+ travel tips
- The South African time zone is GMT+2.
- English is widely spoken and is generally the accepted means of communication.
- South Africa has eleven official languages.
- Rand (R) = 100 cents.
- Denominations of coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, R5.
- Denominations of notes: R10, R20, R50, R100, R200.
- The value of the rand against most currencies makes South Africa one of the most inexpensive sources of African souvenirs. – International credit cards are accepted.
- Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at all major banks, hotels and foreign exchange offices in major shopping centres.
- Banking hours are generally from 09H00 – 15H30, Mondays to Fridays. Saturday banking hours are from 08H30 – 11H00.
- Cash card fraud and scams are rife throughout the country. Tourists should be careful and alert at all times.
- Banks at all international airports are open two hours either side of international arrivals and departures. ATM’s (automatic teller machines) are numerous and are available all over the country.
- Airport taxes are included in the airfare and need not be paid separately.
- Value Added Tax (VAT) is payable on all goods and services in South Africa, except on a few basic foods.
- VAT refunds can be obtained at airports upon departure from the country for goods purchased in South Africa (with a unit price exceeding R250.00).
- Foreign visitors should ensure that they receive a VAT invoice and a VAT 255 form from the retailer/wholesaler.
- Both of these forms should be presented together with the goods to the VAT Refund Administrator after passing through passport control on departure from the country.
- VAT on services is not refundable.
- 220-240V, 50Hz AC, mostly three round-pin sockets (one 10mm and two 8mm prongs).
- Accommodation establishments usually have two round-pin sockets for razors and many have hairdryers as permanent fixtures.
- International socket adaptors will be necessary.
- Seasons are opposite to those of the Northern hemisphere.
- October is an ideal season for touring – it is spring then.
- Those who go to South Africa for animal viewing in particular might want to go in the winter months. The grass is short and animals tend to gather around water holes.
SHOPPING / TRADING HOURS
- Generally Monday – Friday 08H30 to 17H00.
- Saturdays 08H30 – 13H00.
- Some shopping centres trade on Sunday mornings as well.
- When hiring a car in South Africa, you will need a valid driver’s licence. – International and domestic airlines operate between the main cities, with charter services available. – Coach tours operate nationwide on a daily basis. – Intercity train services with regular bus services are available. – To hire a taxi, you will need to call a taxi company or find one at a centrally located taxi rank. Taxi ranks can usually be found in city centres and at major airports. – Make sure the meter in the taxi starts at zero.
- Tips are expected and customary, but not compulsory.
- Tips are given according to the service levels received.
- A 10% tip is standard for good service received from taxi drivers and restaurant waiters.
- For groups of eight or more, restaurants will add gratuity to your bill.
- Hotel porters should receive a small tip as well.
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
- Take an organised tour of a black township. You will be amazed at the friendliness and openness that you will encounter there.
- Don’t let the crime worry you so much that you forget to enjoy the country. All the pleasures and beauty of the country and its inhabitants will pass you by if you allow this to happen.
- Try and visit a Zulu or other ethnic village. The traditional dancing is a must-see.
- Take a tour of a working gold mine.
- Do not swim at beaches where others are not swimming. Shark nets do not protect some beaches.
- Try and catch the Springboks in action to experience the electrifying atmosphere.
- Men should pack in a smart jacket/coat and a tie as some restaurants require them in the evening.
- Pack in a flashlight if visiting a game reserve – it will come in handy.
- Try and arrange to see a diamond cutting works in Johannesburg. Ask at your hotel for information.