cuba

Is Cuba Safe?

Cuba is so mysterious to Americans that it seems everyone asks: is Cuba safe?  Here is everything you need to know to have a safe and wonderful trip to Cuba.
 

Before your trip, make sure to check out:

Cruising in Havana. Photo credit: Pedro Szekely
Cruising in Havana. Photo credit: Pedro Szekely

 


PICKPOCKETS AND SCAMS
It’s no secret in Cuba that American travelers can pretty much only travel with cash.  But you can protect yourself by not keeping all your money in one place. You’re in no more danger of being pickpocketed in Havana than you would be of being pickpocketed standing under the Eiffel Tower or taking selfies at the Coliseum.


To stay safe, keep some of your money in your wallet, some in a hidden pocket, and some in your bags in the hotel (in a variety of pockets). This just makes it difficult for someone to steal all of your money in one shot. Also, never put your wallet in your back pocket and carry a purse with a zipper and/or clasp.


Muggings are rare, but it’s still best not to wear obviously valuable jewelry as it makes you a target.


Sometimes, as part of scam, you’ll be asked directly for money.  Someone will come to you with a sad story that is most likely not true. Firmly say no when asked for money and walk away. The person will likely move onto another, easier target.

 

HEALTHCARE FOR FOREIGNERS
If you’re worried about getting sick or injured in Cuba, don’t worry about it any more than you would if you were staying home. Everyone visiting Cuba is required to have health insurance that is valid in Cuba. You’ll need to purchase it at the airport upon arrival before passing through customs. It costs about $4 per day.


Cuban health insurance for foreigners varies depending on the policy you choose, but most policies cover:

  • Medical treatment for accidents and sudden illnesses
  • Repatriation (return of your body to the U.S. in case of death)
  • Personal civil liability

Your Cuban health insurance likely will not cover flare-ups of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease.


If you need to use your health insurance, take comfort in the fact that Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the world. The World Health Organization continually praises the expertise of Cuban medical teams and the emphasis on research in the Cuban healthcare system. For example, the infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world (and lower than in the U.S.). Cuban doctors and medical staff are also one of Cuba’s greatest exports; medical personnel trained in Cuba provide care throughout Latin America and Africa. The medical staff you’ll meet in Cuba will take good care of you if you need them.

 

A FEW GOOD SAFETY TIPS

Use the same precautions here that you would when traveling to another foreign country or major city.

  • Don’t walk alone late at night. 
  • Know a few basic Spanish phrases pertaining to money, asking directions, and asking for help. 
  • Bring plenty of cash, but don’t keep it all in one place. 
  • Don’t leave your purse unattended anywhere. Don’t leave it on the table at a dance club. 
  • Pay attention and walk like you know where you’re going, even if you’re lost.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

If you are the victim of a crime or you get sick, these are the phone numbers to call for help.


Police: 106

Fire Department: 105

U.S. Embassy in Cuba: +53 7839-4100

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