South African travel passport

Mauritius / Image supplied

Ten passport-friendly countries popular with South Africans

Below are destinations that require either no visa or offer free visas.

South African travel passport

Mauritius / Image supplied

Don’t let the colour of your passport stop you from jetting off to exciting new places.

If you hold a South African ‘green mamba’ passport, and couldn’t be bothered to apply for a visa, consider these ten popular countries with zero to hassle-free immigration requirements.

Below are destinations that require either no visa or offer free visas. Visas are usually valid for a specific period, commonly up to 30 days for tourism purposes only.

Read: How to pack like a pro: Tips to travel with just carry-on luggage

1. Ireland

Ireland / Image supplied

A great all-rounder and the land of leprechauns, legends and Guinness, Ireland may very well be the only Western European country South African passport holders can visit without a visa.

Note that this refers only to the Republic of Ireland (the southern part of the island) and the capital, Dublin. To visit Northern Ireland, South Africans must apply for a UK visa.

Explore the exciting and compact city of Dublin and then set off on the popular Wild Atlantic Way 2,500 km driving route and marvel at the stunning countryside. 

2. Turkey

Touristic boats in Golden Horn bay of Istanbul and view on Suleymaniye mosque, Turkey / Image supplied

The only city in the world to be situated on two continents, its geographic location and former glory as the trading centre of the Middle East has infused the country with a rich heritage. Attractions in bustling Istanbul are just as diverse. Or try Cappadocia and Pammukale or the island-sprinkled Turquoise coast.

South African passport holders need to apply for their free e-visa online at least 48 hours before departure and will receive a visa by e-mail, which must be printed and carried along with your passport.

3. Seychelles

Seychelles / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Some believe that Seychelles is the Biblical Garden of Eden. What we know for sure is that this archipelago of 115 islands is a modern-day traveller’s paradise. Pristine beaches meet unspoiled forests, and unique natural treasures range from the tiny Tiger Chameleon to giant Aldabra tortoises and the (rather naughty looking) Coco de Mer nut found nowhere else on Earth.

South Africans are issued with a visitor’s visa on arrival that is valid for one month.

4. Botswana

Cuando River, Chobe National Park, Botswana / Image via Wikimedia Commons

From the lush, wildlife-flooded Okavango Delta to the diverse landscapes of the Kalahari desert, Botswana’s wildlife and natural landscapes are abundant. Whether you choose to visit an exclusive safari lodge or D-I-Y camping site, Botswana is one of the best places to connect with Mother Africa.

South African holidaymakers don’t require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

5. Mozambique

Mozambique, approach into Maputo / Image via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best ways to support Mozambique’s flood recovery is to travel there.

“The best way to dive deeper into Mozambican culture and meet the locals, is to join a day tour.

Join an art and culture city tour or food tour in Maputo. Or hop on a speedboat to explore the Santa Maria, Inhaca Island and Portuguese Islands.”

Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours, a Maputo-based tour operator.

The Gorongosa National Park, Quirimbas Archipelago and the Bazaruto Archipelago further south, home to the elusive dugong, are ideal locations to connect with nature. 

South African passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Mozambique for tourism or business visits of fewer than 30 days.

6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong / Image via Wikimedia Commons

With 350 registered buildings more than 150 metres high, Hong Kong is a city of skyscrapers. It has a decidedly futuristic feel and the buzz of a city that never sleeps or slows down.

Take in the glittering skyline from Victoria Peak (visit during the day and then again at night to take in the city sparkling with hundreds of thousands of lights). Wander through Old Town Central, the oldest district in Hong Kong, for a completely different perspective and to see how the city looked in decades long gone.

South African passport holders don’t need a visa for stays of up to 30 days.

7. Mauritius

Mauritius / Imae via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, Mauritius, South Africans’ favourite tropical island. Leave the hustle and bustle of Jozi for the warm waters and palm trees of Mauritius, less than a four-hour flight away.

For a hassle-free, do as much or as little as you please holiday that is suitable for every type of traveller, from honeymooners to families, Mauritius is just the ticket.

No tourist visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

8. Thailand

Thailand / Image via

For some tropical sun north of the equator, South Africans can’t go wrong with Thailand. Bursting with beautiful, see-it-to-believe-it tropical beaches, affordable food and interesting culture, an added bonus is that Thailand is also friendly for rand-carrying South Africans.

South African tourists don’t need a visa for stays lasting up to 30 days.

9. Qatar

Traditional dhows in front of the West Bay skyline as seen from the Corniche, in Doha, Qatar / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes overshadowed by its better-known neighbours, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the independent emirate of Qatar is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.

“Travellers tend to congregate in Doha, the coastal capital, along the Corniche, a 7-km long, palm-fringed promenade lined with exclusive hotels, shops, restaurants and beaches.”

Sue Garrett, GM of Marketing and Product at the Flight Centre Travel Group.

Garrett suggests travellers barter in the souqs or traditional markets, visit the fascinating Museum of Islamic Art or head away from the city for a traditional desert safari and camel ride.

South Africans do not require a visa for stays lasting up to 30 days.

10. Peru

While many travellers come to Peru to explore Machu Picchu, the country has more to offer. Packed with culture and adventure options, meet weavers and pottery makers or visit a local Chicheria (corn beer bar) in the Sacred Valley, then kayak Lake Titicaca or explore the Amazon by boat with stops at local villages.

With all of these fantastic options, the only thing left to do is to plan when to go.

Please note: the information contained in this article should be used as a guideline only. Visa requirements must always be checked with the relevant embassy before departure. Passports must also usually be valid for a minimum of six months from entry into the country.