Information on South Africa & China

Information on South Africa

Temperatures Cape Town – London

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The Republic of South Africa is at the southern tip of Africa.

Form of government:

Parliamentary democracy with a strong Executive President and federal elements. The bicameral system comprises the National Assembly (400 seats) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats). The head of state and government is Cyril Ramaphosa.


Pretoria (approx. 1 million inhabitants)


79.8% Christian, 1.5% Muslim, 1.2% Hindu, 0.3% traditional African religions, 0.2% Jewish, 0.6% other, 15.1% undetermined


All 11 national languages are official languages, incl. Afrikaans (13.3%) and English (8.2%).


dry to subtropically-humid


220 V, 50 Hz. 3-pin plugs. An adapter is required.

Local time:

The time difference to the Central European time zone (CET) is +1 hour in winter. The time difference to the Central European time zone (CET) is -1 hour in summer.

Making telephone calls:

To make phone calls to the UK, pre-dial 0044 (+44). To make phone calls from the UK to South Africa, pre-dial 0027 (+27).

Country and people:

Major cities are often characterised by strong contrasts. While better residential areas are often spaciously laid out, the “Townships” – which are still home to the majority of the non-white population – largely feature basic housing or slum-like huts. But not all townships are necessarily slums – there are also townships in middle-class residential areas. South Africa’s coastlines are ideal for bathing. Please note that strong (under)currents can prevail which can carry even experienced swimmers out to sea. Sharks also pose a potential risk. We urgently recommend enquiring about safe bathing locations and staying on beaches with lifeguards. Where possible, taxis should only be reserved at reliable and wellknown companies. As a general rule, hotels and B&Bs will be of assistance when it comes to making reservations. We urgently advise you to refrain from hitchhiking or travelling in so-called minibus taxis.

Entry requirements for British citizens:

British nationals do not need a visa to visit South Africa for tourism purposes for a period of up to 90 days. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa and should have at least two blank pages. For more information, please see: The South African government does not accept British passports that have been extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under exceptional measures put in place in mid-2014. You will not be able to enter or exit South Africa on an expired British passport with an extension stamp. Entry requirements for British citizens can change at short notice. Legally binding information and/or more extensive information on entry requirements is only available from the Embassy or one of the Consulates of your destination country.
Whilst we endeavour to provide guidance where necessary, we can not be responsible for any problems encountered (whether at any point of entry or elsewhere) in the event that passport and visa requirements are not satisfied.

Tour guides:

Your expert tour guides will be able to provide you with detailed information about the country, people, history, culture etc., and offer advice and assistance for organising your trip. They can also help with room allocation and look forward to welcoming you with initial information. Here you will find out all you need to know and useful information about the trip. We have put together a varied programme including numerous highlights, enabling you to experience the culture and diversity of landscape that South Africa has to offer, and learn all about the country and its people. Although your trip already includes a comprehensive package, you also have the option of choosing added extras.
Cultural & gourmet package in South Africa: The package includes half-board, i.e. 6× delicious evening meals with international specialties and the 3 excursions: “Boat trip on Knysna Lagoon“, “Visit to an ostrich farm“ and “Tour of the Cape Town waterfront“: only £179 per person.
Excursion to the peninsula: The excursion includes the Cape of Good Hope and a stop at the 12 Apostles: only £89 per person.

Currency/Banks/Credit cards:

The rand (ZAR) is the currency of South Africa. 1 ZAR = 100 Cents. Exchange rate (July 2019): 1 GBP = 17.34 ZAR. 1 ZAR = 0.05 GBP.
EC and credit cards linked to the Maestro system can be used at international ATMs which are readily available in larger cities. Up to 2,000 ZAR can be withdrawn per day. Processing fees may be incurred depending on the card used. ATMs located outside buildings should be avoided. Preference should be given to ATMs in shopping malls, supermarkets and banks. Beware of tricksters offering to help you to withdraw money whose real objective is to swap your EC/credit card for a fake. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. Cash can be changed everywhere in large cities but should only be carried in small amounts on account of the high levels of crime. Eurocheques are not accepted. We do not recommend changing South African rand in the UK as import restrictions are in place and the exchange rate is much better in South Africa. An increasing number of counterfeit 200-rand notes have been in circulation recently. It is therefore advisable to change money only through official channels in banks or currency exchange agencies with the following opening hours: Mon. to Fri. 9 am to 3:30 pm, Sat. 8:30 am to 11 am. Passports must be shown when changing money.

