Visa-Free Destination Ideas for South Africans

Legend:

  • Pink: Visa-free
  • Blue: Free visa, apply before hand
  • Brown/burgundy: Free visa on arrival
  • Yellow/Orange: Visa on arrival at a fee
  • Green: Visa-free, if holding valid Schengen visa and visiting for less than 14 days
  • Light blue: Visa-free, if holding a valid US visa
Updated June 2014

Those of us lucky enough to be stuck with the little green South African passport will know full-well the difficulties it brings with exploring this world of ours. Travelling visa-free is far from reality for many trips. We are beset by restrictive limitations with nasty officials who demand endless pages of documents before we’re allowed a visa, for which we still have to pay a hefty fee. So here’s an idea – ditch those countries in favour those who want us there! Here’s a list of who still loves your Rands more than their egos:

- Check out the results and infographic from the 2012 Visa Survey -

Relaxing on the Okavango – from Yimix on Flickr

Visa-free Africa

Being part of SADC (the Southern African Development Community) means we get a lot of opportunities for visa-free travel. Our immediate neighbours offer great variety for the holiday-maker, like the rolling green hills and casinos of Swaziland, game-viewing in Botswana, mountain treks in Lesotho, desert holidays in Namibia, Vic falls in Zimbabwe & Zambia and the snow-white beaches of Mozambique. Across the sea there are also great beach holidays to be had in the Seychelles and Mauritius too.

Update July 2013: Tanzania (including the island paradise of Zanzibar) is now visa-free for South Africans. Madagascar now issues a free visa upon arrival and Senegal now requires visitors to have a visa before visiting.

Update June 2013: Kenya now requires SA passport holders to have a visa to enter the country costing R750 (subject to change without notice). The requirement is in effect from 1 July 2014. Read more here.

Stunning Rio de Janeiro by Andras Jancsik on Flickr

Visa-free South and Central America

You cannot go wrong in South America for visa-free travel, all except three countries offer South Africans entry with just a passport, this opens possibilities to tango and ski in Argentina, cruise the fjords of Chile, visit Inca ruins in Peru, explore the Amazon and chill on the beaches of Brazil. Much of Central America welcomes South Africans too, meaning you can discover Mayan ruins in Guatemala & Belize, explore the jungles of Costa Rica and hop between a myriad of Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas – all visa-free.

 

Visa-free South East Asia

As many South Africans know, much of South East Asia readily allows us in visa-free too, the countries you can visit here include Thailand for it’s jungles, beaches and shopping, Malaysia for top beach resorts and Singapore which is one of the world’s best stopover destinations. The hundreds of islands which make up the Philippines, a nature-rich tourism giant which is slowly awakening, can also be accessed with just your passport.

Vibrant Hong Kong’s skyline – from J.E.S. on Flickr

Visa-free Rest of the world

There are countries across the rest of the world which allow South Africans in visa-free for a holiday like emerald-green Ireland. Turkey used to offer a free visa on arrival, but have just implemented a procedure where you now have to apply for a Turkish visa (free of charge) online before applying, click here for their website. Visit the holy sites of Israel and spectacular ruins like the rock city of Petra in Jordan or make your way further east to some serious beach chilling in the Maldives or Fiji. Keep in mind that you can also visit South Korea and the enclaves in China like culturally vibrant Hong Kong and gambling mecca Macau visa-free and last but not least, the natural splendours of New Zealand!

Visas on Arrival

There are a number of countries which you can escape to last minute due to the fact that you can get a visa on arrival too, so keep in mind these fantastic destinations with lots to offer, popular ones highlighted in bold:

  • Armenia
  • Bangladesh
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • Indonesia (eg Bali)
  • Laos
  • Madagascar (eg Nosy Be) – FREE on arrival
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Uganda

NB: you will always need a passport and return/onward ticket out of the country, maximum permitted stay varies; the above information is subject to change without notice and was correct at time of publishing. Visa-free and visa-on arrival is usually valid for 30 days, some countries allow longer validity, some allow only shorter validity. Check with relevant embassy if unclear.

Check out the results and infographic from the 2012 Visa Survey

Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi,iwoul like to find to find out due to curent situation I hold Tanzanian passport resides in DareSsalaam what steps should I take to get a visa to visit Israel?
    Help please.

