If you are traveling for the first time, with kids are alone, you are probalbly wondering : Is cuba safe ?
In short : Yes !
Still, you need to know some basic tips to move with confidence.
Cuba is a very safe place for the whole family.
Children can travel to Cuba without any problems; and women can walk alone in the streets with complete freedom and confidence.
You just have to be careful and have common sense to avoid unpleasant surprises during your stay in Cuba, such as :
- Keep your bag and valuables well.
- Keep your wallet in the front pockets, especially in places with many people.
Do not forget your cameras or video cameras and other objects in public places.
How do I call the police, fire or health service in Cuba?
In Cuba, the 106 is an emergency number that you can use to contact the police, fire department or the health service.
It is important to mention that, since May 1, 2010, it is mandatory to have medical insurance to enter Cuba.
There are a multitude of companies that offer these services at very accessible prices.
Security and avoiding scams
One of the country’s strengths is security.
I would dare to say that Cuba is a safer country than any European country (with the exception perhaps of Switzerland).
No one is going to do anything to you and no one is going to steal from you.
The danger of the country is more in the small scams than in violent acts or robberies.
As in every underdeveloped country, residents see in tourists the possibility of getting a few dollars easily and if you are not careful you can fall into one of their most common scams.
It follows these advices to travel to Cuba:
Never pay attention to the first person who tells you “go to this restaurant, palate, rental house (or any other service) that is the best”, the truth is that in most cases the person who recommends you is charging a commission for it and usually are not even the best places.
Don’t trust anyone who is overly friendly on the street.
Even though a meeting may seem fortuitous, you may end up making conversation with someone super nice who will gain your trust, take you to a bar to try a typical drink (you will invite him and pay for the expensive one) or give you a little tour showing you things of the city and then ask you for money or buy something in such and such a place.
Do not exchange money in other places than the official government exchange offices, otherwise you may be committing a crime and this is not nice in a country where freedoms are scarce.
Watch out for tobacco! Avoid tobacco sold on the street.
You risk it being counterfeit and its quality being poor.
You may also meet people who sell the same tobacco as the government and in their original boxes.
In this case the problem is not usually the authenticity of the product, but the fact that by not putting the original security seals on the boxes you can have problems at Customs when you leave Cuba.
If you go to Viñales you will be able to buy excellent tobacco.
In some plantations you can buy tobacco with less additives than those from government factories (they keep less time).
Danger in Cuba
The crime rate in Cuba is quite low, but the scam is very common: you are approached and introduced as your friend. This “friend” who will show you the best plans for parties and entertainment will make you pay for his drinks and advice. So be vigilant and don’t hesitate to say no, firmly but nicely if this happens to you.