South African Currency
South Africa has a decimal system with 100 cents to the Rand (ZAR). Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and ZAR1, ZAR2, ZAR5; notes have values of ZAR10, ZAR20, ZAR50, ZAR100 and ZAR200.
Banks and Foreign Exchange
In general, South Africa’s banking hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 3.30pm. All 4 major banks, ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank and First National Bank, have branches in Franschhoek. In Franschhoek, all the banks are equipped to exchange foreign currency.
Travellers Cheques and Credit Cards
Travellers cheques are the safest and most convenient way to carry funds. Brands like American Express and Thomas Cook are widely accepted in South Africa, and can be cashed at banks, foreign exchange brokers, larger hotels and restaurants, and for car rental. Passport ID is required when you cash travellers cheques. Fees for changing travellers cheques sometimes vary from bank to bank. Major credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and their affiliates – are widely accepted throughout South Africa. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with around-the-clock access are available in convenient locations like banks, along main shopping streets and in malls.
Tipping is not a general custom in South Africa, and is at your discretion. For good service at a restaurant a 10 – 15% tip is appropriate. Some restaurants include a service charge automatically – check before you tip. It is also appropriate to tip the attendant at the filling station, R3 – R10 is acceptable.
Tourism Refund Scheme (TRS)
In some cases, you can claim VAT back through the Tourism Refund Scheme (TRS). The TRS allows visitors to claim a refund of the 14 per cent VAT paid on goods bought in South Africa. It does not apply to goods or services consumed, or partly consumed, in South Africa. Other conditions apply and, when you’re departing South Africa, you must be able to produce the goods and invoices to be checked at the airport. Refunds are available from the refund booth in the passenger lounges of all the major airports.
Weather in Franschhoek
Cape Town is positioned on the 34th latitude south, which equates it more or less with Casablanca, Los Angeles or Sydney. Cape Town however has a Mediterranean climate. In summer it is pleasantly warm with the hottest days often cooled by the Cape Doctor, the famous South-Easter, which keeps the city free of pollution.
It seldom rains in summer, and only briefly when it does. The winters are cool and wet, with the temperature occasionally falling below 10 degrees C. The water temperatures in the Atlantic are low, due to the Benguela current, but east of the city the influence of the Indian Ocean is noticeable, and the beaches and seaside places on that side of the Cape Peninsula are more populated. The beaches on the west of the peninsula have the advantage of being protected from the South-Easter by Table Mountain.
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Tourist Visa Guide to South Africa
The information provided here is to be used as a guide only. Please consult with the relevant embassy before you travel as we cannot take any responsibility whatsoever for the use of this information.
This information is based on the following assumptions:
- The requirements are based on tourist and not business requirements.
- You have the necessary funds/ tickets/ paperwork.
- The applicant’s passport should remain valid for a period of 6 months after the applicant’s departure from South Africa.
- All applicants intending to be professionally active in South Africa and contemplating any voluntary or paid employment or studies must apply for work or study permits.
The basic requirements
- You must have a passport valid for long enough to cover your intended stay in South Africa – along with a valid visa, if required.
- You must be of sound mind and body, and have a clear record as far as certain criminal offences are concerned.
- You must have enough money both to support yourself for a reasonable period after your arrival, and to pay for your return passage if you do not already have a return or onward ticket.
- Yellow fever. If you come from or have or journeyed through or disembarked in a country in the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America, you must have proof of inoculation against the disease. Note that a yellow fever inoculation certificate only becomes valid 10 days after inoculation – after which it remains valid for 10 years.
Who needs a visa
No visa requirements
If you fall under any of the following categories, then you do NOT need a visa to travel to SA for tourist, business or transit purposes (unless you have been specifically advised that your visa exemption has been withdrawn):
- Holders of South African passports (or official travel documents issued in place of a passport) do NOT require visas.
