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Stay Safe in South Africa

At both Once in Joburg, and Once in Cape Town, we often get asked if it’s safe to explore South Africa’s cities. The answer is, “Yes!” In fact, if you don’t carve a few days out of your itinerary to explore Cape Town and Joburg’s bustling streets, you’ll be missing out big time! South African cities are where the best local food can be found, eclectic street culture can be seen and local designer goods can be discovered. So, we’re here to share the ins and outs of how to stay safe in South Africa.

Stay Safe in South Africa



Carrying Cash

No matter where you’re travelling, keeping your cash safe, is always a priority. In South Africa, it’s not common to carry large amounts of cash. Instead, carry just enough to get around and lock up the bulk of your cash in the safe in your Once room. You can make like the locals and opt for some of the awesome technology available - like SnapScan. This is a South African app which allows you to connect your credit card to your phone.  You then simply snap the QR code displayed by the establishment, enter your pin on your phone, and the money is transferred. Most boutiques, coffee shops and inner city restaurants have these codes. Card machines are also widely available. 


You’ll see ATMs dotted around the city, it’s best to go to one that is busy, and well-lit. Only use the ATMs with a green plastic bit or green lights around the area where you insert your card. These machines are more difficult for fraudsters to add a card skimmer to. Don’t ever accept assistance from the ATM, from anyone. If you’re really stuck, go into a bank branch and ask for help.

Mobile Phones

Our mobile phones are pretty much our lives these days, they hold our boarding passes, our card details, our contacts, our access to uber, our memories. So, when a phone is lost, it’s admin for days. Firstly, don’t text and walk. When you’re unaware of your surroundings, and your phone is out on show, it’s easy pickings. Don’t keep your phone in a trousers pocket when out on the town. It’s easy to slip out when you’re on the dancefloor, or on a busy sidewalk.


Whenever we travel, we make copies of our passports, and we always advise our guests to do the same. Keep a copy on your person, and keep a digital copy on a USB drive in your luggage. You never know - your passport could go for a swim, go missing or be stolen. Better safe than sorry.


Moonbags, bumbags, fannypacks - whatever you call them, they’re back in fashion, and they make for a great travel companion. These by Sealand are available at various outlets around South Africa. If you have a sling bag, keep it on the front of your body, and the same goes for a backpack if you’re in a crowded space.

Public Transport

Stick to ubers and cab companies recommended by Once Reception to ensure you’re being transferred by a credible driver. The Gautrain in Joburg and MyCiti Bus system in Cape Town are also great ways to get around while staying in the city.