Destinations Where The Rand Is Actually Stronger

A lot of us have had to put our travel plans on hold given the shrinking power of the rand. Happily there are still exciting countries to visit where the rand retains its strength. Whether you love lush rainforests, fast-paced cities, colourful markets or untouched beaches, Travelstart brings you an inspiring array of rand strong destinations where you’ll get the most for your money.

Visit the Philippines for unreal beaches and hectic Manila

Secluded beach on an island in Bacuit Bay, Palawan
The Philippines are made up of more than 7000 islands. Nick Paul recommends Palawan as the best island to visit as it’s “really long and the northern half is where most things worth seeing are. El Nido is the centre of all the activity in the North – hotels, backpackers, dive centres, day trips and so on, it’s busy enough, but really still a sleepy village at heart.”

Find out more here:

Fun fact:

  • Karaoke was invented in the Philippines and not Japan.

Exchange rate: R1 is equal to 3 Philippine pesos
Expenses: Budget about R625 per day for a dorm bed or single room, local food for lunch and dinner and a local beer and a tricycle ride.
Visa: South African Passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Manila, or anywhere else in the Philippines, for up to 21 days. Always check that your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date, and that you have 3 blank pages available for entry stamps.

Book your ticket to Manila here.

Visit Thailand for the culture

Thailand has every possible kind of holiday you might be looking for. There’s the popular Andaman islands for idyllic blue water, sun and sand, Koh Tao if you’re looking for a diver’s paradise, the temple trail to the east of the country for cultural connoisseurs and of course old-meets new in Krungthep, city of Angels, also known as Bangkok.

Also read:

Fun fact:

  • Red Bull was created in Bangkok by Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1976, he died a very wealthy man.

Exchange rate: R1 = 2.2 Thai Baht
Expenses: Budget about R440 per day for a basic guesthouse room, street food and public transport.
Visa: South African passport holders arriving by air don’t need a visa if they are staying for no more than 30 days. You will need an onward plane ticket and sufficient funds for your stay. Tourists staying longer than 30 days but not exceeding 60 days can apply for a tourist visa in SA.

Book your ticket to Bangkok here.

Visit Cambodia to marvel at ancient wonders

This fascinating destination will have you awe-struck especially if you choose to take in the sunrise at Angkor Wat. There’s much more to fascinate you in the bustling city of Phnom Penh and in the untouched islands in the South.

Fun fact: Cambodia is a very youthful country with half of its current population younger than 15 years old.

Exchange rate: 1 South African Rand = 254.99 Cambodian Riel
Expenses: R250 per day for a dorm bunk, street food and transport
Visa: South African Passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival in Cambodia. These are charged at US $30 for a 30 day Tourist Visa. Be sure not to be ripped off by the border officials. Please verify with the Cambodian Embassy in SA for the latest visa developments when planning your trip.

Book your ticket to Siem-Reap here.

Visit Laos for river and mountain escapades

Simon Orviss Motorbiking in Laos
Laos used to be known as the land of a thousand elephants but these days it’s the amazing 4000 islands and the Irrawaddy dolphin scooping up the attention. This is the ultimate adventure holiday for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Good to know: coffee and condensed milk is a big thing here

Expenses: Budget about R320 per day for a dorm room, street food and transport
Visa: You can pay for a 30 day visa on arrival in Laos.

Book your ticket to Vientiane or Luang Prabang, Laos here.

Also read:

Visit Vietnam for buzzworthy cities, exciting cuisine and lush countryside

Complex, ever-evolving Vietnam is a blur of tiered green rice paddies, rugged natural beauty and varied and most delicious street food.

Good to know: look out for the Notre Dame of Saigon, built by french colonists

Exchange rate: R1 = 1,428 Vietnamese dong
Expenses: Budget about R312 per day for budget accommodation, street food and cheap public transport on scooters and buses
Visa: You will need to obtain a visa beforehand in South Africa, please allow at least 5 days for processing. For more info go here.

Book your ticket to Ho Chi Minh City here.

Visit Bali for laid-back beach-bumming and affordable beach villa luxury

bali beo's house

Surf Bungalow, Bali courtesy of Flickr

Luscious Bali has volcanos to climb, street food to feast on, waves to surf, monkey sanctuaries to visit and reasonably-priced luxury villas to chill out in, read a book and forget about life’s daily stresses.

Fun fact: Nyepi Day is a day of complete silence celebrated on the island of Bali

Exchange rate: R1 = 841 IDR
Expenses: R870 for a basic budget day of food, accommodation and transport. Airbnb is a wonderful way to rent an affordable villa for the whole family.
Visa: South African visitors are given a free visa on arrival for 30 days. They are available from immigration checking counters at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta; Ngurah Rai Airport; Bali; Kuala Namu; Medan; Juanda Airport; Surabaya and Hang Nadim Airport; Batam.

Book your ticket to Denpasar, Bali here.

Also read:

Visit Sri Lanka to spot the endangered Sri Lankan leopard and incredible natural beauty


Raw beauty, mountains, heavenly beaches and rare wildlife make this a nature lover’s paradise.

Fun fact: The Sri Lankan flag features a golden lion, surrounded by four golden leaves at four corners which represents Buddhism, while the green and orange strips represent Islam and Hinduism.

