NO VISA? NO PROBLEM…
Top Ten Holiday Destination That You Don't Need A VISA For
By Brandon Lee Westraat
Its that time of the year where the year is coming to an end and the holidays are getting closer and closer together, But thank God because adulting is starting to becoming annoying. So it's time to pack that suitcase and get on a flight, it's time for some fresh air and fresh experiences. This mission isn't exactly the cheapest for us South Africans as our Rands are starting to look more and more like ZIM dollars but it's ok, I've got your fix right here. So here is my choice of 10 spots where you won't have to spend that extra moola and time on a visa. So all you have to worry about is flights and finding a decent beer when you get there.
I know you weren't expecting something so close but I thought we would start this journey a little closer to home. Botswana being the premier Southern African Safari destination sort of wrecks South Africa when it comes to wildlife. This is mostly due to the Chobe and Okavango Delta region having four distinct eco-systems. If you want African wildlife Botswana is your go to, nowhere else will you be cruising on a boat down the Okavango at sunset with a herd of elephants bathing on one side while a leopard is taking a nice siesta in a tree just down river. The wildlife are more concentrated on the Delta islands, making each time out an experience. There are many lodges and luxury safari camps, many of which offer walking safaris and /or island camping trips.
If you are more into the flora rather than the fauna then the Nxai Pan National Park is your spot. The scenery is the big draw here, standing under the towering baobab trees and watching the Southern Sun, set over the sand dunes is an experience on its own and don't forget the salt pans themselves. With Nxai Pan National Park being relatively close to Chobe and Okavango, it allows you to combine your visit. Another option is you could show your love and visits southern Africa's unicorn, the Rhino at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary was set up to help save Botswana's Endangered rhinos and to re-introduce wildlife to the area so the local community could benefit from tourism.
If what I have written here is speaking to you then slide over to Safari.com
Now we travel a little bit north just hop a border and we are in Zambia , and if you guessed it, props to you because on the top of my list of things to do in Zambia, is to check out what is arguably the world's largest waterfall : Victoria falls or as the local Tongans call it, Mosi-Oa-Tunya . Meaning “The Smoke That Thunders.”
If you are lucky and end up in this region around November, You can swim in the “Devil's Pool” because of the low water level. Definitely, an experience of a lifetime as the pool lies on the edge of the falls. warning if you are afraid of heights maybe don't do this because there is a 105-meter drop on the other side so it's understandable if you pee in this pool. Carrying on with the adventurous theme, if you are keen to spread your wings a little there is bungee jumping and zip lining from the Victoria Falls bridge and amazing whitewater rafting.
If you still want the wildlife on your Zambian holiday, you can check out south Luangwa national park. a quick flight from Lusaka this national park is filled with abundant wildlife. Their nighttime game drives are worth a checking out. If you want to feel presidential check out Chichele lodge or Mfuwe lodge but there are tons of less expensive lodges and bush camps you can check out at Safari.com
We’re jumping across the pond and hitting Ireland. Even I was shocked when I found out we can travel to Ireland without a visa, be sure to put this as a priority and go soak up the culture and beer. Ireland has more Nobel prize winners for literature than any other country in the world so you can see why UNESCO designated Dublin as the city of literature. Ireland is definitely a country to explore and immerse yourself with the friendly, laid-back people of the emerald isle.
Take a trip back in time and check out Trinity college in Dublin. It is Ireland's oldest university, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. You sort of feel the Harry Potter vibes and funny enough the mind-boggling long room was the inspiration for the library in the first Harry Potter movie. Another stand out is the Vertigo-inducing Cliffs of Moher. These 214 meter high cliffs that stretch for 8 kilometers are Ireland's most visited natural wonder.
Now back in the present day, we have the Grafton Street Area in Dublin, it's almost like long street on steroids but pubs and cafes rather than bars. There are countless buskers, street performers and just like cape town, the coffee scene has taken off. (but cape town still has the best coffee though). Even if this is Dublin's Shopping heartland, there is no need to spend a fortune, there are tons of spots you can grab a good Irish breakfast and coffee and meet the friendly chatty people.
Heading East to some Asian locations, first being the very controversial North Korea's counterpart, South Korea. If you are strong enough to go and not try and hop the border to give Kim Jong Un a lekker clap then this is for you. Plus there are some amazing overlooked attractions too.
