South African public transport – the do’s and don’ts for tourists

06 September, 2018

Too much information
When we started this article, we did not realize that it would be this long.  We have this decided to split the article in to sections.  The first blog post will cover the Public Transportation Accreditation, taxis and Uber.  The second blog post (click here to read it!) will focus on trains, buses and charter companies and renting a car.  All of this information is to give you a better idea of what to expect when using South African public transport.

How safe is public transport
This depends on what type of South African public transport you use.  For tourists, some options are safer than others.  This article hopes to give you a brief explanation regarding the do’s and don’ts for traveling with public transport in South Africa.

Public transport accreditation
Although it is possible to get anywhere in South Africa, you will most definitely have to use motor transport in certain places.  And before we even get to the different South African public transport options, you need to know that all South African motor vehicles that transport paying clients need to have a Public Operating License.  According to South African law, motor vehicles MUST have this license.  This license ensures that the motor vehicle is safe to drive on the road and that all liabilities and insurances are in check.

As a tourist, you can easily identify if a car is accredited by looking at the front windscreen and for a small white license disk with a red band through it.  If a motor vehicle does not have this, you can ask the driver to show you their documentation.  We highly recommend that if you pay for motor vehicle transport, you request this information before getting into the car.

During the Adrenaline Rush and Animal Encounters Tours hosted by Xplore English, we are very concerned with the well being of our passengers.  That’s why we have all our insurance and liabilities in place and ready if something happens on your tour.

Transport options
South Africa has many different public transportation options.  Here follows a list of the more popular options tourists to South Africa use as well as certain modes of transport that you should be more careful than using.

This is probably the most popular (and most common) form of transport anywhere in the world.  South African taxis can be found at airports or in big cities.  Taxi companies are privately owned and use a variety of vehicles.

Car and SUV taxis
These taxis are fist seen by tourists when at the airport.  No such a popular form of transport for South Africans but mostly used by Tourists in big cities like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban or Johannesburg.  They are thus not easily identified as for example the yellow cabs of New York.

Minibus taxis
These taxis are a popular form of transport for black South Africans as they are cheaper than car and SUV taxis.  Also privately owned, there are many incidents where these taxis cause accidents as the drivers are pushed to get as many people as possible from point A to point B in a certain time frame.  Unless chartered by a tourist company, we highly recommend that you do not use this form of transport as a tourist.


Uber is a new concept in South Africa with only major cities supplying the service.  It uses the same app and is a quick fix in a case of need.

To be continued…
This is the first of 2 articles where we discuss our opinions on South African public transport.  We highly recommend that you click here to read our second installment.

Contact us

Xplore English,
P.O. Box 845
George, 6530
South Africa


    Sign up for our mailing list