Cuba Budget Travel
First of all, Cuba is not Asia, which means, prices are way more expensive and it is not possible to live for 5 Euro per day as you can do in some Asian countries.
Best and cheapest period to go is between April until the end of June, and from the end of September until the beginning of December
In short, Cuba has 2 kind of currencies.
The first is called moneda nacional, pesos cubanos (Cuban pesos) or simply pesos (CUP), this is the official Cuban currency in which Cubans get their official salary.
With this currency one can pay in the markets, in most of the street corner cafetarias, and for other things sold on the street. The interesting part is that some of the daily goods are not available in Cuban pesos. Cubans have to go to a La Cadeca (money exchange office) and buy Cuban convertible pesos (CUC), which cost for about 25 national pesos each. Only then can one buy the "luxery" items, like shampoo, toothpaste, furniture etc.
During your travels in Cuba it is handy to have two pockets: one for CUC (Convertible pesos) and another for Cuban pesos (CUP). You can buy Cuban pesos with your CUC's in one of the La Cadecas (Casas del Cambio).
Below a brief calculation for a normal day as a tourist in Cuba:
20 CUC per night for a room
12 CUC per day for food (3 CUC breakfast, 2 CUC street food lunch, 7 CUC dinner)
8 CUC per day for beverages (bottled water, juice, beer, etc)
20 CUC per day for transportation
10 CUC per day for recreation
10 CUC per day for miscellaneous
Total: 80 CUC per day
Cuba Currency explanation
How to reduce costs?
You can cut your room costs in half by sharing with another person, as
casa rooms are by the room (2 people), not by the person.
It is VERY difficult to find a legal casa room for 20 CUC or less in Havana.
More like 25-35 CUC per night. So the way to keep down lodging costs (besides
having a roommate) would be to go some other town, where you can probably
get a room for 15 CUC per night. But Havana also have some real cheap
budget hotels like the Hotel
Lido and some others.
When you find a cheaper casa particular you probably found an ilegal one.
Remind that it is forbidden for a Cuban to rent out rooms without a licensee.
Risk is you get kicked out of your room in the middle of night and the
casa owner gets a huge fine or even can loose his house.
Campings do excist
in Cuba however the so-called campismos are most of the times far away
of interesting places and cities. Besides, the majority of campings are meant for locals, not for foreigners.
You can cut your food costs in half by eating only street food which can
be paid in the local currency (CUP).
But my idea is, you won't like doing this.
You can't do much to cut your beverage costs because it's a hot climate
and you don't want to get dehydrated. If anything, your beverage cost
might be higher, especially if you drink alcohol. The only way to bring
your beverage cost down to nil would be to drink tap water, which first
have to be boiled, and nothing else.
Normally tourists take, besides a rental
car, the Viazul
bus which is not cheap but good. A 20% cheaper option is the
Astro bus, this bus has, officially, per route 2 seats for foreigners.
The third option is the train,
which is the most economical official way of getting around Cuba legally.
But trains never ride on schedule except the number 1 and 2 which are riding between Havana and Santiagode
can cut your transportation costs down by:
A. Taking a bike and using it to get around. You can
bring your own bike or rent a bike in Havana
Address: Edificio Metropolitano
San Juan de Dios
esq. Aguacate, Habana Vieja
Tel: +53 7 8608532
B. By staying in one town and getting around on foot.
You see a lot less of the country that way, but what you do see is a slower
pace, and can be extremely interesting, if you're into that sort of thing.
Especially if you speak Spanish.
C. Hitchhike. This is a little risky since for a normal
Cuban it is forbidden to give taxi service to a foreigner. It might happen
you get stopped by the police, the driver gets a fine and you get kicked
out of the car.
D. Take public transport, same regulations as in point
public transportation in Cuba are trucks. During the trip a lot of people
are standing. Inside the trailer fits about 50-70 people. A trip with
this means of transport costs, about 5 Cuban pesos (0.20 USD) for 50 km.
In the towns, search for the "terminal de camyones" (terminal
of trucks). The best is to come very early, around 6:00 am, in the morning.
To get a local price for a ride in a terminal will be difficult. The driver
either will ask (because you're a foreigner) for 4-5 time higher price
(instead of 10 pesos he might ask for 2 dollars) or will not be willing
to take you on board at all.
You can cut your recreation costs down by only doing free stuff like going
to the beach or just wander around the city. But if you take in even one
museum and one musical venue, you've probably already spent that 10 CUC
recreation budget. Cuban friends are often generous with their time in
taking you to lower priced nightclubs and the like, but you would be expected
to repay their generousity by paying their way, so it comes out to about
the same. Or a good deal more if you and they are drinking.
You can cut down on the miscelaneous costs by remembering to bring with
you every single thing you are likely to need (insect repellant, sunblock,
etc) and not buying anything. Most travelers, even ones on a tight budget,
end up spending more than 10 CUC per day on "miscelaneous."
One "miscellaneous" cost would be the 35 CUC, or however much
it is now, exit tax when you leave (25 CUC) Cuba. Oh yeah, and then there's
the internet, if you plan to use it while you're in Cuba. Most places
it is 6 CUC per hour.