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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

10 budget-friendly visa-free countries you can travel to with a South African passport

Applying for a visa can be a real pain in the pASSport. Here's where to go instead.

If you’re not in the mood for standing in queues and dealing with tons of paperwork, we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest visa-free dream travel destinations.

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries have closed their airspace to Russia and imposed travel bans; many have stopped the process altogether.

In contrast, the EU now allows Ukrainians to live and work in member states. Countries are also adjusting visa policies as part of an emergency plan.

The Henley Passport Index – a one-of-its-kind report based on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) – includes an updated list of visa-free countries for 2022.

If you have a South African passport and need a break from reality, pack your bags and head to any of these top ten visa-free destinations.

Budget visa-free countries


The ideal time to travel to Indonesia would be July and August, but the second-best time is Easter, and that’s just around the corner.

If, however, you’re looking for peace and quiet on your trip, you’d best get packing, because offseason starts in April and ends in June.

If it’s the hustle and bustle you’re after, make your way towards the city centres. Those seeking solace should head towards the north and west coasts for peace and quiet.

Temple in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: iStock


No excuses here, it’s just up the road! Pack your back, get your vehicle serviced and head out on the road trip of a lifetime.

Based on recent news reports, we’d suggest avoiding the Cabo Delgado Province, especially Pemba. It’s also important to keep your travel documents ready at all times.

Mozambique is busy over the December holidays, so avoid it if you’re travelling on a tight budget. That said, South Africa’s currency is stronger at the moment, so it’s well worth trip

Photo: iStock


Malaysia reopened its borders to short-term visitors, but you will need to register a profile on MySejahtera, the public health app, and complete a Digital Pre-Departure Form.

Borneo and Kuala Lumpur should be on your bucket list if you’re headed to Malaysia. Visit any of the national parks, but remember to be respectful and don’t remove any wildlife or plants.

Visitors who are not fully vaccinated are subject to a five-day quarantine upon arrival, with a negative test required prior to release.

Batu cave in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: iStock


Loas re-opened for foreign travellers back in January 2022 with special conditions in place, including Green Travel Zones. These are provinces which already reached a vaccination rate of 70%.

The current green zones are Luang Prabang, Vientiane Capital and Vang Vieng. You must be fully vaccinated and upload proof to LaoStaySafe, the health safety app.

Photo: iStock


Thailand eased travel restrictions back in March, making it the ideal, stress-free holiday destination for vaccinated South African travellers.

From 1 April, foreign travellers aren’t required to carry a Covid-free certificate issued within 72 hours of boarding a flight.

You will, however, have to undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival, but hey, it’s worth it! Once there, head to the south of Phuket and visit the 45 metre-tall Buddha on Nakkerd Hills.

It looks out over Rawaii and Kata and the view is spectacular. There are many sights along the way as well, and it gives you a glimpse into the “thought but real” Thailand.

The big buddha on Nakkerd Hills in Phuket, Thailand. Photo: iStock


Soccer by day, carnival by night down Copacabana beach – what more could a person possibly ask for?

Be warned: swimming or surfing in coastal waters can be dangerous; only head out into open waters if a lifeguard is on duty. And be wary of sharks.

Historic Center of the city of Salvador Bahia, Brazil. Photo: iStock


Kenya is one of my personal top travel destinations and while most people would suggest Mombasa, I found a true slice of Kenya in Ngara, a neighbourhood in Nairobi.

It’s close to the Nairobi National Park – a large game reserve known for breeding endangered black rhinos and home to giraffes – as well as the Masai Market and the National Museum.

I recommend staying at Khweza Bed & Breakfast – it has colourful rooms, a rooftop restaurant, and is only five minutes from the Nairobi city centre. They have a shuttle, too.

Beach in Kenya and with colourful pareos. Photo: iStock


The tropical island of Zanzibar – located off the Tanzanian coast – is another popular travel destination among South Africans.

And why not? It’s an island vacation for a fraction of the price, and now that travel restrictions have been eased, it’s just a plane trip away.

Also known as Unguja, Zanzibar is the main island in the Tanzanian archipelago, and a must-visit location is Stone Town, an old trade centre with mosques and winding lanes.

Crystal clear waters in Zanzibar. Photo: iStock


Speaking of island vacations… The Philippines is remarkable. There are more than 7,000 islands to explore and a vast array of natural elements to contend with.

Be mindful of when you visit as the area is prone to typhoons and harsh weather conditions. There are also 20 active volcanoes for thrill-seekers.

Add Boracay to your travel bucket list and marvel in its beauty, or head out to the Banaue Rice Terraces, considered by many to be the eighth wonder of the world.

The terraces are 2,000 years old.

The 2000-year-old World Heritage Ifugao rice terraces in Batad, northern Luzon, Philippines.


When you think of Mauritius, the colour turquoise comes to mind, doesn’t it? That’s because it is known for its beautiful beaches, lagoons, and reefs, along with crystal clear turquoise waters.

Whether it’s a chilled trip you’re after or a busy travellers getaway, Mauritius has it all. There’s good weather all year round, and the lowest rainfall is usually recorded around November.

Warm weather with temperatures usually peak in February, this island paradise has something for everyone. From scuba diving to just chilling out, pack your bags and go.

April may be too hot for some to handle, but you’re more likely to miss the big crowds and high hotel costs that come with the flux of tourists.

Photo: iStock

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