- Holders of passports of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – including the British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Mann and Virgin Islands – as well as the Republic of Ireland, are totally exempt from South African visa control. HOWEVER: Nationals of the British Dependent Territories are subject to visa control. These Territories are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Cucie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holidays or business of unspecified length – or for transits – without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):
- New Zealand
- United States of America
No visa requirements for up to 90 days
Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holiday or business trips of up to 90 days – or for transits – without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):
- St Helena
No visa requirements for up to 30 days
Holders of passports of the following countries may visit South Africa for holiday or business trips of up to 30 days – or for transits – without a visa (unless specifically advised that their visa exemptions have been withdrawn):
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Hong Kong (Only holders of Hong Kong British National Overseas passports, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports, or Hong Kong Certificates of Indemnity)
- Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- Turkey (Turkish Republic of North Cyprus passports are not acceptable)
You WILL require a visa to travel to South Africa if:
- You do not fall into one of the above categories; or
- You intend to stay in South Africa for longer than the relevant exemption period; or
- You intend to work or study in South Africa; or
- You intend to take part in a sports event; or
- You intend to take up permanent residence in South Africa.
You will also require a visa – regardless of your nationality or the duration of your stay – if the purpose of your visit is related to the pursuance of your career – for example, clergy who wish to address church meetings, representatives of the media who wish to report, or academics who wish to present lectures or conduct research. Categories affected by this regulation include:
- Concert performers.
- Stage artists.
- Religious workers.
- Journalists or persons connected with the news media on extended stay.
- Sports persons with contracts.
Getting to South Africa
South Africa’s major domestic carriers are South African Airways, British Airways, Nationwide and Kalula. All the airlines have offices inside Cape Town International Airport.
Peak times for airfares are generally between November and January, especially around Christmas. If you’re planning to come in summer, book well in advance.
From Europe, you can fly direct to Cape Town. The journey takes around 12 hours. There are also indirect flights, making the journey longer but considerably less expensive.
From North America, you can catch a direct flight to Cape Town, as well as a number of single-stop services. Excluding stopovers, flying time to Cape Town is around 11 hours from New York.
Arrival by air
Cape Town International Airport is approximately 70 kilometres from Franschhoek, about a 50 minute drive, depending on traffic. South Africa’s second busiest airport, services all the major international airlines.
The airport, which affords easy access to other provinces and international flights, has baggage lockers in the international terminal, foreign exchange counters, restaurants, bars, information desks, major car rental companies and, for departing travellers, a refund booth to reclaim the VAT on some goods. There is also ample parking for private vehicles. Departure tax is charged on leaving the country, but it’s often incorporated in your airline ticket. If in doubt, ask your travel agent or the airport information desk.
If you’re planning to drive to Franschhoek, allow at least one hour from Cape Town, 12 hours from Johannesburg, 17 hours from Durban, 8 hours from Port Elizabeth and 11 hours from East London.
Health and Safety in South Africa
Visiting South Africa may require a few more precautions with your personal safety and possessions than you would take in some other countries or at home.
Importantly, talk to other travellers about their experiences and advice. For your own peace of mind, it’s recommended that you invest in comprehensive travel insurance before departing.
South Africa has few dangerous animals, although there are several venomous snakes, including the Cape Cobra, Puff Adder and Boom-Slang (tree snake).
They’re mostly found in bushland, but they can also live in nearby rural areas. Potentially dangerous spiders, such as the Black Widow Spider, Violin Spider and the Sac spider, are occasionally found roaming in houses, sheds and garages. The danger posed by snakes or spiders is, however, fairly low if your cautious when walking in forests, or long grass.
Sharks and Jellyfish are hazards when swimming in Coastal waters around Cape Town, although shark attacks are few and far between.
Watch out for natural hazards such as changeable weather conditions when hiking around Franschhoek or visiting Table Mountain.
If you’re going to spend some time in Franschhoek’s countryside, plan your hike, and let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Beaches too have a number of potential hazards, like rips and undercurrents, so make sure you swim between the red and yellow flags. And if you plan to be out in the sun for extended periods, take proper precautions by wearing a shirt, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. South Africa’s sunlight is extremely harsh.
Health care in South Africa is on par with the best in the world, as long as you have medical insurance. Make sure you have sufficient cover when traveling in South Africa and you are aware of what is and isn’t covered by your policy.