Vibing to Havana like Jay Chou: Heres How You Can Too!

Havana, Jay Chou newest song "Mojito"Havana Like Jay Chou

If you haven’t seen the newest viral hit “mojito” in China by one of the most famous Taiwanese singers, Jay Chou, then let me indulge you for 4 minutes here.  Shot in Havana, it has taken the Chinese music world by storm and now becoming an international hit. In under 24 hours, it gained over 3 million views and as of now over 10,000,000 and counting.

The song is an ode to globalization: using a latin rythm with Chinese vocals- a fusion I do not think has ever been done before on a massive international scale. Really, it’s beautiful.

The music video is shot completely on the streets of Habana as Chou and friends dance on the streets, ride in the classic cars, and groove on the Malecon.   All of these destinations are not just iconic to La Habana but a must do for any visitor.

It’s no surprise that an uptick in Cuba tourism since the release of the song “Mojito” has sky-rocketed. So of course that leaves many people wondering, how can I feel like I’m in that music video?

Getting to Cuba

Getting to Cuba is not only easy (yes, even for Americans: see this blog) its relatively CHEAP.  From the US, Mexico or Panama roundtrip tickers are anywhere from $200-$400.

What to Know

After deciding to buy your tickets, its important to note that Cuba is notoriously known for “traveling back in time (I hate saying that, but alas).” In Cuba, wifi is hard to access, cash is king, and plastic credit cards are not your friend. Heres a Cuba 101

When you step outside of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I said “traveling back in time”. The parking lot is filled with 1950 American cars and 1970 Soviet Box ones.  We often hear visitors say “oh wow!!!”  These cars are everywhere, not just in the tourist areas.

Where To Stay

Speaking of tourist areas, Old Havana, Centro and El Vedado are the areas most frequently stayed by tourists in Cuba.  Old Havana is the tourist central but at times can be very busy, dirty, and loud.  Alternatively, El Vedado is the hip, “americanized” part of the city. With art deco buildings that line up residential zones, its quieter but also near amazing restaurants and clubs.  If you’re wondering where exactly you should stay, just slide into my DMS!  

Where in Havana Jay Chou stayed? Not to sure but this instagram picture is on the rooftop of the Gran Manzana Kempinski, the most luxury hotel in Cuba located in Old Havana. (Americans, you cannot “legally” stay here.  Contact me for more questions!)

Havana Jay chou enjoying sunset on rooftop

What To Do In Cuba: Jay Chou “Mojito Style”

  1. Ride in A Classic Car: This is a MUST
  2. Have a Mojito: Want to Learn where the best mojito was? I got extremely drunk to write this blog post
  3. Take Salsa Dancing classes: Jay Chou can improve on this, but we give him props.
  4. Take a tour of havana!
  5. Spend at least one sunset walking the famous Malecon.  Trust me you HAVE to do this. You can even sip on an amazing mojito at the malecón 663 boutique hotel’s rooftop or the S/O Hotels amazing panoramic 360-degrees views of Havana.
  6. Get a personalized itinerary from us! We will outline everything based on what you like to do and can arrange everything!

Once you’re ready to go to Cuba sip on a mojito, you too will feel like you’re in a music video!





Oriente Cuba: 7 Obversations We Learned


Last week, Yoel and I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime– traveling to Oriente Cuba.  Neither of us had traveled beyond what I call the “tourist golden road” of Trinidad / Santa Clara. And what I found there changed many perspectives I have of the place we call home. 

Often when people suffer from “culture shock” it’s because they went to another country.   Imagine experiencing that in your own country.

That was Oriente. 

So let me explain some observations I took away from traveling cross country and seeing our island beyond what we thought we would ever see.

1. Oriente Cuba is more beautiful than what I Thought

Cuba block sign on Santiago’s malecon

To be honest, much of the landscape between Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba is flat. Nothing much to see in terms of beautiful picturesque island-scapes. But let me tell you, once you get to Santiago de Cuba and from what appears out of nowhere giant mountains pressed up next to the sea it will take your breath away.  

2. We don’t understand now why Oriente, Cuba lacks tourism 

Oriente, in particular, Santiago de Cuba, is a tourist dream. Its a beautiful city pressed along the ocean with many activities both beach and nature around. The city itself is impressive, CLEAN, and filled with restaurants bars and shops.  

