I have read that money has gone missing from rooms and also safes in Cuba.
When cash goes from safes it is usually small amounts in hope that you don't miss it.
I once had £10 taken from our safe in the Dominican Republic
MY TOP TIP
I now put all my valuables in a plastic bag and fit a tie wrap around the neck of the bag. This method will stop small amounts been taken but obviously not wholesale theft.
(tie wraps are generally used to tie cables together I purchased a tub of approx 200 from the £1 shop)
Leave your wads of cash at home and stay sober!
Havana is a big city but it is also amazingly safe, particularly in comparison to most cities in the rest of Latin America. The streets are generally safe to walk in, even late at night, and the police presence is pretty strong and they are generally there to make sure you are ok, especially as a tourist.
HOWEVER, people that are stupid will end up getting robbed. 1.) Take as much cash as you need for going out that day/night plus a little extra for an emergency. Take a copy of your passport if you want to have some type of ID and leave the rest at home! 2.) Don't take actual passport, credit cards, wads of cash etc. They will be stolen from you, either pickpocketing or a more vile form of assault (which is still rare but I watched one go down amongst Cubans) which may involve several people jumping you, tackling you to the ground or choking you and robbing you of your money. 3.) Don't be a drunken ass- the only time I have heard of people getting robbed in Havana is when they were drunk and out at night. Especially as a female, I make sure that I never get to the point where I am out of control because I may need to react to protect myself. 4.) If you are robbed, don't fight the person. Keep yourself safe. When it is happened, you can go to the police (though good luck at getting your money/belongings/cards back) but if you are staying in a casa, speak with the casa owner first on what to do and how to go about it. You may unwittingly get them into trouble by going to the police - if your passport has been robbed, it is technically illegal for a casa-owner to have YOU in their home still and if found out, could face a HUGE $1500 fine for that. Be considerate and stay safe.
Jineteras on the Malecon
"Jineteras" are teenage prostitutes that hang out along the Malecon trying to pick up tourist men. They're not like regular prostitutes; I've heard they will take a man home, introduce him to their family, get him to buy her things, take her out to dinner , give her spending money, and generally become a "girl toy" for the length of his stay.
This warning isn't about the jineteras so much (you're a grown man, you can be make your own decisions), but more a warning that when you walk the Malecon they will catcall, make bedroom eyes, rub their bodies, and try to flirt with you even though you are walking with your girlfriend/fiance/wife! This can be an extremely dangerous situation. If your girl is the jealous type (quite common) she will not appreciate this kind of behaviour from other women (especially while she is present) and it could be you who ends up paying the price later. My advice is to watch ahead for packs of teenage girls and steer clear if you can!
Specially if you go around by car be very carefull at crossroads.
Infact in Cuba traffic lights are are in the middle of the crossroads or, often after it and not before like everywhere else I have been.
Fortunatly anyway, like I have said in other tips, traffic is not so bad, so some attention and a slow drive, should help to not have problems.
- Road Trip
They will love you providing you pay there way into the club and buy them drinks.
Ofcourse myself being a desperate bastard fell for this twice.
Fortunately I got some tonsil hockey and a bit of a feel with 1 of the 2. The other stupid b!tch wanted me to meet her same place, same time the next night after I almost had spent my travel budget on her.
I stood the tart up. She could have at least given me a bit more than just a dance for that.
Still I had fun as the music in Cuba is rad.
Eating fish at government owned restaurants
Unlike private restaurants where the fish tend to be fresh, one cannot guarantee the length of rigor mortis of the fish served to you in govt owned restaurants. why bother with thi bit of info? on my flight out of the country recently, i had to attend to a very sick woman, who had eaten fish at the nardos/asturian restaurant in front of the capitolio. it is not a bad restaurant but beware of fish served in govt restaurants...
