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Cuba is not a shopping destination but if you are already in the country enjoying your holidays, don’t miss the opportunity to buy good quality products made in the country, at lower price in comparison with Europe and North America.

In Cuba, you will find different types of shops and markets that we will classify in different categories in order to help you understand the differences between them.

Tourist Souvenirs shops
They are state owned stores located mostly at hotels and tourist areas that sell mainly products that could be useful or interesting for the hotels guests and other visitors.

“Dollar” Shops and supermarkets
They are called “Dollar” because until 2004 it was allowed to pay at them with the American Currency. Now it is only allowed to pay with CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) which is the Cuban equivalent to Dollars.
These shops can be found at the main cities and villages all over the country and there are many different types of them that sell every kind of products. These shops and supermarkets are used by visitors and local population, because they are the best and in many cases the only alternative to buy products like shoes, clothes, electronic equipment, industrial processed food, and other products for domestic use.

Food markets
They are specialized in agricultural products that are produced and sold by private farmers. These markets are the best and in most of the cases the only option to buy some fresh fruits and vegetables, and for locals is also the cheapest option to buy some types of meats.
At these markets it is allowed to pay in both type of currencies (CUC and CUP), so you have to know the exchange rate between them in order to avoid problems paying the products.

Private craftwork markets (ferias)
In these markets the products are made by craftsmen with a special license to run this activity as a small private business. These “private run” markets offer a wide diversity of products which are usually cheaper than the state souvenir shops and the state craftwork markets. The quality of the products differs but generally it is good.
Because of the good correlation between price and quality, these markets have become very popular among locals and visitors.

Bodegas (food shops in CUP)
These shops are made only for the local population, and they sell food and other domestic products at very low prices in CUP (Cuban Pesos), subsidized by the government. These products must be bought using a ration card known as “libreta de abastecimiento”, which regulates the amount of each product every person gets every month. Tourist and foreign
visitors are not allowed to buy in these shops.

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