9 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To South Africa
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9 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To South Africa

South Africa is actually a developed country.

9 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To South Africa
Cindy von Ahlefeldt

Going back to South Africa makes me realize what I've been missing since living in the US. If you are planning to travel to South Africa for the first time you need to know this.

1. You will appreciate the exchange rate

If you are traveling from the US you'll be more than happy to hear that you can enjoy a three-course meal, including drinks, at a fancy restaurant for around $40 per person, cheap souvenirs, copper jewelry for around $8 USD and hotel rates for half the price in the US. So I recommend traveling light, you might end up in the shopping center more than usual.

2. You need to take safety precautions

I became so used to living in the US that I need to remind myself about all the dangers South Africa has each time I travel back home. Staying out late is a bad idea, especially if you are traveling alone. You do not want to carry a handbag or have your cell phone in sight. Do not carry large amounts of money with you and stay in groups. As a tourist, you might be an easy target so take it from someone who is South African.

3. We are actually a developed country

You will find highways to fantastic restaurants, five-star hotels, museums, farmer markets and many malls. Do not expect to share a street or road with a lion or wild animal unless you go on a safari. You won't really see wild animals outside of the safari.

4. Save money for a safari

In South Africa, you will find so many gorgeous animals when going on a safari. You will be able to see rhinos, giraffes, lions and elephants in their natural habitat. Going on a safari will be worth every penny you spend.

5. South Africa does things on their own time.

You will find yourself waiting much longer for your food at a restaurant or even to check in at a hotel. With no things like self-service, you'll have to learn to be patient. This is just how it is so you might as well embrace it while you visit.

6. You will definitely want to tip the car guard

Don't be surprised when someone in a bright yellow vest approaches you asking for money. These people are car guards who look after your car while you shop. Believe me when I say they are necessary and some of them are actually pretty nice. Back at home, I have a few guards I became friends with and who knows, you might too. An R5 will suffice so remember to keep change with you.

7. We drive on the different side of the road

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We drive on the opposite side of the road. So don't freak out when you get in an Uber. Most cars are also manual, but you will find automatics if you ask for it. Driving on the different side of the road with a manual was really confusing for me while I was in the US, but going back home makes me realize it might be challenging once again.

8. Vital vocabulary

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With 11 official languages in South Africa, it is important to know some phrases we use. When we say "just now" we really mean it is an undetermined amount of time so don't be surprised to find yourself waiting. "Now now" can be as soon as possible. The phrase "lekker" comes from Afrikaans and means great or good. I am guilty of saying this so many times, but when we say "Shame" it translates to "that's a shame." A robot is a traffic light, and tomato sauce is ketchup.

9. You don't get refills on drinks

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You want another drink? Well, you need to pay for a refill — unless you go to Burger King (and we don't have many of them).

Overall South Africa is a gorgeous country with so much diversity and you might fall in love.

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