Cape Town Vacation Tips

A list of the most useful tips & tricks you’ll want to know on your Cape Town vacation. It’s nothing new and probably your guide book describes in more detail but we like to describe it from a local point of view.

Many guide books go overboard on some issues and forget to mention other details you should know. So here’s a list of tips from hands-on-experience. Give them a read and store them in your gray cells… act sensibly during your Cape Town vacation and you’ll have ‘the best of times’.

Useful Cape Town Tips:

History

There is a lot of it in Cape Town and your holiday will be much more enjoyable if you research it a little. This place has been formed by history in so many different ways and you can still see the influences.

Best time to come

Peak season is the months before and after new-years. It’s the best weather and most expensive time to come. Pre- and late season can give you the opportunity to get great prices while still enjoying great weather.

Business hours

Go with the following guidelines 9:30 – 4:00 during the week. Saturday most shops are only open in the morning. Slowly more shops are staying open also on Sunday but only expect this at the tourism hotspots.

Emergencies

For an emergency service dail 107 (via a cell phone dail 112). For the ambulance dail 10177. Mountain rescue is 0219489900 and sea rescue is 0214053500. Always double check these numbers, please.

Events & Holidays

There is always something happening in Cape Town so make sure to check the local agenda. Holidays got mixed up a little after 1994 but like any other country South Africa has it’s fair share (check your guide book for details). School holidays are around mid April (2 weeks) late June (3 weeks), late September (1 week) and early December (8 weeks)

Geography

Right in the city center a mountain of 1000 meters rises straight up. That should tell you this places is full of steep and narrow roads etc. Also the landscape differs from beaches to high mountain terrain (and everything in between).

Health & Hygiene

Coming to Cape Town there are only a few health issues which you need to be aware of. Cape Town is western and private medical service is of high standard. You’ll find enough pharmacies, doctors & hospitals. The health service is split into private and public… use the private facilities for the best service. Additionally take all the common health precautions when traveling and be up-to-ate with the latest advice for South Africa. In general the health care is of high quality.

Language

Many different languages are spoken in South Africa (also Cape Town) but you’ll be fine with English. Xhosa is the most common African language around the Cape.

Laundry

Not a problem ever. All hotels have services and you’ll be able to find many laundries through out the town.

Water

You can drink the tap water in Cape Town. Take care when hiking and use a water purifier or bring it along. Additionally you can buy bottled water at shops and restaurants.

Money & Prices

Of course under constant change, but generally speaking life isn’t expensive in Cape Town. You can go out to dinner at very reasonable prices. Also prices of tourism attraction are good but tending to be getting a little more expensive lately (which is also the case for some accommodations). Don’t expect to buy electronic equipment at a sharp price.

Radio, TV, Newspapers & Magazines

It’s easy to stay up to date. All major papers and magazines are available. Radio and TV is first focused on local news but all major world events are of course also broadcasted. With satellite tv you can receive the same channels as at home.

Time, Weights, Electricity & Measurements

South Africa time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and there is no day light savings time. South Africa uses the metric system. Electricty is 220 volt AC.

Social Issues & Safety

Safety is one of the first things anybody askes when arriving in Cape Town. We can’t say Cape Town is safe nor can we say it’s unsafe. We would say it depends on your behavior for more than 80%. More than any other place in the world Cape Town asks the visitor to act wisely. Hence walking around as a moving bank – will draw attention. But, what’s even more important is staying alert and acting wise in different places. Grab a taxi instead of walking at night. Don’t head into townships without the right company. Be wise and be sensible and you’ll be fine. Treat beggers with respect and reward people doing the smallest jobs (giving directions while parking, watching your car). Avoid giving money for nothing as it creates a lot more social problems (drinking, addiction, theft, etc).

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