Casa Particular Cuba

Casa Particular in Cuba

A casa particular is the official Bed and Breakfast in Cuba. They are often referred to as ‘sleeping in the houses of real Cubans’. This is a euphemism. Most owners of the Casas are social upper-class, party members and relatively rich. The real Cuban cleans and cooks at your Casa Particular for 2 or 3 CUC a day.

Things change quickly in Cuba… there is a newer post about how to book a Casa Particular here

The word “casa particular” means ‘private or lonely house’… that’s why most of them are in buildings and crowded areas… :-). Bring ear plugs, Cuba has a wall of back ground noice.

The real Cuban houses

If you want to know how real Cubans live, get yourself invited to a meal at the home of the cleaning lady at your casa. Be discreet; Casa owners do not like their personnel to mingle with tourists. So that you know, the owner of your Casa Particular is NOT a typical Cuban.
Still the Casas are by far the best way to get to know the country. I would prefer a Casa Particular above a hotel anytime. Better service, better food, better beds (most of the time), friendlier people and more freedom.
You can recognise an official Casa by this sign.

Casa-Particular-Divisa

It has to be blue. The red signs indicate that’s a Casa Particular for Cubans only, mostly rented by the hour.

Pitfalls

Staying in a Casa Particular has some pitfalls too. That’s why you should read our book. We help you travel Cuba the smart way and will not only save you a lot of money, we will give you insights about the country, and it’s people that are off the record and (sometimes) politically incorrect but true.
You can either pre-book your Casa over the internet or find yourself one on the spot. Here is a site with many Casa’s. Finding a Casa Particular is no problem. I never pre-book and always get a good deal because I understand the game… You might too if you go through the trouble of reading our book.

Best option

Still, the Casa particular is by far the best way to get to know the Cuba. We help you understand the way this works and explain what you can negotiate and what not.
You must understand that the Casas are heavily taxed and thus seem very expensive if you compare their prices to the monthly pay a Cuban receives. But they are only taxed on the rooms they rent, not on the food they serve you.
We have a whole chapter of tips and advice how to handle the pitfalls you can encounter in your Casa. Please read it to prepare your stay. You can start by reading part of our book on this site.
To download the whole book, you must compensate our troubles with a few Euros  :-).

On the ‘order the book’ page we’ll give you a tip that will save you a few hours…

Cuba Cheap

How to make Cuba Cheap

Here are a few tricks to make Cuba cheap, although it will never become as cheap as Asia.

Buy food at the market and preparing your meals will bring down prices of feeding yourself by 80%.

Cuba cheap
Buy your food at the market

Eat in MN restaurants and cafeterias. A meal for 1.50!

Buy big 5 litre bottles of water and fill up your little bottle. Or just get your water from the tap. Filter first.

Be a student and take your student card with you. Age does not matter

Buy, rent or borrow a bike, walk or take the bus/fixed route taxi.

Negotiate a lot and about everything. That does not make you cheap; they will respect you for it.

Spent a few days at a Campismo, they are very cheap

Never arrive somewhere with a Cuban by your side.

Ignore everybody that starts talking to you on the street.

Don’t make (too manny)  Cuban friends.

Speak Spanish. Nothing drives up prices more than the inability to communicate.

Know what you owe and count your change.

Eat 5 pesos pizza (once).CubanPizza

Book your Casa beforehand, using the Internet. Or read this.

Stay away from the tourist areas.

Don’t believe anything anybody tells you.

Use MN whenever you can.

It can be fun to be cheap

Not all of these tips will enhance the fun you have, but they all bring your budget down.  Other ways make Cuba cheap and preserve the quality of your holiday: For those tips we refer to our book, which is cheap too, compared to the savings it will bring.

Your Spanish is better than you think!

Nothing raises prices more than the inability to communicate. Learn some Spanish!

You know more Spanish than you think.   Almost all words that have more than three syllables in English are derived from Latin and have the same meaning in Spanish.   Just pronounce: reservation, communication, vocabulary, direction, investigation or permission with a Spanish accent and you will be understood.

An exception would be ‘introduction’ (‘exception’ itself is no exception by the way), if you ask to be introduced to someone, you are asking if you could put part of yourself into the other person.    In Spanish, you present yourself

You see, your Spanish is already a lot better than you think.

During the next part, I will put the Spanish word between brackets just to show you how good your Spanish already is. (to read that part.. you have to buy the book 🙂 though… Sorry…)

Save money, buy our book

No matter how hard you try, Cuba will never become cheap as long as you are not a Cuban. So the best tip to make Cuba cheap… become a Cuban… :-)… the second best tip is to read our book. We’ll give you a time-saving tip on this page

You might want to understand the double currency system too. (spoiler alert: there is non)

Trinidad

Must see Trinidad

Last update May 2018
Trinidad Cuba
Trinidad

Although it’s one of the most touristic towns in Cuba, Trinidad is a must see!

Every day the tour buses arrive to spit out the tourist from the all-inclusive resorts.

Trinidad after 5

They walk around all day and are off again to their hotels around 5. That’s where the town gets interesting. With the hordes of white legs & sandals gone, it becomes once again the lively colonial town it once was with a hand full of travelers added to it. Music fills the square, and soon people begin to dance. The locals mingle with the remaining tourists, and everybody has fun in a relaxed atmosphere.

Trinidad is not Cuba

Trinidad is without question one of the most beautiful places in Cuba. I would recommend staying for a few days, spent the days away from the town (loads of things to see and to do in the environment) or at the beach. Make sure your back after the buses leave, and you will have a very good time. However, it has not much to do with Cuba. It’s a showcase; it’s a museum and a tourist trap. (Depending on your perspective.)

