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JOHANNESBURG FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

The main airport servicing the city of Johannesburg is the O.R. Tambo International Airport (formerly the Johannesburg International Airport) located 13 miles from the city center. If you have not booked a private transfer through us, then you have a few options for getting from the airport to your hotel. Transport options include trains, buses, taxis and rental cars.

What types of transportation can I find at the airport?

The Gautrain is a rapid transit suburban rail network connecting the airport to Park Station, Sandton, and Pretoria with a few other stations along the way. A fast, clean way to get to the city taking approximately 25 minutes and costing around R162, it will cost you R15 (non-refundable) to purchase the Gautrain card which is required to travel on the train. The station is located inside the airport terminal, on the International Departures level, accessible by the elevators and escalators to the Arrivals level, one floor below departures.

Taxis are available at the airport and can be found outside the arrivals hall at the designated taxi stand. Many of the taxis are recognized by the yellow `taxi` sign on top of the cars and an ACSA logo, do not take a taxi from anyone outside of the rank as they are not licensed and will overcharge you. The cost of the journey to the city center should cost around R450 - 600 and takes around 30 minutes depending upon traffic.

Magic Bus can be found at the bus terminal situated on the ground floor of the domestic parking building opposite the terminal. They operate from 8 am until 6 pm and costs approximately R120 for adults and R90 for children. They run to most major hotels in the city. Tel +27-11-394-6902 or email info@magicbus.co.za

Car rentals can be hired from the airport and their offices can be found in the domestic arrivals hall where numerous rental car companies are available.

Uber is available in Johannesburg and can be an easy, fast and reliable option to get to your hotel. Simply download the app on your smartphone and enter your pick up and drop off destination and pay through your phone.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

The main train station in the city of Johannesburg is Park Station located in the city center occupying several blocks in between Rissik (west), Wolmarans (north), Wanderers (east) and De Villiers (south) streets. The station is large and buses also arrive at the station as well as taxis. Be sure to pre-arrange your transportation from the station if you are arriving late at night, the station is safe however, the area around it might not be.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

Public transportation in the city of Johannesburg is made up of trains, buses, and tuk-tuks, however, most options can be unreliable and hard to navigate.

MetroRail connects passengers from the city center to the neighborhoods of Soweto, Pretoria and other towns located along the Witwatersrand. However, the trains do not connect visitors to some of the main attractions which are located in the northern areas and the trains can be extremely overcrowded and mostly used by commuters.

The Gautrain is the city`s pride and joy, a shiny gold train linking the city center from Park Station with the main business districts such as Sandton and Rosebank as well as the OR Tambo International Airport and other suburbs. Travelers must purchase a Gautrain Card at the station (initial R15 non-refundable) a reloadable card which can be topped up at machines in the stations. The trains run from 5:30 am until 8:30 pm departing every 15 - 30 minutes. Each station is linked to Gautrain feeder buses which can be paid for with the Gautrain Card, so if you use the bus within one hour of the train ride then the bus fare is only around R1 - R6 instead of R14 - 20. These buses depart every 12 - 20 minutes on the popular routes and every 20 - 40 otherwise. The run from 6 am until 7:30 pm during the week. Visit www.gautrain.co.zo for more information on timetables, routes, and prices.

Buses are a popular form of transport in the city and the most useful and information for tourists is the hop-on-hop-off tour. The Red City Tour offers a great way to see the city and its biggest sights with informative audio, the bus takes a circular route around downtown starting at Constitution Hill making 11 stops total at places such as the Apartheid Museum, Carlton Center and the Origins Center. The bus departs every hour from 10 am.

There are a few bus companies and minicabs available in the city, however, they can be extremely crowded, dangerous and unreliable. Metrobus is mostly geared towards commuters and very rarely runs during the day after 9:30 am. The Rea Vaya is a safe and secure public transport option in the city with its own dedicated bus lane, stopping every 0.31 miles at many of the city`s downtown areas. Tickets cost approximately R7 - R14 depending on the route and distance being traveled.

Tuk Tuks can be found all over Joburg with their base at Sandton Central and in Melville. These glorified motorcycles will zip you around the city in no time and cost around R25 per 1.86 miles and operate from 6 am to 9 pm.

How do I call/hail a taxi in Johannesburg?

Taxis in the city operate on meters and can only really be found in the city center and some area of Sandton and you can call and order taxis by phone. A few of the reputable companies in the city include Rose Taxis and Maxi Taxi Cabs.

Uber is probably your best bet while in the city, it is simple, safe and reliable. Simply download the app to your smartphone, put in your pick up and drop off location and pay through your phone.

Is Johannesburg a walking city?

The parks in Johannesburg are amazing places to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy one of the world`s largest man-made green areas. There are over 6 million trees in this urban forest city, the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and the Emmarentia Dam are a beautiful destination to wander the vast green spaces decorated with blooming flowers and plenty of wildlife. The historic downtown area is a great place to wander and see the colorful ways of life, Maboneng and Braamfontein are very attractive neighborhoods filled with restaurants, shops, and galleries, both wonderful places to explore on foot.

Is Johannesburg a dangerous city, is there anything I should be aware of?

