Whenever I was planning my trip to Cuba, I kept being told it was an expensive country to travel. People’s budget was $50 per day with lonely planet even suggesting $80! Eventually I decided not to listen to it and just go, I had read some people’s blogs saying $30 was perfectly possible, and it was! However there are a few things you have to know beforehand to stay on that budget:
- Home Staying – Obviously the only option if you’re aiming for that budget, but “casas” can get expensive! If you find someone to share the room it’s the best option, still I managed to find around always houses for $10-15 per night. Bargain in the breakfast (if not just go on the street it’s super cheap there), and DON’T ask the “casa” to book your next “casa”, as they’ll get a $5 comission for the recommendation (which you will obviously be charged for). Just ask around when you get there or bargain at the bus station (there’s always someone).
- Street Food or State Owned Restaurants – In touristy area there are difficult to find. On the street you can find amazing pork or chicken with rice for just over $1. In State Owned Restaurants you can get a nice meal for $2 (though not of the best quality). If not, you should always be able to find restaurants for less than $3. Always ask to pay in “Moneda Nacional”, it’s way cheaper than Pesos Convertibles (CUC).
- Transportation – Cuba has something really cool which are “colectivos”, shared taxis that will arrange to take you wherever you want. They are cool to move locally but long distance wise it’s not the best option as they tend to be pricy (though they do take you door to door, but then that’ll make you have to pay for the comission on the booking fee). Instead there are other better options: Viazul (buses for tourists which will take you on the main routes between cities), they are not cheap, but always on time (take a snack with you as there stops are always in expensive food stalls). Trucks (local trucks that carry people), they are really cheap (the most expensive one I found was $1) and they are good to take off-route sections, but you’ll have to ask around for from where they leave (normally outside the local station), and they tend to be early in the morning. Guaguas (local buses), they are super cheap but long distance ones are not allowed to take tourists! Short distance ones to places where Viazul doesn’t go are. A good way is to go to somewhere where Viazul doesn’t go and where there find another bus/truck to your final destination.