Cuba is not quite the police state that it once was. Now that tourism is no longer a novelty on the island, and that the government has decided the economic benefits of Cubans and tourists mingling exceed the political effects of an exchange of information with the outside, many people live off tourists without police interference. Although most Cubans are quite friendly and really just looking to be enterprising while welcoming, there is no shortage of people who will look to scam you for all you're worth. Jineteros/Jineteras (hustlers) are everywhere in Havana and they can be quite aggressive. Often they will try to get you to go to a bar or restaurant with them, where they can get you drunk and then sell you knock off cigars and the like for ridiculous prices. Unless someone is an official guide, be polite and refuse as firmly as possible. Speak as little as you can - drawing you into a complicated conversation is another jinetero tactic. Don't worry about violence - the police are still all over and, if they feel a tourist is being unduly harassed they will step in for your benefit.
Maybe consider NOT taking your expensive SLR to Havana. Get a small but good quality pocket camera to take with you. Cuba is highly photogenic but when your camera is stolen at the beginning of your visit...
Cuba - Big Thumbs Down
Ill prob neva go 2 Cuba again or recommend it 2 any1
becoz of the people. I was constantly on guard becoz I was
conscious of peop tryin 2 rip me off.From the min I landed in
Havana any local peop I met had an agenda, 2 fleece
u of anything they could “sir wot a nice watch u have, I wish I had
1 like that” or “wot a nice t-shirt, cud u leave it 4 me when
u go”.I don’t mind tippin or givin 2 charity & I
normally do, howeva, the attitude of the peop I met disgusted me so much
that I didn’t.Moneychangers incl those in hotels & banks always try 2
rip you off.Without fail the cashier will pay u less than they should.
The discrepancies varied from 1 peso to hundreds of pesos. They wud
claim u r lying or that coins are so similar & they got
confused (hmmm).If you do choose 2 go there make sure u count
any £$ u change or any change u receive when u pay for something.
Contrary 2 some of the posts service was extremely poor
(trust me I know bad service I live in London!) & I found the peop 2
b unfriendly unless u were 1 of the mugs who tipped these so-called
poor people. I've travelled 2 many countries & although there may b
poor people in Cuba, the 1's in Havana & the tourist areas rn't (they
always seem 2 have £$ 4 clothes & alcohol). A couple of
pickpockets followed me 2 a shop & when I put my hands in my pockets
& looked them in the eye, they cursed & moved on (so sorry I did not
let u steal from me!). I was also disapp with the way the
peop have ruined Old Havana. It looks like some1 has bombed it &
emptied a skip on it. The peop who live there hang out in the
streets, drink, dance and beg, when really they should b tryin
2 do something 2 improve their lives. A lot of peop have also commented
that the food is bad. I cannot disagree & it isn’t becoz of the
quality of the raw ingredients, it’s becoz they insist on overcooking
everything until it has lost its taste & texture. In my
opinion there is nothing in Cuba that makes it stand out and there r
plenty of other holiday destinations that beat it hands down.
- Family Travel
If you fly to Havana from Mexico, or perhaps more specifically from Cancun… try to avoid flying with Cubana de Aviación (the Cuban airline). Those little planes are the worst planes I’ve ever taken. The are old Russian airplanes, small, noisy and quite creepy.
What’s the positive thing about Cubana? It’s by far the cheaper airline flying to Cuba… but what a nightmare! Like I said before, if you can… try to avoid flying with them.
We were originally vacationing in Varadero, and decided to take a Havana day trip. It was a group tour, and you can spend the whole day shopping, sight seeing, and visiting famous places within Havana. Well, the moment I saw a flea market, my shopping bug took over me. My husband was with me but he was trailing behind me, until he noticed a Cuban woman following me around- almost stalking and she's eyeing my purse on my shoulders! He thought he was just being paranoid until I stop over to look at a bracelet, and I myself noticed that she was hovering just too close to me. My husband then warned me regarding a potential danger, we both walked away from the scene. I guess she noticed my husbadn was next to me, that she didn't follow afterwards. Shoppers beware!
