9 budget-friendly spots for South African travellers to consider in 2024

A group of friends share a laugh while travelling together. l ALL PICTURES: UNSPLASH

A group of friends share a laugh while travelling together. l ALL PICTURES: UNSPLASH

Published Dec 7, 2023


Travelling internationally is one of the best experiences you can have in 2024. As 2023 ends, now is the best time to set those goals and plan on where you want to travel in the New Year.

The beauty in creating your travel itinerary in advance is that you can also plan and budget for your trip, do your research on which destinations appeals to you, the activities you want to do and put your plans in motion.

There are plenty of affordable destinations to choose from and some of these destinations offer good value for the rand.

The best way to start your international escapade, is to look for destinations with favourable visa requirements on your passport and one that gives you more bang for your buck.

If you’re looking for affordable destinations to add to your travel bucket list, here are nine destinations you should consider.


The world-famous Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Besides the fact that India is a BRICS nation, like South Africa, the country is one of the most culturally and religiously rich countries in the world. It comes as no surprise that India is a haven for travellers and foodies from all across the globe.

From visiting the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh to the Red Fort in New Delhi, India, has something for everyone and options range from the most serene to the most extreme.

Some of these options include landscapes like beaches, backwaters, plains, deserts, snow-clad mountains and many more.

India is a country where one can book a vacation with bespoke activities for every type of traveller, ranging from spiritual, adventurous to romantic.


An aerial view of Rio de Janieiro and the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Brazil is one of the cheapest visa-free destinations in South America for South Africans. The country is the largest in South America and the fifth largest in the world.

As a tourist, you can visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the famous seaside city of Rio de Janeiro, known for its beautiful beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema.

If you do not want to stay in Brazil for your entire holiday, you can still hop around the continent.

There are flights to other visa-free destinations like Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay.


St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Picture: Unsplash

Visa costs? What’s that? South Africans can stay in Russia for up to 90 days visa-free. As a South African tourist, you can visit Lake Baikal and marvel at the architecture and design of St Petersburg and Moscow.

The size of the country alone should be the reason enough for visitors to come explore. Russia is home to thousand-plus cities that call the country its home.

These cities have their own unique culture and cuisine that will keep you intrigued during your trip to the “land of the Rus” and, the best part of all, is its affordability.


Travellers enjoying a swim at St Thomas in Jamaica.

Whether you’re cruising or flying, the island nation of Jamaica has plenty to offer the South African traveller. Firstly, South Africans do not require a visa so you can enjoy the island life.

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 explore it’s rich history by touring Rose Hall in Montego Bay.

Jamaica is also home to the world's fastest sprinters, Blue Mountain coffee, Red Stripe beer, Jamaican rum, jerk dishes, luxurious all-inclusive resorts and majestic waterfalls.


Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Namibia is a beautiful country with stunning landscapes, including the Namib Desert, Fish River Canyon and Etosha National Park.

The exchange rate is favourable for South Africans and the accommodation and food are also reasonably priced, making it a great destination for budget-conscious travellers.

One of the best cultural attractions in Namibia is the Himba tribe. They’re known for their traditional way of life and distinctive appearance, with red ochre rubbed on their skin and hair.

You can visit Himba villages to learn more about their customs and beliefs.

Namibia is the perfect destination for adventure sports enthusiasts as you can go sandboarding on the dunes near Swakopmund or Walvis Bay.

There are also opportunities for quad biking, hot air balloon rides and skydiving.


Tourists encounter a group of impala at Masai Mara, Kenya.

Kenya is probably one of the most popular locations across the globe for the best safari experience plus the country also has beautiful beaches to explore.

Wanderlust travellers can summit Mount Kenya, track down the Big Five or witness the great migration at Masai Mara, take a safari boat cruise at Lake Naivasha or just enjoy a beach day at Watamu Beach.

Its beaches facing the Indian Ocean offer some of the best resorts in the area, with several adventure water sports activities to choose from.


Hotair balloons rising over the valley in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

The country of Turkey lies at the helm of Western Asia and Southeastern Europe. It is a blend of demographics influenced by the Ottoman and the Czars. The country is home to some marvellous Ottoman architecture that have withstood the test of times.

The country is popular for its Turkish Hammam the world over, which can be a weirdly relaxing experience. As the masseuse tends to scrub, spank and splash your body for the best experience.

Don’t forget to add a hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia in your travel itinerary and take pictures as the location is voted one of the best destinations in the world for hot air ballooning.


A view of the Phi Phi Islands.

Thailand offers incredible value for South Africans and is a gateway into Southeast Asia for South Africans. South Africans don’t need a visa when travelling into the country which is minus one trouble.

The country has something for everyone and is a destination enjoyed by almost every backpacking traveller.

Thailand is full of ancient temples, luxurious royal palaces, tropical beaches and ornate temples depicting the life stories of Buddha.

The country is a popular spot with travellers looking for a unique food experience. Delicacies like stir-fried glass noodles, chicken salad, seafood coconut curry and mango sticky rice are some of the must try dishes.


The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

Travelling to the Republic of Ireland does not require a visa for South Africans. However, Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and as such requires a UK visa.

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?