A budget guide for traveling to South Africa: How much does it cost?

A budget guide for traveling to South Africa How much does it cost

In this episode of Banker’s Advice, we look at how much money you can anticipate to spend in South Africa. It’s a country with the potential to be inexpensive to visit, but make no mistake: it’s not a low-cost vacation.

I spent nine weeks travelling solo around the country, and while it’s not as inexpensive as locations in Southeast Asia, which isn’t surprising given how difficult it is to match the pricing there, I still found it to be pretty fair. This is mostly due to the favourable exchange rate for people travelling with US dollars or Euros. One South African rand is now worth 7 US cents.

My total spending for nine weeks in South Africa was $3,577, or $57 per day.

It’s practically on par with what I spend in Berlin, and far less than what I spent in California.

Could I have gotten it for less? Well, I certainly could have. I didn’t generally live on a backpacker budget in South Africa since I couldn’t stomach it after two years in a dorm. I can spend a little extra because I’m a flash packer who works on the road.

That being said, regardless of your budget, whether large or small, I’ll explain how to stay to it in this article:


A “backpacker” is a guesthouse/hostel/tourist lodging in South Africa.

Whether you’re a backpacker who prefers dorm rooms or a flash packer who like to have your own space while still maintaining a sociable atmosphere, you’ll find what you’re looking for in South African backpacker housing. Everyone stays in this sort of housing, from gap year students to families, and from foreigners to South Africans. They are generally in lovely frames and each has an own personality.

Backpackers typically have dorms that cost $8-20 for a dorm bed and more than $50 for a private beach view villa.

For example, this is what I saw every morning from my nearby room at Buccaneers in Cintsa:

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To locate the best accommodations, chat to other travellers at your first stop to see what they enjoyed most, or check out my road trip post for my personal favourites if you want to book ahead of time.

There are also free Coast to Coast booklets available at every hostel and tourist office in South Africa, which detail lodging and activity possibilities. What I didn’t like was how each location was created to sound amazing. There were no genuine viewpoints! It does, however, make an excellent beach bonfire starter.

I’ve also used Airbnb a lot in large cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, where renting a room with a bathroom was actually cheaper than staying in a shared dorm at a high-end hostel.


Unlike much of Asia and Europe, South Africa lacks public transportation. There is a metro in Johannesburg that services a few areas and a muni bus in Cape Town, but there is nothing else. When going over my transactions, I noticed that a significant portion of my money was spent on Uber cabs – a smartphone app that connects drivers and riders that is a safer and less expensive alternative to taxis.

There are a few commercial firms that provide transportation around the country, such as Baz Bus, Greyhound, and Intercape, as well as an economical railway that services several South African destinations.

The Baz Bus caters particularly to travellers, offering a 21-day hop-on hop-off pass for roughly $350, including stops at various backpacker hotels. But, once there, getting about is tough, because the bus does not operate every day. If you choose the other choices, you will need to take a cab from the drop-off location to your hotel.

I tried the buses, but I believe that renting a car with a group of people is the ideal way to travel about. Even when shared by just two persons, a car rental is more convenient and not significantly more expensive than either of the alternatives listed above. I was relieved to have followed this strategy for a few weeks.

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In my transportation piece on NomadicMatt.com, I go over each option, the various expenses of each, and how to find a fellow traveller in great depth, so check it out if you’re debating your options.

Going for a ride with other travellers and providing some pay for petrol is also a wonderful method to save money if you can be flexible and friendly. Callum (my riding friend) and I supplied a couple rides, and I was a passenger as well.


Here is where you’ll find the large eater or the budget saver, as food may be expensive in South Africa.

It would be a mistake to skip restaurants entirely because South African beef is wonderful. Game such as kudu, springbok, zebra, ostrich, and even alligator can be tried. Everything I’ve tried has been delicious. A great dining experience in South Africa is still less expensive than in most Western nations, so treat yourself at least once!

Cook your own food to save money. Food stores abound and are fairly priced. Backpacker hostels provide community kitchens where you may prepare and store your own meals. You may save a lot of money by making your own breakfast and dinner on occasion.

Breakfast is normally approximately $5 and evening dinners are roughly $8 at backpackers.

Although there are some areas you should avoid for safety concerns, particularly at night, don’t be scared to eat in the townships. Ask the locals which are safe to visit, although I recommend Langa in Cape Town and Soweto in Johannesburg. The BBQ (or braai) cuisine here is excellent. A substantial lunch may cost as little as $3 and include your choice of meat (go for lamb or steak! ), sausages and porridge (a fluffy dish of corn used to scrape up other food on the plate with your hands).

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South African locations, cheap or expensive:

Except for Cape Town, most of the destinations I visited were around the same in terms of pricing. In Cape Town, expect to spend significantly more on lodging and meals. It’s a lovely city with much to do, from nightlife to outdoor activities, but it’ll set you back a hefty coin.

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Except from Cape Town, all of the places I stayed were approximately the same in terms of lodging and food expenditures. Karma Backpackers in a little village near Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State was maybe the cheapest. It was a house that the owner had renovated, and it was a great spot to spend the night.

Additional Things to Think About:

In South Africa, connectivity may be rather expensive. I spent a lot of money topping up my SIM card to stay connected and work on the road, spending roughly $30 for 3 gigabytes of 3G for my phone. Most backpacker hostels will charge you to use their WiFi, providing it works at all.

I should also say that I spent almost half of my time in South Africa in free accomodation. I’ve met a number of wonderful individuals who have become friends, and I’ve been invited to stay in guest rooms several times, just once with someone I knew before my trip there- down. South Africans are extremely nice and giving, so bear in mind that you may have the same luck!

Generally, travelling to South Africa is not costly, especially if you make your own food, stay in dormitories, and hitchhike, but it is not always an easy location to visit. for people who are travelling with a small backpacker. budget. If you have a bit more money to spend and are seeking for outstanding value, South Africa is the place to go.

I will undoubtedly return.

Have you ever visited South Africa? How much did you spend? Did my budget surprise you?

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More About Me

I have been living in Southeast Asia for over five years and I love to share my experiences on this blog. You will find stories about my daily life, as well as my travels around the world. From exotic tastes to stunning views and funny encounters from across the globe, join me on my amazing journey at www.theladyontheroad.com

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