If you’ve never visited South Africa and you’re heading down (or up if you’re in Australia or New Zealand) for the FIFA World Cup, this guide should help to give you a better idea of what to expect as well as a few tips for a safe and enjoyable stay!
Arrange your travel money
Traveller’s cheques and wads of cash are NOT a good idea in South Africa. But you also want to avoid high bank charges and swipe fees on your credit card… The 1st Contact Travel Money Card is probably the safest, cheapest way to buy travel money to South Africa. It works just like a South African MasterCard debit card, because it’s pre-loaded with South African Rand – and at the best exchange rates available. And best of all, you won’t need to queue (or pay commissions) at the airport’s Bureau de Change. Go to www.1stcontactforex.com for more info or to order your Travel Money card online.
When you touch down…
Unless you have friends fetching you from the airport, or your hotel has arranged your transport or you’ve decided on a rental vehicle, you will have to find your way to your accommodation. You can quite easily arrange an airport shuttle or hire a taxi. Only use ACSA accredited and approved transport operators who display the ACSA logo on their vehicles. They are available outside the arrivals terminals. If you have any questions or need help, go to the ACSA information Desk.
South Africa is notorious for its high crime rate. But if you follow a few simple rules, you can make it through your SA visit without being touched by crime.
- Keep your money safe! This is probably one of the most important safety measures you need to take when planning a trip. The 1st Contact Travel Money Card is by far the safest option. Go to www.1stcontactforex.com for more information.
- Invest in proper padlocks. Lock your suitcases with padlocks – combination and ‘travel locks’ are easy to break!
- Don’t wear a lot of jewellery. Whether going out in the day or night, avoid flashing your diamonds! Bling is great to look at but it also an easy target for a quick snatch and grab.
- Keep your camera in a discreet bag. Keep your camera strapped around your wrist or around your neck when you are using it and put it out of sight when you’re done.
- Be especially alert in crowded areas. Places such as markets, festivals and busy tourist sites, railway and bus stations, as well as in the buses and trains themselves.
- Keep all important documents such as your passport close to your person in a security wallet worn under your clothes. This includes your mobile phone which should be fully charged in case of emergencies.
- Use maps (available at most tourist centres) to familiarise yourself with the places you are planning to visit to avoid wondering into dodgy territory accidentally. It’s also really worth it to find out where the local police station is.
- Stay in groups. Try to walk around in groups rather than alone and stay away from isolated areas. When in doubt, ask a local about where you can safely go.
- Don’t panic! Remember: most crimes against tourists are avoidable and rarely violent.
Your best option is probably to rent a car for the duration of your stay. The roads are mostly good and well signed and you should be fine as long as you obey the rules of the road and KEEP LEFT! If a rental is not an option for you, you will have to rely on public transport. In general South Africa’s public transport is not very good. But for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, there will be buses and taxis to get you to where you need to be. We found this interesting article about Minibus Taxis: http://goafrica.about.com/od/2010fifaworldcup/a/minibustaxi.htm
Show me the money!
How far will your buck stretch in SA? Grab a calculator and work out – in your own currency – what you’ll be paying (approximate and rounded off) for everyday things:
- A six pack from a liquor store – R50
- A bottle of beer in a bar or restaurant – R16
- A gourmet meal for two R500
- A quick meal for two at a steakhouse R150
- One hour’s internet access at an internet café – R20
- An umbrella – R100
- Sunscreen – R80
- A packet of Muesli – R35
- A loaf of bread – R10
- A can of Cola R7
You will only be able to pay in South African Rand! You’ll be able to draw money from most ATMS, located all around. Most establishments accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards and some accept American Express. Smaller shops and street vendors only take cash.
What to eat
South Africa has wonderful restaurants and something for every taste. Go to www.eatout.co.za for a comprehensive list of restaurants.
If you are invited to a “braai” (rhymes with tie), just say yes. South Africans are masters at the art of the barbeque and you’ll want to take this tradition home with you!
Whatever your tastes or budget, you’ll find what you’re looking for: from take out burgers to French cuisine, fresh seafood and sushi to giant beef steaks!
The tap water in South Africa is (mostly) great!
The South African people
Irrespective of colour or creed, South Africans are a fun-loving and friendly bunch, well known for their genuine hospitality. Don’t be shy to ask for help or directions (petrol stations are helpful when you’re lost). Remember South Africa has 11 official languages, with English being the most common shared language (though for some it is their second or even third language). So be patient and speak slowly if necessary!
Spend time with the locals, make friends and be social. South Africans are a nation of good humoured and hospitable people! People in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg are well accustomed to tourists; those in the smaller cities less so.
Weather the weather
It’s winter in South Africa and you might experience wind and rain in Cape Town and dry cold spells in the inland regions. But, you might also be lucky enough to experience a warm winter’s day, so bring a couple of lighter items along too!
We’d like to wish you an UNFORGETTABLE SA visit! Enjoy the football action, enjoy the energy and the people and above all – see as much as you can… South Africa is truly a beautiful, cosmopolitan country!