South Africa Travel Guide - Useful Facts

Some useful to know facts for visitors to South Africa, including time zone, bank holidays, electricity voltage, country dialling code, smoking laws tipping and gratuities, and mobile network.

Useful Facts for Visitors to South Africa

Bank Holidays in South Africa.

  • 1 January - New Year's Day
  • 21 March - Human Rights Day
  • 27 April - Freedom Day
  • 1 May - Workers’ Day
  • 16 June - Youth Day
  • 9 August - National Women's Day
  • 24 September - Heritage Day
  • 16 December - Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December - Christmas Days
  • 26 December - Day of Goodwill

Good Friday and Easter Sunday are also Public Holidays.

As in other countries, bank holidays can affect services, shops and public transport, so check locally to see if this applies.

Smoking Laws

The law prohibits smoking in public spaces, including airports and railway stations.

Most restaurants and pubs have designated smoking and non-smoking areas.

Smoking at OR Tambo International Airport is allowed in some premium lounges, some bars and in certain designated airside areas.

No one under the age of 18 may buy cigarettes, or enter a designated smoking area. Both the venue operator and the smoker can face substantial fines if they ignore the law.

South African Standard Time (SAST

South Africa does not change its clocks during the year, and there is one single time-zone throughout the country. South African Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+2 GMT/UTC).

South African Electricity Supply

The South African electricity supply has the following ratings - 250 Volt earthed, 13 Ampere and maximum appliance power of 3,600 Watts.

South African round 3-Pin plugs are required if you wish to bring electical appliances along with you. They can be purchased before travelling to South Africa or they are readily available at the Airports and stores across South Africa.

International Dialling Code

The International Dialling Code for South Africa is 0072 or +72.

Tipping and Gratuities

Tipping is common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants the accepted standard is around 10% to 15% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included. Barmen are tipped a similar percentage.

Petrol stations are staffed by attendants who can be tipped around R5 to R10 for filling up with petrol, checking oil, water and tyre pressure, and cleaning windscreens.

Hotel porters are tipped around R20. It is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers, tour guides and even hairdressers.

If you park a car in a populated area such as near a shopping centre, informal car guards will usually ask whether they can watch over your car and, in return, should be paid a small fee - anything from R5 upwards.