12 Best Visa-Free Countries for South Africans to Visit in 2018


12 visa free countries for south africans in 2018

Happy 2018! It’s a New Year, and that means another 365 days of new adventures.

If you’re anything like me, January is when I start planning where I want to go over the next 12 months. And if you’re South African, like me, your choices can get restrictive if you don’t want to deal with all the annoying and expensive visa applications.

But the good news is that South Africans can travel to over 90 countries without a visa or with visa on arrival in 2018. Bonus – some of these countries economies are worse than ours, meaning we don’t have to watch our Rands shrivel up to nothing when we buy a beer. I’m looking at you England.

Just like last year, I’m going to be using Skyscanner’s cheapest month to travel feature to find some average return flight prices for these destinations. It’s my favourite flight search tool to use, and if you’re following me on Instagram, you’ll have seen some of the deals I’ve been sharing (like a return trip to Thailand for only R4900!).

Whether you’re looking to splurge on an island getaway in the Caribbean or you’re planning a frugal trip to South East Asia, here are some of best visa-free countries for South Africans to visit in 2018!

Visa-Free Countries for South Africans in South America / Central America / Caribbean

1. Guatemala

guatemala Visa-Free Countries for South Africans to Visit in 2018

Located in Central America, Guatemala is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you want to spend your days worshipping the sun gods on the beach, learning about the country’s unique culture or trekking to active volcanos and into cloud forests – Guatemala has it in spades. Making it one of the best visa-free countries for South Africans to visit if you want to experience a country that’s off the beaten track.

Why You Should Visit Guatemala

  • Antigua, the country’s former capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the perfect place to take a salsa class, sample some Guatemalan street food and marvel at its impressive colonial architecture. Plus, the three volcanoes in the distance make it one of the world’s most photogenic cities.
  • It’s home to Tikal, one of the largest and best Mayan Ruin sites in Central America. Hidden deep within the jungle, a trip here can last over three hours due to the sheer size of the ruins.
  • Visit Lake Atitlan. It’s home to many waterside towns that each have their own unique vibe. If you’re in the mood for a party, spend a weekend in San Pedro or for something more relaxed head to San Marcos. There’s also plenty of activities to do such as kayaking and hiking Indian’s Nose to watch the sun rise over the lake.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 0.59 Guatemala Quetzal
Return Flights: R 13, 800 +/-
Hotels: R 300 – R 400 per night for 2 or 3-star hotels.
Hostels: R200 per night.

2. Jamaica

Jamaica Visa-Free Countries for South Africans to Visit in 2018

Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae and even has a museum that pays homage to one of it’s most famous citizens, Bob Marley. But that’s not all the island has to offer. Jamaica is a treasure trove of golden beaches, turquoise seas, pristine coral reefs and lush rainforests.

It’s also all renowned for its historic plantations and boasts some of the most luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean.

Why You Should Visit Jamacia

  • The island is home to some of the Caribbean’s most impressive beaches. You’ll find vast expanses of white sand beaches nestled between incredible scenery, making it the perfect tropical paradise destination.
  • Soak up the dancehall culture. At any given day during the week, you won’t struggle to find a street dance event. Come to watch the locals dress up and let loose in the streets, enjoy the music and bust a few moves yourself.
  • Explore Jamaica’s underwater heritage. The island has world-class snorkelling and scuba diving spots, and these activities are offered all-inclusive at most resorts. Keep an eye out for endangered sea turtles, the West Indian manatee and nurse sharks.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 180 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 10 Jamaican Dollar
Return Flights: R 14,000 +/-
Resorts and Hotels: R 400+ per night.
Hostels: R200+ per night.

3. Brazil

Brazil Visa-Free Countries for South Africans to Visit in 2018

Brazil is the largest country in South America, boats a 7,400 km Atlantic coastline and is full of exotic plants and wildlife. Its architecture is strongly influenced by the Portuguese colonial powers that ruled the country until 1822 and people flock here from all over the world to soak up its vibrant music and delicious cuisine.

Why You Should Visit Brazil

  • Its natural attractions won’t disappoint. From the famous Amazon Rainforest to the Iguaçu Falls, the country also has 62 national parks for the intrepid traveller to explore. Brazil holds several wildlife numbers and diversity records spurred by it’s booming ecotourism and responsible travel initiatives.
  • The Rio Carnival. The five-day celebration is held 40 days before Easter and is a farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. The result is a lively celebration of dance and song all leading up to the main event: the Samba Parade.
  • It’s one of the cheapest visa-free countries for South Africans to fly into. Plus, it’s next a gateway to some of South America’s greatest attractions. If you have the time, pop on over to Argentina, Peru, Chile and don’t limit yourself to just one country.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 10 Brazilian Real
Return Flights: R 7,200 +/-
Hotels: R 200+ per night.
Hostels: R160+ per night.

Other nearby visa-free countries for South Africans: Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela.

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Visa-Free Countries for South Africans in Africa

4. Kenya

Kenya visa free countries for south africans in 2018

Kenya is a trove of iconic safari parks and coastal treasures. From the annual Great Migration in the Maasai Mara to the flamingo drenched Lake Nakuru and it’s melting pot of cultures, there’s no better time to visit this East African country.