Johannesburg is a relatively safe city to visit, but sadly has one of the highest crime rates in the world, yet tourists are seldom the victims, and most crimes occur in the townships. However, don`t avoid Johannesburg due to its crime as it is perfectly possible to have a safe and enjoyable trip to the city by following a few precautions. Walking around certain areas of the city is fine, but some areas can be safe and some can be quite dangerous, especially at night, make sure you stick to the main sidewalks and don`t wander off down side streets and into poverty-ridden areas. Keep your valuables secure at all times and try not to flash your cell phone or wear flashy jewelry, it is best to look like a local when walking around to avoid pickpockets and theft. Leave valuables at your hotel and only take the money you need and never wear a purse. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded markets and on public transportation.

What are some popular areas for shopping?

Shopping in Johannesburg consists of many shopping malls found all over the city, trendy boutiques along tree-lined boulevards and vibrant bustling markets, all of which are guaranteed to offer visitors what they are looking for. The popular Market Theatre complex boasts a large flea market every Saturday in the city and many surrounding sights such as the Museum Africa, four live theatres, bookstores, and galleries. Weekly markets can be found dotted all over Jo`burg where shoppers will find fresh produce, street food, arts, crafts and souvenirs in a fun vibrant atmosphere. The Rosebank flea market takes place every Sunday filled with local arts and crafts where you can pick up that unique piece of African Art. Stroll and shop in Maboneng where boutiques line the streets and great markets filled with everything. You will find locals vendors selling goods at the side of the road, especially at traffic lights in the city where motorists can purchase food, umbrellas, cell phone accessories and much more. In the malls in Jo`burg shoppers will find the usual chain stores and a food court with the usual suspects along with movie theatres and many have a large supermarket found on the basement floor.

The city shuts down around lunchtime on Saturday, and most don’t open again until Monday. If you plan on shopping on Saturdays plan ahead and check out the markets found around the city on the weekends and the malls which stay open until at least 5 pm. Most museums, galleries and independent shops will close around 1 pm.

What is the currency? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The official units of currency in Johannesburg are the Rand (R or ZAR), one Rand is made up of 100 cents. US dollars are not accepted; make sure to exchange your dollars for Rand before or upon entering South Africa. ATMs can be found all over the city and most banks are open from 9 am until 3:30 pm during the week and from 9 am to 11 am on Saturdays.

South Africa charges a VAT (value added tax) of 14% on goods and services. Vistors can reclaim VAT on their purchases of more than R250, this process is handled at the VAT refund offices at the Cape Town International Airport. You will need your original tax invoice/receipt and your passport. Visit www.taxrefunds.co.za for more information.

Tipping in South Africa is customary at most establishments in the service industry. 10% - 15% of your total bill is generally expected. Please visit our tipping guide for more information on tipping in South Africa

What is the food like?

Johannesburg is a melting pot of cuisines for foodies offering a wide variety of restaurants and menus to suit all taste buds. Some of the hip areas to check out for delicious food are Melville, Greenside, Braamfontein, Parkhurst, Rosebank, Norwood and Maboneng. In Melville visitors will find one of the city`s hippest dining districts where a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars run along 7th Street and 4th Avenue offering ala carte dining. Maboneng is another happening hotspot for food with new restaurants popping up all over the neighborhood, cafes, bars and great nightlife. Rosebank has a huge cluster of eateries along Keyes Art Mile and all around Keyes Avenue.

Braii or Shisa Nyama (BBQ) is found in numerous locations all over the city, where Braai spots can be found in Maboneng where sausage, chicken, and lamb are served with `Chakalaka` which is a spicy vegetable soup.

Tripe is another traditional meal enjoyed by South Africans, considered a delicacy with lightly curried mean with small new potatoes and fried onions.

Maize porridge is a custom side that comes with most dishes. And Chakalaka the spicy relish served with most main courses along with a boerewors roll spicy sausage (like a hot dog) on a roll with mustard and ketchup which can be found almost anywhere in the city, especially at road-side stalls.

What is the nightlife like?

Johannesburg is a sprawling city with a happening nightlife; the city follows closely behind NYC as a city that never sleeps. Visitors will find an amazing nightlife here with historic pubs, nightclubs, upscale bars, live music, and theatre spread all over the city. The nightlife scene here is abundant with plenty of variety spread throughout bustling neighborhoods such as Rosebank, Melville, Rivonia, Soweto, and Norwood. Visit Mandela Square in the evening time for a great atmosphere with outdoor dining, wine bars, and live entertainment. Theatres in the city are a big draw with four theatres found in the Market Theatre complex and the Montecasino Theatre where several eateries, shops, and a casino are located. Live music, especially jazz can be found at chic jazz clubs and bars all over the city.

What is the weather like?

Johannesburg is a year-round destination with a subtropical highland climate which enjoys sunny days and cool evenings most of the year with average temperate hitting the mid to high 90`s during the summer months (December - February). Winter temperatures average around 78 F with lows into the 40`s at night and sometimes into the single digits (May - September), the days are sunny and dry and the nights are cold.

I don`t speak Afrikaans will there be many people who speak English?

The official languages spoken in Johannesburg are English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. English is widely spoken in most of the service industries including hotels, restaurants, shops, and transportation.

We recommend you get a good English - South African guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1 - 10.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

In case of an emergency dial 107 from a landline and 112 from a mobile phone.

Dial 10111 for the police, dial 10177 for an ambulance.

Hospitals:

Sunninghill Hospital tel. +27 (0) 11-806-1500

Milpark Hospital tel. +27 (0) 11-480-5600

Hellen Joseph Hospital tel. +27 (0) 11-489-1011