  2. hi there, my cousin and I want to go to New York next year, as you know we as South Africans need visas. how much money does one need per day or the overall total if you’re staying for 10days. will having a letter or invite from a friend from the US make your application look stronger? we’re trying to do it all by ourselves, to cut out all other unnecessary travel costs. Help please. thank you Nadia

  3. I am a South African living in Muscat, Oman and wish to travel to Baku soon. How can I get a visa very quickly to travel there in 2 weeks time?

  4. Hi. I am a South African, travelling to Australia and then Bali for a week. I have my visa for Australia but do I need a visa for Bali ?

  5. Thanks a lot for yr time to do this list, it my decision easy. Also to realise that its not about popularity at times, as I just want to explore this wonderful world.

  6. do I need a visa to visit South Korea for less than 30 days?

  7. D o I need visa to visit South Korea with South African passport for less than 30 days

  8. please am south African passport holder,i want to know if i should apply for new Zealand visa.

  9. Hello!

    SA citizen visiting Nepal: is it better to get a VISA on arrival or get one before departure in South Africa?

  10. I am a south african citizen, I want to visit Auckland (new zealand) as it is a visa free for south african citizen. do I need a transit visa to australia as the airoplane i am going to use will have almost 3 hours at sydney airport?

  11. hi
    i am South African citizen and want to migrate to Newzealand.how i can apply immigration for Newzealand from south africa

  12. hy,i wanna visit Newzeland can i get visa on arrival on airport.

  13. i like it

  14. what about north african countries?

    like tunisia, morrocco etc

  15. do I need a visa to get into Rio

  16. Do I need visa to visit Canada with South African passport.

  17. Hi, how does one get a schengen visa to tour Europe while working in the uk using a working visa . I hold an SA passport.

  18. hie can you plz tel me which countries I can travel to without a visa . I am a South African

  19. Hi i am a south african but now on tourist in turkey and i will like to know if i can also vist kosovo by land through bulgaria.

  20. i have travel document so i need to go costa rica how can go please call me 0747531428

  21. i have travel document south africa an i like to visit trip my trour brezil , how can go c and came back ccontact 0613037181

  22. I’m in togo for researh ,pls Can I travel to ireland visa free with my southafrica passport? Can I fly frm togo .pls reply to my email address.thanks

  23. I like to visit Mexico

  24. Madagascar visa on arrival is not free – it cost something like 60 or 80 Euros when I went there (2009?)

  25. Thanks for this, Nick. Can you please take another look at the map? All I see is a maps of Texas! BTW you can add Sri Lanka to the visa-on-arrival list. I paid $30 for the privilege. Finally, can you confirm if the Turkish visa is indeed free? I hear that the website says it’s free but a follow-up email asks for $60! On top of that, Australians pay less!
    I personally try to avoid countries that make it hard/expensive to get a visa. If they want me to spend money in their country they should make it easy for me.

  26. Currently in Bangladesh, need to travel to Nepal from here on RSA passport, can you confirm whether visa on arrival is possible? if yes, how much. Been to all kinds of sites and none agree

  27. want to travel to bahamas with ghana documrnts but currently in south africa now pls how do i do to get visa ?

  28. Some borders in Thailand require you to show a proof of funds along with an onward ticket. They offer you a two week visa exemption if you enter the country via land border and one month if you fly in…

  29. IM SA TRAVEL DOCUMENT HODER CAN I USE TO TRAVELTO U S A?.

    • Hello Davis, thank you for contacting us! We can definately assist your travel plans to America. You can contact one of our agents on 0861 878 278/+2721-468-4300 for assistance with this, or you can send all your details to travelbar@travelstart.com. We look forward to hearing from you, Almene

  30. Are you please able to confirm if SA passport holders able to travel to Tunisia and obtain a visa upon arrival?

    • Hello Ally, you are required to obtain a Visa before you leave the on your trip to Tunisia. You will be able to obtain more information as well as apply for a visa with Rose Visa. Their contact details are: Tel: 0210014440 Email: carl@visaservice.co.za – Hope this helps, Almene

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