Why You Should Visit Kenya

  • Hike Africa’s second tallest peak – Mount Kenya. The mountain has three different summits that come with varying degrees of difficulty. Choose your adventure and get up close with one of Kenya’s greatest natural wonders.
  • Learn about Kenya’s many different ethnic and cultural groups. From the famous Masai people to the smallest tribe in the world, El Molo.
  • Visit the Great Rift Valley. Its lake system is home to one of the most diverse bird populations in the world as well as large flocks of flamingoes. The area is also an important archaeological site, where lava flows from 4 to 14 million years ago have preserved relics from our ancestors.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 8,3 Kenyan Shilling
Return Flights: R 4,900 +/-
Hotels: R 300+ per night.
Hostel: R200+ per night.

5. Senegal

senegal visa free countries for south africans in 2018

Senegal is one of West Africa’s most stable countries and has a ton of things to offer the frugal traveller. Learn about its dark past with the slave trade, discover it’s music scene and visit its unique natural attractions that set it apart from other African destinations.

Why You Should Visit Senegal

  • Senegal’s Pink Lake is an unofficial wonder of the world. Located 30km from Dakar, it’s pink waters attract hundreds of visitors each year. The best time to see the lake’s unusual colour is during the dry season from November to June.
  • Saint-Louis is the former capital of Senegal, located on a small island in the Senegal River. The town is suspended in another era, with its colonial architecture earning it UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
  • Go on a day trip and visit the island of Goree. Once used as a prison during the transatlantic slave trade, a visit here is a must if you want to learn more about Senegal’s sombre past.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 43 West African Franc
Return Flights: R 8,500 +/-
Hotels: R 200+ per night.
Hostel: R150+ per night.

6. Tanzania

Tanzania is more than the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro. Its coastline is awash with beautiful beaches, and it even has it’s own style of music known as bongo flava. But the best part is that it’s one of cheaper visa-free African destinations to fly to from South Africa and can be explored on any budget.

Why You Should Visit Tanzania

  • It’s home to the Olduvai Gorge Archaeological Site. It’s the most important of it’s kind in East Africa and holds the remains of the earliest humans ever found.
  • Zanzibar is only a short flight or boat ride away. It’s one of the most affordable island getaways for South Africans and is a haven for divers. The Zanzibar Archipelago is full of coral reefs and an abundance of marine life, making it one of the best diving destinations in the region.
  • Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is filled to the brim with interesting landmarks. Visit the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church, one of the best examples of early Christian architecture in East Africa that’s built almost entirely from coral stone.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 180 Tanzanian Shilling
Return Flights: R 4,200 +/-
Hotels: R 300+ per night.
Hostels: R60+ per night.

Other nearby visa-free countries for South Africans: Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia

Visa-Free Countries for South Africans in Melanesia

7. Fiji

Fiji visa free countries for south africans in 2018

Fiji is the quintessential island paradise. Its beaches are fringed with palm trees blowing gently in the breeze and sparkling blue waters lapping at its shores. With more than 300 islands to explore, you’ll have no shortage of tropical attractions. Spend your days diving with sharks, trekking through pristine rainforests and conquering one of the world’s top surf breaks on the Mamanuca Islands.

Why You Should Visit Fiji

  • Fijians are famous around the world for their hospitality. Despite being cannibals a few centuries ago, the locals are now known for their love of singing, dancing and going out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.
  • It’s an adventure junkies paradise. If sitting on the beach all day won’t cut it for you, an adrenaline-inducing experience isn’t that far away. Go kayaking on the Navua River, hiking through the jungle, zip lining, skydiving, parasailing and so much more.
  • Fiji is where you’ll find the world’s fourth largest barrier reef. More than 1,000 species of fish call the islands home, making it an excellent destination for divers and snorkellers. The islands have an array of sites ranging from drift dives to dramatic drop-offs suitable for a range of levels.

Visa Information: Visa not required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 0.16 Fijian Dollar
Return Flights: R 13, 800 +/-
Hotels: R 200+ per night.
Hostels: R 110+ per night.

Other nearby visa-free countries for South Africans: Vanuatu

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Visa-Free Countries for South Africans in Europe

8. Georgia

georgia visa free countries for south africans

Once part of the Soviet Union, Georgia is on it’s way to becoming the next “it” destination. With its pristine hiking routes that wind around the Caucasus mountains to its ancient cathedrals and cave cities, a trip here is a refreshing break from the hard-trodden paths of its neighbouring countries.

Why You Should Visit Georgia

  • It’s the birthplace of wine. Plus, the country has their own unique way of making the beverage which involves burying it under the ground. Visiting their wine regions is a must, and the wine tastings are also dirt cheap.
  • Sighnaghi is Georgia’s “City of Love”. The old 18th-century fortress town is full of wineries, cobblestone streets and 24-hour wedding registries. If you’re in the mood to make it official, it’s a lot more romantic than Las Vegas.
  • It is super affordable for South Africans. From the food to the accommodation and all the activities in between, it’s easy to explore this country without emptying out your bank account. Plus, it’s not yet a busy destination, so you don’t need to deal with hordes of tourists at the country’s most popular attractions.