The first location is the almost otherworldly Namiseom island, it's a famous filming site because of it’s magical winter feel. It takes a few hours to see all the island offers but it's easy to lose yourself in the charms. It’s the perfect example of coexistence between humans and nature, and the preservation efforts are visible through the artistic use of recycled material.
Seoul's landmark attraction is none other than the N Seoul tower, located atop Namsan mountain in the center of the city. The tower draws in visitors to show the amazing nightscape of Seoul. Seoul is well known for their markets. The two best are Namdaemun market, being the largest and having a history that stretches 600 years. The other being Myeong-dong, which is a bit more modern and with a nickname like “Beauty Road”, it's definitely a shop till you drop kinda place (because your girlfriend is making you carry all the bags) And to end off you can head down to Isa-dong, often referred to as “street of traditional Korean culture”. It's the perfect place to grab a souvenir and try the traditional foods and teas.
Singapore has been described as a playground for the rich, and it's true that the small city-state does have a certain sheen of wealth. But Singapore offers more than just high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels, and fine dining (although if you can, why not). There is also a vibrant history and diverse ethnic quarters to discover, along with the many family-friendly attractions and amazing public spaces that make visiting this futuristic city worthwhile.
One of the big plusses is the public transport. Its extremely convenient and easy, it won't take a bite out of your wallet and is far better than anything we have in South Africa(no offense Myciti, but with these strikes, you have been a pain). I would definitely say that Singapore is one of the easiest and most comfortable countries to navigate in Southeast Asia.
Don't miss Supertree Grove, where you'll find a cluster of the iconic, futuristic structures designed to perform environmentally sustainable functions. Then, head to the Cloud Forest Dome to see the world's tallest indoor waterfall and learn a bit about biodiversity
If you've ever visited China, Singapore's Chinatown neighborhood will bring you right back there. From the small mom-and-pop stores and authentic Chinese food to the bright red lanterns, there's an excitement and hustle in this district. You can visit the Chinese Heritage Centre and see the impressive and beautiful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple. Another temple worth seeing is the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. If you're one of those morning people (i am not), you can hear the morning drum ceremony at 4 am (you will definitely not find me there). Or you can just check out the closing ceremony in the evening after viewing the relic(yeah that's for me)
Billing itself as the world's best rainforest zoo, the Singapore Zoo is a pretty impressive place. The facility is clean and inviting, and the animals appear well treated with plenty of lush vegetation and habitat space. The orangutans are particularly impressive, and visitors can watch as babies and adults alike swing high above their platforms and snack on bananas. There is also a large chimpanzee family, zebras, meerkats, a Komodo dragon, mole rats, white tigers and some kangaroos amongst other animals.
The Orchard Road area is a great place to start a shopping spree, as there are high-end stores at every turn. You'd expect nothing less from a neighborhood that boasts 22 malls and six department stores. There are also four movie theaters, including an IMAX, and a KTV karaoke. If you get hungry while burning through all that cash, there are plenty of eateries in the neighborhood serving international cuisines.So it's ok we will forgive you if all you do is shop while in Singapore.
I love the Hangover movies as much as the next guy but I promise, if you try and recreate that experience, I promise you mike Tyson won't be there to knock you out and it probably won't have a happy ending (but you can try one of the 1000 plus massage parlors for that).
True Thailand has gain popularity over the past couple years, especially for South Africans. We finally realized our currency doesn't suck everywhere and this is one of the places. When you can get a beer and a good plate of food for 15 bucks, it's a win. But besides it being a cheap holiday, it's still an amazing holiday. with locations like the floating market where fresh produce is sold over the water and the 007 island with its white sandy beaches and clear tropical waters why not head down to Thailand. If you want the beach resort experience then head down to Koh Phi Phi island, also head to monkey beach while there to come face to face with the namesake creature.
If you are a fellow history buff then definitely check out the historic city of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai old city, the ancient capital of Thailand. Thailand has everything you need for a good holiday and finish it off by visiting the grand palace and recover from a food coma after trying all the different street food.
