There are two types of currency in Cuba – CUC and CUP.
1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) = 1 US Dollar = £0.78 GBP.
25 National Pesos (CUP) = 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).
The National Peso (CUP).
This currency is what most of the local people are paid their salary in. Using the National Peso, you can purchase smaller items, and the “basics” that one needs. It’s important to realize that this isn’t the “Cuban people’s currency”, foreigners can use this money as well, and buy the following items with CUP:
- Rides in the local inter-city buses (jam-packed full, no room to breathe)
- Fruit and vegetables from the markets and side-of-the-road stands
- Street snacks such as popcorn and fried plantains
- Rides in a collectivo (shared) taxi
The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).
This currency is used for “luxury” items and is the money you’ll mostly find yourself spending during your travels in Cuba. Locals who earn this currency rather than the National Peso are typically those in tourism (casa owners, tour guides, taxi drivers, hotel staff, etc.).
With CUC, you can pay for:
- Meals at a sit-down restaurant
- Cocktails and beer
- Bottled water
- Tourist bus (Viazul) tickets
- Hotels and casa particulares
The two currencies actually look quite similar – meaning you need to check your change when you get it. Both for the right currency, CUC when you might get CUP, and the correct amount of change. I lost count the number of times when people tried to short change me.
City Bus: (£0.03) $0.04 (yes, 3 pence).
This transportation is very cheap, but the buses are packed to the brim with people. If you can imagine ‘rush hour’ tube travel in London and double it, you will get some idea of how crowded the buses are.
Shared Taxis (Collectivos): (£0.39) $0.50 / ride in the city (paid with 10 CUP.
In Havana, very old classic cars run up and down various streets, on a set route. They will pull over and pick up people who are going in their direction, but you must flag them down. This ended up being my prefered option for travel in Havana.
Next stage: My final day in Havana.