How Safe Is South Africa for Travel?

South Africa
Safety Index:

South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of Africa.

It shares its borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho.

It is no exaggeration to say that this country is huge, with many varying landscapes and 11 official languages, and an equally diverse population.

It is the country that boasts the strongest economy on the continent: South Africa is known for its wines and is one of the world’s largest producers of gold.

It is also very influential when it comes to African politics, and in 2010, South Africa hosted the first Football World Cup to be held on the African continent.

Though some may think of typical stereotypes when hearing the words “South Africa”, it is actually completely different than people imagine.

Mainly, it can be said that it is a country consisting of two countries.

On the one hand, it is, without exaggeration, a first world state, especially the major cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, and on the other hand it has a staggering rate of poverty, only imaginable in Africa.

It is one of the most unequal countries in the world, where you can see opulence and poverty standing side by side.

Warnings & Dangers in South Africa

Overall Risk


As amazingly fun and exciting South Africa might be, you should be aware of the many dangers that await the unsuspecting tourists. This country has extremely high rates of crime. You should be vigilant and take all possible precautions measures in order to minimize the risk of something going wrong.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Public transport in South Africa is the scene of many criminal activities. Be aware of criminals waiting around at Johannesburg and Cape Town airports and then following tourists to their accommodation with a goal to rob them. There have also been reports of luggage thefts at the airports. Rails and metro trains are also the locations where assaults and robberies have occurred. If you plan to take the train in Cape Town, always opt for the 1st Class, travel during the day and in a cabin with people. Avoid traveling to Cape Flats altogether.

Pickpockets Risk


Pickpocketing was once a serious problem in this country, but it has been on a decline during the past couple of years. Still, the riskiest locations where you may encounter petty theft are crowded places such as markets, public transport and bus, and train stations.

Natural Disasters Risk


South Africa is often the victim of many natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, storms, and wildfires. One of the bigger floods in South Africa occurred in 2011 killing 91 people.

Mugging Risk


Mugging and robberies are a much bigger issue in this country than petty theft. And though usually, the motive of these incidents is theft, rape is sadly not uncommon at all, so female tourists should be particularly cautious.

Terrorism Risk


There are threats coming from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), as well as threats from individuals inspired by terrorist groups, including Daesh, who might try to carry out so-called ‘lone actor’ attacks targeting public places.

Scams Risk


There are a couple of popular scams, one of them involving criminals posing as "tourist police" with a goal to rob visitors. They are known to stop tourist buses, saying that they're checking identification and searching luggage. However there's no such thing as "tourist police" in South Africa, so be on the lookout.Then there are so-called "strollers", and they can be anyone from children to junkies. Their only goal is to rob you blind so keep your valuables well hidden.

Women Travelers Risk


Though many female travelers went to South Africa and had no problems at all, this country might not be the safest choice for female solo travelers. Be very careful at night and avoid risky situations such as winding-up in deserted and poorly lit streets or finding yourself in an unknown area with strange people.

So... How Safe Is South Africa Really?

Though this is a country where there’s so much to see and do, that it’s impossible to fit it all in during one trip, with both breathtaking scenery, rich and luxurious parts of major cities, exciting nightlife and incredible culture, it is a country with a serious rate of crime to watch out for.

Since there are staggeringly poor areas in this country, it is not at all uncommon to hear about muggings and armed robberies in this country.

And though usually, the motive of these crimes is theft, rape also occurs from time to time, which is especially relevant for female visitors.

There have also been reports of food and drink spiking, with victims ending up being assaulted and robbed after the incident.

Traveling by a rented car is also not very safe: there have been tragic instances of foreigners being carjacked and murdered.

However, it’s more important than knowing what kind of crimes tend to occur in South Africa, is knowing the areas and hotspots where they’re more likely to occur.

You should generally avoid townships as they experience a higher crime rate than other areas, and though you shouldn’t steer clear of them at all costs if you have to visit them, do it within an organized tour group.

Caution should also be taken in Johannesburg, both in the city center and in its suburbs, especially at night.

Cape town is another high-risk area, especially after the evening hours.

Avoid the areas of Greenpoint, Salt River, Seapoint, Mowbray, Observatory, and the Cape Flats as there’s higher criminal activity there.

