Six affordable destinations where South African travellers can get value from their rand

The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland. Picture: Unsplash

The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jul 5, 2023


The rand may not be the strongest contender currently on the market but with these destinations, it certainly can go far

According to Antoinette Turner, GM Flight Centre South Africa, the travel bug is still alive and kicking and the appetite for international travel is strong despite the rand taking a bit of a beating.

“Mauritius and Thailand continue to be popular destinations for budget-savvy South African travellers, but there are some unexpected foreign currencies that our rand can go toe-to-toe with,” said Turner.

She said that choosing a holiday destination isn’t just about the exchange rate and there are plenty of countries where you still can get great bang for your buck.

“Think affordable food, accommodation, and even a few luxuries thrown in. You can also save by heading to countries that don’t require you to get a visa, as the fees can really add up,” she said.

Here are six affordable destinations for South Africans looking for value in foreign travel, according to Turner.


Experience the Northern Lights in Iceland. Picture: Unsplash

Turner revealed that Iceland has become the ultimate “it” destination, thanks to its otherworldly landscapes that are just begging to be Instagrammed!

She said that its ancient glaciers and rugged fjords make it a photographer’s dream. The beauty in Iceland is that you can marvel at the magical Northern Lights, enjoy cosy thermal pools and indulgent spas.

“To get the most bang for your buck, the best time to plan your visit is during the off-season, typically from September to May (except December). The local currency, the krona, has taken a dip in value recently and many of the country’s highlights, like exploring national parks and checking out geyser sites, are free,” said Turner.

She also mentioned that cruise ships like Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) also offer Iceland on their itineraries, providing a unique and scenic way to explore the stunning Nordic landscapes.

SA Travellers can also enjoy invigorating hot spring soaks, thrilling whale-watching encounters, volcano explorations, and glacier hikes at this destination.

When it comes to food, the estimated price for daily refreshments is R92 for a cappuccino, R55 or bottled water and R462 for a basic lunch.


Cherry blossom season in Tokyo Japan. Picture: Unsplash

When it comes to Japan, visiting during cherry blossom season while the country is painted in stunning shades of pink is a must for nature lovers. Plus, ancient temples offer a serene glimpse into Japan’s incredible culture and the food scene tantalises with sushi, ramen, and more.

For the adrenaline junkie, you can hit the slopes for an epic ski or snowboarding adventure at Mount Naeba, currently the most affordable ski area.

Turner revealed that South African tourists in Japan can make their money go a long way and have an amazing time by getting a Japan Rail Pass.

“This nifty ticket gives access to all JR national trains, including the super cool Shinkansen bullet trains and the convenient Narita Express, and it also comes with great discounts. Whether you opt for a 7, 14, or 21-day pass, you’ll be able to embark on an epic adventure across the country,” said Turner.

She said that the estimated price for daily refreshments is R60 for cappuccino, R15 for bottled water and R130 for a basic lunch.


A view of the House of Parliament and it’s medieval architecture. Picture: Unsplash

For Saffers looking to enjoy a destination known for its legendary nightlife and captivating history, Turner said that Budapest in Hungary is the best choice.

She said the country was listed as among the cheapest destinations in Europe and South Africans can enjoy reasonably priced meals and activities plus free walking tours, lively markets, and even free entry to select Budapest museums on specific days each month.

“Hungary’s architecture is straight out of a fairy tale, with stunning details and designs. The lively markets also offer a feast for the senses, from tasty street food to fresh produce. And the thermal baths are pure bliss, where you can relax in warm waters amidst beautiful surroundings,” said Turner.

Turner revealed that the cost of a cappuccino is estimated at R27, a bottled water is R8 and a basic lunch costs up to R176.


A temple in Bali Indonesia. Picture: Unsplash

Turner said that though Bali is still the star of the show in Indonesia, there’s much more to the destination to be discovered!

“You can go island-hopping to Lombok and Java or soak in the stunning beauty of the Gili Islands. While Bali is affordable, many other Indonesian islands provide even more budget-friendly options,” said Turner.

She also revealed that South Africans can purchase a visa on arrival for US$35 (R652.65).

The estimated price for daily refreshments is R39 for a cappuccino, R20 for bottled water and R180 for a basic lunch, said Turner.

Sri Lanka

Nine Arches Bridge, a popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Picture: Unsplash

According to Turner, Sri Lanka is hands down one of the most budget-friendly destinations in all of Asia. Although the tear drop of India may be small, it packs a punch with its jungle-clad mountains, timeless ruins, sun-kissed sandy beaches, and spice-laden dishes.

She said the food is cheap and absolutely fantastic and South Africans can also indulge in mouthwatering meals without breaking the bank, while that jaw-dropping Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo is an absolute must-see in Sri Lanka.

“South Africans can also apply online for an electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), valid for 30 days,” she said.

Turner said that the estimated price for daily refreshments is R33 for a cappuccino, R10 for bottled water and R90 for a basic lunch.


The road to Cafayate, Salta, Argentina is perfect for road trippers. Picture: Unsplash

Dubbed the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires truly feels like stepping into a European capital, minus the need for Euros or a visa for South Africans.

“The city boasts charming buildings and landmarks reminiscent of Paris, Madrid, and other European gems. Domestic flights are expensive, but Argentina is road trip heaven, perfect for exploring the renowned wine regions along the wine route through towns like Salta, Cafayate, and Mendoza,” said Turner.

She said this massive South American country is famous for its mind-blowing Iguazú Falls waterfalls, the largest waterfall system in the world, the incredible Andes mountain range, delicious wine, and the mesmerising city of Buenos Aires.

Turner revealed that the estimated price for daily refreshments is R30 for a cappuccino, R16 for bottled water and R123 for a basic lunch.

Read the latest Travel magazine here.