11 Cheap destinations in Asia for South African travellers


Southeast Asian tourism ministers, in the beginning of 2016, launched a 10-year plan to ramp up marketing of their region as a single destination to raise tourism's share of the regional economy to 15% by 2025.

It's not even a year in, and we're already falling shamelessly for their marketing schemes! Asia is one of our favourite destinations at the moment. I mean, what's not to like!? 

It's a hub of modern and ancient culture, it's got an completely original food culture and the exchange rate from South African rands is much more forgiving towards Saffas than dollars, pounds or Euros, for example. 

Here are 11 Cheap Asian destinations perfect for South African travellers:

1. Cambodia  

Many travellers flock to Cambodia from neighbouring Thailand for a day trip or just a short visit. However this country deserves more of your time. Cambodia is known for its somewhat laid-back atmosphere and sleepy vibe. Cambodia is a tourist-friendly destination known for its cheap prices of food and accommodation and with sites such as the majestic Angkor Wat and white sandy beaches it is no wonder why it’s becoming more and more popular.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 279.14 Cambodian Riel*
• Average Hotel Room: R600 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Cambodia is 30% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Sihanoukville – Cambodia’s premier beach town/port community/fledgling resort destination, the Kampong Thom province and performing arts theatre by the Sovanna Phum association.
• Visa Info: Visa required.




2. China  

China has a recorded history of over 5,000 years, making it one of the four ancient civilisations. China has a vast tourist offering includes cultural experiences, historical tours of antique sites and relics, a number of natural wonders and diverse folk customs.  

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 0.45 Chinese Yuan*
• Average Hotel Room: R700 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in China is 11% cheaper than in SA* 
• Top Attractions: The Terracotta Army of warriors and horses – a significant and ongoing archaeological excavation, The Forbidden City and the Yangtze River.
• Visa Info: Visa required.

A photo posted by @edwardkb on




3. India  

To travel to India is to indulge in a sensory experience – vibrant colours, beautiful fragrances, rich history and lively culture. It is the home of a variety of yoga and meditation retreats frequented by local and international visitors alike. Its tourism offering includes natural wonders such as the Himalayas and spectacular Ganges, architectural icons just think of Taj Mahal or ancient city of Varanasi and, of course, epic cuisine.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 4.65 Indian Rupee*
• Average Hotel Room: R800 per day* 
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in India is 40 % cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Kashmir – fondly referred to as “The Paradise on Earth,” the sparkling lakes in Udaipur and the Jain Temple in Ranakpur.
• Visa Info: Visa required.

A photo posted by Convex (@convex.media) on




4. Indonesia  

Indonesia is one of the rising stars of the South-east Asian travel circuit, and it’s easy to see why. The islands here are real tropical paradises – you can spend lazy days soaking up the sun on the beach or exploring the rice terraces, and spend lively nights enjoying drinks in al fresco beach bars.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 923.55 Indonesian Rupiah*
• Average Hotel Room: R450 per day* 
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Indonesia is 48% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Wayang Kulit – the enchanting shadow puppet theatre, delicious drinks at Kintamani and the Museum of Borobudur which is filled with information and artefacts from the ancient and world-renowned Borobudur temple.
• Visa Info: Visa required.




5. Malaysia  

Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and other ethnic groups live together. As a result of this infusion of cultures, this region has become a gastronomical paradise – a major drawcard for foodies. Another key attraction is how effortlessly its modern developments and its natural beauty found in its rugged mountains, blend together to create a geographical tapestry.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 0.27 Malaysian Ringgit* • Average Hotel Room: R600 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Malaysia is 26% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: The Genting Highlands in Pahang, afternoon tea and scones in the Cameron Highlands and the gastronomic hub that is Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur.
• Visa Info: No Visa required for a stay of up to 3 months. Transit Visa (not exceeding 72 hours) may be obtained upon arrival.

