Just a few local quirks you should know before heading to Cape Town, South Africa.
1. Work With Only One Uber Driver
Luckily, Cape Town offers Uber! Although Cape Town is a great place where you can get a bang for your buck, don’t waste your money on transportation with the Uber app, per se. If your Uber driver is nice, ask if he/she can be your driver throughout your stay. Uber drivers tend to get only 20% of what you pay on the app. Pay them more than 20% and less than what you usually pay through the app, and it will be a win-win for everyone!
2. Capetonians Refer to Traffic Lights as Robots
“Walk pass 4 robots and you’ll be there!” Instead of traffic or streetlights, Capetonians use the term, robots!
3. Electricity is 220/230 volts or 15 amps
Remember, purchase a converter before traveling to Cape Town.
4. Savor the Taste of Delicious Braai
If you are looking for good meat do not ask for BBQ, you will receive the most bewildered reaction because Capetonians refer to BBQ as Braai. Also, when ordering Braai, don’t forget to order a side of Pub. Instead of using gas, South Africans use wood or charcoal and cook braai on the grill. It takes a bit longer to cook, but what’s special about it is the quality of the meat and the process.
5. Take Precaution When Driving Late at Night
Many locals in Cape Town informed me about taking certain safety precautions when renting a car. I was told to never make a full stop at robots when driving late at night, since there are high rates of car theft and break-ins in Cape Town. Keep your backpacks, cameras, and suitcases, out of sight when driving at night.
6. Ask About People’s Lives Before Snapping Photos
South Africans are very protective of their culture, so before snapping any photos always ask for permission. Also, they love answering questions about their culture and listening and learning about where you’re from, too. South Africans are very warm and friendly if you take the time to understand their background.
7. Be Kind and Generous When Tipping
In Cape Town, there are services for everything! When you are pumping gas, you don’t have to step out of the car; someone else does it for you. When you are parked in the street, there are people watching over your cars and making sure nothing happens to it. A lot of Capetonians are well under paid, and survive off of tips. Expect to tip for all types of services.
8. Impress Locals With One Word: Shame!
This is a very versatile slang word that local Capetonians use. It can be used for “Oh, how cute!” to “Aw, you poor thing”. For example: “I got sun burnt yesterday”. “Shame!”
9. For Cheap and Delicious Meals, Stop at Eastern Food Bazaar
Tired of fine dining? Then you must stop by the Eastern Food Bazaar. They have every kind of cuisine, from Indian to Chinese to Turkish street food. If you are traveling from the U.S., most dishes are at most $4. Meals are usually served in large portions, so definitely bring some back to your hotel and save it for dinner.
10. Always Pay with Cash, Avoid using Card
Try to use cash whenever possible, especially when going out at night. But don’t bring your wallet, just what you need for the day. Pickpockets like to strike in crowded areas, so keep your money close to your person and avoid putting it in your back pocket.