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
- Women's Travel
USA Interests Office
If your American and get yourself into trouble there is an American Office of Interest on the Malecon. Otherwise take a walk and check out the propaganda billboards and be prepared to walk on the opposite side of the road due to the warnings from Security Guards.
Money - what to take...
The Cuban Convertible Peso is (bizarrely, considering the relationship the countries have) directly linked to the US dollar i.e. if you want to know approximately what the exchange rate is, see how many US dollars a Pound Sterling will buy. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, you cannot use American travellers cheques in Cuba and as nearly ALL UK banks issue these and cash machines are thin on the ground, even in Havana, your only option is a bundle of regular good ole' Pounds Sterling cash.
Understandably, taking a wad of notes abroad gets most people, Ronnie Biggs aside, nervous but this is probably by far the easiest option. You can then change your UK currency very easily at any hotel. There’s no commission for this service but the exchange rate does vary, the best we saw being at the airport (£1 = 1.75 CUC’s). Next best was the cash desk (they laughably call it a bank) at the NH Parque Central (1.7438 CUC’s), and finally at our hotel in Varadero that fleeced us rotten (1.6 CUC’s). Surprisingly, I was never asked for ID, passport or proof of hotel room, but did have trouble offloading some of the new design £20 notes.
Always make sure you get a receipt and unless you are particularly well versed in your 1.7438 times table, I suggest taking a little calculator just to check what you should approximately be getting back. Remember a wad of 1 CUC notes in every transaction for tips (I always left one for the cashier) – using these instead of 3 or 5 notes will save you $$$ in the long run.
Forget all this rubbish about the local Peso, 99% of tourists won’t need it, and getting involved in local peso transactions will only end in tears (yours). Anyway, it seems even the hustlers have given up trying that con, and instead try and tempt a street conversion on the back of “souvenir” Peso coins or notes having a picture of Che on them.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
People will approach you...
This is a tip for your first-second day in Havana:there will people all time at streets who will tell you stories about having little children and not having money enough to buy podwer milk for them... Well, this is not true. Of course, they need the money, but it is not for milk fo their children: Cuban government provides milk enough for any child up to 7 years old. The fact is that powder milk is good coin for them: they could sell it easily to paladares (private restaurants) or to particular people for extras (most probably the rations given by the government are not enough, for example, to make cakes or stuff like that). So, if you want to help them, it is OK, but DO KNOW there is no hungry child at all. When you are for more than a couple of days in Havana, you are aware of this kind of scams, but on your first days, I consider it is helpful to give this piece of advice
Este es un consejo para vuestro primer o segundo dia en La Habana: habra gente por la calle que todo el rato os contara historias sobre hijos pequenhos y que no tienen dinero para comprarles leche en polvo... Bien, esto no es cierto. Por supuesto, necesitan el dinero, pero no es para comprar leche a sus hijos: el gobierno Cubano proporciona la cantidad de leche suficiente para cada ninho de hasta 7 anhos en la isla. El hecho es que la leche en polvo es una buena moneda de cambio para ellos: pueden venderla facilmente a los paladeres o a particulares para sus extras ( probablemente, las raciones que les da el gobierno no son suficientes, por ejemplo, para hacer dulces o cosas por el estilo). Asi que, si quieres ayudarles, bien, pero debes saber que no hay ninhos hambrientos. Cuando llevas mas de un par de dias en La Habana ya estas sobre aviso de este tipo de enganhos, pero en tus primeros dias, considero que este consejo es util.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
Havana Policemen and Policecars
If you are walking or driving in Cuba, take into consideration you can be stopped anytime by the Police to check your papers. Specially while driving a rental car or if you look foreign to them.
I dont have a clear idea why they do this, just simple intimidation or probably they want some money.
Dont bribe them , just show your car rental papers or valid ID. they will just leave you alone after they see you are not doing anything illegal.
- Business Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip