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Safety and Security
Like many major cities, Cape Town has both good and bad areas. It is advisable when walking in Cape Town, particularly at night, that one should be aware of people around you, and ideally you should not walk alone but in a group. Ostentatious displays of wealth should be avoided, and it is not advisable to look like a typical 'tourist' with many cameras strung around your neck. Do not leave valuables unattended.
Due to its coastal position, Cape Town enjoys a temperate Mediterranean-type climate for most of the year. Summers can be very hot, although often moderated with a cool sea breeze, and mid-winter can be very cold with snow falling in the surrounding mountains. However, whichever time of year you choose to visit Cape Town, expect a surprise or two - Cape Town is known to have four seasons all in one day.
The main rainfall occurs during winter, particularly July and August although regular showers occur from mid-May through to end of September. From September through to end of January Cape Town is notorious for its south-easterly wind. Those whose main aim is sight-seeing should visit from mid-September to mid-May.
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Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 14% is levied on most goods and services and is included in the display price of most goods. International visitors are encouraged to keep their slips as they can reclaim VAT on goods (not services) priced higher than R250.00 at the airport on departure, some harbors and at Customs Offices.
South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year, making it an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time and seven hours in advance of Eastern Standard Winter Time.
Currency in South Africa is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with One Rand (R1) made up of 100 cents. Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and bureau de changes. All major credit cards such as American Express, Bank of America, Diners, Master Card, Visa and affiliates, are accepted in most places in South Africa. Generally, credit cards are not accepted for the purchase of petrol. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) offer a complete 24-hour service. Machines displaying international credit card logos can be used with the respective credit cards.
Page updated: 10 September 2014