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South Africa travel tips and advice,...
know before you go

Know before you go when visiting SA, with the assistance of the latest 'need to know' insider South Africa travel tips and information on this page.

The way foreigners see South Africa is often colored by their views of the rest of Africa, politically and socially unstable, and terribly poor.

But contrary to widely-held belief, this coloring is not altogether true and correct when it comes to South Africa.

To a large extend, South Africa is almost like two countries in one.

On the one hand, in the high population areas it is a modern and affluent first world state and on the other hand in the less developed rural areas, it shows a high level of poverty and underdevelopment.

Politically the country has a stable and modern democracy protected by one of the most advanced constitutions world-wide. Furthermore, it is home to a well-developed infrastructure, with all the amenities and technology that typify a modern first world nation.

Therefore, visiting South Africa is a lot easier and safer then you might think. It offers you all the comforts you may desire against the backdrop of the unspoiled splendor of Africa.

On this page you will find comprehensive list of South Africa travel tips and information that will come in real handy when you plan and prepare your visit to our country. Information about how to get there, how to get around, where to stay and everything you need to know to make your visit go smooth and without problems.

Airplane landing at O.R. Tambo International Airport at Johannesburg
south africa travel information
Airplane landing at O.T. Tambo International Airport at Johannesburg

Getting to SA.... There is more then one way of getting to South Africa. However, flying remains the fastest and most practical way. Our country is served by more then 70 airlines.
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Getting around SA.... “There are many roads that lead to Rome”, the saying goes. In South Africa there are many ways to travel from the one place to the next. Whether it be by bus, car, train or donkey car, the choice is yours. Read more ...>

Domestic Air Travel....A comprehensive and low cost airline network has made flying easy for everyone in South Africa. Fuss-free and low fares, safe and efficient online booking and easy check in. Read more ...>

Visa, Passport, customs requirements....When it comes to customs, passports and visa formalities, South Africa is no different from any other country. The minimum requirement for entering the country is a passport with a minimum validity period of six months and sufficient empty pages. It is important to get yourself fully up to date at the nearest South African embassy with regards to requirements and particulars.
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Emergency vehicle of ER24 emergency medical care and response in South Africa
south africa travel information
Emergency vehicle of ER24 emergency medical care and response services in South Africa

Safety, Security, Emergency numbers.... Yes, crime happens in South Africa also like everywhere else on our planet and yes, the crime rate in our country is considerably above average. But that does not mean at all that South Africa is unsafe to visit. Great efforts are being made to combat and contain crime and with much success. You will be able to enjoy your vacation with complete peace of mind, if you follow some basic precautions. If you do get into trouble in South Africa, you want help, you want it fast, and you will get it fast. How...?
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Currency, Foreign exchange, Conversion calculator....The local currency in South Africa is the Rand (ZAR). The value of the Rand fluctuates from time to time, so do keep track of that.
Currency calculator...>
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Language....South Africa has 11 official languages and scores of unofficial ones besides. But don't worry, most of us speak English, so you should not have any difficulties communicating. Read more ...>

Banking....Banking transactions such as exchanging traveler cheques, using credit and debit cards and drawing money from Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's) in South Africa, naming but few, is as sophisticated, simple and easy as in your home country. There are a great variety of banks to be found almost everywhere in the country. Read more ...>

Shopping.... South Africans are great shoppers, they love it! You will find some of the world's largest and most modern shopping malls in our country, offering you not only a first class shopping experience, but also excellent places to wine and dine and be entertained.
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Gateway Theater of Shopping at Umhlanga South Africa, largest shopping centre in Africa
south africa travel information
Gateway Theatre of Shopping at Umhlanga South Africa

Health care issues.... South Africa has excellent health care facilities, comparable with the best in the world, with highly trained doctors, and fully equipped hospitals. There are some health issues however, that you should be aware of. - South Africa travel information.
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Read more: Health FAQ's...>

Malaria....Malaria is endemic in certain areas in South Africa. The risk of contracting the disease is negligible, provided you take the necessary precautions. Read more...>

Assistance and Facilities for the incapacitated.... South Africa has, in general, become much more aware of travelers with special requirements and most major attractions and facilities across the country can be counted on to accommodate visitors with disabilities. Read more...>

Weights, Measurements, Conversion tables....In South Africa we converted to the metric system. Weights and measures, miles to kilometres, gallons to litters, Fahrenheit to Celsius...etc, enough to get totally confused. We made it easy for you.
Conversion Table...>
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Money and Budget....Because of a favourable exchange rate South Africa is a relatively inexpensive tourist destination. You will find that your money will go a long way. How far it will go??....
Currency calculator...>
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Driving in SA....Even though we drive on the left-hand side of the road, it should be quite easy to adapt to driving in South Africa. Just take it easy, stick to the rules, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. Read more...>

