba" experience will be a tourist trap if you are just a tourist.
    There is a Cuba for tourists and a Cuba for Cuban people.

    As a tourist you are allowed to go everywhere you want to go in terms of places for tourists, you'll eat pretty much a fair variety of food in a big menu, you'll have a good and comfortable accomodation in a hotel or guest house, you'll get a nice taxi or rent a nice car...

    As a Cuban:
    -you are not allowed to go to touristic places,
    -you'll eat whatever you can get that day (sometimes you get chicken, sometimes there are not eggs, etc.),
    -at home you'll be comfortable but at night time there is not water supply in some parts of the city for example,
    -you can't take a taxi for tourists but you can get a taxi for Cuban which are not allowed to give a ride to tourists or you can get the "guagua" or the "camello" (bus) or also you can get a "botella" (ask for a ride to someone who's got a car)

    If you want to get the real Cuba and you don't have the chance to see how Cuban people live their lives usually, then, you are in a tourist trap. It's not bad, actually, the tourist version of Cuba might be nicer for someone who is used to the capitalism and is used to decide his/her menu before going to the market and not after.

    Do not get me wrong, even though people live in this condition, they can have a nice time because this is the lifestyle to which they are used to. It is still difficult to me to get used to this, I have to change my whole view of the world whenever I'm in Cuba, but I like it, I get the tourist side and the Cuban side.

    Rent car for tourists (see the plate) Car owned by a Cuban family

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  • Husslers

    by The_Snoop Written Sep 19, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We were walking past the capitol building in Havana when a friendly cuban lad started chatting to us and explaining the best places to go and what to see. No sooner than he had seen us then he had walked off again, wishing us well as he wandered off down the street.

    Ten minutes later, and we were getting a bottle much needed water to cool down, and we 'bumped into' this lad again. As we had mentioned we were looking for somewhere to eat he offered to show us to a nice restaurant. When we got there he sat us down, helped us order by translating with the waiters and then left us to get on with our meal.

    The five courses that we were meant to get turned into 3. The 2 drinks each we had turned into 8. And the modest bill we were expecting had doubled. Our new friend had been drinking at the bar while we ate and charged his drinks to our bill. The waiter pleaded ignorant on the lack of food, and then our friend started asking for money so he could feed his daughter and asked if we would go to his house and buy some cigars.

    We said no, gave him 5 pesos and then told him to leave us alone. At the time we were angry for being duped, especially as we had been warned about that exact same thing. But to give the lad some credit, he trapped us with that initial conversation when we walked away thinking what a friendly chap, only for him to bump into us ten minutes later.

    Unique Suggestions: If anyone seems like they are being overly friendly while out around the streets in Havana, then they generally are. We got told, normal cubans will never bother you and let you go about your business. There are however a minority who will bother you... be firm and tell them no. If they persist, well there is a policeman on every corner.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Study Abroad

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  • HavanaMan's Profile Photo

    Do not take US currency

    by HavanaMan Written May 21, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Just returned from two weeks in Havana. I took a mixture of US and Canadian currency. What a mistake, they take a 10% surcharge right off the top when you change US $'s. The exchange rate for Canadian $ ended up being the same as for US $.
    For US citizens, take Euro,s, do not take US dollars in any form, they will cash them but as I said above, you will lose 10% right away.
    Cuba has being doing this for some time, it changed around the time the US started to restrict the transfer of funds from family members in the US to family members in Cuba. I am surprised that no one posted this issue on any forum, or if they did I missed it.
    Credit cards are also charged at a rate of 11%, but here if you use a US dollar denominated credit card, they only charge you the 11%, and do not charge the 10% service charge that they do for cash.

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  • Simon1944's Profile Photo

    Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques surcharges

    by Simon1944 Written Dec 30, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A surcharge of over 11% is now applied to all credit cards transactions in Cuba and up to 6% on travellers cheques - so pay for as much as possible in advance before you arrive in Cuba - or visit somewhere else that doesn't seek gouge tourists at every turn.

    Related to:
    • School Holidays
    • Theme Park Trips
    • Business Travel

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  • russian_yaz's Profile Photo

    Old fortress

    by russian_yaz Written Apr 13, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Walk a lot around the fortress El Morro. U'll find lovely spots where to catch the sunset or even the sunrise if U stay enough time, kiss your girl or boyfriend or simply take a rest. No need to pay anything, just walk around the castle and for sure U'll find this spots.

    Fun Alternatives: Well, then just go back and no remorse. :)

    Sunset in El Morro
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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  • Chose's Profile Photo

    My friend, wanna buy good cigars, from factory.

    by Chose Updated Apr 12, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    No matter what, no matter how convincing the guy is, no matter how nice the cigars smell, no matter how tempting the deal is, don't buy cigars from anybody but the government stores.

    When Fidel changed the rules for exporting cigars, the crooks changed their tactics. I love cuban cigars, I smoke an average of 10 every weeks. I know what I am talking about but still, last year, I got screwed real good.

