The number 1 excuse most South Africans cite for not travelling isn’t money or geographical location- it’s not having a strong passport. I want to roll my eyes at this but I don’t.
I get it- we can’t travel to lots of places without expensive visas.
But are you aware of how many visa free, visa on arrival & evisa destinations for South Africans there actually are? As of 2020, many countries have introduced evisa regimes and due to good diplomatic relations between countries, South Africa has been included on this list. Other African countries have decided to make entry easier for all African Union countries (brava!). Our options are growing and expanding!
One of the simplest ways to save money on travels is to travel to places that have relaxed entry requirements. If you can save $100 on a visa then why wouldn’t you?! While some visas that have to be applied for in advance are cheap or even free, you still have to factor in the cost of travelling to the relevant embassy or couriering your passport if you don’t live near one. For many , going in person to apply is not viable as they have jobs they can’t leave during the times that consulates & embassies accept visa applications. Be smart with your country choices and make the decisions that are favourable for your time, effort and bank account.
The countries below ask for minimal information (unlike countries that expect bank statements, proof of employment, detailed itineraries 2 litres of blood & a pound of flesh) which is good if you’re in between jobs, a freelancer or need a last minute destination. I have included the cost of the Evisa or visa on arrival if I had a credible source for the information. Most visas can only be paid in U.S. dollars and euros.
Note: Do check with the country’s representation (embassies & consulates) as countries may change their requirements without notice and in some instances border agents use their discretion to deny entry despite the officially stated requirements. If you have South African citizenship but live in another country, you may need to have your residency on hand when applying for visas, landing in and departing from countries.
For Visa on Arrival countries, you may need physical documents like photos, cash & proof of accommodation. Check the exact details with the relevant authorities before you arrive. For other countries, your entry stamp acts as your ‘visa’ and nothing more is required.
Countries on this list requiring a valid yellow fever certificate are marked with an asterisk*.
Although some of us who grew up in South Africa, don’t think traveling within our continent is particularly glam, Africa has very diverse cultures, is full of bucket-list-worthy sites, and is home to all-year-round destinations that anyone can explore from solo travellers to elders to a family with babies and even those with limited mobility. Its also worth mentioning that if you plan in advance, you can snag great deals to places like Kenya, Ethiopia & Malawi.
Benin (for all African nationals)
Seychelles (All nationalities)
*Sierra Leone ($35 for non Ecowas African nationals)
Cape Verde (€45)
*Côte d Ivoire/ Ivory Coast (€73)
*Guinea Bisseau (€64)
Plan your tip to the cradle of civilisation, and birthplace to many of the world’s religions. A region that has been the center of political and religious struggles for centuries, this area is home to some of the world’s most treasured architectural wonders and historical sights. Trust me, I’ve lived here for the past few years!
Oman (5 Omani Rials for stays of 10 days & less/ 20 Omani Rials for stays longer than 10 days but not exceeding 30 days)
The in-between countries that aren’t particularly ‘European’ or ‘Asian’ but offer a dramatic scenery of mountains, lakes and forests, dotted with stone watchtowers, ancient monasteries and wooden churches which can be traced back to the earliest days of Christianity. There is also a superb cuisine fusing Western and Eastern influences.
From vast, sprawling cities to ancient temples (with delicious food and stunning scenery in between), Asia is one of the most diverse and captivating continents on Earth. With relatively low visiting costs and an ever-expanding tourism infrastructure, its the perfect place to start travelling especially for intrepid solo travellers!
Nepal ($25 for 15 days & $40 for 30 days)
Sri Lanka ($35)
From dense jungle and soaring peaks to ancient archaeological sites and colonial cities, Central and South America boast a variety of destinations that appeal to many walks of life. Depending on your interests you might prefer to relax on a rainforest-fringed beach or visit a traditional community in a remote location. With so many destinations here welcoming us, it’s actually hard to choose where to go!
Special mention: The Bolivian visa is free for South African passport holders but needs to be applied for in advance from any Bolivian mission (proof of a yellow fever vaccination is required). It can be obtained upon arrival but reports of this are varied and sketchy.
While this region is best known for Australia & New Zealand, there are far lesser known destinations you can visit without the visa hassles. There are numerous tropical and exotic locations with many amazing places to explore, and lots of new cultures to discover.
Samoa (All nationalities)
Papau New Guinea ($50)
The Caribbean is a region which crops up in travel fantasies – palm trees whispering above beaches of a fine powder; the sea sighing and swaying as a barely plausible shade of perfect blue. There’s something for everyone from tropical hiking trails & cultural history museums, to wildlife and island hopping.
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
St. Kitts and Nevis
Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
There are very limited options for us on this continent but if you can’t possibly choose from any of the above destinations… here you go…
I hope this helps you to plan future trips while choosing unconventional and underrated destinations! Remember to check the ‘destinations’ menu on the top of this blog for more information on places I have been. Feel free to pin this post to your Pinterest using the image below!
This list will be updated as time goes on based on your feedback so feel free to leave your experiences travelling to these places in the comments below! (Only share if you have personal experience travelling to these places with a South African passport). Happy planning!