Safety information specific to South Africa:

South Africa has higher crime rates than the UK, especially in large cities and their suburbs. Most violent crime is in areas in which tourists are not usually affected. Nevertheless, British travellers can be the target and victim of theft, burglary, robbery and similar crimes. We urgently recommend refraining from resistance in the event of robbery. Good preparation and reasonable behaviour significantly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a criminal offence. The following precautionary measures are recommended:
• Always carry your mobile phone with you. (Emergency numbers: Police: 10 111; Ambulance: 10 177 or 112)
• Major city centres, e.g. Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, should be avoided after business hours and especially after dark; stay in groups when in city centres on Sundays and national holidays.
• Increased caution and prudence is advisable when visiting townships. Visits to townships should be organised and led by a guide who is familiar with the location.
• Secluded hiking paths and deserted areas should be avoided on excursions to public parks and well-known sights. Reduce the risk by enjoying excursions in groups only.

Special criminal provisions:

Depending on the severity of the offence, the possession, consumption, import/export and trafficking of drugs is punishable by a monetary fine and/or up to 25 years of imprisonment. Prostitution is a criminal offence. Offences associated with child prostitution are subject to particularly long prison sentences. Picking protected plants and catching protected species of animals is prohibited and can lead to substantive monetary fines and imprisonment. The same also applies for the unauthorised export of such flora and fauna. Nude bathing is also prohibited.

Customs regulations:

Used personal items can be imported free of duty. More detailed customs information on importing goods is available from the embassy of your destination country. Legally binding information can only be provided there. The customs regulations for the UK can be viewed on the British Customs website or queried by phone.

Medical care and information:

As a general rule, the level of medical care is good. Private hospitals in larger cities are of a European standard while state hospitals are often crowded and suffer from budget cutbacks.
Important information: As a general rule, medical services and hospital treatment are subject to advance payment – sometimes to a significant sum. Conclusion of international health insurance with repatriation insurance is urgently advised.
Vaccinations: No compulsory vaccinations are necessary for direct travel from the UK (direct flight). But the Foreign Office recommends examining and supplementing standard vaccinations. Vaccinations against Hepatitis A and Typhus are recommended.
Yellow fever: When travelling from a country declared by the WHO as a yellow fever endemic area, proof of valid yellow fever vaccination is required. A list of yellow fever endemic areas can be found at The border authorities have been instructed to implement these rules consistently and to either send back travellers with the corresponding travel profile who do not avail of vaccination documents or to quarantine them for 6 days at their own expense.
Diarrhoea: Most diarrhoea disorders can be avoided by observing the following hygiene rules: Only use water from a safe source, e.g. bottled water, never tap water. Also use drinking water for washing dishes and brushing your teeth. Boil, peel or disinfect food. Make sure your food is safe from flies. Wash your hands with soap as often as possible but always after using the bathroom, before preparing food and before eating.
Malaria: Transmission follows a bite by the blood-sucking Anopheles mosquito which is active at night. The disease can present weeks to months after visiting the country. If a fever appears during this period, it is necessary to inform the doctor treating you of your visit to a malarial region. Kruger Park and the northern coastal area of Kwazulu-Natal Province are regarded as endemic malarial regions. Medication and personal adjustment thereof should be discussed with a specialist in tropical/travel medicine prior to ingestion. You are advised to take a sufficient supply with you although all medication is also available and in good quality there. On account of the infection risks associated with mosquitos, all travellers to the regions in question are recommended to
• wear light-coloured full-length clothing (long trousers, long shirts)
• apply insect repellent to all exposed body parts several times a night (malaria)
• to sleep under a mosquito net if necessary.
Customers must ensure that they are in good physical and mental health in line with the trip in question. Customers must enquire about the physical mobility and psychological autonomy required for this trip.

All information is subject to change / Last updated: July 2019

Information on the United Arab Emirates

Temperatures Dubai – London


Seven members:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Um al-Qawain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The UAE is located in the southeast of the Persian Gulf and borders on Oman.

Capital city:

Abu Dhabi (approx. 1.2 million inhabitants).

System of government:

The United Arab Emirates is a federal constitutional monarchy comprising seven autonomous emirates. The highest federal body is the Supreme Council made up of the rulers of the seven emirates. They elect the head of state and his representative from among their number, each of whom holds office for five years. Comprising 40 delegates, half of whom are elected indirectly and the other half are appointed by the emirs, the parliament has an exclusively advisory function. Political parties are not permitted in the UAE.


Islam is the state religion (80 per cent Sunni, 16 per cent Shiite). Resident foreigners practice their religions without hindrance (e.g. Christianity, non-native Islam religions, Hinduism).


The official language is Arabic. English is also spoken and understood in business transactions and in hotels.