Exchange rate: R1 = 9,20 Sri Lankan rupees 
Expenses: Budget about R600 a day for a simple guest house, delicious local street food and local transport
Visa: South African citizens don’t require a visa for a visit under 30 days.

Book your ticket to Colombo here.

Visit Goa in India for yoga on the beach and tropical sunsets

cow on the beach in Goa
This tropical gem has sun-seeking cows on the beaches, golden sand and many visitors practicing beach yoga.

Good to know: Goa is the richest and smallest state in India

Exchange rate: R1 = R4.3 Indian Rupees
Expenses: Budget about R460 for a nice double room and admission to museum sites as well as meals in a reasonable restaurant and basic public transport.
Visa: How to apply for a Visa to India in South Africa

Book your ticket to Goa here.

Countries with a slightly stronger currency but cheaper living costs:

Visit Borneo for a rainforest adventure

forest swamp borneo
This incredible island is made up of three countries, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
It is home to the comical looking Proboscis monkey, hot springs, soaring mountains and orangutan rehabilitation centres as well as amazing scuba diving!

Fun facts:

  • The Borneo rain forest is 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rain forests in the world.
  • The biggest cave chamber in the world is the Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park which to give an idea of scale can accommodate a Boeing 747-200.

Currency: The Malaysian Ringgit

Cost of Living: eating out is considerably cheaper in Malaysian Borneo than it is in South Africa as is transportation.
Expenses: Budget about R470 per day for a dorm bed, street food meals and admission to National Parks.
Visa: South African passport holders can enter the Malaysian part of Borneo without a visa for a visit of up to 90 days. You will need an onward plane ticket, sufficient funds for your stay and possibly a yellow fever vaccination certificate depending on whether you have travelled through an infected area 6 days prior to your arrival.

Book your ticket to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo here.

Visit Malaysia for the food

malaysian market

The Malaysian peninsula connects to the southern tip of Thailand and there is a fun and affordable overnight train ride to Bangkok from Butterworth, Penang. When visiting Penang one simply must try all the delicious and often unique Malay dishes and visit all the markets in George Town.

Good to know: Nasi Kandar is a favourite dish in Malaysia consisting of steamed rice and a variety of curries. The best can be found on Penang.

Exchange rate: 1 Malaysian Ringgit = 3,78 ZAR

Visa: South African passport holders can enter the Malaysian part of Borneo without a visa for a visit of up to 90 days.

Book your ticket to Penang, Malaysia here.

Our Readers Comments

  1. South Africans no longer require visas to Indonesia.

    • Hi Reinier,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      That is correct. South African passport holders can now obtain free tourist visas on arrival at the following ports of entry.

      They are available from immigration checking counters at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta; Ngurah Rai
      Airport; Bali; Kuala Namu; Medan; Juanda Airport; Surabaya and Hang Nadim Airport; Batam.

      Our content writer has updated the blog from her side.

      Thanks for picking this up 🙂

  2. Are you sure about the Vietnamese visa on arrival? We’re going there in 10 days time, and I’ve had so much conflicting info. I finally contacted the embassy in Pretoria and they told me that I have to get a visa through them prior to arrival. It only takes 2 days, so we’re going that route just to be safe.

    • Hi Eileen,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      Our content writer has corrected this information yesterday to let South African passport holder know they need a visa for Vietnam.

      Note: visa information is not guaranteed. Kindly confirm details with the relevant authorities.

      SA passport holders require visas and applications should be made well in advance of any planned visit.
      Applications to be filled out online ( with immediate effect. Clients are advised to print out application form on completion and take it with them to the Embassy.

      For the most up to date information we always suggest contacting the Embassy.

  3. Besides Borneo on the list the title should be “Destinations in Asia”. There’s alot more pies to dip our hands in-Budapest, Hungary on the European side of things. What about African countries too?

  4. Am planning to go to Bali this SA winter. Any suggestions on reasonable seaside Accomodation and a must do list for tourists would be of great help.

    • Hi Thandile,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      We have a group of Travel Experts who would love to assist with a quote on accommodation.

      You welcome to contact Travelbar by calling 021 468 4300 (Monday – Friday) or by sending an email to with all details and what exactly you are looking for. An agent will revert back with a quote within 2 working days.

  5. Sigh… these are great but your Rands won’t get you a half decent hotel (three/four/five star). Sometimes you want more than a backpackers or motel.

  6. Why is Malaysia on the list? The ringgit is much stronger than the rand.

    • You are right… the Ringgit is much stronger than the Rand but you will notice the “Countries with a slightly stronger currency but cheaper living costs:” heading above Borneo. Although the Ringgit is stronger, it is still quite cheap to visit Malaysia.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the input. Yes that is correct. Even though you can get more Ringgit for our Rand the standard of living and purchasing things is cheaper there.

  7. Never realised that durban has so many to offer. Kinda embarrassed though coz am like 30 minutes away. must visit all these places before the end of the year. I love Durban.

  8. What an interesting read. I’ve to travel. The main thing preventing me from calling to book right now is……funds. I’ve recently retired but you’ve got me thinking and planning

  9. This is a cool site. I should plan my visit soon.

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