If you’re thinking of flying abroad this year and are short on ideas, you may want to consider a destination that gives you a little less hassle by cutting out the arduous and infuriating visa process. The good news for South Africans is that there are plenty of exciting holiday destinations all over the world that don’t require visas*. To give you a helping hand in picking out your next holiday, we’re taking a look at ten of these countries.
One of the best things about South America is that virtually the entire continent welcomes South Africans visa-free. In Peru there is, of course, the famed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu; but its popularity sees it constantly crammed with tourists. If you want to see a lost city but lose the crowd, visit Choquequirao instead. These remote Inca ruins are located in the Andes. You can also explore the Amazon Rainforest that stretches across nine countries, with Peru covering the largest part after Brazil (FYI: Brazil is also visa-free).
Despite being Che Guevara’s homeland, Argentina is known for far more than this famed revolutionary. From tango in La Boca to gauchos in the pampas, Argentina has plenty to offer. You can even choose between weather extremes. Those looking for a skiing holiday can book a cabin in Bariloche, while those after a beach trip can sun themselves in Mar del Plata. Another bonus? Uruguay is just a boat trip away, and it is also visa-free.
As long as we’re mentioning luminaries of the world we might as well bring up Jamaica-born Bob Marley. His home nation is one of several which does not require a visa for South Africans. Besides the obvious attractions like cocktails on the beach and visiting the Bob Marley Mausoleum, you can go river rafting down the Rio Grande or get historical by touring through Rose Hall in Montego Bay. Marley is not the only celebrity to have resided on the island. Theatre lovers can visit Noël Coward’s old home, called Look Out, which has stunning views over Port Maria.
4. The Bahamas
Being another island destination, chilling on the beach in The Bahamas goes without saying. Despite all the relaxing you can do between baking in the sun and cooling off in the clear blue waters, it’s also full of adventure. Find your inner pirate by visiting the museum, Pirates of Nassau. Want something more extreme than yelling ‘ahoy’? You can take to the waters by diving, snorkelling, exploring shipwrecks, kayaking, parasailing, kite-boarding, or jet skiing.
5. South Korea
The lack of visa requirements is only one of many reasons why South Korea is popular with South Africans. Foodies will find much to tingle their taste buds, and those with a sweet tooth must get a taste of Patbingsoo, a dessert made of shaved ice, condensed milk, ice cream, rice cakes, and sweetened red beans. It’s also a great place to leap from old to new, because you can go from sleeping on the floor in a traditional Korean house in Gyeongju to partying in Noise Basement in Gangman – the very area that inspired Psy’s annoyi… sorry, catchy song.
Also a favourite amongst South Africans is Thailand, offering cheap food and accommodation, and demanding no visas of course. There are plenty of temples to explore – such as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and The Golden Buddha in Wat Traimit; and don’t forget about the pulsating nightlife! With Go-Go bars, markets, bazaars, clubs, and theatres, Bangkok is swarming with light and activity at night.
And now for something completely different! South Africans are starting to explore their own continent more and more, and there are several countries (mostly in the south, a stone’s throw from home) that don’t require visas. In Zambia, there is naturally the option of going on safari. But there is also the unparalleled experience of the Victoria Falls. Vantage points such as Knife-Edge Bridge, Devil’s Pool and Lookout Tree, offer awe-inspiring views of the rushing Zambezi river on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe (also visa-free) – as well as gorges, forests and of course the falls themselves. Dubbed “The Smoke that Thunders” by the Kololo tribe in the 19th century, it is one of the largest waterfalls in the world.
For those hell-bent on a safari, Botswana is a fantastic option; and if you’re up to it, you can turn this into a massive road trip. Neighbouring South Africa, the country is teeming with wildlife in its numerous parks and reserves, including the Big 5. River safaris, Africa’s biggest elephant population and the Okavango Delta are just some of the country’s unique wonders. And again, if you’re not one for the crowds, Botswana’s low impact tourist policy makes this destination a must.
No longer just a stopover destination, Singapore has proved itself to be a worthy city break in its own right. Dazzlingly modern and not without its green spaces, the city’s combination of tradition, nature and modernity can be seen most clearly at the famous Gardens by the Bay. On top of that, it is an incredible foodie city and a shopper’s paradise. All this… and visa-free for South African visitors.
10. Republic of Ireland
Travelling to the Republic of Ireland does not require a visa. However, Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and as such requires a UK Visa; so stick to the south, where you can really let your imagination soar. There are castles and cathedrals to explore, museums and art galleries to discover, and Viking adventures to be had. Literature lovers will leap at the chance to learn more about Dublin-born writers Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. You can turn this into a bonafide literary experience by adding the James Joyce Centre and Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub to your itinerary. What better way to end the day than with a pint?
*Some of these destinations may require a transit visa if the flight includes a stopover. Remember to check with your airline of travel agent in advance of your trip. Check out our amazing villas in these destinations here.
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