Useful Information

  • Visas - While U.S. citizens visiting the Republic of South Africa for tourism purposes do not need a visa for any stays shorter than ninety days, along with many other countries, there are some nationals that do need a visa in order to enter South Africa. Make sure your passports are valid for at least 30 days past your planned date of return from South Africa. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit which will let you know whether or not you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
  • Currency - South African rand is the official currency in South America. ATMs can be found throughout the country and credit cards are widely accepted.
  • Weather - Since it is such a large country, the climate in South Africa varies from the Mediterranean in the southwest to temperate in the middle part of the country, and subtropical in the northeast. There is a small area in the northwest that has a desert climate. Most of the country experiences warm, sunny days and cool nights.
  • Airports - Cape Town International Airport is the busiest and biggest airport serving the city of Cape Town. It is also the second-busiest airport in South Africa and third-busiest in Africa. It is located approximately 20 km from the city center.
  • Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to South Africa, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

South Africa Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 23° C
Feb 23° C
Mar 22° C
Apr 20° C
May 18° C
Jun 16° C
Jul 16° C
Aug 16° C
Sep 17° C
Oct 19° C
Nov 20° C
Dec 22° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Where to Next?

23 Reviews on South Africa

  1. T
    Travel Enthusiasts says:

    Lay Low And Be Cautious

    This page is one big exaggeration, south Africa is generally very safe to visit but try and avoid walking in the night, do not show any indication of high wealth. just even handling your money in public can make you a victim of mugging, pick pocketing, and robbery. its not that safe of a place for women, sexual assault and rape is on the rise. visiting south Africa is like a gamble, it could go really well or really bad. south Africa is not a great paradise like many think and theirs actually better places to go in Africa to see the nature or go on a safari. being white in this country is a issue too. police will stop you in the streets and demand money no joke. your seen as a walking ATM machine. so lay low and be cautious. i know it might seem bad after all i said but if you lay low and do everything ive said in this paragraph then you can have a great, safe trip to South Africa

    1. E
      EvilWhiteMan says:

      Yet another unsafe African country

      “visiting south Africa is like a gamble, it could go really well or really bad”

      Sounds like a real dream destination to me. Watching my back constantly? No thanks, I prefer Europe and Asia. If one day I should be tired of life…..I come visit Africa (for assisted suicide).

      1. W
        Wyatt/JHB says:

        I have lived in Johannesburg for 49 years. I have been a victim of crime twice.

        Both times were caused by my stupidity and lack of awareness.

        Reading all these reviews is quite sad because most of them are just made-up nonsense.

        The police don’t demand money from you, they will accept bribes though, but you are not forced.

        If you are hassled then you’ve probably done something wrong.

        I would also love to know about these instances of terrorism?

        The only time we hear that word is watching the news and always involving European countries.

        Most of the people leaving reviews have probably never even been here. Including the person who wrote the review.

        1. Agreed

          This makes more sense because America has more terrorists, murder and crime because of the color of skin not because they did wrong. I would not want to be there it is worst than Cape town 👀👀

        2. B
          BoyMeetsBush says:

          SA is Safer than America

          Agree. The high risk is way over rated. I have lived in Joburg for 12 years and 25 years in NYC. NYC under Mayor David Dinkin in the 90’s was much worse than Joburg. I have also experienced 1993 World trade centre bombing I worked right across and 9/11/2001I was in Manhattan saw the 2nd plane hit live. I have never experienced that in SA.

    2. A
      AuntieT says:

      Skip South Africa

      Yeah ok rape not that bad. 😳🤷🏻‍♀️

      Follow guidance..skip South Africa..

      Choose life.

  2. Be careful and everything will be okay

    Thanks for the train tip! We visited South Africa for my colleague’s wedding and now we plan on returning there just the two of us. Johannesburg is a great city, you just have to watch your bags, I’ve seen a lot of suspicious faces around me a lot of times.

  3. Always go with a travel buddy

    Whenever I’m travelling alone I do my best to pick safe destinations. Yes, I want to enjoy myself and explore cool places but I also want to make sure I make the flight home safe and well. South Africa sure has its perks but I decided to visit it with my father and it proved to be a very wise decision, he’s way more cautious than me.

