Currency

South African rand (R)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than R1000

  • Hostel dorm bed: from R160
  • Budget main dish (cheaper areas): less than R75
  • Two-week hop-on, hop-off Baz Bus pass: R4100
  • Free entry to some museums

Midrange: R1000–2500

  • Double room: R700-4000
  • Midrange main dish: R75-200
  • Jo'burg–Cape Town tourist-class train: R690
  • Single-room supplements common, usually 30–40%

Top end: More than R2500

  • Double room (more expensive areas): over R4000
  • Top-end main dish (more expensive areas): over R200
  • Pretoria–Cape Town Blue Train: R20,280
  • Cape Town–Jo'burg flight: from R1000
  • Wildlife drive: from R500

Bargaining

Haggling is common in African craft markets; in most other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.

Money

ATMs are found throughout the country and cards are widely accepted. Inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid declined credit-card transactions.

Cash

  • South Africa's currency is the rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents. The notes are R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200; the coins are R1, R2 and R5, and five, 10, 20 and 50 cents. Transactions are often rounded up or down by a few cents.
  • The rand is weak against Western currencies, making travelling in South Africa less expensive than in Europe and North America.
  • The best foreign currencies to bring in cash are US dollars, euros or British pounds, but a debit or credit card will be more useful, as most businesses only accept rand.
  • Cash is readily exchanged at banks and foreign-exchange bureaus in the cities.
  • Keep at least some of your exchange receipts, as you'll need them to convert leftover rand when you leave.

Credit Cards

Because South Africa has a reputation for scams, many overseas banks automatically prevent transactions in the country. If you plan to use a credit card in South Africa, contact your bank before leaving home and inform it of your travel plans to avoid having your purchases declined automatically. If you have done this and a credit- or debit-card transaction unexpectedly fails, it's safest to try another card or pay with cash, as two transactions enable scammers to clone your card.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1R9.62
CanadaC$1R9.63
Euro zone€1R14.74
Japan¥100R10.93
LesothoM1R1
New ZealandNZ$1R8.73
SwazilandE1R1
UK£1R16.78
USAUS$1R11.86

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

Practical Tip

Keep a small stash of cash hidden away if visiting rural areas such as Kruger National Park, where ATMs are often scarce and temperamental.

Travellers Cheques

  • Thomas Cook, Visa and American Express travellers cheques in major currencies can be cashed at banks, foreign-exchange bureaus and some hotels – with varying commissions.
  • Buying cheques in a stronger currency such as US dollars will work out better than buying them in rand.
  • If you buy rand or rand cheques, watch the market, as the currency can be pretty volatile. Failing that, buying them just before departure will minimise the effects of devaluation.
  • There are American Express (www.americanexpressforex.co.za) foreign-exchange offices in major cities.

Tipping

Wages are low here, and tipping is expected.

Restaurants & cafes Tip 10% to 15% of the total in restaurants; 10% in cafes.

Hotels A standard tip of R10 to R20 is welcomed.

Car guards Offer R2, or R5 for longer periods.

Petrol stations Anything from R5 – more if the attendant washes the windscreen and checks the tyres etc.

Taxis Tips not expected but rounding up the fare will be appreciated.