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Travelling Common Sense Tips


Suggested dress

South African society tends towards casual dress, though in business, the international dress standard is the norm.

When on safari in the bush

• Khaki-coloured shorts and trousers, preferably cotton, for bush walks

•Khaki top, or cotton T-shirt in earth tones (not white) for the bush

• Button down shirts with long sleeves to cover up in the very hot sun

• Swimsuit, shorts and poolside leisure wear for hotels and resorts

• Cotton socks (for bush walks or game drives at night to protect ankles from mosquitoes and cold)

• Closed hiking boots or trainers for bush walks

• Bush hat, sweat/track pants, and warm fleece clothes if the temperature drops at night

For the rest of the trip

• General casual leisure gear such as shorts, T-shirts, cotton short-sleeved shirts, sun dresses, etc.

• Sandals for casual leisure wear in towns and cities

• Smart formal shoes for dressy occasions

• Jacket for the evenings or for air-conditioned hotels or restaurants

Don’t forget!

• sunscreen

• insect repellent

• sunglasses

• binoculars

• camera

General Information

• South Africa is a destination where generally no preparatory immunisations are needed, with the exception of Yellow Fever if coming from an infected area.

•Malaria is found only in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo and on the Maputaland coast of KwaZulu-Natal. It is not much of a risk in the winter months. In summer, though, the risk increases, although it is still considered low to medium.

• The best, cheapest, safest and most effective measures against malaria are mechanical barriers and the use of a good insect repellent. It is also essential that they continue taking the drugs for four weeks, or as indicated, after leaving the malaria risk area. Travellers should consult a health practitioner before making their decision.

Exposure to the sun and heat exhaustion

• Use a high UVA/UVB factor sunscreen as well as a hat when outdoors.

• Have a light cotton long-sleeved shirt to wear for added sun protection during the heat of the day.

• Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if the temperature is very high.

Hygiene and water-borne diseases

• Standards of hygiene throughout the developed parts of the country are generally exceptionally high.

•South Africa has exceptionally high quality tap water and has been rated within the top three countries in terms of water purity in the world. The situation is slightly different in very remote rural parts of the country.


• Many travellers choose to bring needles with them in case they need an injection in an area where supplies are limited.

At the hotel
• Never leave luggage unattended.

• Store valuables in the hotel’s safety deposit box.

• Keep the hotel room locked at all times...0

• If someone knocks at the door, check who it is before opening.

• Hand in room keys at the reception desk when leaving the hotel.

In the street

• Avoid ostentatious displays of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables.

• It is definitely not advisable to carry large sums of money around.

• Steer clear of dark, isolated areas at night.

• It’s better to explore in groups and to stick to well-lit, busy streets.

• Plan routes beforehand.

• A policeman or traffic officer will be glad to direct you if you get lost.

• If you want to call a taxi, your hotel or the nearest tourism information office can recommend a reliable service.


• Plan routes in advance.

• Keep your doors locked at all times and keep the windows up.

• Lock valuable items in the boot (trunk) of the car.

• At night, park in well-lit areas.

• Never give strangers a lift.

• If in doubt about the safety of an area, phone a police station for advice.

Common-sense travel safety tips

• When out of your hotel, carry only small amounts of cash and your credit card and use the hotel safety deposit service or your room safe.

• Keep your wallet in an inside pocket and your handbag over your shoulder.


• Most businesses operate from 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. Government offices usually operate from 07:30 to 16:00, Monday to Friday.


• Most major shopping centres and malls operate seven days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas shops are closed on a Sunday.


• South Africa’s unit of currency is the Rand (denoted ZAR in official financial literature), which is divided into 100 cents. The Rand comes in denominations of R1, R2 and R5 coins and R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 notes.

• Credit cards are widely accepted at most establishments with some exceptions. Fuel (petrol/gasoline or diesel) cannot be paid for with credit cards, so you will need to carry cash when driving.

• You can cash traveller’s cheques at most hotels, guest houses, foreign exchange bureaus and, of course, at banks.

• Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are found throughout South Africa and accept most major credit cards.

• Most commercial banks are open from 09:00 to 15:30 on weekdays and 08:30 to 11:00 on Saturdays.
• South Africa has a sophisticated telecommunications network. Cellular phone service, Internet, and email are readily available.

Pay phones

• Pay phones can be found in most public places, some operating with phone cards and others with coins.

Cellular phones

• The cellular network in South Africa is well developed and calls can be received from almost anywhere.

• Cellular phones are available for hire from most cellular-phone outlets.

• When using a cellular phone the area dialling code has to be entered before the telephone number.

Emergency numbers

• The Tourism Information and Safety Call Line: +27 (0) 83 123 2345

• Police emergency: 10111

• Police Crime Stop: 0800 11 12 13

• Emergency and Crisis Services: 1022

• Ambulance: 10117

• Automobile Association (AA) breakdown service: 0 800 01 01 01


• E-mail facilities are widely available at hotels, guest houses and Internet cafés.
• South Africa’s electricity supply: 220/230V AC 50Hz

• Exceptions: Pretoria (230V) and Port Elizabeth (200/250V)

• Most plugs have three round pins, while some appliances have plugs with two smaller ones.
• All customers without an English licence are required to obtain an international driver’s permit.

• Travellers will not be able to rent a car without a valid driver’s licence or permit.

• Wearing of seatbelts is compulsory and strictly enforced South Africa enforces very strict drinking and driving laws. A maximum blood alcohol content of 0.05% is permitted.

• Speed limits are 120km/h on the open road, 100km/h on smaller roads and between 60 and 80km/h in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas so there may be a speed limit of 80 or 60km/h on a road that looks like an autobahn or freeway.
• Most public areas such as airports, shopping malls and sport arenas, have been declared smoke free areas..

• Guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts will generally only permit smoking outside the establishment.
• Duty-free goods can be bought at Johannesburg International, Cape Town International and Durban International airports.
• Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills and it is customary to leave a 10-12% tip.

• Parking and petrol station attendants should be given whatever small change you have available.

HE Mr Geoff Doidge
Head of Mission
More Information
Statistics South Africa
South Africa Reserve Bank
South African Revenue Services
Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Government Online
South African Airways
South African Tourism
National Parks of South Africa
South African Broadcasting Corporation
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