  4. I stay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and just like any other country there are areas to avoid.

    All in all, we have a great country, try not to stand out too much and you’ll be fine.

  5. As a white person I wouldn’t go to SA as the reported genocide (or rather the lack of deserved coverage for it) is terrifying. First in the world for rape and Joburg is basically a no go zone.

    1. Yikes

      I don’t know why you mention “as a white person,” since it sounds really unnecessary. It doesn’t matter in this country. You’re a target no matter what race you are.

      1. S
        SuchandSuch says:

        Um? really! oh Wow!

        You haven’t heard of People like Malema also know as the Black Hitler of our times or Zuma singing kill white people? Zuma was the President of the country while doing such things.

        My friend, you need a big wakeup call.

      2. H
        Henco Viljoen says:

        not really. in south africa and the rest of Africa, having a different skin tone means you stand out. White people are seen as walking atm machines and have a very high chance of getting scammed. Theres also a lot of bad history and a lot of racial tension in SA. Genocide is definitely an overstatement but there is a mass murder streak of white farmers in the country, so avoid staying on farms too.

  6. A
    Anonymous says:

    Dangerous for whites

    My buddy grew up in SA and he said the other day, “I’ll never go back. Anyone who says it’s safe is lying.” This is from a white, English South African whose parents still live there, and who has traveled all over the world.

    1. Well, um, Afrikaans ZAs and English ZAs don’t get on. All South Africans (should) know that. The AZA’s see the EZAs as snobby. Some are to be honest.
      As a AZA I know a few EZAs and some (not all) DO think they are to good to learn the language and DO think they are better then the AZAs. But loads of EZAs are nice and willing to try to learn Afrikaans.
      Also, I am white, but that’s because my great great someone moved to South Africa from the Netherlands. I have been snubbed, but when I speak Afrikaans they see I’m an AZA and all tension is lost.
      So yes, I agree that South Africa isn’t safe for EZAs or white people (unless you are a white AZA like I am) because of Apartheid. But you have to understand why.

      1. Jo’burg, City of Gold

        Absolutely untrue. I have lived in Johannesburg for 40 years, and have only felt unsafe in run-down areas in the city centre. As a white woman, I have sat and drawn street life in many suburbs in this beautiful city. Our people are friendly, and you are no more at risk than in any other big city.

  7. J
    John Smith says:

    South Africa is a great country, with great people. Just be sensible like you would anywhere else.

  8. Depends Where You Go

    It’s a huge country with varying degrees of safety. Some cities you’ll feel watched, others you’ll feel like a local. So it really depends on where you’re going. Just like many big countries it’s not just one simple thing. Imagine judging the USA based on LA. So be sensible and you’ll be okay. There are over 10 million tourists each year so it’s really not that bad. The beauty on the other hand will take your breath away

    1. D
      Dave CT says:

      Totally agreed… Couldnt have said it better…

  9. Terrible country!

    When I traveled to this country 2 years ago, well, it was horrid. The people are terrible. The police is terrible and scared of the people, therefore no control over them. The food is great. The scams are high. The rape is high. The murder rates are always high. Communicating with anyone is terrible. The hygiene and sanitation is terrible. Petty crime is high. Someone can easily walk into a store and hold you up while others just casually stare at you as if it’s a daily occurrence, without helping you in any way. This country is crappy and it’ll tear itself apart within a few decades if nothing improves. Don’t waste your time coming here. You’ll probably never come back, but, if you do, you’ll be scarred or realize just how awful a country and its people can be. Please, please, PLEASE DO NOT listen to the reviews that say this is even an OKAY country to visit!! It isn’t!

  10. H
    Henco Viljoen says:

    The problem with most african countries is that white people stand out in a crowd, and are seen as a walking atm. we are more likely to get scammed. Now in south Africa, there’s extreme racial tension, plus the history of apartheid. So you will be treated very poorly.

  11. Very dangerous

    After reading reviews here and confirming the accuracy. I’ll never set my foot on this stinkhole called South Africa.

Rated 2.83 / 5 based on 23 user reviews.

Share Your Experience