This is for the beach lovers who love the water and love to tan, that is definitely not my pale ass, although like some other Capetonians I love surfing. Nassau, the nation's capital, on New Providence Island, attracts the most tourists. This bustling cruise port is a mix of mega-resorts, shops, restaurants, and entertainment complexes. Grand Bahama follows in second place. The other islands, affectionately called the Out Islands, cluster into groups, and each has its own distinct character and charm. Slung like pearls across the shallow Bahama Banks, the Abacos, and Exumas offer some of the world's best waters for boating and sailing. These peaceful islands are dotted with sleepy fishing villages and secluded beaches, and flourishing coral reefs rim many of their shores. The other islands all offer something for discerning travelers. From the big game fishing of Bimini, and the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island, to bonefishing, regattas, and uncrowded outer cays, it's hard to beat the Bahamas. For those visiting around the New Year, don't miss the throbbing drums and kaleidoscopic costumes of Junkanoo, the nation's most popular festival.
Now it's time to go a little south and jump into South America, specifically Peru, the land holding the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. So I will definitely be making Machu Picchu my number one on this trip. I think everyone has that dream of packing a backpacking the Inca trail.
The journey is also part of the experience of visiting Machu Picchu, whether it's by hiking the Inca Trail or seeing the route by train. In either case, it's impossible not to be inspired by the scenery. Trains leave from Cusco, Ollantaytambo, or Urubamba to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, a bus takes visitors up to Machu Picchu, which is about a 20-minute drive. It is possible to walk up this road to the site, but this is a long, uphill climb.
Arequipa, at more than 2,300 meters, is often regarded as Peru's most beautiful city. Set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the city center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city's main claim to fame is the old architecture constructed of sillar stone, a volcanic rock that radiates a bright color in the sunlight. Most of the colonial buildings in the historic city center are made from this stone, giving rise to its nickname of the "white city."
Argentina like her brother Peru has some amazing, and I mean AMAZING views, to state a few: we have the Iguazu falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Its one of the new 7 wonders of the world so how can you not visit it. The falls span 2 kilometers and the average flow is 1.3million liters per second (and as I say that I wish us in cape town could have a couple seconds of that).another amazing view is the Perito Moreno glacier, a huge tourist attraction. You can view it from land or from a boat and if you are lucky enough, you can witness ice breaking off from the glacier and plummeting into Lake Argentino and if you are adventurous you can go for a walk on the glacier or take a helicopter flight over. The giant glacier is 30 kilometers in length.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can check out Bariloche. Its former name is San Carlos de Bariloche. it's well known for its chocolate shops and Swiss-style architecture and most of all for the beautiful lakes and snow-capped mountains surrounding it. And on the way, Buenos Aires is a must, check out the European architecture, gourmet cuisine, and vivid nightlife.if you plan to tour Argentina this is a good place to start. But there is so much or Argentina to see I could fill this article with it but let's move on…
(you have to read the whole next paragraph with a Jamaican accent….do it) Last but definitely not least in Jamaica , if you were born anywhere before 2000 (although I doubt there are a ton of millennials reading this) you are familiar with or love Bob Marley's music , between Jamaica being known for the Rastafarian lifestyle , Bob Marley and cool runnings (definitely in my top ten movies) you get a good picture of what the outside world sees but there is so much more to this island.
Jamaica has beautiful beaches like Negril beach, also known as the seven-mile beach the beach runs from bloody bay to Negril Cliffs. Tucked within the coconut palm groves that skirt this long beach are the many resorts. It's an awesome place to do watersports and down where it's wetter, under the sea(Disney reference if you didn't catch it) snorkeling amongst the schools of fish in those clear waters is must.
Sticking with the water theme, another big tourist attraction is rafting the Martha Brae. You get the opportunity to glide down the picturesque stretch of river on bamboo rafts poled by local guides. It's relaxing and a good way to scope the flora and fauna. Then there are the obvious ones like visiting the Bob Marley Museum at the reggae star's former home in Kingston.check out for the bullet holes in the back wall, evidence of assassination attempt.
So this ends our trip around the world and there are a ton more places that we can visit without a visa. If you are like me you want to see the world and see all these foreign places around the world but as South Africans we get caught up looking at this jet-setting life people are having flying all over the world (prepare yourself I'm about to contradict this whole article) but, we don't realise what we have right here. South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and we rarely notice. Its cheap, you don't need a visa and most of the attractions I've listed in this article are probably found in your province as well, you just have to look. I urge any South African to just experience your home before you do there. And if you are keen to give it a try, check back for when I post my garden route road trip article.