English |  
Mission Statement
ROSA
Wines of South Africa
Business
Friends
Other Services
Quick Facts
Film
Vacancies

South African Tourism
 
 
FACILITIES AND TRAVELL TIPS

 
Accommodation Fishing
Airports Golf
Banking Health & Medical Care
Beaches Museums
Border Posts  Religions
Bus Travel Security
Best Time to Go Shopping
Car Rental Sun Protection
Computicket Taxis
Conversions  Telephones
Credit Cards & Cash Time Differences
Currency Tipping
Customs Train Travel
Driving Value Added Tax (VAT)
Electricity Visas
Emergencies Water
Entry Weather
Etiquette Wildlife
Facilities for Disabled Wining & Dining
 
ACCOMODATION

South Africa offers a wide variety, from five-star hotels to camps and caravan parks. The standards of hotels are supervised by SA Tourism, which publishes The National Accommodation Guide containing details of quality star-graded accommodation throughout the country. Tariffs range from R100 - R2 000 per day according to the grade, location and style of establishment.

Accommodation may be difficult to find at the coast in the summer holiday months (Dec/Jan), at Easter and in mid June-July.

Return to Top

 
AIRPORTS

South Africa offers a wide variety, from five-star hotels to camps and caravan parks. The standards of hotels are supervised by SA Tourism, which publishes The National Accommodation Guide containing details of quality star-graded accommodation throughout the country. Tariffs range from R100 - R2 000 per day according to the grade, location and style of establishment.

Accommodation may be difficult to find at the coast in the summer holiday months (Dec/Jan), at Easter and in mid June-July.

Return to Top

 
BANKING

Most major commercial banks offer foreign exchange services. The main banks are found in every large town, as are automatic teller machines (ATMs). Several international banks have offices in the main cities. Most commercial banks are open from 09:00 to 15:30 on weekdays and 08:30 to 11:00 on Saturdays.

Return to Top

 
BEACHES

South Africa's beaches are not only beautiful, but swimming is exceptionally safe and hygienic. Tests conducted by the Council for the Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) showed that the sea water off South Africa's beaches is among the cleanest in the world. Most KwaZulu-Natal beaches are protected by shark nets.

Return to Top

 
BORDER POSTS

Motorists who wish to travel from South Africa to neighbouring African countries should contact the Department of Home Affairs for details of the opening and closing times of the relevant border posts.

Telephone No.:       (012) 314-8911

Return to Top

 
BUS TRAVEL

Luxury coaches link the major centres, while travel companies offer a variety of tours around the country in comfortable buses:  

Greyhound 011 830-1400
Translux 021 315-2533

Return to Top

 
BEST TIME TO GO

On the Highveld, there is sunshine the year around. Summers are hot and thundery; winters bright, dry and cold. At the Cape, the summers and early autumn months from Jan to May are best; winters can be wet and chilly. In KwaZulu-Natal, summers are hot, thundery and humid at sea level. June/July is a good time to visit Durban and the eastern seaboard. June-August are the best months for game viewing.

Return to Top

 
CAR RENTAL

An international driver's license is required.  Cars can be rented at any of the major airports or through a travel agent.

Return to Top

 
COMPUTICKET

Computicket is a national electronic booking service with over 300 branches in South Africa which caters for over 40,000 events countrywide - theatre and cinema reservations, tickets for dancing and skating championships, lotteries and bus tours.

 For more information call +11 445 8445

Return to Top

 
CONVERSIONS (DISTANCE AND TEMPERATURES)

Distances throughout South Africa are given in kilometres. One mile is equivalent to 1.621 kilometres. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (also known as Centigrade). Ten degrees Celsius is equivalent to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 C=68 F, 30 C = 86 F.

Return to Top

 
CREDIT CARDS AND CASH

Major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa and their affiliates are accepted. However, use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and in some retail shops. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities, and operate 24 hours a day. Petrol (gasoline) is paid for with a special "garage card" or cash. Be careful around isolated ATMs.

Return to Top

 
CURRENCY

The currency unit is the rand, denoted by the R. symbol. R1 = 100 cents. South Africa has introduced new notes and coins, but the old currency is still in circulation. Old and new 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and R1 coins, and R5, R10, R20 and R50 notes are all in use. New R2 and R5 coins and new R100 and R200 notes have been introduced.

Return to Top

 
CUSTOMS

Personal effects are allowed into the country duty-free. Visitors are also entitled to bring in goods worth R500. Duty is leveled at 20% thereafter. One may not bring in or carry out South African banknotes above the value of R200.

