It’s a sad fact that a lot of popular holiday destinations are unaffordable for South Africans; either the flights take seven days and set you back the price of a small house, or the stronger currencies mean that accommodation, transport and eating out are out of reach for those of us earning in rands. That doesn’t mean that you can’t travel overseas though; you just have to be smart about where and when you go. Here are some holiday destinations that won’t break the bank, even for South Africans.
Temples, neverending beaches, bustling cities and peaceful jungle surrounds all await you in Thailand. It’s a popular holiday destination with both South Africans and Australians for good reason; there’s amazing weather, food and beer are cheap and plentiful, accommodation is affordable (meaning you don’t have to rock a 16-bed dormitory!), the flights are regular and inexpensive and there’s pretty much something to suit everyone. For a rough guide, you can probably budget around R450 per day per person for good accommodation, food, drinks, transport and a few activities or tours. Of course this will depend to an extent on where you stay and what your tastes are; international food and wine will be far more expensive than local food and beer, for instance.
Bangkok is intense, crowded and operates at a mile a minute – but it’s also a true Far East city and you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with it’s atmosphere. Then there’s Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Phi Phi…the list is almost neverending, and whether you want animal interactions, tea plantations, jungle serenity, beaches and parties or seclusion and romance, there is sure to be something which fits within your budget.
Portugal is one of Western Europe’s most affordable countries and though it seems super exotic and Mediterranean, it’s less Italy and Spain and more Poland and Hungary when it comes to prices. Lisbon and Porto both offer a great city break, but Porto is something special – with its stunning wine country, bustling local food scene and coffee obsession, it’s a bit like the Cape Town of Portugal. It is also comparatively a bit cheaper than Lisbon, in terms of both accommodation and food.
It’s hard to believe that you could be spending a week overlooking a river, sipping port wine and sampling local cheeses while watching life go by at around R10 000 per person, but it’s true! You can get a week’s worth of accommodation for around R4000 per couple, a coffee is about R22 and a meal for two people can easily come it at under R300. Make sure you try the local pastries (especially pasteis de nata) and freshly squeezed orange juice, which is available at every corner. There are often pretty cheap flight deals available to Portugal and the big bonus is that the flight isn’t long, and there’s no huge time zone jumps so jet lag doesn’t really come into play. Get an apartment with a kitchen and you can save some money but still indulge - browse one of the little supermarkets for fresh breads, cured meats and delicious seafood to make sandwiches or snacks at home for lunch.
With soccer fever taking over the world, it’s no surprise that Brazil is on the brain. A trip to South America to experience the home of salsa, carnival and caipirinhas doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, a trip to Rio is more than doable! Direct flights are now available to Brazil with LATAM airlines, and once you’re there you can get a 3 to 4 star hotel room in a well-located area for around R5000 per week – and that’s for two people! Subway tickets are only about R15 per person, so walk or use public transport rather than taxis and don’t be shy to tuck into local food – if you love a braai, we can guarantee you’ll love Brazil’s famous barbecued meats.
It’s a blissful beach destination of soft, sandy beaches, crystalline waters and wooden sailboats lining the shores. With flights available from Mango and FastJet, Zanzibar can also be a low cost destination, whether you opt for a resort getaway, an adventurous stay in Stone Town, or something in between. Local beers are as cheap as chips, there’s often great packages available for flights, accommodation and some or all of your meals.
You know that anywhere with a nickname like ‘The Spice Island’ is definitely going to serve up some delicious food. Feast on flavoursome local curries and impossibly fresh seafood and you’ll not only save a good amount of cash, you’ll also be immersing yourself into local culture and tradition – and you’ll never go hungry either.
Perhaps the best word for India is ‘over-stimulating.’ It’s loud, busy, and stepping off the plane and onto Indian tarmac is an assault on the senses – in the best way possible. There’s something intoxicating about the energy of the place; from the craziness of trying to cross roads between swerving buses, motorbikes and taxis to the sounds of street sellers shouting out their wares, the smells of curries and chapatis wafting through the air and the ever-present children running rampant through the busy streets. India is a different kind of magical. It’s simultaneously glitzy and gritty, down to earth but completely over the top and most of all; it’s a destination for travellers, not tourists.
Of course areas like Goa are typically more expensive than somewhere like Mumbai or Delhi, but India is on the whole a fairly affordable destination. Flights are regularly on special with various airlines for around R5000, but the food and accommodation is where you really win. A meal for R35-40? Yes please! Accommodation at a good, mid-range hotel can be as cheap as R180 per night. Sure, you could stay in a dorm or hostel but at that price, why would you?