Some money lessons I learned when travelling in South Africa

After my recent trip to the Vatican City, I had some time off and decided to visit family in South Africa. It had been a while since my last visit, and I learnt a few new things about money and how to use it (and not to use it) while in the rainbow country.


Although you can bring in a limited amount of Rands into South Africa it is wise not to travel with too much cash. Travellers’ cheques (preferably Sterling) can be exchanged at banks bureaux de change and large hotels – not small guest houses. Credit cards – Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted by guest houses like ourselves; less so American Express or Diners.

Banking hours are 08.30 am to 1600 hrs Mondays to Fridays, open Saturdays between 0830 to 1100 hrs.

Much quicker and less bureaucratic are cards with the Cirrus or Maestro logos, which can be used at ATMs. When using “hole-in-the-wall” facilities be vigilant as card fraud is also prevalent in South Africa.

Lonely Planet recommends : “Use machines only at banks and then only during business hours. After inserting your card and before you enter your PIN, press the CANCEL button. If your card is returned, the machine works fine.”

(Apparently what thieves do is insert a thin plastic sleeve in the slot of the machine with which to retrieve the card).

When paying for purchases or meals it is a good idea not to let your card out of your sight. Petrol stations do not accept credit cards. It’s worth making assurance doubly sure by bringing a second card – in case you are unlucky enough to have an ATM swallow your card, lose it, or it gets stolen.

Tipping (Bonsellas)

Unless there is a service charge – around 10% is the norm in restaurants, bars, taxis. Tips – or “bonsellas” as we call them here – for chambermaids or car cleaners (yes some establishments such as The Coachman Guest House may clean your car while you’re sleeping!) are at your discretion. It is not general practice to tip hairdressers or beauty therapists. If you wish to do so they’ll be surprised and delighted with 10%! Virtually all shopping malls with car parks have “Guards”, official or unofficial. Usually this is their main source of income. On return to your car what you tip is discretionary – say between R5 and R10.

Vatican City


Five things you didn’t know about Vatican City

  1. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.

    Vatican City is only 44ha (0.44km²). The City is encircled by a 3.2 km border with Italy, Vatican city is am independent city-state.

  2. The majority of Vatican City’s 600 citizens live abroad.

    The total number of people in the world with Vatican citizenship is 594. That number consist of 71 cardinals, 109 swiss guard, 51 members of the clergy and one nun inside the vatican city. The largest group of citizens is the 307 clergy members with diplomatic positions around the world.

  3. The Swiss Guard was hired as a mercenary force.

    The swiss guard has been protecting the pontiff since 1506. They are recognizable by their colourful Renaissance-era uniforms and armor.

  4. St. Peter’s Basilica sits atop a city of the dead, including its namesake’s tomb.

    Emperor Constantine built the original basilica atop the ancient burial ground with which are believed to be the tomb of St. Peter.

  5. At several times during the Vatican’s history, popes escaped through a secret passageway.

    The passageway, the Passetto di Borgo, was constructed to link the vatican with the fortified Castel Sant’Angelo. It served as an escape route for popes.


Places to visit in Franceimages

  1. Eiffel Tower

    The Eiffel Tower is monument that everybody knows about and only a few people in the world get to experience and see it in real life. The Eiffel tower was built by the engineer Gustave Eiffel and also named after him. The Eiffel tower was opened March 31, 1889. The Eiffel tower is a really iconic monument and is a must visit when in France.

  2. The Louvreimages (1)

    The Louvre Museum is the worlds largest Museum and a historic monument in France. It is not just home of the famous Mona Lisa but also Venus de Milo, The wedding at Cana and many more. The Louvre has nearly 35, 000 objects exhibited from prehistory to 21st century. the Louvre is a big part of our history that everybody in France has to experience.

  3. Notre Dame de Paris250px-Notre_Dame_dalla_Senna

    Notre Dame de Paris is also known as Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a Medieval Catholic Cathedral. The building is along the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The cathedral has a reliquary which houses Catholicism’s most important relics, like the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails.