Here you will find important information to read before your departure:
Do not forget to purchase travel insurance.
The authorities are very strict and do not allow you to bring fluids, toothpaste, deodorants, etc. in your hand luggage. Some airports are large, and there may be a long distance to cover from check-in to the gate. It is a long trip, and you need to be prepared to wait for a few hours before you receive your luggage in Havana Airport. Please be patient when you come to the immigration/passport control. It may take some time.
Take a taxi to the hotel. It costs approximately 25 cuc (Cuban dollars). Do however feel free to ask one of the other participants to share a taxi and the costs. The address of the hotel is: Hotel Kohly, Ae. 49-Ay 36, Reparto Kohly Havana. You can change money at the airport.
Our guide will be at the lobby Sunday morning at 11:00 and Monday morning at 8:30. Our guide can assist you if you need to change the room or need extra help.
On Monday morning at 9:00, all participants should meet in the café at Hotel Kohly. The dance lessons take place in the hotel.
Visa: Everyone wishing to enter Cuba is required to apply for a Cuban visa. You must apply for a tourist visa at the Cuban embassy in your home country. American citizens can buy the visa where they buy their plane ticket. Your passport will not be stamped.
Single rooms have been reserved for those of you who have not requested a double room. Please note that there is a supplement of 150 euros for single rooms. The rooms will be assigned upon arrival. The hotel needs your passport number to check you in, so if you have not already done so, please send your passport number to us before departure.
You can rent a safety box for the room; it costs 2 CUC per day and is paid upon arrival.
Two daily meals are included in the price. The meals are served in the restaurant at the hotel: Dinner is between 19-22h every day. Breakfast is between 7-10h. The hotel is situated in a green and quiet area and has a swimming pool. There is also a small beach, Santa Maria, approximately 3 minutes drive from the hotel. So don’t forget to bring your swimwear!
The hotel allows you to have friends/visitors at the hotel, but Cubans are only admitted to enter the hotel when they have a specific errand. They are not permitted to enter the hotel rooms unless they live at the hotel.
Laundry: If you leave your dirty clothes in a plastic bag with the staff at the hotel, they will make sure that it is washed. You can pay for the washing in cash upon delivery of the clothes.
Massage: At the hotel, you can have a massage for only 15 cuc. for 45 min.
Internet: There is an internet connection at the hotel however it is slow and costs 3 CUC per hour.
The dance lessons. This is what it’s all about! The lessons take place at Hotel Kohly and in other premises nearby. Inside the hotel, there are two big halls, where two classes dance, whilst a third class dances under the palm trees. There will be three classes: beginners, intermediate and advanced.
On the first day, the instructors will study your dance skills and determine which class you belong to. This is to ensure that everybody is placed at the right level.
Every participant gets a Cuban dance partner. The teaching takes place in teams, and there will be two instructors. Every team will have an English interpreter who translates from Spanish into English whenever necessary. Our teacher and assisting teacher are good at showing the movements slowly. You may find that their way of teaching is different from the pedagogical methods you know from your home country. The Cuban way is a different way, but it works, and you will get value for money.
If it should happen that it doesn’t work well between a participant and a dance partner, we will of course find another dance partner. As part of the cultural experience, please be prepared to make an effort to understand the local mentality and energy, which is so exciting. We always find a number of tall guys for the tall girls. Local female dance partners are usually not as tall as the male participants, but don’t worry, they are very sweet and good dance partners.
Every morning at 9h15 we gather for an information meeting. From 9h30 there is one hour of warm-up with an introduction to other types of dances, e.g. son and rumba. Afterwards, there will be three hours of salsa and rueda de casino.
Dancing for so many hours may be a challenge, and the dance floor is a little hard. So please remember to bring soft shoes (sneakers). As you will be sweating a lot during classes, it might also be a good idea to bring many T-shirts. There are no rules about dancing in shorts or long pants. We only recommend comfortable clothes for training.
