I love backpackers. You all know I do. I am one of them. I went to so many places on the budget. But Cuba…Cuba is not one of those places I’m afraid.
Prices in Cuba are quite high but still not very different from what we are use to. Why then we expect to pay less when traveling to Cuba?
I was approched by this one guy on Facebook lately. From what he has on his profile I can tell he lives in the Netherlands. He asked me for some advices, and after for helping him to book a place in Viñales. I did, I contacted my sister-in-law and asked for a favor. She did a booking for a normal price – $25. This is how the prices are in the village and this is how much I paid staying 2-3 years ago. For what she offers it´s a fair price. But the guy was not happy. He wanted something cheaper. He and his wife are traveling on budget-he said. Well I ge it, so I asked Tita for help. She said because of me she can do $25 including breakfast. The guy – still wasn´t happy. So I canceled the deal. Man I´m trying to help you here despite I haven´t seen you on my life.
I imagine he traveled the world with tight budget and thought Cuba would be the same. I really don´t know because those of you who visited Cuba knows that $25 for a room with bathroom in centre of Viñales it´s quite a good price (try to find the same price in southern France or Spain). However if you, like my friend here, are budget travellers maybe should reconsider travelling to Cuba.
Why I am saying this?
Well, because first of all if you travel on the budget you won´t enjoy Cuba that much. Cuba is not Europe. You can´t walk down the street and be mistaken with Cubans. In Cuba you´ll always be a tourist. Which is the good thing here, trust me. But an expensive thing as well.
The prices will dissapoint you. Even if you get Cuban Pesos, probably you won´t have chance to use them. Everything you want and need will have normal prices. You´ll pay to get into the clubs, toilets and everythere you want to go.
Want to travel like a local? You won´t be let. Want to eat in Cuban restaurant? You won´t be given menu for locals.
Couchsurfing in Cuba?
Not really. First of all the Internet in Cuba is quite limited. And actually the only way you could stay at Cuban house is you get the family visa. Yes, it´s illigal for foreigners to stay in Cuban houses. Both could be in big trouble.
Maybe sleeping in a tent of something? Only if i´s official and you paid for the service. You will be in trouble if avoiding the official accomodation.
The Internet? I remember when I started to work in the hostel, we had 2 computers with Internet. Usually one of them was not working and still it wasn´t a big issue. But this was 10 years ago. We are so used to be connected. To check the schedule of the buses. To check the weather. To book a next night in the hostel. In Cuba it´s just not possible. The Internet is limited and expensive.
The food is another issue. You may be used to that you may cook your meals in the hostels and apartments in Europe, South America etc. Well in Cuba you won´t be able to do it in most of the cases. Hostels practially don´t exist. Food is expensive and if you stay at Homestays most of the owners won´t let you to do use their kitchen. Why? It´s not beacause they are mean people. They do host guests but do imagine to share your poor kitchen with different people every day? That´s why they are more than happy to cook for you but sharing their space not so much. After all it´s their home. For us, just a place to stay a night or two.
Shouldn´t you go to Cuba if you´re budget traveller? No 🙂 Cuba is beautiful and it´s worth your time and money. But don´t expect to not spend much money. You will spend more than you want. Accept it 🙂 Cuba despite of being a poor country has its own touristic world and we can´t really do nothing about it. We can enjoy it 🙂 And what we shouldn´t do is to let the money to ruin our experience. And if the money is all we care of when travelling, maybe Cuba isn´t a place for us…