11 Visa free countries South Africans can visit

24 October 2017

Travelling just became so much easier.

If you’re a seasoned traveller, you know that one of the potentially necessary evils of crossing the South African border is the arduous procurement of a travel visa. The great news is that there are officially many holiday destinations that don’t require a visa, which you can add to your bucket list, right now. Here we take a look at our top 11 countries South Africans can visit without a visa.

1. Bahamas

If you’re in the mood for something exotic, you may want to consider the Bahamas for your next holiday destination. Besides being the quintessential tropical retreat, the Bahamas is also steeped in history. This Caribbean gem is made up of some 700 islands, only 40 of which are populated. Understandably, cruises, scuba diving and snorkelling are popular activities for tourists and there are quite a few shipwrecks to explore off New Providence Island. Thunderball Grotto is an impressive cavern with its own underwater aquarium, so exquisite that several movies have been shot here, including the James Bond classics, ‘Thunderball’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’. Other must-see’s include Cable Beach, the Swimming Pigs, and the Straw Market.

2. Brazil

If you enjoy a good party, then you’ll be happy to know that South Africans no longer require a visa to enter Brazil – the birthplace of the carnival. This six-day extravaganza takes place in Rio de Janeiro where the streets come alive with parties, parades, costumes, and Samba. Besides the festivities, Brazil is an eclectic mix of urban dwelling, poverty, wealth and stunning topography. If you visit Copacabana Beach, you’ll find an idyllic ivory coastline where footvolley, surfing and shopping are the order of the day. Corcovado is the sight of the Christ the Redeemer Statue, the massive monument that has become synonymous with Brazil. A hike to the top of the mountain will not only give you an excellent view of the statue, but of the energetic city below. If you’re more on the adventurous side, then Rio is the ideal place for hang gliding and paragliding.

3. Chile

History, natural wonders, friendly locals and epic outdoor adventures – this is your average Chilean holiday. Chile’s impressive landscape will leave even the most seasoned traveller speechless, with its snow-capped volcanoes, deserts, lakes, and salt marshes. Don’t miss the Atacama Desert - said to be the world’s driest desert, and Patagonia in Chile, where you can see the Andes. You can even extend your trip by incorporating Argentina or Peru - two countries that border Chile (and are also visa-free). Other items on your to-do list should include: the Torres del Paine National Park, the Plaza de Armas and wine tasting (with wines made from the carmenère grape). Don’t leave without trying a Pisco sour, a cocktail made from pisco liquor and lemon juice. It would be rude not to!

4. Fiji

Fiji certainly deserves a place on our list. There are over 300 islands to discover, and each one is characterised by azure waters, lush vegetation and exquisite marine and bird life. Viti Levu, the largest island of Fiji, is the main hub of activity with Nadi as its tourism centre. A ten minute drive from Nadi to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant will introduce you to a breath-taking sanctuary of tropical flowers and orchids. Drink Kava on Vanua Levu, a more attractive island if you’re allergic to crowds. Taveuni, the third-largest island, is teeming with indigenous animals, colourful birdlife, waterfalls and excellent dive spots.

5. Hong Kong

If your idea of the perfect getaway includes exploring busy streets, shopping and tasting delicious local cuisine, then look no further than Hong Kong. It’s one of the easiest cities to navigate because of a reliable and intensive transport system. Buses, trams, metros, boats and taxis allow you to get anywhere you want to go, but be sure to roam the streets on foot as well, armed with a decent pair of shoes. The shops, sights and smells will intoxicate you. This intense city also has one of the most exquisite skylines in the world, which you can see when you visit Victoria Peak - the highest vantage point with the most incredible view.

6. Ireland

Be sure to grab a pint of black beer when you head to the Republic of Ireland! But if you’re not a fan of Guinness (yet), you can warm up to the idea with a tour of the museums, galleries and everything else that Ireland has to offer. This lush emerald isle is a journey to a time when castles and cathedrals dotted the landscape. The Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibit at Trinity College is a must-see if you love history, and the library itself is a sight to behold. Check out panoramic views of Dublin from the Guinness Storehouse, one of the most popular attractions on the island. Here, you can explore seven floors of a pint-glass-shaped atrium and learn all about Ireland’s favourite brew, including how to pour it! Other grand sites in the land of the four-leaf clover include Cork, the castles of Kilkenny, the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher. On a side note - you’ll need a UK visa to enter Northern Ireland.

7. Namibia

A little closer to home, is Namibia. This diverse landscape has a wide array of natural wonders and it’s one of the few places on earth where animals still roam free (mostly). Visit Etosha National Park and witness the abundant wildlife, such as elephants, black rhinos, giraffes, leopards and lions. Sand boarding in Swakopmund is a must, no matter what your fitness level. Soak in the hot springs at Ai-Ais and experience the iconic view of the Fish River Canyon. But don’t leave Namibia without seeing the cracked mud topography of Deadvlei, a graveyard of dead trees set against the backdrop of the iconic red Namib dunes. It’s an eerie and spectacular sight and a definite must on any traveller's bucket list.

8. Panama

The Republic of Panama is a small tropical country with a lot to offer. Scuba dive with whale sharks, swim alongside sea turtles, or go snorkelling amongst the vivid coral reefs. Take photos of the curious screeching howler monkeys that come to inspect you outside your cabin. Explore the resplendent rainforests that surround the capital city or check out the Spanish forts that have been left in ruin on the Caribbean coast. If you’re feeling brave, you can even zip through 14 tree canopies 60 metres above Boquete, with the Boquete Tree Trek. In Panama, you can do it all. But don’t return home without laying your eyes on the impressive Panama Canal. Here, you can watch as barges coast through this man-made passage or take a Half-Day Panama City and Canal Tour to get a taste of the capital city as well.

9. Singapore

The Lion City is home to an exciting mixture of cultures, sights and activities. Because of this, If you are a foodie, you will find many Indian and Chinese flavours. Singapore is a silver kingdom of skyscrapers, impressive structures and magnificent gardens. If you’re a guest at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of swimming in the Infinity Pool, the world’s highest rooftop pool where you can enjoy the best views of the city. If you love nature, be sure to go to the Gardens By the Bay where you’ll find the Supertree Grove – an impressive garden of solar-powered ‘super trees’. The Flower Dome will remind you of home with its greenhouse of plants that are like those found in South Africa and California.

10. Tanzania

Majestic wildlife, savanna planes, open grasslands, ancient baobabs, and the highest mountain in Africa - these are just some of the things you can expect when you travel to Eastern Africa’s largest country. There are a number of national parks worth visiting, but Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park should be at the top of your list. Even if you’re not planning to climb the mountain, the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is worth the trip, just to see the snow-capped peak and World Heritage Site. If you’re looking to improve your tan, the beaches of Zanzibar offer an exquisite paradise of turquoise waters and white sand.

11. Thailand

Thailand is already a popular holiday destination amongst South Africans, but there’s a lot more to this Southeast Asian country than its beaches. Ancient ruins, Buddhist temples and mouth-watering cuisine are all part of what makes this site so special. If you’re looking for nightlife, Bangkok has plenty to offer in terms of markets, restaurants and bars. Purchase souvenirs and local delicacies from your boat at one of Bangkok’s floating markets. Also check out the cultural capital of Chiang Mai, the ornate temple of Doi Suthep and Chiang Rai.

Our consultants are ready to get you to any of these visa free countries, so contact us today to help you plan your next visa free holiday! You can also strat planning your next holiday by checking out some of our amazing travel deals here