Visa-Free Destination Ideas for South Africans

Posted by: Nick Paul


  • 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 July 2013

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 and don’t forget Kenya which offers a fantastic mix of  game-viewing and luxurious resorts on the Mombasa coastline.

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.

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


  1. mohamed abdul says:

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

  2. ahmed jama abdirahman says:

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

  3. daniel says:

    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

  4. ahamadfoyez says:

    I like to visit Mexico

  5. James says:

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

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