In terms of personal safety, the same rules apply as to every international destination in the world. Keep your belongings close and guarded at all times, don’t go wandering about alone at night and, when in the cities, be on the alert for pickpockets.
Some areas in South Africa are malaria-free and others are not. Make a note of your destination and ask your doctor whether you need to get anti-malaria medication. Also remember that it tends to get very hot in summer (with temperatures of over 30ºC or 86ºF).
- Banking hours at most commercial banks are Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 15h30 and on Saturday from 08h00 to 11h00.
- ATMs are found throughout the country, at airports, petrol stations and shopping centres.
- The currency is the South African Rand. R1 is made up of 100 cents. Please check with your hotel for daily exchange rates. No other currency is accepted as a form of payment.
- Visa, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard are honoured by most restaurants, shops, hotels, car rental firms and other points of sale. Proof of identity may be requested, so be sure to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most petrol stations.
- Please note that 14% Value Added Tax is levied in South Africa.
- It is advised you check with your tour operator or hotel concierge - they will know if there are any potentially unsafe areas along your travel route.
- It is wise to avoid deserted areas, particularly at night, and if you are on a self-drive adventure then please ensure your car is locked at all times - park in well-lit, busy areas.
- Dress-down (i.e. don’t wear excessive jewellery) when exploring Africa’s diverse cities. Concealed travel wallets are recommended.
- Stopping for hitch hikers is not recommended.
- South Africans are a very warm and hospitable nation - please do not hesitate in asking for assistance at any time.
Most types of film material are readily available in all major centres and holiday resorts. Please be sensitive when photographing people. South Africans are renowned for being friendly; however it is courteous to ask permission before snapping away.
Passport & Visa Requirements
Guests visiting South Africa must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of travel and should have at least two blank pages (not endorsement pages) available in their passport. Vistors travelling to multiple countries are advised to have 3 to 4 blank pages in their passports, as entry may be denied if there are insufficient blank pages. Visitors who intend travelling to South Africa’s neighbouring countries and back are advised to apply for multiple entry visas.
What the Experts Say
- Internet facilities are available in all cities and most rural areas.
- Hospitals, transport and educational facilities are world-class.
- Accommodation ranges from guesthouses and boutique hotels to exclusive tented camps.
- If you are going into game parks by yourself, remember to remain in your car and not get out to photograph the wild animals.