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Currency in South Africa, travel budget and cost of living

You want to travel in South Africa for your next vacation and want to know more about the currency used, the cost of living and the necessary budget?

What is the currency in South Africa?

The currency in South Africa is the Rand, this currency is represented by the symbol “R” or “ZAR” (for “Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand” which means South African Rand in Afrikaans). There are 5 types of tickets, each representing one of the famous “Big Five”!

Q hat is the value of the currency in South Africa?

At the time of writing (Sep-2019), 1 euro is worth approximately R16.5. The Rand Euro conversion can therefore be done approximately by dividing by 6, i.e. 1,000 Rands corresponds approximately to 160 Euros. Currently, with a strong Euro and a weak Rand, travelers and their European currency are in a strong position!

How to get Rands?

Currency exchange offices and banks

You have the option of changing your euros before departure or upon arrival at an international airport (Johannesburg or Cape Town). Otherwise, euros can be changed quite easily and everywhere in South Africa. In addition to exchange offices, banks have counters provided for currency exchange.

Credit cards

It is almost mandatory to travel with a credit card, or even two. They are mandatory if you are renting a car. All credit cards are accepted in South Africa: VISA, AMEX, MASTER CARD. You can also use your MAESTRO debit cards provided they have been previously configured for international use with your bank.

Withdrawal of money

Cash machines, called ATMs, are often placed near big box stores, shopping malls, and gas pumps. The major South African banks are: Standard Bank, ABSA, First National Bank.

How much to budget for a trip to South Africa?

Animal parks and the main tourist sites are obviously expensive but for the rest, the cost of living in South Africa is about 50% lower than in France. A meal in a good restaurant will cost you 25 Euros. For a comfortable all-inclusive trip, we recommend a budget of EUR150 per day per person (excluding international flights).

Stay alert

In all circumstances, refuse any help when withdrawing from ATMs. As in Europe, chains of distributors with exorbitant prices have appeared in recent years. Always favor the big banks (Absa, FNB, Standard Bank), check the fees requested and choose withdrawals in local currency, you will almost always gain!

Are tips mandatory and how much to give?

Tips are not mandatory as fixed wages are very low, most tourism workers need tips to make ends meet! The golden rule is: 10% tip in a restaurant if you are satisfied with the service and 15% if you are very satisfied. In many establishments, the tip amount is already calculated and indicated on the bill. If it is not indicated, to facilitate the calculation, you can give an amount equivalent to that of the VAT which is 15%. For porters, “parking boys” and hotel staff, a R10 ticket will be much appreciated and a R20 ticket will make their day! Tips are also a vital part of guides and rangers’ salaries, so be generous if you’re happy!

Some valuable tips

Before leaving, we recommend that you check the validity and limit of your credit card and configure your debit card for international use. A golden rule, if you use any currency exchange office, check the exchange rate offered after commission and compare this exchange rate with those given by many websites (for example this one ).

A tailor-made trip

South African Travellers is a local agency based in Cape Town, specialising in the creation of tailor-made trips to Southern Africa since 2007. All its team is at your disposal to build your trip to Southern Africa, step by step, according to your pace, your budget and your choices.

A ranger will be at your disposal and will establish your itinerary with you. He will take care of all your accommodation reservations as well as the chosen vehicle.


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