Hello965 in Cuba
- VISA Process:
Kuwaiti (and GCC) nationals need a visa to Cuba. Each national need to contact the Cuban Embassy in their country or the visa services office to inquire about the requirements.
In Kuwait, this is what you’ll need:
– A photocopy of your passport (The passport itself is not needed)
– A personal photo (sometimes not required)
– Hotel + Flight reservations
– Application Form to be filled in the embassy itself
- Duration of my stay: 7 days (3 nights in Havana, one night in Trenidad de Cuba and 2 nights in Varadero)
the faster route the cheapest route, but you really have MANY options. As I mentioned in my previous post about Cuba. To add to it, you could always go through the Bahamas, Cayman Islands or else.
My Route was as follows: Kuwait – Abudhabi – Frankfurt – Havana and return via Istanbul (around 23 hours? more or less)
*** One big issue with this flight I took, my bags never made it to Havana via Frankfurt.
I was flying on Condor – A Thomas Cook Group flight, and had a very tight transit time (55 minutes). Unfortunately, I dealt with an impolite Condor representative, where she had confirmed 3 times that my bags were on board and 3 times dismissed me to “take care of other travelers”. The only reason I’m writing this, is because I was left with no bags for 4 days in Havana with not even a compensation from Condor.
FYI – shopping in Havana is VERY overpriced. I spent a fortune (i’m not exaggerating) just to buy shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush & paste, body gel and t-shirts for the days we have no clothes. S
Stay: I stayed at a penthouse via Casa Particular. This is a tricky situation, if you’re comfortable staying at one of those, go for it at your own risk. Otherwise, stick to Hotel Saratoga in Old Town Havana, Nacional Hotel or read about the houses/rooms rented via the locals such as Casa de Miriam Y Sinai.
– Museo Revolucion
– Plaza Vieja
– East of Havana, go on top of the hill
– Eat ice cream at the famous Coppelia Ice Cream parlour for the true Habanero experience (Yes, this is part of activities and an activity you must do)
– Rio Mar
– Vistamar (1st Av and 22 strt)
– Litoral (on Al Malecon)
– El Templete
– Restaurante Dona Eutimia
– A coffee/bakery/pastry shop next to Dona Eutimia, is a place called Bambini .. very cute!!
– La Fontana
– Tropicana show; touristy and commercial but definitely a nice experience for a first time visit to Cuba
– Up & down
– Saratoga Hotel Rooftop Bar
– 304 O’Reilly
– Casa de La Musica (All salsa, live band)
2. Trinidad de Cuba (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Stay: For the first time ever, and since it’s a one night stay, I decided to book in a hostel. It’s called Dr Suarez & Sra Addys. The owners the same day of booking dropped me an email expressing their excitement to have us at their home. I loved loved my stay at this place, couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Trinidad!
The hostel has two rooms, each room fits two persons max. However, we needed an extra room, so the owners arranged for our friend to stay at the opposite house/hostel. If you need more rooms, just ask them and they’ll organize it.
Another option which I was looking at before booking with Dr Suarez is a hotel called Iberostar, which is the best recommended in Trinidad.
– Valle de Los Ingenios Tour (RECOMMENDED!), I booked my tour via Havana Tour Company. This tour is about 19th-century sugar and slave trade! SUPER interesting.
– Walk around the town, it’s a very small place, so just walk around and explore yourself
– Check out Plaza Mayor
– Train trip to the Valley of the Sugar Mills
– Hiking the Escambray mountains
– Checkout Galeria Pincelada Colonial
Since my trip to Trinidad was super short, the place I got to try was:
1- San Jose
Actually, there was another restaurant that I absolutely hated, so won’t even bother to write it down.
Stay: Melia Varadero Hotel is where I stayed, and where I recommend
Things to do:
– Go on a Catamaran to Cayo Blanco Island
– Varadero is all about the beach, so just relax and enjoy your hotel’s facilities and massages
– For the night, a place called La Rumba was recommended to us
Other destinations I stumbled upon that look interesting, you could look into more:
Cayo Largo & Cayo Coco – I read that these islands have two of the most beautiful beaches! – Not accessible via car
Useful websites other than this amazing post ofcourse;
I used these websites to book my hotels:
– I recommend you to hire a driver & rent a car for the whole period in Cuba. The driver most of the time act as a tour guide, where he’ll recommend the best places to see, reserve for restaurants when needed and take care of things.
– The way it works in Cuba from my personal experience, hiring a driver, and renting a car are two different activities (some websites combine both in one). I, contacted a driver, who in return recommended me the websites to rent a car from.
– Renting a car is tricky. If you do reserve a car online, and the car reservation is CONFIRMED, that’s not the end! You must pay the car full amount ONLINE for the reservation to be confirmed. I didn’t pay online because I wasn’t aware of this, so when I reached, I didn’t have a car. (Thanks Rafael for organizing a car for me!)
– Entering Cuba is not a big hassle. However, those of you feeling uncomfortable waiting, there’s a VIP service fo 25 CUC. Where an employee escorts you from the minute you leave the plane, passes you through VIP and Diplomats lane, and off to the luggage.
– At the exit/Leaving Cuba – you’ll need to pay 25 CUC at the airpot, so just make sure you have the 25 CUC at hand on your way to the airport.
– In terms of safety, I haven’t encountered any dangerous situation or felt unsafe at any point. Caution is always good, so just keep your shiny and expensive stuff at home. Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere! You will be surprised by the visible police presence in Cuba.
– Heads up, Havana is not cheap. The minute they know you’re a tourist, they’ll automatically charge you much higher than original price/cost.
– WiFi & Internet: Almost all hotels have at least 1 or 2 computers to go on the internet for foreigners. Otherwise they’d charge you for an internet card to use for your laptop/phone. Having said that, Cuba’s internet is very slow, and some applications are blocked such as “Snapchat”.
– Best time/weather to see Cuba: March, April October and November are the months with the nicest weather and less rain. Peak Season is December / January/ February.
– MONEY EXCHANGE – You can ONLY exchange money INSIDE Cuba. To exchange, you need to get Euros with you, and exchange either at the airport when you first get in, or in any hotel in Havana. I, for instance, exchanged at both Melia Cohiba and Nacional Hotel. Also, make sure you don’t get out of Cuba with their currency (CUC) because you will not be able to exchange it outside of Cuba.
– Cigars: For Cigar purchases, you are only allowed 50 pieces ‘per bag’ (carry-on VS. suitcase). More than 50 pieces, you’ll be asked present receipts of your purchases.
– Finally, don’t expect to eat delicious food. All food is spiced with only salt, pepper and lemon. So don’t have any expectations. (get your own spice if you could)
*** Always remember, you could email us on [email protected] to plan all of this for you.