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As there is no Sat Nav in Cuba, it is advisable to download an app. Cuba offline maps, on to a Tablet, before you go. If you get really stuck, ask a Taxi driver directions.
Things you need to know before renting a car in Cuba...
1) Insurance is manditory and is paid locally starting at 15 CUC/day up to 30CUC/day depending on the type of vehicle you rent; Economy - Luxury etc. Minimum age for rentals is 21. All rental contracts clearly state that only "Especial" (Premium) fuel is to be used in vehicles.
Note: Some areas of Cuba will not have premium fuel at it's disposition, Regular gas will be substituted in this situation.
2) You must pay for a full tank of gas upfront when renting with Transtur/Cubacar or Rex. If you have rented your vehicle with VIA Rent a car you don't have to pay upfront for gas; you have to return the car with a full tank of gas as you were originally given. It is best to rent directly from one of these. People have been scammed renting through the agency Cuba Caribbean (said to be one of several Travelucion companies including carhireincuba; havanatur and maybe others, all to be avoided).1
3) Insurance covers damages to vehicle with the exception of the Radio, Spare Tire, Emblems. (Most commonly stolen items).
Be sure you understand and check any cost incurred. Ask for a receipt for every CUC you pay (or the amount to be mentioned on the contract) to avoid being scammed. One of the known scams reffers to the cost of insurance. The cost of the insurance policy varies only depending on the car type and covers any incident except for the above mentioned ones. Nevertheless,you may be told that there are more (2-3) insurance options for the chosen car and lead to buy the more expensive one. This is the scam! The difference between the minimum cost and the one you pay goes into the scammer's pocket ( you are told you cannot pay the full amount of the insurance with credit card and neither do you get a receipt for it).
4) $20 CUC fee applies to all vehicles being picked up at airport rental offices. No fee when dropping off a vehicle at an airport rental office.
5) When picking up the car always ensure to conduct a walk around with the rental agent and ensure all vehicle damage, scratches, missing emblems (If applicable) are noted in the rental contract. Also ensure you have a full tank of gas. These are common issues that can be easily avoided if you simply pay attention.
Renting a car in Cuba is very expensive in comparison with United States/Canada. The majority of the vehicles available are manual transmission, Their are also automatic cars available usually at a premium of $5 CUC daily.If you are travelling with young children bring a car seat from home, even the most basic, as you would be unlikely to get one even if you have booked (Usually a shortage) The other essential item to bring is sun glasses as the sun could get unbearable.
Additional Comments from TA Community
In the city, traffic is heavy and with all the oneway streets it is easy to get lost. Try to get to the Malecon to have a better orientation. This is the big road along the sea. Another idea is to ask the car rental people for directions and get them as specific as possible. Once out of the center of Habana, street signs are rare. You don't have directions even at big intersections. People are friendly, so ask for directions. This is obviously where speaking even some Spanish is incredibly helpful. But they often do not know , as they have no car. Calculate enough time from one point to the other, as you would be lucky not to get lost somewhere. Watch out for speed limits however.
Streets - at least the bis autopistas and near tourist attractions - have improved and are now much better than some years ago. But backcountry streets are still very bumpy and with lots of holes, covered with mud, so that you don't see their total extent approaching them and hit them full on.
At intersections on the autopista, be prepared for people jumping into your driveway, wanting to be taken somewhere. If they see tourists, they try to flag them down, pretending they have a flat tire or something like that. Or they tell you that you are driving the wrong direction and they are going to show you the way, only to get into your car. Also this is better now than some years ago. At big intersections, where lot of people arrive from the backcountry, there are now officials in uniform who control everything and see to it that the one who arrived first gets out first. This avoids that you are assaulted by dozens of people. The officials flag down the cars and decide who gets in.(People are even ready to pay for the lift you give them). As they know that tourists are recommended not to take foreigners, they rarely flag down a tourist car. The rental cars are marked T for turista, so everybody knows you are a tourist (they would know it anyway, as new cars like the rental cars are rare).
The actual standard of driving is not dangerous certainly relative to other Latin countries. People drive quite slowly, whether or not by choice, and the volume of traffic is slight outside of Havana.
If you don’t have a rental car, there are three different types of taxis to get you around Havana:
- The official taxi. Metered and you should insist they run it. You can try to negotiate the price, but you should take a few rides first, so you get a feel for the pricing - it could surprise you how cheap it can be.
- ‘Illegal’ taxis. Practically any Cuban
with a car will take you around for a price (sometimes
expensive). Havana Veija to Vedado should cost
you 3 to 4 CUC; if you're being charged more, reconsider.
- ‘Fixed route taxis’. Best option. These are "Classic Americans" but they operate on the concept of ride sharing. Cubans use them a lot, so you'll have a chance to meet some locals. Rides under 5km will cost you 10 MN and a longer rides should be around 20 MN. To get one to pick you up stick your arm out as one approaches. Tell the driver your destination and if he says “vamos” you can get in.
In the areas of Havana Veija: Capitolio and Vedado: Copelia you will find lots of taxis passing through.
Other options are Bici-taxi, the coco-taxi and horse and carriage.
Outside Havana the 'local' taxis seem to be mainly pedalled tricycles or horse drawn carts, but 'normal' taxis are available too.
1 See thread https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTop...