Every CASCA-Cuba participant should travel with a “tourist card”. Canadians travelling from Canada will get their tourist card in the plane. For American citizens, please follow our guide: US Travel to Cuba-CASCA-CUBA
Do not lose your tourist card as you will need it when you leave the island.
There are two currencies in Cuba: the CUC (Convertible currency) and the CUP (Cuban peso).
1 CUC = 1 USD $; and 1 CUC = 25 CUP.
We advise you to change your money only in one of the CADECA office, or in a bank. Most CASCA-Cuba participants will not need CUP during their stay, so it’s not worthwhile changing money in this currency. CUP is used to buy from street vendors, in the fruit/vegetable markets and/or in Cuban peso stores/restaurants. Cubans also take CUC anyway in all of these locations.
We advise you to go to Cuba with all of your cash money (to avoid huge fees when you take money out from your credit card). Bring CDN $, Euros or USD $.
There are three cash machines in Santiago de Cuba. Last December 2017, it was possible to take out money from these machines only with a credit card (Visa or Mastercard, not American Express).
You will need your original passport if you exchange money and/or take out money from your credit card in a bank or at the CADECA.
There is one CADECA in the Meliá and one in the hotel Las Americas.
Restaurants, taxis, museums, stores do not take credit cards. Always carry cash with you.
Time of change: Raul Castro will retire as president of Cuba on April 19, 2018. There are rumors that he will move to Santiago de Cuba in May. There are also rumors that currencies (CUC and CUP) would soon unite to form a single currency. We do not know how this will affect our conference.
Check-in will take place in the lobby of the Meliá hotel. You will receive a printed copy of the program when you check-in.
PROJECTOR AND OTHER IT EQUIPMENT
The conference rooms at the Universidad de Oriente are, at this date, not equipped with projectors, or speakers. Please prepare your presentation accordingly. If this situation changes, we will let you know before the beginning of the conference. There is no Internet connection at the University. It is most unlikely that you will find a place to print your presentation in Santiago de Cuba. To guarantee access to documents while in Cuba we suggest you save /download to your computer desktop and/or print them before travel.
WHAT TO BRING?
The rule is: Bring what you will need during your stay in Cuba, don’t expect to find it locally. This includes: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap and other toiletries, eye contact solution, female hygiene products. Don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, etc. It’s a good idea to bring a roll of toilet paper, wet cloths and hand sanitizer (there is usually no toilet paper in restaurants, university, etc.).
Bring pharmacy products you might need such as Advil, Tylenol, eye drops (Alex finds it useful because of the air pollution and air conditioning, eyes often get dry), oral rehydration salts (like Gastrolyte, Electrolyte, etc), cold / flu medicine, bandaids. Pharmacy products are very difficult to find in Cuba.
Never drink tap water in Cuba. Cubans don’t do it, so don’t do it either. Boiled water is not safe for foreigners in Santiago. Buy bottles of water.
Health: Foreigners need to go to the International clinic if they have any health emergency. The health clinic is located at this address: Ave. Pujoll and St. 10 Ferreiro Vista Alegre (53 22)642589. The clinic is walkable distance from the Meliá. The best pharmacy in Santiago de Cuba is located inside the Meliá (beside the pool).
Santiago is a safe city but it is not recommended to go out with large sums of money and/or with your passport. It is better to carry a copy of your passport when you go out at night (but you need the passport when you go at the bank/CADECA).
During the conference, emergency situations should be reported at the CASCA-Cuba check-in desk located in the lobby of the Hotel Meliá. Participants can also contact Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier at this cell phone number (from Cuba): 58-56-18-83 (from Canada, add 011-53) or 22-65-03-55 (from Canada, add 011-53).
It is mandatory to own health insurance when you travel to Cuba. Have a printed copy of your health insurance and your coverage. The immigration officers can ask you for a proof of health coverage upon your arrival in Cuba.
No case of Zika has been reported in Santiago de Cuba, but there have been cases in Cuba. For more information read this website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/zika-virus-cuba
Cuba uses the same plugs as in North America and they have 110 and 220 Volts plugs.
The main (and only) foreigners bus company is called Viazul. You can (should) reserve your tickets on their website: https://www.viazul.com/
Cubana de Aviación is the Cuban airline company for internal flights: http://www.cubana.cu/
In Santiago, you can take taxis to go to the different local destinations in the city (for around 5 CUC). Always ask for the price to the driver before you enter the taxi. Taxis do not take credit card, cash only.
During CASCA-Cuba, there will be one shuttle bus between the Meliá hotel and the Casa Dranguet (located in the city center) every hour. The shuttle bus will leave Casa Dranguet at 8AM in direction of the Meliá; and the same bus will leave the Meliá at 8:20 towards Casa Dranguet (this will be repeated every hour until 5PM). Note that delay is expected. Taxi from the Meliá to the city centre should cost between 3-5CUC one way.
The only communication company in Cuba is called ETECSA. This is where you can buy Internet WIFI connections cards. The Meliá also sells Internet cards. Price changes – the latest was 1,50 CUC for 1 hour. There are a few WIFI connection sites (look at our map to find out where).
Check with your cell phone provider for special offers for the use of your cell phone in Cuba. Do not assume that it is cheap and ask your providers to double-check the information they give you (providers often assume that because Cuba is in the Caribbean, that you can get the Caribbean price, but Cuba is often the exception). Might be safer to put your phone on plane mode as soon as you arrive in Cuba.
INTERACTIVE MAP CASCA-CUBA – ACCESSIBLE OFFLINE
In order to have access to an interactive Map of Santiago de Cuba offline and to the main sites of CASCA-Cuba while in Cuba, follow the instructions to download the Maps.me application on your Smartphone and the CASCA-Cuba interactive map.
–> Instructions on how to download the Maps.me application and the CASCA-Cuba interactive map, download: Offline Maps Instructions-ENGLISH
If you invite Cuban colleagues to go out / dinner, etc., always bear in mind that Cuban salary is 30 CUC per month on average. Cubans will expect that you cover their expenses if you invite them.
Tipping is welcome and expected. There is no official rule about tipping, but something like 1 CUC for a 20 CUC bill at a restaurant is fine. Note that it is not easy for locals to exchange foreign currency, especially coins. When tipping or paying for goods please use CUC.
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