Sightseeing and night life:
On the first day after class, we shall take you on sightseeing tour in Havana Vieja (Old Havana). We may also go on other tours during the stay, depending on your wishes. There is a tourist information center in the lobby of Hotel Kohly. We will typically go on tours in the afternoon, and we might find good bands playing at this time of day (entry only 10 CUC). This is also a good time for going out if you don’t want to be too tired at the dance lessons the next morning. Entry to dance shows/cabaret shows (beautiful costumes and headgear decorated with feathers) can be pricey, approximately 40 CUC. We will also go to some rumba and folkloristic places during the week. At night during the weekends, we go out and enjoy some of the biggest bands. In Cuba, it is customary to dress nicely when you go out at night. On Sunday, we usually go to the fantastic beach Santa Maria and enjoy the whole day there. It is up to you whether you wish to take part in these activities.
Read about music places and night life events at:
The Cubans do not earn much money, so you must be prepared to pay for them if you take them out. It is up to you how much you would like to invite them out. However, it is usually a good idea. It creates good relations, you can feel safe, and you have somebody to dance with when going out. Usually, you agree to meet with the gentleman/lady in front of the music club, and then you pay for her/his entry. It is relatively cheap to go out, depending on the choice of band (between 5-20 CUC). Please, bear in mind that you pay for all the costs for your dance partner, i.e. entry and drinks. The Cubans get their salary in Pesos National, equivalent to approximately 10 CUC a month, so they haven’t got much money. If/when you take your dance partner out she/he will try to pay for her/his own entry in Pesos National, if possible, (100 Pesos National is equivalent to approx. 4 CUC). This is to save money so that it will be cheaper for you. Your dance partner will assist you in exchanging your money to the local currency, and then there will be no further exchange fees. You can use the local currency if you want to buy fruit, pizza, water, and the like in local shops in Havana.
Tips to the Cuban dance partners:
The Cuban dance partners receive a small amount of money from the dance school for their two weeks of dancing. Thus, we kindly suggest that the participants tip their dance partner at the end of the course. The amount would typically be 200 Euros, but of course we leave it to you to decide how much to offer, depending on how satisfied you have been with your dance partner, but it should be no less than 200 Euros. Cubakultur.dk pays the teacher and the interpreter. Tips are expected in Cuba (5-10% in the restaurants, and tips for guides etc).
If you have clothes, T-shirts, make-up, teddy bears, toys, etc. that you do not use anymore and if you have room for these things in your suitcase, please bring it along. The Cubans would be more than happy to receive them. Everything can be used in Cuba. The Cubans are very appreciative people and have only very little money to buy things. We also warmly recommend bringing pens, lighters, perfume and clothes in general.
Apart from cigars, rum, CD’s with local artists and some art, it is very limited what you can buy in Cuba. Things are generally very expensive due to the embargo. The few countries trading with Cuba enjoy a kind of monopolistic position. But there is always a lot going on, just remember that you have to pay an entry fee every time you go out. It is difficult to say how much pocket money you will need, but an estimate is 500 euro.
Foreign currency/course fee and security:
It is not worth exchanging money (and probably not possible either) at home into Cuban Dollars Convertibles - also called Pesos Convertibles (CUC). CUC should not be confused with the local Pesos National that the Cubans spend in the rationing shops and which foreigners cannot use in most places. The rate of the Cuban CUC is 10-20% lower than that of euro (and is very unstable). Whenever we refer to dollars (CUC) we mean Cuban Dollars Convertibles. In Denmark on the website: www.valutakurser.dk you will find the exchange rate of “Cuban Peso” – not Cuban Dollars Convertibles. You should bring euros with you from your home country. Euros cannot be used as a means of payment, but can be exchanged to Cuban Dollars Convertibles. You can do so at the airport upon arrival (you will have plenty of time while waiting for your luggage) or in the bank located a 5 minutes walk from Hotel Kohly. Do NOT try to exchange money in the street!
VISA cards can be used, but it is expensive as the fee is approximately 15%. It is recommended to bring cash from home. Make sure to exchange CUC into euros before departure. It is possible to exchange DKK in a shopping mall in the center of Havana. You can not use a mastercard in Cuba.
In general, the weather is good in Cuba. When it rains, you will notice it (!) so it is a good idea to bring an umbrella.
Vaccinations and mosquitoes:
It is recommended to have vaccinations against tetanus and hepatitis (hepatitis A). If you travel a lot you, may already have had these vaccinations.