Subtropical to tropical desert climate with very low annual rates of precipitation (mostly in winter); extreme heat and humidity from May to October (max. daytime temperature of over 45 °C); average temperature in January 18 °C, in August 34 °C.


220-250 volt AC, 50 Hertz. Three-pin plugs are the norm here. Adapters can be obtained from any electrical store and all larger supermarkets.

Local time:

Central European Time (CET) +4 hours. During European summertime, the time difference is +3 hours.

Making telephone calls:

The country code for international calls from the UK to the Emirates is 00971. When phoning the UK from the Emirates, the country code to dial is 0044, dropping the zero before the area code.

Country and people:

Islam restricts the consumption of alcohol in the UAE. A strict general ban on alcohol prevails in the Emirate of Sharjah in particular where alcohol is not offered in any hotel while it is served in the other emirates. During the fasting month of Ramadan, restrictions in everyday life (e.g. restaurants outside the hotels are closed during the day, shorter opening hours at official authorities) and increased sensitivity concerning religious matters and regarding the observation of Islamic traditions can be anticipated.
Eating, drinking and smoking in public, including in vehicles, is also forbidden for non-Muslims from sunrise to sunset. During this period, women should wear respectable clothing with long sleeves and men should refrain from wearing short leisure clothes.

Entry requirements for British citizens:

Adults and children must hold a valid passport to enter the UAE. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. British citizens do not require a visa before their arrival in the UAE and will be given a 30-day visa on arrival. Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

Note: Entry requirements for British citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being made aware of this beforehand. Legally binding information and/or information on entry regulations going beyond this information can be obtained from the competent representation of the destination country. Before travelling to the United Arab Emirates, please check your visa requirements and make sure you have a valid visa if necessary. You are solely responsible for applying for, and presenting, any visa that may be required. RSD assumes no liability if you fail to do this. Please note that entry into the UAE is dependent upon the approval of the immigration authorities.

Currency/Banks/Credit cards:

The currency is the UAE dirham (AED). 1 dirham = 100 fils (as at July 2019): 1 GBP = 4.58 AED, 1 AED = 0.21 GBP.
Currency can be exchanged at banks during opening hours and at your hotel. Bank opening hours: Sat. – Wed., 8 a.m. – 3.30 p.m., Thurs. 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.; some banks also open from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. The weekend in the United Arab Emirates is Friday and Saturday. International credit cards are accepted by hotels, car hire companies and several shops. Cash withdrawals using a PIN code can be made at ATMs. Travellers’ cheques are almost universally accepted.

Customs regulations:

Severe penalties will be imposed on anyone bringing weapons, drugs, forged currency or pornographic items into the country. Even the cover pages of some, more “permissive” magazines, may be construed as pornography. Video cassette recordings may be checked and even confiscated. E-cigarette imports are also prohibited and will be confiscated on arrival. Should you require more detailed information about customs regulations governing the goods which may be brought into the United Arab Emirates, please contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates directly. Only there will you be able to obtain legally binding information. Information on customs regulations governing the importation of goods into the UK is available on the Web site:

Security information:

In view of the general political situation in the Middle East, you are also advised to exercise caution in the United Arab Emirates. Strict Islamic moral values prevail in the UAE. Homosexuality and extra-marital sexual relations are prohibited and punishable by a prison sentence if reported to the authorities. Tourists sharing rooms in hotels do not generally experience any difficulties in this regard. Likewise, expressions of mutual affection (e.g. kissing, physical contact) in public can lead to fines or prison terms in accordance with Islamic law. Consideration of customs and traditions in the UAE is therefore recommended. Travellers should exercise restraint in public, and their behaviour should take consideration of the religious, political, cultural and social traditions of the country, as well as staying clear of any demonstrations or protest events. The possession and consumption of even the smallest quantities of drugs will also result in prison sentences. Even consumption of soft drugs some days beforehand can be established through blood tests and subject to correspondingly tough punishment.


The UAE is one of the safest countries in the Middle East with an extremely low crime rate. Nevertheless, individual incidents of pick pocketing, e.g. in larger shopping centres, can not be ruled out. It is a criminal offence to photograph/film the following facilities: military facilities, ports, airports, imperial palaces, public buildings, industrial plants, crude oil / natural gas plants. In the event of a violation, at least the camera/film/chip will be confiscated.

Medical information:

Vaccinations: Please contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country-specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a countryby- country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
Medical care: Healthcare facilities in the UAE are generally comparable with those in the UK, but visitors may be prevented from using them without travel insurance or without the means to settle any medical fees. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

All information subject to change – last updated May 2020

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