It has been a roller-coaster year for the Rand! So it’s no wonder that many South Africans are hesitant to book their next vacation (especially if they have their sights set on foreign lands). But cancelling all travel plans because they seem beyond your budget might also be premature. There are still many destinations that will allow you to satisfy your wanderlust without breaking the bank. Not sure where to start? Here are 12 destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe that will see your rands go further.
Just a stone’s throw from South Africa, Mozambique is a popular destination for many reasons. It has much more to offer than just azure waters, incredible ocean life and idyllic beaches;
Mozambique also has great food and a fascinating past. And the best part? It’s easy on the bank account.
Flights: Start at R2370 (but it’s easy and near enough to drive, which can be cost effective in a group).
Accommodation: A 4-star self-catering unit will cost around R1500 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: On average, restaurants in Mozambique are 11.85%* cheaper than their South African counterparts. A three-course dinner for two at an average restaurant will cost approximately R350.
What to do: Explore the capital city Maputo, swim with dolphins or whale sharks, take a day trip to Ilha de Mozambique, spend the day diving, sail on a traditional dhow and visit Gorongosa National Park.
Info on visas: No visa are required for South African citizens.
Exchange rate: Mozambique’s national currency is the Metical, with the following exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 4,54 MZM*. While that seems very good, keep in mind that you are probably looking at spending roughly the same you would on a holiday in South Africa.
A note on Mozambique: While the rand gets you far here, be warned that if you are going the self-catering route, you need to come to Mozambique with your whole pantry. Unless you are staying in or near Maputo, shops are few and far between and very expensive.
Kenya is one of the most incredible African destinations. It boasts vast open plains with the incredible backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. Kenya is one of the best places to watch the annual great migration and has a plethora of places to visit and things to see. If you are a wildlife junkie, then this is the destination for you (it does, however, also have spectacular beaches for the beach bums out there).
Flights: Start at R4313
Accommodation: You can find decent accommodation in Kenya from R800 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Restaurant prices are 25.44%* lower than in South Africa.
What to do: Take the trip of a lifetime to the Masai Mara, be amazed by the beauty of the Amboseli National Park, climb Mount Kenya, and help save the elephants at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.
Info on visas: As a South African, you are not required to have a visa for Kenya (for visits of up to 30 days).
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 7.73 KES (Kenyan Shilling)*
With its mystical lands and incredible history, Egypt is certainly a bucket-list-worthy destination (and it won’t empty your piggy banks). From diving the colourful waters of the Red Sea and exploring the ancient sites to shopping in Cairo and cruising down the Nile, there’s certainly no shortage of great things to do in Egypt.
Flights: Start at R5487
Accommodation: You can find modest accommodation in Egypt from about R500 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Restaurants are almost 30%* cheaper than in South Africa.
What to do: Marvel at the pyramids of Giza, take in the religious site of Karnak, explore the Red Sea Reef, cruise along the Nile and visit the Valley of the Kings.
Info on visas: South Africans need a visa to enter Egypt.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 1.32 EGP (Egyptian Pound)*.
The very thought of Morocco conjures up dramatic images of the sun setting over the desert with majestic mosaicked architecture in the distance. This incredible destination with its ancient medinas, aromatic food and an eclectic culture promises adventure around every corner.
Flights: Start at R6739
Accommodation: Average accommodation for approximately R600 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: In general, eating at restaurants in Morocco is 38.60%* cheaper than in South Africa.
What to do: Travel to the Todra Gorge, take in the Erg Chebbi and spend some time exploring the famous Fez Medina.
Info on visas: South Africans need a visa to travel to Morocco.
Exchange rate: The Moroccan national currency is the Dirham. The exchange rate is 1 ZAR = 0.71 MAD*.
Thailand has everything you could want for an exceptional getaway. You can indulge in delicious (and reasonably priced) food, amazing accommodation, and pretty much shop till you drop, all while keeping to your budget. With bustling markets, idyllic islands and tropical national parks with scenery you thought only existed in the movies, Thailand is a great destination for the budget-conscious South African.
Flights: Start at R5978
Accommodation: You can get decent accommodation in Thailand for R500 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Eating out in Thailand (at local eateries) can be very affordable – the restaurants are 43.92%* cheaper than in South Africa. If, however, you choose a more exclusive or popular restaurant, you can expect to pay tourist prices.
What to do: The islands in Thailand are a big drawcard, but don’t forget to explore Bangkok, float through the floating markets, take part in the vibrant festivals and visit the beautiful Khao Sok.
Info on visas: No visa is required for South Africans to enter Thailand.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 2.51 THB (Thai Baht)*.
Colourful, eclectic and vibrant (and, of course, budget-friendly), India is the perfect destination for the intrepid traveller. With its fascinating history, rich culture, natural wonders and unbelievable architecture, there’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do. And what’s more, India is perfect for a varied group of people because it has something for everyone, from the foodies to the soul searchers (there are plenty of holistic retreats to choose from!).