It is a good idea to bring mosquito repellent from home as it is very hard to find in Cuba, and there may be many mosquitoes in the morning and evening.
Remember your own medicine if you need something special. Medicine is expensive in Cuba.
Cuba is known for many exotic things, but not for its cooking. The food is fine, you get lots of fruits, vegetables and meat at the hotel, but there is not much variation. To stabilize your stomach, bring yoghurt pills. Please be aware that you should not drink tap water, eat fish and shellfish from outside the hotel. If you stick to these reccomendations, you would be fairly safe.
The standard main voltage in Cuba is 110 volt (V). One plug in the hotel room is 220 V; this is the plug for the aircondition. Bring appliances that can be used in a 110 V country - or a small transformer that transforms from 110 V to 220 V (European standard). As the air condition plug (220 V) is placed in the room and not in the bathroom, you should bring a mirror if you need one when using electrical appliances connected to the 220 V plug in the room.
Do not drink tap water. We recommend to buy bottled water in large quantities as water in the supermarket can be sold out or there may be a long way to the next shop. There is a small shop in the hotel and a larger supermarket approximately 5 minutes from the hotel. The humidity is very high in Cuba, so you will need to drink plenty of water.
You will rarely find toilet paper at public toilets in Cuba. Thus we recommend you to always carry some in your bag when you are outside of the hotel. The toilets are often very simple compared to Danish standards. The toilet paper must be put in the little bin next to the toilet (never in the lavatory). This is the case both at the hotel and at public toilets.
Fidel Castro has delegated his power to his brother, Raul. You need not to worry about the political situation. However, if an emergency situation arises, we are not responsible for the participants. Therefore, we recommend you to buy a travel insurance.
Cuba is covered, but it costs approximately 1 euro to send and receive SMS. Phone calls cost approximately 2 euros per minute.
1 CUC = approx. Euro 0.95
”Casa de la música en Mira Mar” is located close to the hotel. Make sure to visit this place! There are some nice afternoon events between 6pm and 9pm.
The entry fees for the places to go dancing in the afternoon and evening costs approximately CUC 15 (CUC 5 for the Cubans who pay with Cuban pesos). If you invite your dance partner for a dance, please remember that you will have to pay for his/her drinks and also CUC 10 in total for a taxi out and back home.
Some of the days it will be possible to eat breakfast and lunch instead of breakfast or dinner (both are included in the price), you just need to say it in the morning, if you want lunch instead of dinner. Your dance partner would be very happy if you bring him/her a sandwich from the breakfast buffet, since a lot of them come and work without having eaten anything.
Remember to drink a lot of water. You can buy it in the supermarket close to the hotel.
Please be aware that it can be dangerous if two girls walk alone in the streets.
There is a mall in the hotel Comodore, which is only 5-10 minutes by taxi.
There is a nice market close to the Cathedral where you can purchase art crafts.
Saturday and Sunday, there are trips to see dolphins. These trips are wonderful and cost around CUC 120. You can find more information regarding these trips at the hotel.
If you invite a Cuban to sleep at the hotel, it will cost around CUC 50. This you can pay for in the reception.
A taxi from the city center to the hotel costs approximately CUC 10. We recommend using the Pan taxis.
1830 is one of the popular places to go dancing at night. It is open on Thursdays and Sundays.
Remember to bring a translation (Spanish or English) of your travel insurance since you will have to show it when you enter Cuba.
They do not sell protein bars in Cuba, so bring some snacks.
There is a really nice restaurant at the beach Santa María where you can eat delicious fish.
The breakfast will be served until 9:45 and the classes begin at 9:30.
On the first day, there will be a meeting at 9:00 at the hotel cafe.
At the hotel we are all under the number ADA-travel (and Cuban Culture Club/Misalsa Cubana)
You can get a list with the room numbers of the other participants. In this way you will be able to call each other.
When you return to your home country, remember to be in the airport at least 2 hours before the plane takes off to do the check-in.
Cuban Salsa in Havana:
Have a look at all the salsa and rumba places in Havana http://promociones.egrem.co.cu/
You can read about the history of Cuban Salsa at: http://michbuze.club.fr/burdi/histoire.htm