Looking for and booking a holiday is one of the most fun things to do! From going online to pick a destination – beach, bush or snow – to deciding whether it will be All-Inclusive or Do-It-Yourself. The process is enjoyable and gives you something to look forward to!

However, depending on where you choose to spend your hard-earned money and leave days, applying for a visa can be a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time traveller. 

Organisations like Capago International – Schengen Link have taken steps to expedite the application process, however, the great news is there are many countries in the world where you do not need to apply for a visa before leaving South Africa. This means you can book that last minute holiday on Monday and be enjoying cocktails by Friday evening!

Below are some of the popular visa-free destinations you can consider for your next holiday, plus top highlights to further whet your appetite:

MAURITIUS

Mauritius is the perfect destination for outdoor and active enthusiasts. This idyllic beach destination is full of culinary delights and spectacular culture. You can also enjoy hiking in the forests and mountains plus world-class diving and snorkelling.

Must See:

  • Seven Coloured Earth – Lose yourself in the surreal wonder of the Seven Coloured Earth sand dunes at Chamarel in Mauritius. The contrasting amazing hues of blues, greens, reds and yellows are a must see! 
  • Ganga Talao – The sacred lake represents the mighty Ganges river of India and is a tourist attraction. You’ll find her tucked away in the mountains of the South West surrounded by colourful Hindu temples and gods. 

Must Do:

  • Swim with the Dolphins – Resorts like Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers offer excursions to Tamarin Bay or Le Morne where you can enjoy a truly magical experience swimming with dolphins.
  • Catamaran Cruise – It’s not an island adventure without spending a day out on a catamaran cruise. Take in the beauty of the Indian Ocean swimming or snorkelling, while a delicious on-board Creole inspired braai is being prepared for you.

THAILAND

The Land of a Thousand Smiles is a hotspot for South Africans looking to travel and party and is loved for its beautiful beaches, opulent temples, easy travel logistics from SA, friendly people and incredible islands.

Must See:

  • Phi Phi Island – Made famous by the movie The Beach, Phi Phi Island is a top spot for all travellers. Stunning and alluring, it is the perfect place to while the day away.
  • The Big Buddha – Visible from most of the south of Phuket, the giant Buddha image sits on the top of the Nakkerd Hills and looks down over Chalong, Kata and Rawai.

Must do:

  • Bangla Road Night Life – The biggest collection of nightclubs, bars, shows and general nightlife fun in Phuket, it is pretty much an all-out sensory assault on the senses. Come prepared!
  • Yi Peng Lantern Festival (November) – Yi Peng festival takes place in the legendary city of Chiang Mai which was once the capital of the Lanna kingdom. Chinese paper lanterns are released into the night sky to symbolise letting go of the misfortunes of the past year.

MALDIVES

Maldives is home to perhaps the best beaches in the world with some of the top diving and snorkelling spots in the world. Think stunning coral walls and brightly coloured tropical fish in the warm Indian Ocean water.

Must See:

  • Chinese-Maldives Friendship Bridge – This incredible impressive piece of engineering genius connects Male to the airport island of Hulhule over open sea.
  • Grand Friday Mosque – The 1984 architectural wonder of white marble with accents of gold is striking in its simplicity.

Must Do:

  • Surf and Diving – You will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place to surf and dive than the Maldives. The warm and clear water is an extra bonus!
  • Dolphin Watching – One of the best spots in the world to hunt for dolphin pods. This is not one to miss!

A holiday in one of these visa-free destinations is bound to leave you feeling recharged and rejuvenated. Not only are they perfect for the adventurous and those wanting to relax with a cocktail on the beach, they are also exotic and accessible at the same time.