10 countries South Africans can travel to visa-free

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 7 November 2018

Just how far can our little green and gold booklets take us?

South Africa is currently ranked 44th in the world by the Global Passport Power Rank Index, which shows 63 countries that don’t require visas at all, and 35 others that issue visas on arrival. We pick 10 of the best you can visit sans visa.

1. Kenya

Chyulu Hills in the distance. Credit: Sho Hatakeyama

Kenya is no stranger to topping travel lists, due to its fantastic safari parks including the Maasai Mara, a global favourite. It goes without saying that Kenya probably has a spot high up on your travel itinerary.

Want to know the great news?

As of December 1 this year, South Africans and Kenyans will be able to travel more freely between their respective countries. In a bid to foster better relations and boost tourism between nations on the continent, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and Kenya’s Minister of Interior Fred Matiang’i recently announced that multiple-entry longer-term visas will be granted to frequent travellers between SA and Kenya. Previously, South Africans were only able to stay in Kenya for three months, but regular travellers on both sides could potentially acquire visas lasting as long as three yea]=rs.

At present, you can enjoy up to 30 days without a visa.

2. Réunion

Sea-spray views of Le Cap Méchant – translated – the Mean or Evil Cape…

Who can say no to seeing in blues and greens, with turquoise waters being the natural place in-between? This French locale in the warm Indian Ocean is the gateway to some of the most beautiful outdoor holidaying – island style.

Despite being merely a speck in the ocean compared to neighbouring Madagascar, the volcanic island has its own sizeable share of lush and buzzing rainforest, beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and scenic hiking routes up and among inactive volcanoes and calderas. The local cuisine is unique and delicious, with African, Asian and of course French, influences.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 90 days.

Also read: Reunion Island in photos

3. Senegal

St Louis, Senegal, Mary Honnet

Pirogue boats on to the beach for repair

Senegal has its fair share of beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as nature reserves and wildlife parks not too far from the country’s capital, Dakar.

Senegalese culture is based on a rich, diverse heritage that is a combination of West African tradition, Islamic influences and the vestiges of the country’s French colonial past. Music is very much the rhythm of urban culture in Dakar, while the region of Casamance has a slower tempo and wide spaces to go exploring on land or by the sea.

The salty and curiously-pink waters of Lake Retba, or Le Lac Rose (French for ‘pink lake’), are a must-see, and you may be inclined to go for a dip in them or paddle along on a local wooden fishing boat, locally known as a pirogue.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 90 days.

4. Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher. Credit: Henrique Craveiro

The Cliffs of Moher. Credit: Henrique Craveiro

As well as touring stone castles and sampling Guinness from its place of birth, taking self-drives around the Emerald Isle is a great way to discover its breathtaking scenic coastlines (the Ring of Kerry is a firm favourite) and charming country roads further inland that go through folksy villages like Cashel in Tipperary.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 90 green days.

5. Georgia

Sunset over the capital, Tbilisi. Credit: Jaanus Jagomägi.

This curious little country on the Black Sea really is a melange of Eurasian cultures and civilisations that is a delight to the eye. Experiencing Georgia via the dinner table is not a bad place to begin.

Georgians, possibly the oldest winemakers in the world, are known to employ traditional wine-making methods, using teardrop-shaped clay pots called qvevri to produce wine naturally. The wine pairs perfectly with the local cuisine, which draws on Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Eastern European influences.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 360 days. That’s practically a year…

6. The Bahamas

With hundreds of little islands and ‘cays’ to explore, you’re in for a lot of leisurely wading through clear turquoise water, snorkelling among the coral reefs and diving down cavernous ‘blue holes’ if you’re feeling a bit more intrepid. Around the Exuma cays in particular, you might even spot some sandy-coloured pigs treading the shallower waters.

Beach sunsets are certainly not out of reach here, and are best complimented with a local cocktail. Sky Juice is very popular (its core ingredients are gin, coconut water/milk and condensed or evaporated milk). The Yellow Bird is a favourite of old and, as the name suggests, is bright, fragrant and citrusy, and doused with rum and anise liqueur.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 90 days.

7. Chile

Colourful Valparaíso – almost a blend of Cape Town’s Muizenberg beach huts and Bo-Kaap houses. Credit: Loïc Mermilliod.

Lovers of adventures in nature will fall for the Torres del Peine National Park in the mountainous Patagonian region Chile shares with another country South Africans can visit visa-free – Argentina.

For a faster pace and urban views, visit Chile’s capital, Santiago – you’ll be fascinated by the city’s architecture, culture and vibrant nightlife. It’s also worth checking out Valparaíso on the coast, which literally translates to ‘valley of paradise’ – who could resist that?

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 90 days.

8. South Korea

A street in the capital, Seoul. Credit: Yeo Khee.

The home of K-Pop (the current name for Korean pop music), South Korea is one of Asia’s most affluent countries and abounds in natural beauty, which is showcased by its national parks and countrysides.

The country, also referred to as the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’, is known for being safe to commute through and walk around in, even late at night, and for its efficient 24-hour train service.

When in South Korea, you can’t not indulge in Korean barbecue, a unique social dining experience.

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 30 days.

9. Hong Kong

While fine-dining is not off the table in this busy city, the place to be is in the middle of a market, inhaling street food aromas as you feast your eyes on various ready-to-eat snacks and meals.

This is an entirely sensory food experience, and curiosity and your tastebuds will implore you to explore local specialties. Try Hong Kong’s adaptation of shark-fin soup with pork and mushrooms, or sweet egg tarts filled with custard – a regional favourite from former Portuguese territory Macau (which is also visa-free).

Enjoy a visa-free stay for 30 days.

10. Phillipines

El Nido on Palawan Island. Credit: Eibner Saliba

Another getaway replete with islands, the Philippines offers a range of activities centred around the emerald-turquoise waters of the beaches and lagoons.


This country’s volcanos and species of unique tropical animals are part of the natural wonders to be found here, but if you’ve finished exploring and are feeling in a festive mood, head down to the local party island, Boracay.

The Philippine peso is also favourable to our Rand, but look out for weather alerts when planning your trip – the best times to travel are between December and March, when it is drier and cooler.

Stay here visa-free for up to 90 days.

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