Tourism Safety - South Africa
Updated: Apr 21
Despite South Africa's reputation, it is generally safe for tourists visiting KZN North Coast and South Africa in general. North Coast Holiday Homes takes tourist safety seriously and share basic safety tips to stay safe while in one of our luxury homes, local beaches or while enjoying many activities along our coast.
Following basic precautions, using common sense, and avoiding high-risk areas worldwide are essential for tourist safety.
In this article, we will discuss:
Tourist Safety while:
Here are some essential Tourist safety tips for visiting South Africa. Don't be intimidated by the long list of recommendations. Most of these also apply to other destinations you may want to travel to, and it is worth keeping in mind whenever you travel abroad.
At the airport and during the flight
Don't pack valuables in checked luggage. Keep them with you.
Don't keep your passport in your back pocket or accessible jacket pocket. Rather use an inside pocket. Keep important items out of backpacks with accessible zips and pockets.
Follow the official direction signs, and only ask airport officials for directions.
Keep your belongings visible and do not leave your bag unattended.
Don't take taxis or accept lifts recommended to you by strangers.
Do not allow strangers to handle your luggage.
Avoid drawing or carrying large amounts of cash at the airport. Do not exchange unnecessary amounts of foreign currency at the airport.
It is essential to be aware of people following you or hanging around. If someone follows you constantly, you should contact an official or the police.
When you plan to tip someone, prepare your tip in advance and in private. Avoid pulling out your wallet, revealing cash in public.
Using an ATM
Some ATMs are safe, others not. The safest ones are inside banks or shopping malls. You can also withdraw cash from most supermarkets at the till (cash register).
Refrain from withdrawing large amounts of cash at once.
Keep your transaction at the ATM keyboard private/ shielded and do not allow anyone to assist you.
Do not accept help from strangers or allow anyone to distract you. If you are suspicious, rather walk away from the ATM and the area altogether.
Do not share your bank card PIN with anyone!
If your card gets stuck in the machine, contact your bank immediately. Your bank's contact number should be saved on your phone before you go, so you can easily cancel your card if necessary. Make sure your phone has international dialing enabled.
South Africa does not have temporary, make-shift tolls. Tolls are well built and are located on major routes. There is no need to pay at any temporary tolls.
Keep your phone, handbag, laptop bag, and other valuables in the boot of your vehicle. Keep your wallet, phone, and passport on your person and not in the cup holders or passenger seat. Hidden money belts can be helpful. Smash-and-grabs can happen and they usually grab whatever they can reach though your window once broken.
Make sure the doors are locked, and the windows are closed.
People begging for food and money at traffic lights is a common occurrence in South Africa. These people are usually harmless and will leave you alone if you indicate to them that you are not interested.
Plan your trip beforehand. Google Maps and other map applications do not consider safety and will show you the quickest/ most direct route possible. If you enter an area that you are not comfortable in, rather get out immediately and reroute.
Never pick up a hitchhiker or offer a lift to a stranger.
Keep to the speed limit and obey all traffic laws. Never roll over a stop street. If a traffic light does not work, it is considered a 4-way stop. You must stop dead behind the line.
Be courteous and friendly if you are stopped, but be aware of corrupt officials. All official traffic officers must be able to identify themselves – ask for their name. Never pay a spot fine. If you receive a ticket, insist on having it written out.
When locking your vehicle, double check that all doors are locked by testing them individually. Car jamming is on the increase and allows criminals to enter your vehicle once you have left it unattended.
Do not stop on the side of the road. Try and get your vehicle to the closest fuel station or police station for assistance.
In the unlikely event that you are robbed or hijacked, cooperate fully and do not resist. Let the thieves take what they want. Resisting, cursing, or shouting increases the chances of escalation to violence. Stay calm, and don't fight them. Trying to get away can also end in tragedy. Your car or valuables are not worth your life.
At your accommodation or restaurants
Make sure you don't leave your bags unattended. Keep them within sight and closed.
Make sure all credit card transactions are completed in your presence. Don't let anyone remove your credit card from sight, where it may be cloned.
Never leave valuables in your suitcase or elsewhere in your room, where cleaning staff can easily access them. Should items go missing from your accommodation, contact your agent immediately to resolve this with the cleaning staff or owner.
Please don't open your door/ gate to strangers; keep it locked.
Find out about your surroundings, if there are any areas to avoid, etc. You can also get directions about where to go from your friendly agent or our guest information link that is sent to you before arrival.
Some areas are very safe, even after dark. But, taking a cab is often safer than walking. In South Africa, we don't stand on the sidewalk hoping to flag down a passing cab like one does in NYC or London. Phone and book a cab while you are still in the restaurant, or book an Uber.
On foot and in public areas
Keep away from empty side streets and alleyways. Avoid deserted beaches, and footpaths at night.
Make sure you know where you are going. If you need directions, ask a local convenience store rather than relying on a passing stranger.
Keep your phone, purse, and other valuables out of sight.
Do not display excessive jewellery or visible moon bags/ moneybags
Keep your bag in plain sight at all times.
If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, go into a nearby shop and ask for assistance.
It is better to walk in groups than alone.
You should never give money to people on the street. Instead, offer to registered charities.
Be careful where you take out your wallet.
Credit cards are widely accepted and much safer than cash. Only keep small amounts of cash on you, if needed.
Use common sense
Despite where you are in the world, you can avoid most crimes if you use basic safety precautions and general common sense. Stay alert, avoid run down areas, don’t entertain strangers and don’t carry large sums of cash on you. Research common tourist scams and keep your valuables in a safe place. Although there are occasional incidents of theft and robbery, homicides and violent crimes against tourists are extremely rare. If you a victim of crime, report it to the police. You need a police case number to file an insurance claim. You can also report incidents to the Tourism Safety Initiative. Some safety tips and important phone numbers can be found on our guest website. Seek assistance from your agent or your country's consulate if necessary.
Most importantly, do not let the fear of crime ruin your trip or stop you from enjoying your African experience! The vast majority (over 99.9%) of tourists to South Africa experience no crime incidents during their trip.
North Coast Holiday Homes is a leading luxury holiday let company specialising in the Dolphin Coast area, including Ballito, Simbithi and Zimbali. Their expertise is second to none, and you can rest assured that your luxury holiday on the Dolphin Coast will be a memory to last a lifetime.
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