South African Embassy Bern

Tourist Information

South African Tourism Website
Gateway to South Africa


South Africa offers a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from backpackers' hostels and caravan parks to Bed and Breakfasts, guest houses and five star hotels.
Accommodation Guides can be ordered from your nearest South African Tourism Office.


Banking Hours

Monday-Friday 09h00 - 15h30
Saturday 08h30 - 11h00

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours in most cities and towns.
Traveller's cheques and foreign currency notes of all major currencies can be exchanged at any commercial bank.

Bus travel

Luxury coaches link the major centres, while tour companies offer comfortable coach tours around the country.

Credit cards

Most international credit cards are accepted such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates. However, use thereof may be restricted in small towns and country areas. Gasoline can be purchased with a special petrol card or cash but not with standard credit cards. Both credit and petrol cards may be used to pay road tolls.


The monetary unit is the SA Rand.
The international symbol is ZAR.
R1 = 100 cents

Car Hire

Telephone numbers of major car rental companies are:

Avis 0800 021 111
Imperial 0800 131 000
Budget 0800 016 622
Tempest 0800 031 666
Hertz 0800 021 515

Drivers must have a valid driving licence (which carries a photograph and is either printed or authenticated in English) or an international driving licence.

Dialling codes

International dialling codes are to be found in all SA telephone directories.
The international dialling code for South Africa is +27 followed by the area code (minus the first zero) and the subscriber's number.

Major city dialling codes:

Bloemfontein 051
Cape Town 021
Durban 031
East London 043
Mafikeng 018
Johannesburg 011
Pretoria 012
Port Elizabeth 041
Rusternburg 014

South Africa utilises the GSM system for cellular phones, thereby enabling foreign visitors to use their cell phones in the country. Cellular phones can be rented through various outlets and at major airports.

Phone cards can be used at green public telephones and are obtainable at airports, post offices and retail outlets.

Useful telephone numbers

AA Breakdown 0800 10101
Ambulance 10177
International Enquiries 0903
Directory Assistance 1023
Lost Property: Jhb Internat. Airport 011 978 5571


The standard power source is 220/240 volts AC 50Hz.
Plug points take two- or three-pronged round pinned plugs.
Adaptor plugs should be brought for shavers and hair dryers.

Facilities for the Disabled

South African Airways provides passenger aid units at all major airports. Many hotels offer facilities for the disabled, as do most rest camps in the Kruger National Park. Wheelchairs and other aids may be hired in most cities. The larger car-hire companies can provide vehicles with hand controls.

A directory of services for the visually handicapped is available from:

The SA National Council for the Blind

The National Council for the Physically Disabled

Tel. 011 726 8040
Fax 011 726 5705


South Africa's floral wealth represents five major habitat types: fynbos, forest, Karoo, grassland and savannah, each with its own diversity of species. The fynbos habitat, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, encompasses some 8 550 species. More than 70% of the species occur nowhere else in the world.


South Africa's excellent climate makes golf a year-round attraction. There are more than 400 registered courses and some are among the best in the world. During the past few years, South Africa has become the leading golf destination for golfers from Europe. Visitors are welcome but it is advisable to call the Club Secretary and ask for a confirmed starting time and dress code.

Medical services

South Africa has no national health service, so medical treatment and hospital fees must be paid direct. A special travel insurance is recommended. Most hotels have a list of doctors whose names may also be found in the "Medical" section of the telephone directories.

Private hospitals and clinics have 24-hour emergency services.

Pharmacies are available in every neighbourhood and 24-hour emergency service is available.


It is recommended that visitors to game parks in malaria regions take anti-malaria tablets, which are available across the counter at any pharmacy. Malaria regions include Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northeast KwaZulu-Natal.

Yellow fever

General policy by South African Department of Health:   Click here

Risk of Yellow Fever is present in the following countries: Click here .

Changes in yellow fever policy from 1 October 2011

The Department of Health has informed SASTM of the following amendments in the Yellow Fever Policy:

The RSA has reviewed its yellow fever vaccination requirements policy, which will be effective from 1 October 2011.

1. As of 1 October 2011, all travellers from Zambia will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination (unless in possession of a valid waiver certificate).

2. Travellers transiting airports in countries with risk of yellow fever transmission will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination, regardless of the amount of time spent at the airport

South Africa will exercise the following measures to all travellers from yellow fever risk countries who are unable to produce a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate at the port of entry:

  • refuse entry; or
  • quarantine until their certificate becomes valid, or for a period of not more than six days; or
  • those with an exemption certificate due to medical reasons will be allowed entry and required to report any fever or other symptoms to the health authorities and be placed under surveillance.

For further information: Click here



National Parks
Rhino poaching

Sun protection

The South African sun is strong with a high ultraviolet rating. Screening products with sun protection factors of 15 and over are recommended.

Time differences

Standard Time in South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time. There is no daylight saving.


In restaurants, 10% of the bill usually applies, depending on the standard of service provided. Restaurants do not usually include the tip in the bill.
Taxi drivers should also receive 10% of the amount charged. R2 per bag is generally given to porters.

Train travel

Trains, with first and second class sleeping facilities, link South Africa's major cities. Daily long distance passenger services are operated between Johannesburg and Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Cape Town.

The Blue Train and the privately owned, Rovos Rail, are internationally famous luxury trains.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

Foreign visitors to South Africa can have their value added tax (VAT) refunded, provided the value of the items purchased exceeds R250. The refund may be claimed at the airport of departure, at various harbours and customs offices. The following documentation is required: original tax invoice, VAT refund control sheet and foreign passport. The items on which the refund is claimed must also be presented.

For more information on the refund process, contact:

VAT Refund Administrators
P.O. Box 9478
2000 Johannesburg

Tel. 011 484 7530

Information leaflets on the procedure to follow are available from VAT Refund Administration offices at Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town International airports.


Unless marked otherwise, tap water is safe to drink throughout South Africa. Stream water may be polluted.

Weather report


South African Embassy
Alpenstrasse 29
CH-3006 Bern
PH +41(0)31 350 13 13
FX +41(0)31 351 39 44
Emergency PH +41(0)79 652 56 85

Embassy office hours
Monday – Thursday:
08:00 – 12:30 / 13:15 – 17:00
Friday: 08:00 – 14:00

Consular office hours
Monday – Friday:
08:00 – 12:00
Visits by appointment only