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South Africa Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in South Africa

South Africans love shopping, and tend to do it in huge shopping centres rather than in shopping streets. The Gateway Mall in Durban is reputedly the largest in the southern hemisphere. However, areas where shops and restaurants spill out onto the streets are becoming increasingly popular as both daytime and evening venues.

Johannesburg has three popular weekend markets that have sprung up as part of the city centre’s rejuvenation plans: 44 Stanley, Arts on Main and the Neighbourgoods Market. Cape Town’s V&A centre at the Waterfront is a tourist-friendly combination of shopping and entertainment with bars, music, restaurants and cinemas, as well a large arts and craft shed. Traditional African arts and crafts are sold in numerous craft markets including Johannesburg's Rosebank Mall craft market. The intricate beadwork necklaces and bold wooden carvings including large masks are particularly attractive, and six foot tall giraffes are often being wrapped for safe transit home in the cargo hold.

Impromptu craft stalls often appear at the side of the road, particularly on popular tourist routes, and some have become permanent attractions in their own right, such as the one between Johannesburg and Sun City. Haggling is perfectly acceptable and often expected in the craft markets.


Gold, diamonds and local wine also make excellent buys. In general, visitors will find the exchange rate favourable and prices much easier on the pocket than in many other countries.

Visitors can claim a 14% VAT refund on purchases worth more than R250. You need to show your passport, flight ticket, the items and invoices to the refund desk in airports.

Shopping hours

Many shops stay open until at least 1800, and large shopping malls and tourist spots generally stay open even later. Sunday shopping is very common too.

Nightlife in South Africa

Night life revolves around restaurants, bars and cinemas, with a scattering of good nightclubs in the main cities too. The most popular areas are the few streets where café spill out onto the pavements for late nights in the balmy summer air. There's a thriving theatre scene, and the quality of stand-up comedy has improved enormously over the years with comedy clubs, theatres and bars running regular comedy nights. Some cities have art house cinemas that screen less mainstream movies and run offbeat film festivals.


Cape Town is the place for jazz, with several live music venues and an annual international jazz festival. South Africa is firmly on the international pop and rock circuit, and the local music scene is also successful, with most cities having a handful of live music venues. Classical music and opera fans will only get their fix in larger cities. There are several stadiums and other large venues where international bands often perform.

Football and rugby are national addictions, and many bars and some restaurants have large-screen TVs for sports enthusiasts.

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