 In the 3 days we were there, we both noticed that everything was always on the menu. We never heard the dreaded “no, no temenos eso (no we don’t have that today)” as we often hear in Havana. 

Infrasture wise, the streets were lit, the streets without potholes, and signs everywhere telling people where attractions were. 

It just left us incredibly impressed. Were we still in Cuba?   How did Havana, with its trash lack of resources and broken infrastructure become Cuba’s tourist destination? 

But  why does Santiago have better and more things? That leads me to the 3rd observation 

3. If Someone Important lives there, its nice. 

It didn’t take long to realize that the reason Santiago de Cuba looks like a mini-Europe is because the most important family is from and still currently lives in Santiago. 

Outside of main cities like Santiago or Camaguey (camaguey was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, therefore maintained much nicer) infrastructure needs, lack of opportunity, general poverty was pretty noticeable. 

Granma is cited as the poorest provience in Cuba and we definitely noticed it. Which takes me to observation #4 

4. Theres millions of people in Cuba who do nothing all day. 

At every place we stayed at (Santa Clara, Santi Spiritu, Cienfugos, Camaguey, Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba), there were mass amounts of people who do nothing all day.   This isn’t that new to us as we see it everyday on the street corner in Pinar del Rio, but seeing it across the nation is pretty astonishing. 

At one point Yoel and I asked a bunch of 20-30year olds if they knew where the woman who was supposed to be working at the gas station (Cupet) was. They said “probably at home, theres nothing to do here.” 

I asked them if they had jobs and they all answered what most Cubans answer “inventando” or “inventing”.  In Cuba, inventando is doing odd jobs here and there to make ends meat.   They are not hired directly but rather just find little things to do maybe 3 times a week to make a bit of money. 

I couldn’t help but think that if entrepreneurs were supported, uplifted, and encouraged in Cuba many of those same boys could be employed by new jobs. 

As well with the drunks.

5. Cuba’s alcohol problem stretches across Oriente Cuba 

I couldn’t tell you how many times we came across drunks during our travels.  They seemed to be everywhere.  Again, something we are used to in Pinar but we never really thought beyond to the entire nation. 

In Cuba, there is AA but the culture to get sobered is not promoted nor enforced in society as much as you see in others. 

The problem got to be personal when Yoel and I fought over him giving a drunk a dollar when we was peddling – an action I cannot participate in.

 6. Pinar del Rio is the worst provience capitol in Cuba 

We stopped in every single provience capitol with the exception of Guantanamo and it’s a fact- Pinar del Rio is the worst one. 

In Cuba, the rumor of Pinar del Rio being the worst provience always existed since before and after the revolution.  

Despite its huge tourism coming for Vinales and Maria la Gorda, Pinar del Rio (the provience capitol city) lacks major infastrucutre, attractions, culture and general cleanliness. 

Let me give you an example: Every provience has plaza’s, a shopping center (bouvelard), several museums and art galleries.  Pinar del Rio has 0 plazas, 0 shopping center, 2 museums (one of which is in repair for years), and 1 private art gallery. That’s it. 

Pinar del Rio’s roads are in horrible shape inside the city and its buildings in dire need of repair. 

We constantly compared Oriente Cuba to our own city and we couldn’t help feel sad and shameful that Pinar continues to be the what we think, the worst one.

 7. Not every Cuban can travel to Oriente Cuba and we know it

The economy and the tight wallets get in the way of many Cubans traveling inside their own country. They are so desperate to leave to see the world they forget to see their own.  

We traveled across Cuba in motorcycle and it was the best and most economical way to see Cuba on our own terms. 

The entire time we felt blessed we were able to have an opportunity that most never get in a lifetime. And we cant wait to do it overagain… Maybe this time…WITH YOU! 

kisses at Holguíns loma

Finally Uber in Cuba? The New Revolutionary App

Is Uber finally in Cuba?

No, but with its own twist of Cubaneo, “SUBE” is. With the arrival of 3g technology and a group of millennials who’s office is a WiFi Park, Sube Cuba is officially the country’s first ride sharing app! 

And to that I say: Hallelujah! 

The app came just in time. The Transportation Issue.