A photo posted by ?? (@juliaponti) on




6. Nepal

Nepal has long been a traveller’s dream – located in an enviable position wedged between the Himalayas and Indian plains Nepal is extremely varied in landscapes ranging from tropical rainforests to snow-capped mountains. Nepal is also known for its abundant wildlife, ancient cities, remote monasteries, sapphire blue lakes and friendly locals. 

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 7.46 Nepalese Rupee*
• Average Hotel Room: R550 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Nepal is 39% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Patan, the Kathmandu Valley and the Swayambhunath “Monkey” Temple (or Bauddhanath).
• Visa Info: Visa required.




7. Philippines  

Philippines are often overlooked by travellers but are fast becoming a tourist hotspot. Its natural attractions include sandy white beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and world famous diving spots. With conscientious planning, it is possible to book cheap flights to the Philippines and save quite a bit on travel expenses due to the high affordability of this destination. 

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 3.29 Philippine Peso*
• Average Hotel Room: R700 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Philippines is 45% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: The Pasiyo sa Kabilin – a heritage tour of Cebu City, the Southern Cebu Trail with its collection of centuries-old religious sites and the Boracay beach.
• Visa Info: No Visa required if the stay does not exceed 21 days provided that travellers hold valid return flight tickets and that passports are valid for a period of no less than 6 months beyond authorised stay.




8. Sri Lanka  

With 24 wildlife reserves and history that spans 3 000 years, Sri Lanka has much to offer in the way of cultural experiences and outdoor activities ranging from lush tropical rainforests to beautifully decorated Buddhist temples. It displays a rich blend of cultures and religious beliefs influenced primarily by Buddhism and Hinduism.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 10.24 Sri Lankan Rupee*
• Average Hotel Room: R800 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Sri Lanka is 24% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Sigiriya – the Eighth Wonder of the World, Ceylon tea, and Kandy Perahera – “the grand pageant of Asia.”
• Visa Info: No Visa required for tourism purposes of no longer than 30 days.

A photo posted by @upintheair_travels on




9. Taiwan  

Many travellers flock to Taiwan to experience its ancient tea culture and partake in its tea ceremonies which abide by strict cultural and traditional prescriptions. Many of the classical arts can be seen in tea culture – calligraphy, botanical arts and incense arts all form part of tea consumption. Tea houses or shops are located throughout this region and form an important part of its tourism offering. Its capital city, Taipei, on the other hand, is a bustling and vibrant modern city with nightlife, food scene and shopping to match any other Asian megacities.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 2.26 Taiwan New Dollar*
• Average Hotel Room: R750 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Taiwan is 24% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Taroko National Park, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and the Penghu Islands –an archipelago in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
• Visa Info: Visa required.

A photo posted by azis indra ? (@rikar710) on




10. Thailand 

Thailand is fast becoming one of the most popular overseas travel destinations for South Africans. Many are lured by famous Bangkok nightlife, vibrant night markets, glistening temples, exotic islands, national parks, world-famous cuisine and this could go on. In fact, there’s so much to see in Thailand many visitors return year after year.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 2.45 Thai Baht*
• Average Hotel Room: R500 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Thailand is 35% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi – where in Monkey Beach, tourists can see and interact with monkeys, and the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
• Visa Info: No Visa required for tourism purposes of no longer than 30 days provided that travellers produce confirmed return/onward flight tickets. 




11. Vietnam  

Vietnam is a magnet for backpackers and holiday makers, as access to the country is easier than ever with roads being upgraded and hotels springing up everywhere. Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries to visit and with its world-famous cuisine, lush jungles, tropical beaches and buzzing nightlife it is no wonder why more and more travellers visit this beautiful country.

• Exchange rate: 1.00 ZAR = 1561,90 Vietnam Dong*
• Average Hotel Room: R500 per day*
• How affordable is eating out? Eating out in Vietnam is 39% cheaper than in SA*
• Top Attractions: Nha Trang, the Chu Chi Tunnels – a series of underground tunnels used for guerrilla warfare during the Vietnam war, and the Mekong Delta.
• Visa Info: Visa required. 

A photo posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on




* All figures accurate at the time of publishing. The prices we listed are good as of May 2016.

Source: Cheapflights 

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