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Currency & Foreign Exchange
The South African currency is rands (R) and cents (c). There are 100 cents to a rand. Notes are in R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 and coins in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any commercial bank, American Express, Thomas Cook, Rennies or Diners Club office or Bureaux de Change which can be found at airports and most large centres. South Africa has a modern banking system and the majority of shops and hotels accept credit cards.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9:00-15:30 and on Saturdays from 8:30 - 11:00.
Post Offices are generally open Monday to Friday from 8:30-16:30 and on Saturdays from 8:00 -12:00.
It is advised that medical insurance be taken out before travelling to South Africa. Most hospitals have emergency and casualty units and private hospitals offer excellent medical assistance. Charges are reasonable by international standards. Unfortunately government hospitals are generally under-staffed and under budget pressure.
VAT (Valed Added Tax)
VAT is currently at 14% and is added to the price of most goods, services and accommodation. As a tourist, retain receipts for purchases to the value of R250 or more and you will be able to claim VAT back on your departure.
Credit cards and Travellers Cheques
Credit cards and travellers cheques are accepted at formal businesses. At roadside stalls and informal markets etc, you will need to pay with cash.
Water and Health Issues
Cape Town is a clean and safe area - there are no health risks and no vaccinations are required. Tap water is safe to drink and there is no risk of contracting malaraia.
Cape Town's summer is generally from late October to March, winters are fairly cold and wet and the rainy months are June- August. Generally summers are hot, although Cape Town's coastal position brings moderating sea breezes. Spring and Autumn are mild and remain enjoyable months to visit Cape Town. August/September are the months for the vivid West Coast flowers and September - November are the best months for whale watching.
Cape Town is busiest during December and January when local schools are on holiday, although the tourist season extends from November to April.
Cape Town is generally a safe and friendly city, although it is strongly advised that safety precautions be taken. Due to poverty in certain areas, crime and theft can be a problem. Try not to carry large amounts of cash and be discreet with expensive cameras, jewellery etc. Do not walk in deserted areas, especially after dark and always park in designated, well-lit areas. When driving, keep your doors locked and while parked lock your belongings in the boot (trunk) rather than leave them in the open. Ask locals or your hosts to advise you on areas that should be avoided.