Return to Top

 
DRIVING

South Africa's roads are good and well signposted, so traveling by car is a fine way to see the country. Driving standards vary widely and it is wise always to drive defensively at all times.  The basic rule of the road is: Drive on the left hand side of the road and give way to vehicles approaching from the right. The general speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120/km/h (75 mph), and in residential areas 60km/h (35mph), unless otherwise indicated.  Seatbelts are mandatory for both driver and passengers.

Drivers must be in possession of a valid driver's license (which carries a photograph and is either printed or authenticated in English) and/or valid international driver's license.

Return to Top

 
ELECTRICITY

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. Appliances of lesses voltage require a transformer.  Adapters are obtainable locally.

Return to Top

 
EMERGENCIES

In dire need, dial 10111 for the Flying Squad and 10177 for an ambulance.

Return to Top

 
ENTRY

Visitors need a passport that is valid for thirty days after their departure from South Africa and must have at least two blank pages.  Visa requirements have recently been relaxed and visas are not generally required. Visitors are given an entry stamp valid for 90 days if they have an onward ticket and show they can support themselves during their stay. Holder of visitors' visas are not allowed to take up employment. (See visa requirements)

Return to Top

 
ETIQUETTE

The dress code in South Africa is casual, except in some restaurants and clubs that require formal attire. Topless swimming and sunbathing is not allowed though the rules are disregarded on some beaches. Alcohol may not be drunk on beaches or in public places and smoking is banned in public buildings and on planes, buses and trains.

Return to Top

 
FACILITIES FOR THE DISABLED

South African Airways provides passenger aid units at all major airports. Many hotels offer facilities for the disabled, as do most rest camps in the Kruger National Park. Wheelchairs and other aids may be hired in most vehicles with had controls. A directory of services for the visually handicapped is available from:

The SA National Council for the Blind, Tel: (012) 346-1171
National Council for the Physically Disabled, Tel: (011) 726-8051

Return to Top

 
FISHING

Angling is one of South Africa's most popular sports. Many game and nature reserves have dams or rivers - or even a stretch of coastline - where freshwater fish in southern Africa, and some 1 500 sea-water species along its coastline.

Return to Top

 
GOLF

South Africa's excellent climate makes golf a year-round attraction. There are over 300 registered courses to choose from and some are outstanding. Visitors are welcome at most courses, but it is advisable to call the Club Secretary and ask for a confirmed starting time and dress codes. Brochures and books on South Africa's courses are available in local bookstores.

Return to Top

 
HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE

Vaccinations for cholera and smallpox are not required, but travellers from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate. Visitors to game parks should take anti-malaria tablets, which are available across the counter at any pharmacy (drugstore). South Africa has no national health service, so medical treatment and hospital fees must be paid direct. Special travel insurance is recommended. Most hotels have a list of doctors, whose names may also be found in the 'medical' section of telephone directories.

Malaria regions include Northern Province, Mpumalanga and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. The rest of the country is malaria-free. Preventative medication is obtainable at all pharmacies. It is important to consult a pharmacist for advice on the best drug or drug combination to take. In a malaria region, avoid wearing perfume or after-shave lotion, and wear long sleeves and trousers at night. The bilharzia parasite is present in streams, rivers, lakes and dams in some of the northern and eastern parts of the country, and visitors should therefore avoid contact with the water in these regions. The Eastern Cape is bilharzia-free.

Return to Top

 
MUSEUMS

Nearly half of Africa's one thousand museums are situated in South Africa. They range from museums of geology, natural history, archeology, history and art to those of mining and agriculture. The oldest is the South African Museum in Cape Town, noted for its collection of Bushmen rock art and natural history exhibits. The Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, famous for its skull of Mrs Ples, depicts the development of life in southern Africa from the unicellular organism to the emergence of mammals and human being. North of Johannesburg are the famous Sterkfontein Caves, where the world's oldest human remains - a 3.5 million year old skeleton - were discovered in 1998. Another famous museum is the De Beers Museum at the Big Hole in Kimberley, where visitors can view the largest ever hand-dug excavation.

Return to Top

 
RELIGIONS

Most denominations are represented. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are located in most major cities. 

Return to Top

 
SECURITY

South Africa is basically a safe place for international tourists. However, it is sensible to take normal precautions while traveling. Don't walk in deserted areas or alone at night and don't carry large sums of money or expensive cameras in city centres. Use the hotel safe deposit box for valuables. Police have advised visitors to take elementary precautions for their own safety.