    In Cuba, everybody knows someone who works in a cigar factory but that's a lie. Here how I got screwed last year. I was in front of an offer I couldn't refuse. I thought my knowledge about cigars would benefit me. Unfortunately, his knowledge about "bozos" like me was greater than my knowledge about cigars. They will give you an open box so you can see. Trust me, those cigars are well rolled. They will put a few good cigars on the top row in the middle because they know that's where your nose will go to take a good sniff. That is also where your hand will go if you want to try one. They will put the best looking cigars on top and leave the ugly ones on the bottom row because they know you are too stupid to lift the first row to get a good look at the second row. Then you will try to corner him with a few legal questions and he will have the answers for everyone of them. Then he will show you all the stickers he will put on the box so it looks sealed and authentic. Then finally, he will fill a receit that will leave you in peace until you're called buy Señor aduaño at the airport custom. The problem is that the receit is fake just like everything else. And bingo, you lose your cigars.

    Unique Suggestions: If you don't care about the quality or the taste of a cigar. If all you want is the look a cigar gives you or bring back a box for your boss or anything else, keep something in mind. Those cigars are fake. Even if that guy really knew someone rolling cigars in a factory, the thruth is that every type of cigar has a different mix of tobacco leaves that will give it's unique taste and that mix is a secret only known by the person distributing the leaves to the rollers.

    But if you really don't care, the cuban custom will allow you to leave with only one box without a receit (a real receit). If you travel with your spouse, don't buy more than two. You could also buy for personal use while in Cuba but what's the point. Smoking fake cuban cigars in Cuba, why? I can do that right here in Montreal. Buy a few good ones for yourself.

    Fun Alternatives: Just buy your cigars at the right places and pay the price. If you love cigars like I do that's worth all the money you will pay. Better pay the full price than lose the bargain at the customs.

    My dream humidor

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  • florry's Profile Photo


    by florry Written Feb 3, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Before you go into a taxi make sure you know how much you paying. For the same way taxidriver wanted all different fares from me. Another thing: when i agreed with them a price driving me from Havana to Santa Maria the just drove fast and than switched thr engine off. then when the car got very slow start up again. Well that way there made they money in the end and i didnt mind going so slow as i was on hilidays.

    Related to:
    • Music

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  • madregus's Profile Photo

    Buying milk?

    by madregus Updated Aug 12, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I don´t know if this is a real trap or just a rumour:

    A woman asks you for milk for her baby, she doesn´t want any money, she just wants you to go with her to a shop and pay for the milk. If you do, when you leave the shop the lady will give the milk back and they will share out your money.

    Unique Suggestions: People says it works like that, all I know is that I was asked for milk several times, but I can´t say if it was a need or a trap....

    Related to:
    • Cruise
    • Business Travel
    • Spa and Resort

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  • sourbugger's Profile Photo

    Old beardie makes a recommendation

    by sourbugger Updated Jun 29, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The entire reputation of this famous bar - the Bodegita del medio appears to be built upon a quote from Ernest Hemingway. Although pithy, I doubt it would have got five stars if he had entered it on VT.

    The bar itself is a nice place to be with wood pannelling, a good range of drinks, many photos of writers and famous people who have dropped by this joint - including Ernest himself of course.

    Nowadays the place is full of European tourists trying to show off and talking complete b*****ks about Hemingway.

    Unique Suggestions: Enjoy the four dollar, well made Mojito : which consists of :

    crushed mint
    lime juice
    white rum
    soda water

    Related to:
    • Luxury Travel

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  • Luchonda's Profile Photo

    Funny people - near the Cathedral.

    by Luchonda Updated May 31, 2004

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Funny people - funny dressed.
    But once taken a picture of them - they ask for money - this is quiet normal to earn for living - but they are rather aggresive - a way to get one dollar or more - but i think not the best way.

    Funny old dancers

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  • Havaname's Profile Photo


    by Havaname Written May 15, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness


    The Cuban peso. The national convertible peso is the equivalent to the US dollar (USD) and has the same value within national territory. To change any hard currency into dollars ask at your hotel. In the main cities of the country there is a money changing service provided by Casas de Cambio (CADECA), where hard currency may be changed into Cuban pesos.


    Prices in tourist installations are set in USD. The following credit cards are accepted: Cabal, Transcard, Visa and International MasterCard, as long as they have not been issued by a US bank or its subsidiary. There are also national methods of payment via cards issued by the Banco Financiero Internacional (BFI cards) and by the Bancos de Crédito y Comercio, Metropolitanos, Popular de Ahorro and BICSA (RED cards). Since 2002 it has been possible to pay with EUROS in Varadero, Jardines del Rey and Cayo Largo del Sur. This currency was extended in 2003 to the tourist resorts of Holguín, Camagüey and Las Tunas.

    Unique Suggestions: METHODS OF PAYMENT

    Prices in tourist installations are set in USD. The following credit cards are accepted: Cabal, Transcard, Visa and International MasterCard, as long as they have not been issued by a US bank or its subsidiary. There are also national methods of payment via cards issued by the Banco Financiero Internacional (BFI cards) and by the Bancos de Crédito y Comercio, Metropolitanos, Popular de Ahorro and BICSA (RED cards). Since 2002 it has been possible to pay with EUROS in Varadero, Jardines del Rey and Cayo Largo del Sur. This currency was extended in 2003 to the tourist resorts of Holguín, Camagüey and Las Tunas.

    Dolares en Cuba

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  • Luchonda's Profile Photo

    Near the Beatles memorial

    by Luchonda Written Jan 24, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Having a cocktail near the "Beatles memorial"
    a french restaurant and private club at the edge of the square
    Two different prices for a local Mojito - one for tourists - one for club members - also this is Cuba !!

    Fun Alternatives: No alternative - this is Cuba

    Havana Club

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