Cuba Budget Travel Guide
Travel to Cuba even after the new regulations!
Havana Cuba is a rustic beauty that is slowly fading away. It's the only place in the world that is ruled by Classic American cars, Cuban jazz, local hospitality, local racism, and visceral Communism. It is still officially closed to American tourism and American businesses, but if you've paid attention to the news, you know that things are changing.
The people I talked to are divided as to what to expect in the coming years. Some are excited to see McDonalds and Starbucks and Hilton coming in, along with new jobs and opportunities. Others say that American commercialism will ruin the natural beauty of Cuba. Either way, Havana will never be the same again, and it will soon look like any other tourist destination.
Don't miss your chance to visit Havana before it is ruined (or improved) by commercialism. Although Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba, unless you have government business or you have family there, a limited number of travel agencies have been approved to assist tourists in discovering Cuba. Here at Budget Travel, we've been helping Americans enjoy Cuba for the past 3 years.
With all the changes taking place in Havana, no travel brochure will do it justice. They are all outdated info. That's why Budget Travel has an on-the-ground agent who can give you an informed tour of the region, get you hard-to-obtain tickets to jazz shows, and go with you to the trending clubs and bars of the month.
More to enjoy…
Malecon - a beautiful seawall that stretches for 5 miles, a great place to meet people or take a romantic stroll
Cuban regaetton - almost every restaurant has a live band, or you could go to a jazzy club and see the performance (see video clip to the right)
Classic American cars - Many classic cars have been restored and in fully working condition, as you ride around town in a classic convertible
Museums - Museum of the Revolution, and Capitol building, Havana Club Rum Factory
1950s architecture - it's really cool that the architecture hasn't changed for 60 years. It's like walking back in time. And in many places, it's falling apart, and it gives it a rustic beauty that can't be recreated anywhere else. You can't create that old building beauty.
Clubs (the best party locations keep changing based on police presence, so we have a guide on location who keeps up to date with the latest news)
We tailor your trip to what you want, from a guided tour of the classic tourist sites, to the best clubs to party.
*Budget Travel is authorized and licensed by the Cuban Minister of Tourism to arrange legal travel to Cuba for American Travelers.
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Travel to Cuba is now very difficult since only a few agencies are authorized under the new regulations passed in June 5, 2019. But we are one of those agencies since we work directly with Cuban nationals. We are authorized and licensed by the Cuban Minister of Tourism to arrange legal travel to Cuba for American Travelers. We can get you into Cuba and let you decide what you want to do there.
You will travel under our "Support for the Cuban people" regulation. We will provide an "official itinerary" that includes meetings with local Cubans, attending cultural events, and staying at a Cuban family's home, a "casa particular" instead of a hotel.
In order to obey the new regulations, we will provide evidence of staying at privately owned lodging, eating at privately owned restaurants, shopping in privately owned stores, visiting art galleries and interacting with locals on a meaningful level.
Enjoy Cuba before the door opens wide and it’s ruined by McDonalds and Starbucks. We’ve literally been all over the world, and we can say that there is no place like Cuba. I don’t know how any place could be stuck in a 1950’s time capsule while the rest of the world progressed with modern cars and 4G internet.
At Budget Travel, we literally go to the places we send our clients, unlike other agencies that offer “expert” advice from a noob behind a desk. We do this so that we speak from experience and are able to offer cheaper prices. The first time visitor usually pays the “gringo” (foreigner) prices that are much higher than what the common people pay for food and transportation. We tell you what shortcuts to take, what restaurants to avoid, and basically everything you need to know to create your best experience there.
A typical 4 day trip includes really getting to know Havana and its famous sites. Delve richly into the culture and the people, eating and drinking where they usually go. See an authentic Cuban jazz club and enjoy the sea.
Flight from Chicago and lodging would be about $700/person. It includes travel with our Cuban guide for part of the time you are there. He meets you at the airport and gets you situated in your lodging. If you want a fancy hotel, the prices can go much higher.
Another typical trip is about 6 days, and it includes a trip to Havana and an overnight stay at the beach resort in Varadero.
If you have 8 days to spare, we encourage a visit to the Vineyards as well as the places named above.
The reason that our prices are cheaper than the luxury cruise route or the expensive hotel route is because our clients like to delve into the rich Cuban culture. Many of these expensive travel tours keep you secluded in the rich touristy hotel, and make you eat at the American-tailored nice Cuban restaurants. There's nothing wrong with that option, and you do get what you pay for. There is true relaxation in luxury. However, our philosophy in all our travels is to really get into the culture and the people. Otherwise, why bother travelling? The regular Cuban restaurants may not be as flashy or as big, but the taste and the ambiance cannot be compared.
Many of our clients also opt to stay at our recommended Casa Particulars. You can click here for some pictures. Instead of staying at an expensive (or even affordable) hotel, what many Cubans do when they travel is that they rent a "Casa Particular." It is pretty much a rented apartment, and you get complete privacy. This also means you have to make your own bed. You can use the kitchen to cook your own food, if you wish. When you step out of a Casa Particular, you're not in a hotel lobby or a large parking lot. You are right there in the midst of Cuba, with the non-touristy pollution, the non-touristy noise of the cars going by, the people walking to work, and you find yourself as part of the Cuban picture.
These Casa Particulares range from cheap to expensive, and we at Budget Travel can find you one that fits your budget and the location you desire. It may not seem like much. The exterior doesn't look too pretty and you may think the buildings need remodeling. All true. But therein lies the true beauty of it all. This is a special time in history where Cuba still looks like America in the 1950s. This won't last for long. Before they renovate and change like the rest of Western civilization, you can enjoy the rugged richness of this one-time Cuban society.