Visa Information: No visa required for a year.
Exchange Rate: R 1/ 0.21 Georgian Lari
Return Flights: R 6,100+ return
Hotels: R 200+ per night
Hostels: R 120+ per night

9. Russia

russia visa free country for south africans in 2018

Since April 2017, Russia has been a visa-free destination for South Africans! With 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, incredible architecture, lavish palaces, museums and vast natural scenery, a two-week stint here will barely touch on what this country has to offer.

Why You Should Visit Russia

  • Russia is the mecca for anyone interested in religious history. Visit the UNESCO Heritage city of Suzdal and its many churches, admire the sheer size of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow or the famous The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, where Tsar Alexandyr was killed.
  • Explore the Hermitage Museum. Located in St. Petersburg, it houses 150,000 artworks and would take you 2,500 hours to see every single piece.
  • Riding the metro in Russia is unlike any other destination in the world. Each station is decked out in grandeur that makes getting from A-to-B an experience in itself.

Visa Information: No visa required for 90 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 4.19 Russian Ruble
Return Flights: R 7, 000+ return
Hotels: R 100+ per night
Hostels: R 60+ per night

Other visa-free countries for South Africa in Europe: Ireland

Visa-Free Countries for South Africans in Asia

10. Indonesia

Indonesia boasts a staggering collection of 13,500 islands. It’s most popular destinations are Bali (which rose to fame thanks to the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love), Lombok and Java. Ancient Hindu temples, scuba diving, hiking active volcanoes and partying the night away on Gili T are just some of the activities to keep you busy during your stay.

Why You Should Visit Indonesia

  • For South Africans, it’s one of the best times to visit. Since Mt Batur had an ash eruption in November, tourists have stayed away from Bali, driving down prices for flights and accommodation.
  • Indonesia is the only place in the world where you can see the famous Komodo Dragons, the largest living lizard in the world. Make sure you go with an official guide, as these ancient creatures have been known to grab humans as an afternoon snack.
  • Visit Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Located in Java, this impressive building dates back to the 9th century and is made up of 2,000+ relief panels and over 500 Buddha statues.

Visa Information: No visa required for 30 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 1,072 Indonesian Rupiah
Return Flights: R 7, 000+
Hotels: R 100+ per night
Hostels: R 56+ per night

Read Next: How to Visit Bali on a Budget as a Frugal South African

11. South Korea

The Land of the Morning Calm is famous around the world for its Kpop groups, technological advances and ancient traditions. Throw in some snow-capped mountains, a growing foodie scene, no visa requirements for South Africans, and it’s one of the top destinations to visit in 2018.

Why You Should Visit South Korea

  • South Korea’s history has hardly changed over the years, due to its natural isolation. The city of Gyeongju is often called ” a museum without walls”, and the country has countless palaces, temples and royal tombs that have earned UNESCO World Heritage site status.
  • There are festivals throughout the year. Plan your trip around the blooming cherry blossoms in spring, Buddha’s Birthday in May or during Chusoek when the Koreans honour their ancestors.
  • The food. Once again, Korea’s isolation has resulted in some unique cuisine. Try kimchi, a side dish made from fermented vegetables to the array of noodle dishes, soups and stews. Go to one of the street markets and dedicate a day to sampling the best of the country’s flavourful dishes.

Visa Information: No visa required for 30 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 83.26 Won
Return Flights: R 8,000+
Hotels: R 300+ per night
Hostels: R 200 + per night

12. Thailand

thailand visa free destinations for south africans

The Land of Smiles is often called the jewel of Southeast Asia, and it’s not hard to see why. Its low prices make it one of the most affordable visa-free destinations for South Africans. Spend your day’s island hopping in the south, exploring the cooler jungles of the north and eating your weight in the delicious street food.

Why You Should Visit Thailand

  • It’s the cheapest entry point to South East Asia from South Africa. Use it as a springboard to visit its’s neighbours, many of which are also visa-free countries for South Africans or visa on arrival.
  • Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest national park and is home to over 200 elephants. Go on a hike and if you’re lucky you’ll see tigers, elephants and other animals making their way to the human-made salt pan. Plus you can even camp in the park – just keep a look out for the resident deer, they’re known for getting into tents in search of food.
  • Thailand has over 40,000 Buddhist temples, and it’s own Angkor Wat. Head to Ayutthaya and walk among the ruins of the ancient Siam Kingdom. If you’re looking for the most lavish temples, head to Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Visa Information: No visa required for 30 days.
Exchange Rate: R 1 / 2,50 Thai Baht
Return Flights: R 5,000+
Hotels: R 100+ per night
Hostels: R 55 + per night

Other visa-free countries for South Africans in Asia: The Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia.

Which of these visa-free countries for South Africans will you visit in 2018?



  1. January 16, 2018 / 6:00 pm

    Thankyou for your wonderful post.It helped us recently.Continue with your work,Great job!!

    • lauren
      January 16, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      Thanks Britannia! That’s great to hear 🙂

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