Roads and Traffic.... The road infrastructure in South Africa is excellent, so a self-drive tour is a viable option. It's a huge country and there is so much to see, so plan and prepare your trips carefully. Maps and road travel information are widely available and for those who did not know, we do drive on the left hand side of the road. Read more...>

Metropolitan highway at Pretoria, South Africa
south africa travel information Metropolitan highway at Pretoria, South Africa

Distances.... South Africa is a vast country and you will most likely travel long distances. It is important therefore, to plan and prepare your journeys properly. If you want to know what we are talking about when we say "distances",...
Distance table...>

Electricity....Many visitors to South Africa bring electrical appliances (like razors, hairdryers, laptops, battery chargers etc...) along with them. They will want to know more about power in our country, electrical power that is. In our country the standard is 220 / 230 volts at 50 cycles per second.

Telecommunications and Postal services.... At virtually all hotels and at most lodgments in South Africa you will have access to a highly developed communications infrastructure, with an extensive land line and satellite phone network and three mobile phone networks. The postal services infrastructure in South Africa is designed to ensure that a modern mail service is within reach of everybody in the community.
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Internet....With a solid internet infrastructure and a comprehensive network of internet café's in the major centres throughout the country, you are only a mouse click away from getting to your e-mail box or any URL for that matter. Read more...>

Public Transport.... Major South African cities are linked by reliable air, rail and road transport services. Each city has its own commuter bus and train service. Long distance buses and trains allow you to relax and enjoy the scenery. Budget and luxury options are available. - South Africa travel information. Read more...>

Railways and Trains....For train enthusiasts the best way to enjoy the awesome vastness and beauty of South Africa's countryside and scenery is by train. Luxury and budget choices are available, including the once in a lifetime experience of a genuine steam train tour. - South Africa travel information. Read more...>

The Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger train service links Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London
south africa travel information
The Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger train service

Places of Worship.... The wide variety of religions in South Africa is a reflection of the cultural diversity in South Africa's "Rainbow" society. Nearly all South Africans will tell you that they belong to a church and practice a faith, although their thinking when it comes to religion and religious beliefs differ widely. Read more...>

Radio and Television.... Although television and radio programming in South Africa is structured to reflect the different language groups in the country,…hotels and other lodgings are able to offer you access to at least one English speaking television and radio channel in your room.
Read more about television in SA ...>
Read more about radio in SA ...>

Newspapers....You will never be left in the dark in our part of Africa. South Africa has a robust and flourishing press that, together with a range of news websites, can measure up with the best in the world. Read more...>

Food and Drinking water....It takes a rainbow nation to produce a rainbow rich variety of cuisines, flavored by a warm African culture. Wining and dining in South Africa, a culinary experience not to be missed.
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Read more about South African wine...>

Clothing and Dress....Choice of clothes for your South Africa trip? Should not be that difficult, should it? Nevertheless, you might never know. You will need to bring something smart informal for exclusive occasions.

Clothing in South Africa? from smart to very!! informal
south africa travel information
Clothing in South Africa? from smart to very! informal.

Etiquette....An informal atmosphere and socializing is a major part of the South African way of life. It won't take long to appreciate this and adjust to it. There are times however when things are somewhat different. Read more...>

Tipping....Depending on the standard of service you have received, tipping is customary in South Africa for a range of services. Hotels, Restaurants and other accommodation establishments normally do not have service charges included in their bill.

Public and School holidays....In South Africa it is advisable to pre-book accommodation in game parks, hotels and sometimes even camping sites, during the school holidays. School holidays terms vary slightly for different provinces. Read more...>

Entertainment....African entertainment has to be “lived”. Drama, comedy, ballet, opera, choral, with an original indigenous African flavor. You do not want to miss that, when you are in South Africa. Read more...>

Time Zone.... South Africa does not change its clocks during the year. Despite its size it has only one time zone: GMT (or Universal Standard Time) + 2 hours, seven hours ahead of eastern USA standard time, one hour ahead of European winter time and eight hours behind Australian standard time. Read more...>

Business....Yes, there are incredible opportunities to do business and make money in our country. Foreign investor confidence has taken off in South Africa and you are welcome to jump onto the wagon. Read more...>

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Girl enjoying one of the South Africa's beaches

Family enjoying a beach holiday in South Africa

Aerial view of Cape Town and Table Mountain in South Africa

Modern highway network in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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