Things to Know for When You Visit South Africa

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If you are planning to visit South Africa, feel excited – it is a wonderful country to visit! Here is some information you need to know to make planning your visit easier.

Visa Requirements to Visit South Africa

UK and US travellers don’t need a visa if they are visiting South Africa for fewer than 90 days. If you are not from the UK and US, you can find out if you are exempt from applying for a visa to visit South Africa here. If you need a visa, find more information on the requirements and process here.

Things to Know for When You Visit South Africa

Required Vaccinations

When visiting South Africa, you may need the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever
  • Rabies

It is always best to speak to a travel clinic near you for the latest requirements for travelling to South Africa.

South Africa has good private healthcare. Just make sure to take out travel insurance before your trip. Consider using Insubuy, World Nomads or Safety Wing.


South Africa has 11 official languages, but English is spoken throughout the country. Most road signs are in English. South Africans have their own slang, which you will quickly get used to.


South Africa uses the South African Rand (ZAR). You can exchange foreign currency at banks and foreign exchange dealers in the major cities. Learn more about South Africa’s money here!

Getting around

South Africa does not have good public transport. Renting a car is the best way to explore the country. Here are some things you need to know if you want to rent a car:

  1. South Africans drive on the left.
  2. Most cars in South Africa will have a manual transmission. To get an automatic car, you may have to request it from the car rental agency in advance. It will also be more expensive.
  3. The main South African routes are in good condition. Less popular routes may not be in the best condition and require careful driving to avoid large potholes.
  4. To rent a car, you must show your driver’s licence, a photograph of the driver, and their signature. The licence must be in English. Some rental car companies may require an international driver’s licence. It is best to find out whether the one you plan on using requires an international driver’s license.

A popular road trip is driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Find out about the best halfway stops along the route.

Public transportation

South Africa does not have a good public transportation system. In larger cities, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, there are public transportation options, such as Uber and trains (in some areas). There are also different bus options on the more significant routes between the main cities, such as between Johannesburg and Cape Town, between Johannesburg and Durban, and between the other cities. Other than that, public transportation is limited. Renting a car will be best if you plan on travelling long distances or exploring cities in-depth.


You must give tips in South Africa when you pay for a service, including eating out and personal services. Most vendors and shops don’t include the tip automatically in bills, so you must add it yourself before paying. The norm is to give a tip between 10% and 15%.


South Africa is not the safest country to visit. But with proper care and diligence, you can have a safe trip without any unpleasant situations. Never display valuables, such as cell phones, in public. Never leave valuables unattended.

Read here about the safety of tap water in South Africa.

Best time to visit South Africa

The best time to visit South Africa is between May and October. Here you can learn more about the best months to visit South Africa.

Read more about Johannesburg’s weather and what to wear! Going to Cape Town? Find out about Cape Town’s weather and what to wear!

Things to Know for When You Visit South Africa

Official Public Holidays

Read more about South African public holidays and school holidays here.

South Africa Time Zone

Read this article to see how South African times compare with major cities and/or countries worldwide.

Sabs | South Africa Travel Blog

By Sunelle

Editor of the South Africa Travel Blog that focuses on travel to South Africa, including destinations, attractions, accommodation, food & drink.