Jineteros

Because Trinidad is full of tourists… it’s full of Jineteros. The CubaConga way of dealing with Jineteros is very efficient here!

Trinidad at night
Trinidad at night

A warning for the ladies: The good-looking black man with the white hat falls in love every night… It is not you; it is his ‘job’…

Night life continues in La Cueva, a discotheque in a cave.  I love it!

Book yourself a Casa Particular ahead. Most of them are lovely colonial houses in their original state. They are all professional B&Bs with good food and excellent service.

Insider Tip

Go and eat at Julia’s in La Boca if you want a real Cuban experience… Just hop in a taxi and tell him ‘Julia’s La Boca. Por Favor.’

Prepare your trip to Cuba, please. Get our eBook! There is a time-saving tip on the order page… it’s for free 🙂 (the tip, not the book).

Recommended reading:

Drink water (and this is how in case of shortage)

How to make a budget

 

Cuba Cheaper

Cuba is not cheap, but you can make it cheaper.

Updated July 2018

To discover Cuba cheaply is quite impossible… You can go to Cuba cheap, but then you do not discover it. The cheap way to go to Cuba, without actually getting to know it, is to take an all-inclusive holiday package, which will get you to the working man’s paradise but you will be in a hotel where only the bad quality and lousy service will give you an impression of the real Cuba.

Cheap to Cuba
Cheap but not Cuba

Real Cuba

We can, however, help you to discover the real Cuba cheap(ish) by helping you to avoid al the scams, show you the ropes of the Cuban way of negotiation and give you an overall impression about how cheap things can get if you know more about the mechanisms of the market.

Moneda Nacional

You can, and must, use the two currencies. The more you use Moneda Nacional, the cheaper Cuba becomes. The two different currencies are only different in name. Here we explain why there is no double currency in Cuba.

No Clue Tax

In Cuba, nothing is what it seems… You should wrap your mind around that statement to get a clue. It’s expensive not to understand how things work. The no-clue tax in Cuba can be very high. Please get a clue!

Our whole book is about how to manage this complicated country. The less you know, the more expensive Cuba is. Although it will never become really cheap, we can cut your budget in half. It will cost you a tenner, but the rewards will be great!

Not only will Cuba become quiet cheap if you know where to look for what and what to avoid, but it will also become a lot more fun and a lot less frustrating.

So if you plan to discover Cuba cheap… read our book, please! On the get a clue page we’ll give you a tip that will save you a few hours…

Like Francisco said: “This book is like walking the street with a knowledgeable friend that shows you the ropes, how to discover Cuba cheaper and find the interesting stuff!

Recommended reading:

How to handle Jineteros.

What about money?

Things about Cuba you want to know before you go.

Things about Cuba you want to know before you take a plane:

I’ve got a tough reality for you: Nothing that you know about Cuba is true. OK, I’ll admit, it is an island and they have a lot of old cars, but the rest of what you think you know??? Simply NOT true. (And those battered oldtimers have modern diesel engines.)
So if you want to go to Cuba, you should get informed. Getting informed is a lot more complicated than it seems at first glance.

Disinformation on the internet

Most information available on the Internet or in travel guides is not true either. Most sources don’t lie to you; they just don’t realise that 3 major factors are blocking their objectivity:

1 reference frame:

Cubans have a totally different world vieuw, and if you observe Cuban life with your western reference frame, you get most situations wrong.

2 Commercial interests:

If you tell the naked truth about Cuba, two things might happen.

– You might not organise any trips to Cuba anymore, simply because you might loose your permit.

– You might lose a lot of customers because they want the rosy romantic picture. Those are excellent arguments to apply some self-censorship.

3 Political points of view:

Most people interested in Cuba and publishing about this country have strong political views. They are either in favour of the socialist system or strong opponents.
Although I still suffer a bit from the first handicap, I have no commercial interests in Cuba, nor do I have a political view. So this alternative travel guide will show you the truth about Cuba as it is. (At least as good as possible).

You see it when you get it

This book comes with a few simple guarantees:
– It will save you at least 200$ a week in Cuba
– It will give you a lot of insight into how Cuba works
– It will help you have more fun with the locals
– It will show you how to avoid rip-offs (f.e. real beggars don’t exist)
And if it does not do all of that, you get your money back.anonymous

About us.

Who am I that I think I can explain you stuff about Cuba?
First of all, I have to stay anonymous. (And I realise this is not a selling point, but I have to protect my friends and sources. Cuba is still a police state where stating  an opinion can cause harm).

I’ve travelled Cuba for the last 15 years and know the country very well.

Luck and skill brought me Cuban friends that slowly opened up on the real Cuba, and after a few years, they started filling me in on the real situation in Cuba. (If my identity gets known, I can be linked to them, and they might suffer the consequences).

Get informed about Cuba

A good friend, which has been living on the island for over 17 years, once said: ‘If you think you understand Cuba you don’t have a clue!’ That kind of sums up Cuba!
I do not pretend to know it all, but I know a lot. So let me help you to make the most out of your Cuban experience!
To give you an impression of the book before you buy it, you can read a sample for free here.
The book is full of tips and tricks to make your stay a success.
Do yourself (and me) a favor and read it before you take off to Cuba! And if you don’t like it… I’ll refund you completely… (And I’m not a Cuban 🙂 )

HERE is a simple tip that will save you a few hours upon arrival…

Recomended articles:

How to handle the Jineteros (and if you don’t know what that means… plz prepare before you go to Cuba!

Rent a bike!