Return to Top

 
SHOPPING

Local manufacturers set a high premium on workmanship, and at the current rand value visitors can afford to be extravagant. Shopping hours are generally 08:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, and 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays. Many shops in the bigger cities are open on Sundays.

Return to Top

 
SUN PROTECTION

The South African sun is strong, with a high ultraviolet rating. Screening products with sun protection factors of 15 and over are recommended.

Return to Top

 
TAXIS

Telephone for a taxi or go to a taxi rank, as taxis don't cruise. If the taxi does not have a meter, negotiate the fare in advance. Beware of sharp operators. Visitors should be aware that cab services do not always conform to international standards. Hire cars are a ready alternative.

Return to Top

 
TELEPHONES

South Africa utilizes the GSM system for cellular phones thereby enabling most  cell phones to be used in the country.  Cell phones can be rented through various outlets and at major airports.

International dialing codes can be found in all local telephone directories.

Coin and card operated public phones are readily available throughout South Africa.  Phone cards to the value of R10, R50 and R200 are available at airports, shops or post offices.

Return to Top

 
TIME DIFFERENCE

Throughout the year Standard Time in South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and seven hours in advance of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the USA.

Return to Top

 
TIPPING

In restaurants, 10% of the bill usually applies , depending on the standard of service provided. Restaurants do not usually include the tip in the bill. Taxi drivers should also receive 10% of the amount charged. R2,00 per bag is generally given to porters.

Return to Top

 
TRAIN TRAVEL

Good trains, with first and second class sleeping accommodation, link South Africa's major cities. Suburban trains, except in Cape Town, are not recommended.

The internationally-famous five-star Blue Train runs between Pretoria and Cape Town, with stops in Johannesburg. Rovos Rail is also famed for scenic train travel.

For train reservations contact Spoornet Main Line Passenger Services, Tel. (011) 773-3994/2992;
For Blue Train reservations, Tel. (011) 773-7631; For Rovos Rail, Tel. (012) 323-6052.

Return to Top

 
VALUE ADDED TAX

Currently set at 14%, VAT is included in the price of most goods and services. Foreign visitors are not exempt from paying VAT on purchased goods. They may, however, claim back VAT paid on items taken out of the country when the total value exceeds R250. The refund may be claimed at the airport of departure, at various harbours and at customs offices. The following documentation is required: Original tax invoice, VAT refund control sheet and foreign passport. The items on which a refund is claimed must also be presented. For more information on the refund process, contact the following:

VAT Refund Administrator
PO Box 9478
Johannesburg 2000
Tel#: 011-484 7530

Information leaflets on the procedure to follow are available from VAT Refund Administration offices at Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town International airports.

Return to Top

 
VISAS

  See under Entry

Return to Top

 
WATER

Although a wide range of bottled waters are available, tap water in South Africa is perfectly safe to drink.  If you're staying in a more rural environment, it's advisable to ask first.  

Return to Top

 
WEATHER

Spring and summer are from September to February and autumn (fall) and winter make up the rest of the year.  The summers are hot, with temperatures soaring above 36C/98F in the interior.  Winters are generally sunny averaging 16C/60F during the day, with the nights somewhat colder.

With the exception of the Cape rainfall is highest in the summer Average annual rainfall ranges from 414mm/16.3" to over 1000mm/39.4" in sub-tropical Durban.  However, the country still averages a high number of daily sunshine hours - 8.5 compared to London's 3.8, Rome's 6.4 and New York's 6.9.

SA Weather Bureau - http://www.weathersa.co.za

Return to Top

 
WILD LIFE

South Africa's wildlife can be seen in its natural habitat in various game parks and reserves. Conducted game trails are offered by most parks. 

Telephone Numbers:

National Parks Board 012 343-1991
KwaZulu-Natal Parks Board 032 25-1271
Wildlife Society of Southern Africa  011 486-3294

Return to Top

 
WINING AND DINING

South Africa is acclaimed for its top quality fresh produce and culinary excellence. In the main cities, menus feature French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Mexican, Cape Malay and many other types of cuisine. The standard ranges from the unexceptionable to the sublime. The country is also internationally renowned for its fine wines. Most unlicensed restaurants invite patrons to bring their own wine. 

Return to Top


 
More Information
Statistics South Africa
South Africa Reserve Bank
South African Revenue Services
Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Government Online
South African Airways
South African Tourism
South Africa Broadcasting Corporation
Trade and Investment of South Africa (TIISA)
Public holidays in South Africa
Study in South Africa
South African Links
 
© South African Consulate-General Los Angeles, United States of America | Disclaimer