Travel tips

South Africa: A Spending Guide

By Tasha Kleeman |

The basics

Currency: Rand

Exchange rate: £1 = 18.10 ZAR (at time of writing)
For context: that’s 100 ZAR for just over £5.

Denominations: 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 rand notes
1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent coins


Although flights to Cape Town can be expensive, once you’re there, South Africa promises great value for money.

As with anywhere, prices will vary depending on where you are in the country. Cape Town and Johannesburg are considerably more expensive than Port Elizabeth and Durban, and prices generally go down as you venture into smaller towns. But even in the big cities, food and drink is relatively cheap, and you can expect excellent value.

Here’s a breakdown of how much you will need for your South African break:


  • Cheapest time: March
  • Return flights to Cape Town from the UK: around £500
  • Peak time: June and July
  • Return flights to Cape Town from the UK: around £800*

*Flights will be cheaper if you book in advance. Read more about how to save money on a peak season holiday here.


On a budget
Shared hostel room: 150-300 ZAR per night (£9-18)
Private hostel room: 300-450 ZAR per night (£18-26)

Standard hotel double: 700-4000 ZAR per night (£40-230)

Top end
Double room in a top end hotel: 4000+ ZAR per night (£250+)
Top end safari lodge: 6000+ ZAR per night (£350+)

Food and drink


  • Bottle of water: 9 ZAR (£0.50)
  • Cappuccino in a café: 25 ZAR (£1.45)
  • Average beer: 30 ZAR (£1.70)
  • Bottle of wine at a bar or restaurant: 50-120 ZAR (£3-7)
  • Three-course meal with wine at a restaurant: around 225 ZAR per person (£13)


Table Mountain Aerial Cableway: 255 ZAR (£14.50)

Boat trip to Robben Island: 320 ZAR (£18.15)

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: 60 ZAR (£3.50)

Wine tour to Stellebnosch and Franschhoek from Cape Town: 995 ZAR (£55)

Cape Town Apartheid Museum: 80 ZAR (£4.50)

Entry to Kruger National Park: 372 ZAR (£21)

Getting around

  • Short taxi ride: 60-120 ZAR (£3.50-7)
  • Car rental: around 170 ZAR per day (£10)
  • Cape Town sight-seeing bus: 270 ZAR (£15)
  • Train from Johannesburg to Cape Town: 690 ZAR (£40)

Cash or card?

Card is widely accepted in South Africa. However, it’s a good idea to bring some cash with you as well for tipping and other small purchases.

ATMs are readily available throughout South Africa’s major cities, although may be harder to find when you venture into more rural areas.

How much should I tip?

  • Restaurants: 10-15% of total bill
  • Cafes: 10% of bill
  • Hotels: R10-R20
  • Taxis: tipping isn’t expected, but rounding up the fare will be appreciated
  • Safari/game lodge guide: 200-250 ZAR per day

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