Has anyone been to Cuba recently? A friend of mine is going on holiday and has been told that most things/services have to be paid for in cash and that cash machines are few and far between. Is it easy enough to get hold of cash once you’re out there? Any advice?
Wikitravel - Cuba (http://wikitravel.org/en/Cuba#Buy) may be a step to helping you.
Never been, myself.
Most hotels change currency, we took £, $ & €, most of which was also acceptable on the street.
yes there weren't many ATMs, i'd take cash (and keep it VERY safe)
Everyone in Cuba wants to deal with you - they all want your business, and thats just the civilians you see walking about - they will constantly approach you - whether its to take you on a guided tour, or sell you cigars, or sell you something else. Theres very few pickpockets and crime against tourists but be on your guard as you can still get ripped off. And not all cigars are genuine! Overall I actually hated the place (went to Havana and Varadero) but it was certainly an eye-opener.
We've been twice and always take sterling and then exchanged it to peso's (in the hotel) with no problems. The exchange rates are usually very similar in both the airport and the hotels.
You can find banks with cash machines in Varadero & Havana and some hotels are now accepting credit/debit cards but beware of transfer charges, also if your bank card is from an American bank then forget it!
You can't take Peso's out of Cuba so you'll need to change all of your leftover peso's back to sterling at the airport.
Enjoy it, we loved it so much we got married there last year! :love:
I took dollars and changed them at the airport in Havana.
There are people who will try to rip you off but most of the people I met there were were trustworthy. Often someone will approach you feigning friendliness and, say, offer to take you to a bar where The Buena Vista Social Club purportedly started out for the cheapest and best mojito in town. There'll be an understanding between the con artist and a barman and you'll end up paying double what you normall would. However, it will still be far cheaper than it would be over here.
The con artist in their first approach will almost always ask how long you've been in Cuba. If you say something like "two weeks", regardless of how long you've actually been there, they'll instantly give up with a knowing smile assuming you've already been stung and that you're wise to them.
Many bars, restaurants and shops will short change you, almost by default, so tell your friend to familiarise themself with the currency and always count the change returned. Often the shortfall is matter of pence but it's still annoying.
Violent street crime is few and far between there. Overall, I enjoyed my time there immensely and have never felt safer. Even walking darkened streets in a run down neighbourhood, on my own with an expensive camera on display, I never once felt threatened even by large gangs of youths hanging around. Most of the time they'd even smile, wave and greet me without any hassle at all.