Flights: Start at R4503
Accommodation: You can get decent accommodation in India from R400 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Much like in Thailand, food can range from very cheap to quite expensive. But, for the most part, restaurants in India are 40%* more expensive than in South Africa.
What to do: Admire the magnificent Taj Mahal, marvel at the Ellora caves and sip cocktails on the beach in Goa.
Info on visas: A visa is required for South African citizens.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 4.82 INR (Indian Rupee)*.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a place more different to South Africa than China, being on the other side of the globe. One of the world’s four ancient civilisations, China offers travellers authentic experiences that centre on their vibrant culture, incredible history, awe-inspiring natural wonders and, of course, their delectable dishes.
Flights: Start at R6882
Accommodation: You can get good accommodation in China for approximately R700 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: As with most Asian countries, you can also eat out very cheaply in China but, in general, restaurants tend to be 39.18%* cheaper than in South Africa.
What to do: Walk along the Great Wall of China (or at least a portion thereof), see the Terracotta Army and meander through the Forbidden City.
Info on visas: As a South African citizen, you need a visa to enter China.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 0.5 CNY (Chinese Yuan Renminbi)*.
As one of the most underrated destinations for travellers, the Philippines should be at the top of your list of cost-effective (and incredible) destinations. With tropical beaches, wonderful food, awe-inspiring scenery, an interesting history and an exciting culture, you can’t go wrong with choosing this as your next destination. And, it’s still largely off the radar for mass tourism, which means prices are still very reasonable (so book now!).
Flights: Start at R6181
Accommodation: You can get a decent, air-conditioned room from R400 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Restaurants in the Philippines are approximately 48.95%* cheaper than restaurants in South Africa.
What to do: Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces, climb one of the country’s dormant volcanoes and visit any of the picturesque islands.
Info on visas: No visa is required for South Africans who intend to visit for less than 21 days.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 3.83 PHP (Philippine Peso)*.
Largely overshadowed by its neighbours, Croatia is a highly underrated destination, but many are quickly realising that this island-rich Eastern European country with its long coastline is so much more than merely the filming location of Game of Thrones. Aquamarine waters make for excellent diving, sailing or swimming; cobbled medieval towns are steeped in rich history; and the food is fresh and utterly delicious.
Flights: Start at R7136
Accommodation: You can get mid-range accommodation for around R1000 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Eating out in Croatia can be cost effective; you just need to be discerning about where you sit down to dine. The prices are similar to South African restaurants.
What to do: Sail the Adriatic coast, cycle through the Plitvice National Park and tour Dubrovnik’s old town.
Info on visas: South African citizens require a visa.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 0.47 HRK (Croatian Kuna)*.
Bulgaria is a wonderful destination for culture vultures looking to see their rand stretch farther. For a trip into this intriguing country’s past, visit any of the museums, monasteries, or cathedrals. Or sample some local pastries. And, if that’s not enough to convince you of Bulgaria’s merits, maybe the incredible hiking trails and beautiful beaches will.
Flights: Start at R6486
Accommodation: You can get decent accommodation for R600 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Eating out in Bulgaria is approximately 20.42%* cheaper than in South Africa.
What to do: Watch a play at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, explore the Rusenski Lom Nature Park and walk through the botanical gardens of Balchik.
Info on visas: South African citizens need a visa to enter Bulgaria.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 0.12 BGN (Bulgarian Lev).*
If ancient folklore is your kind of thing, then Hungary is for you, with a history full of intrigue, battles, scheming royals, mystery, betrayal and alliances. This magical and romantic country is also home to Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Europe and a top attraction for many holiday makers.
Flights: Start at R6370
Accommodation: You can get nice accommodation for R800 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Eating out in Hungary is 12.19%* cheaper than in South Africa.
What to do: Visit the Aggtelek National Park and explore the Aggtelek Karst, visit the museum in the Buda Castle, and relax at one of the spa towns or hot springs around the country.
Info on visas: South African citizens need a visa to enter Hungary.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 19.58 HUF (Hungarian Forint)*.
The home of western civilisation’s great ancient thinkers is popular for three main reasons: incredible culture and architecture, postcard-perfect islands, and incredible food (and of course breaking plates). It also boasts a wonderfully mild Mediterranean climate (making it a great destination year-round), an incredible culture and wonderful people.
Flights: Start at R6564
Accommodation: You can get mid-range accommodation in Greece for R500 pp* sharing per night.
Cost of eating out: Greece is another place where you can eat cheaply, depending on where you go.
What to do: Hike up to the Acropolis, take a trip to the Metéora and wander the streets of Corfu Town.
Info on visas: A visa is required to visit Greece.
Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = 0,06 EUR*.
By now it should be clear that you can still see some amazing places if you are selective about where you spend your holidays. But destination choice is not the only factor that can save you money on your next overseas trip. Our article on how to stretch your rands while travelling
contains many more money-saving tips to put that dream holiday within reach. Follow the link to learn more.
* Accurate at the time of writing.