New constitutional provisions that prohibited many private taxis to operate was introduced around the same time mobile data was announced to the public.  

But before these changes were happening, the group of 4 20-something’s were already trying to solve an endless problem Cubans are confronted with everyday: transportation. 

That problem has been a major issue in this county for decades. The combination of the US embargo alongside domestic economic and political issues has damaged public transportation and the buy and sell of vehicles. 

This is especially true in Havana, Cuba’s capital.  With a population of 2 million people, the bus system is minimal and leaves many riders jam packed (unsafely I might add) in busses. 

Now with the new constitution crusading against unlicensed (untaxed) private taxi drivers, the problem got exponentially worse. 

Before, Many Cubans use “colectivos” as an option of public transportation. These private cars pick people up on a certain route and drop them off for a set price (usually around 10 pesos cubanos or 50 cents cuc per person).

Now after the provision, taxi drivers are required to have a license from the state, pay monthly taxes, forced to buy a quota of state gasoline (previously bought more frequently on the black market), and mandated to lower the prices of their services at the same time. 

So it’s only natural to know what comes next: very little taxis. 

That’s where Sube comes in. Before the announcement of mobile data, the group was already implementing the app via email service. But once the mobile data services were announced, it changed the entire game. 

How SUBE is Changing the Game

With Sube, Cubans and tourists can now upload the app and ask for direct taxis. Drivers have the option to charge their prices and accept rides. 

It works similar to Uber though not as advanced. There’s no “uber pool” or options of cars. 

But it resolves many issues people face on the island. Now with just an app you can have your ride waiting for you without standing on the corner forever. 

The app is completely free to download and use for both the rider and the taxi. 

Uber in Cuba: Sube Cuban app
Sube Cuba platform

An App with 0 Funding

The founders, Claudia, Darien, Damian,  and Luis Alberto sit in the WiFi Park everyday coding and designing the app. They have yet to monetize the app (a very legally tricky thing to in Cuba) so they make absolutely no money off creating the app. 

As of now they are just trying to perfect the app so it works perfectly and get the word out. They have about 3,000 users and the number is rising everyday. 

Claudia hopes that the app “resolves both Cuban problems and tourists problems.

Tourist App

Many times as a tourist you don’t know how much transportation is and you get ripped off just because you’re a tourist”. With the app, the price is confirmed before hand without the driver knowing country of origin a rider is from. 

Transportation is already tricky for tourist. But with Sube this makes it even better!

The app is only available through Android but they are quickly working on releasing it for iPhone. 

Just another amazing story of Cuban strength despite the technological and financial challenges. 

While many news publications will compare Sube to Uber, perhaps Uber might learn something from a group of four techies in a country where tech is far from modern. 

You can download Sube here and check out their Instagram and Website

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People in 2019

Coming to Cuba as an American (or from an American city) under the Support the Cuban people visa category and wondering what the “f” does that mean? After Trumps latest sanctions don’t worry, I got you.

As you might already know, visiting Cuba is completely LEGAL under this visa category even after Trump Administrations sanctions in June of 2019 (that cut off largely group cruise ships).  While in Cuba, you’ll quickly discover no undercover American patrol unit is following you around making sure you’re behaving and not drinking the communist kool-aid.

But, legally speaking, what does “Support the Cuban People” actually mean? Well according to the law, Americans are required to participate in activities that support independent institutions.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control, the US department that regulates these laws, gives Americans some examples: “Staying at a casa particular” or “eating at a paladar (restaurant)” are some of the things Americans can do.

They go on to state that you’ll need to provide a full-day itinerary of activities that support the Cuban people on the VERY EXTREMELY RARE chance they question you.

Need not fear, my American dears! Here’s a list of suggested activities Americans can do that also do something pretty cool…. actually, support the Cuban people.

Hey, if you’re in Cuba you might as well give back to the many thousands of entrepreneurs, local taxi drivers, and everyday hustlers trying to make a life on an island that’s experiencing a pretty hard economic situation.

  1. Take a Day Tour of Havana!

    • You can take a tour of the beautiful Old Havana with a local guide (me hehe) that takes you through the many historical parts of the city and gives you a local perspective of how many Cubans live.
    • If interested in this tour, shoot me an email!

