It’s the season for New Year’s Resolutions, so why not include some travel resolutions this year? There’s nothing more exciting than getting to see people resolving to visit somewhere they’ve never gone before, and to go overseas for the first time. Travel is becoming more accessible every day – and these affordable and easy-to-reach destinations mean that in 2019, more South Africans than ever can set foot somewhere new! So, if travelling more, or travelling for the first time, is one of your 2019 resolutions, here’s where you should start.
With direct flights to Istanbul from both Cape Town and Johannesburg on Turkish Airlines, it’s very easy to get to Turkey. Another bonus for South Africans is that no visas are required and once you’re there, Turkey is seriously affordable too. You can explore the streets of Istanbul, where the continents of Asia and Europe join. It’s a bustling metropolis with busy streets, undercover markets, and thriving nightlife. Take in the historical region of Cappadocia, a fantasy land reminiscent of Star Wars, thanks to an ancient volcanic eruption. Or, you could venture to the coastal areas for bright blue Mediterranean seas, relaxed beach cafes and cocktails from your hammock.
1) Istanbul, Turkey:
While Europeans can often travel to neighbouring countries on a shoestring, regional travel within Africa can be harder on the purse, as many of these countries charge in dollars and there are fewer low-cost airline options from South Africa.
Zanzibar though, is a glorious exception. It has the pristine beaches and relaxed atmosphere of the Maldives or Philippines, but at a fraction of the price. Add to that, a double dose of vibrant African, Persian, Arabic and Indian cultures and traditions. Beach lovers, sun lovers, and nature lovers will all find Zanzibar to be a paradise. Explore the spices, crafts, and colonial-style architecture. Dip in and out of the markets, browse fabric stalls, and visit the Old Fort; you’ll fall in love with the sights and sounds of the beautifully historic Stone Town.
There’s often great package deals available to Zanzibar, where flights, accommodation, and all or some of your meals are included, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the crystalline waters and indulgent food.
Now that World Cup fever has died down, Russia has dipped below the radar of most holidaymakers. Even without any soccer to keep you busy though, Russia has plenty to offer visitors. You can pick up affordable flights quite easily, and there’s no visa required. Once you’re there, Russia will likely surprise you with its charm and elegance.
It’s worthwhile reading up on some history before you arrive, as it will make your experience of the country that much better. The major cities of St Petersburg and Moscow have art and culture scenes that you would expect from New York, London, and Melbourne. St Petersburg in particular, is famed for opera, art, theatres, museums, and music. Coupled with beautiful architecture and fine dining, it’s hard to fathom why anyone would skip Russia.
3) St Petersburg, Russia:
South East Asia is well-known as a budget holiday destination and while every South African and his cousin has gone to Thailand, many have yet to venture to Vietnam. The stretch of beaches in Da Nang rival those of Thailand, but the real treasures here aren’t of the beach variety. Instead, it’s all about cities, ancient towns, imperialism, getting close to nature and – of course – feasting on the absolutely incredible Vietnamese food that you’ll find on every street corner.
From your boat’s deck or your cabin window, you can marvel at the huge limestone towers rising out of the water in the majestic Halong Bay. You can lose yourself in the crowded streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, sample the most delicious noodle broths, gorge on fresh tropical fruits, or hike through the mountains and waterfalls of Sa Pa.
Beer, accommodation, and transport is all unbelievably affordable in Vietnam, so there’s no need to limit yourself to hostels and home brews! Eat from street food stalls and you’ll be on your way to a budget holiday that you never dreamed was possible.
4) Sapa, Vietnam: