The details below provide answers to some of the most common questions, when visiting Franschhoek.
It is easy to withdraw cash from these machines, which are located around the village. As is the case in many parts of the World, in recent times, scam artists have targeted such machines. Such scams usually involve distracting the person using the machine, or looking over the user's shoulder to see the PIN number (this would be followed by distracting you in order to 'switch' your card. To avoid any problems, always be alert when using these machines and never accept help from a stranger. If your card becomes stuck in the machine, enter your PIN code 3 times, following which the machine will retain your card. You should then approach the bank, to have your card returned. If in doubt, cash can be withdrawn using your card from the teller inside the bank, although this does attract higher charges.
South African Rand (100 cents = 1 Rand)
The roads in South Africa are generally excellent. In such a large country, the locals are accustomed to driving much longer distances than most Europeans. A four hour drive is considered 'round the corner' to many South Africans, but visitors are advised to carefully plan their holiday and break long journeys in to shorter trips. We drive on the left had side of the road. If you come from a country that drives on the right hand side, you must have an International driving licence.
Another consideration is that there may well be animals on the road in more rural areas. At night this can present a major problem.
It is important to note that it is only legal to park in the direction the traffic is flowing; you cannot legally park on the right-hand-side of the road (except in a one-way road).
Our plugs are completely different from European 3-pin types; ours having 3 round pins. Two pin plugs are commonly in use and are the same as 2-pin European plugs. Adapters for UK plugs are available in most hardware shops and some supermarkets.
For more details of the language and local terms, click here.
Franschhoek is a relatively safe place. You should encounter no problems whilst walking around the village, even at night. As with anywhere, visitors are advised to take basic precautions to avoid becoming a target. Such precautions would include not wearing lots of visible jewellery and to keep bags/cameras close at all times (do not leave these hanging on the back of chairs etc.). In other areas (mainly the large cities) visitors should check with hotel/guest house owners regarding the safety of areas they plan to visit.
Most shops in Franschhoek are generally open from 08:30 until 17:00 and usually operate 7 days a week.
One of the main reasons for visiting Franschhoek/South Africa is the sun. It is easy to overlook the fact that the sun is much stronger here than in Europe. Even on overcast days you may well get sunburnt, which can spoil your entire holiday, or a few days at least. Even if you are an avid sun-worshipper, you should wear a hat and sunglasses whilst walking around and use a high sun-protection-factor (SPF) cream when sunbathing. Also remember to drink plenty of water to keep yourself adequately hydrated; on hot days, two litres should be considered a minimum.
The law prohibits smoking in most indoor public places. By definition, all indoor (public) places are non-smoking. Smoking is only permitted in specially-designated areas, although such areas are becoming less common.
GMT + 2
South Africa is the widest country (from East to West) in the World, to have a single time zone. There is (unfortunately) no daylight-saving in South Africa. During the summer months, it will be dark at around 20:15.
Although there are strict laws regarding minimum wages, many staff rely heavily upon tips to make up their wage and tipping is expected in most service industries. In a restaurant, the norm would be 10%. Barmen expect some loose change, hotel porters should receive a few rand for each bag carried and if a petrol attendant cleans your windscreen, you will be expected to give a couple of rand. Of course, all this is dependent upon your receiving good service.