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      • Walk the streets of Habana Vieja with a local who gives you a different perspective
  1. Ride an American Classic Convertible

    • What is Cuba without the classic American cars? You can ride one as well around the city and its COMPLETELY LEGAL! The classic cars are owned by private citizens and help support the local economy.  Yes, its super touristy but it’s an absolute must DO!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      Whitney Riding The Malecon!

  1. Learn how to make Cuban food and eat some!

    • You can just eat at a local restaurant, but why don’t you learn how to make a Cuban dish prepared by a local chef!? That why you are taking an “educational class” and filling your belly at the same time! Plus you’ll learn how restaurants in socialist Cuba are adjusting to the everyday struggles of getting more supplies, the right amounts of food, and searching how to make their new client bases happy.. tourists!
    • Want to learn how to make incredible Cuban meal inside a families home? Shoot me an email 

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

A typical Cuban meal: Rice, Beans, Meat and Veggies

  1. Drink cocktails with a Cuban mixologist

    • Learn how to make the classic Cuba Libre, Daiquairi, and Mojitos with a mixologist! Our friends at Jibarao in Old Havana are trained doctors of Nuclear Physics turned restaurant owners so they know how to mix REALLY well.
    • Lets drink it up with this class! Shoot me an email 

    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      Learning how to Make Cocktails at Jibarao with our friends from New York!

  1. Smoke some Cubans in the Heart of Tobacco Country

    • Cuban cigars are infamous all over the world. I mean, if you’re coming to Cuba and NOT smoking a Cuban cigar, what are you even doing here?
    • Pinar del Rio, Cuba Is famous for growing Cuba’s best cigars and in the heart of the region stands Vinales, a small farming town. We take you there to meet our family friends who own a tobacco farm. Leo, Domingo, and Mingo will show you how to roll a cigar, educate you on how tobacco is run, and show you around our beautiful land!
    • Take this experience with me on my Vinales/Pinar del Rio tour!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      See a Tobacco House where they grow the tobacco for the famous Cuban Cigar!

  1. Have dinner in the Cuban countryside

    • Homemade Cuban dinner in the countryside is the epitome of heaven. Seriously….we aren’t joking. Cuba has 100% organic food, but it taste even better prepared by guajiros (Cuba’s countryside people) and farm fresh.
    • Get an intimate view on how most Cubans live outside of tourism in the countryside with my FAMILY! <3
    • Take this experience with me on my Vinales/Pinar del Rio tour

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

My beautiful Norwegian friends escaping the cold winters and eating at our families home in Pinar del Rio!

  1. Stay at a Casa Particular

    • Mentioned above, but Casa particulares (“private homes”) are a great way to support the Cuban people. Since the liberalization of small businesses, the island has boomed with casa particulares tourist can rent.
    • Tip: In many cases, casa particulares are much nicer than hotels run by government conglomerates. They pay special attention to their clients and cleanliness is a priority.
    • Interested in staying in a Casa particular in Cuba? Email me here!
  1. Learn how to Dance Salsa with a Salsero!

    • If its not the rum, the cigars, or the cars that bring you to Cuba, you need to add DANCING SALSA to that itinerary.. NOW! Cuban music is recognizable all over the world and salsa dance is something every tourist should experience!
    • Learn how to dance salsa with a professional. Honestly, I cant even dance that well and he taught me SO much in less than an hour!
    • Get your rumba on, here!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People

      Alyssa and Megan getting their rumba on with our friend Carlos!

  1. Explore Cuba’s Nature

  • Cuba is a gigantic island with many parts still left unconstructed and untouched. See the lush tropics and almost Jurassic park-ish feeling the island has.
  • Whether its waterfalls in Artemisa (1 hour outside Havana) and in Cienfuegos or cascading rivers in Trinidad, Cuba has something to offer everyone
  • Click here for more information on Cuba’s nature!

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

Me walking through the countryside!

  1. Go to the Beach

    • Now this one might seem that it isn’t part of “activities Supporting the Cuban people” but who says!? You can hire a private driver that can take you there, eat at a local restaurant, and go to a local beach!
    • There are beautiful beaches near Havana and all around the island.. you can take a tour there with us or stay at a casa particular if far that supports the Cuban people with some pretty amazing views!