Money and Banks
The currency of South Africa is the rand. The favorable exchange rate for most international currencies makes South Africa an inexpensive destination. You will have no trouble finding a bank or ATM, and all major credit cards are used in South Africa. In rural areas and at filling stations, you may have to pay with cash. Regulations allowing filling stations to accept credit cards went into effect in July 2009.
Medical facilities in South Africa's larger cities and towns are some of the best in the world. In rural areas, clinics and hospitals are not as well-equipped and offer only basic medical care.
Unless you are coming from a yellow fever endemic area, you are not required to receive any inoculations to enter South Africa. However, it is highly recommended that you get vaccinated for hepatitis B, hepatitis A and typhoid and be current on all your routine vaccinations.
Malaria is a concern in many regions, including the lowlands of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, northern KwaZulu-Natal and Kruger National Park. Consult a physician about malaria preventive medications. Even if you are taking malaria medications, always use plenty of insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants at night, and sleep under a mosquito net in malaria areas.
Visas and Passports
A visa is not required to travel in South Africa. Travelers are issued a free entry permit on arrival that is valid for 90 days. Be sure to have a valid passport, along with two photocopies in case it is lost or stolen.
Safe Drinking Water
Tap water is safe to drink in almost all of South Africa. Drinking directly from streams and rivers is not advised because it puts you at risk of contracting a water-borne illness. Also, avoid contact with still water in lakes and east-flowing streams, which may be infected with parasites that cause the disease bilharzia.
Crime is a major concern in South Africa. This is especially true in townships and part of Johannesburg. Carjackings are also a problem in many places. Be careful at ATM's because they are often the site of robberies, as well as scams to steal your credit card or PIN number. Protect yourself by staying alert and using common sense. Travel in groups, do not go out alone at night and do not flaunt flashy jewelry and fancy cameras.