Tips for Traveling South Africa On a Budget

Backpacker in Kloof Gorge, South Africa
Kloof Gorge, South Africa: Photo by Rachael Lees on Unsplash

You can travel any place on the cheap if you know how to manage your finances smartly. Are you willing to make little compromises on accommodation, transport and fancy restaurants? If so, you can see plenty of beautiful countries and sights you will cherish all your life. So if you’re ready to ditch the usual European vacation and travel to South Africa on a budget, here are some tips that will come in handy.

Budget accommodation in South Africa

You’ll spend more on a place to stay than on anything else. However, you can control how much you spend on your accommodation in South Africa. That way, you have plenty left to explore the beautiful country.

When looking for accommodation, opt for hostels/ guest house/ tourist accommodation. These are all called “backpackers” in South Africa. They are usually located in beautiful surroundings and are South Africa’s most affordable accommodations. Backpackers have a diverse group of people staying together, so you can expect to socialize with lots of fellow travelers. The usual cost is around $8 to $20 for a dorm bed.

There are plenty of luxury accommodation options also available in South Africa. You might want to splurge on a night just relaxing in areas like Kruger Park, Pearl Valley or Pinnacle Point.

You can search travel websites for accommodation options. But the best way to get to know about good budget hostels is to speak to fellow travelers. They can share a lot of information and really help you travel South Africa on a budget. So don’t forget to interact and gather information from people around you.

Backpacks on a train. South Africa on a budget

Transport in South Africa

Due to a lack of public transport in South Africa, this one is tricky to do on a budget. Johannesburg and Cape Town still have some public transport options, but there aren’t many apart from that.

To connect to other parts of the country, you should opt for private bus companies like Baz Bus, Greyhound and Intercape. Baz Bus mostly targets backpackers. It offers hop-on hop-off passes and also stops at several backpacker accommodations. So it might actually solve your accommodation problems, too.

The real problem begins once you’ve reached your destination; there are no buses to get you around from there. Here the best option becomes a rental car, as it may well cost less than taking Uber or hotel taxis.

You can ask others in your backpackers accommodation if they want to share a rental car. That takes some of the burden off your wallet and helps you continue to travel South Africa on a budget.

Feeding yourself on a budget

Most backpackers offer breakfast and dinner at around $5 and $8, respectively. The common kitchens are the best place to store and cook your own meals.

For daily meals, it’s best that you cook your own. Buy the groceries, which aren’t going to cost too much, and cook in the common kitchens that backpackers usually offer.

But you should be able to travel South Africa on a budget even if you eat out. Rest assured you won’t go hungry, because even the restaurants are cheaper than in western countries. But you will have to do your research on affordable places to eat.

If you’re not vegetarian, you’ll find some great meat here. It can be expensive, but you can try kudu, springbok, zebra, ostrich and even alligator. You can pamper yourself with a nice meal or two at fancy restaurants.

View of Cape Town waterfront with Table Mountain behind, South Africa on a budget
Cape Town waterfront with Table Mountain

Destinations in South Africa

All places in South Africa fall under the same expense category, more or less, except Cape Town. This is one city where you might have to spend more than the rest of South Africa. Accommodation, food, nightlife and even outdoor activities are going to cost more here.

You can expect other parts of South Africa, especially those which are not the top tourist attractions, to be a bit cheaper and more affordable.


South Africa is a beautiful country and has earned its reputation as a popular tourist and holiday destination. If planned carefully and smartly, backpacking across South Africa on a budget is totally possible. However, you must leave a little room for comfortable spending; you need some flexibility in your budget. You should always have money to spare in case of an emergency.

About Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is a successful business woman who has a great interest in diverse subjects. She has learned a lot at the hands of every experience – good or bad. Her write-ups are a true manifestation of her rich experiences and her eventful life.

Other posts by the Author

14 Responses

  1. Lesotho Mountain Kingdom Trekking by Basotho Ponies - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] of the landlocked Lesotho mountain kingdom. Their land once embraced the rolling farmlands of South Africa’s Free State province. But later this fell into the hands of settler-farmers. After they […]

  2. South Africa's Kimberley Great Hole - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] was exploring the abandoned mine workings that became the South Africa Kimberley Great Hole mine museum around 45 years ago. I found an old fellow puffing on his pipe […]

  3. SS Maori Dive Site: South African Wrecks - Go4Travel Blog

    […] are over a thousand known shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa including SS Maori. We have legendary treasure galleons and fine passenger ships that went to their […]

  4. Driving Sani Pass South Africa - Go4Travel Blog

    […] locals call the Drakensberg massif that separates South Africa from its tiny neighbour Lesotho it encircles, the ‘uKhahlamba – barrier of spears. It is […]

  5. Southern Ndebele Tribe: A Riot of Colour - Go4Travel Blog

    […] Southern Ndebele Tribe people are without a doubt South Africa’s most colourful tribe – and that within a nation that has eleven official languages. […]

  6. Protea South African National Flower - Go4Travel Blog

    […] Protea has the honour of being both South Africa’s official wild flower and having the same botanical and common name. Although specimens grow as […]

  7. Best Places to Visit in New Zealand - Go4Travel Blog

    […] to spend the year traveling New Zealand. Originally from Sweden, but spending most my childhood in South Africa, I was excited by the prospect of new scenery and new adventures. I was attracted to New Zealand […]

  8. Ngwenya Lodge South Africa - Go4Travel Blog

    […] Lodge South Africa provides a range of 8, 6, 4 and 2 person self-catering chalets thoughtfully positioned for privacy […]

  9. South Africa: Cederberg Hiking Trails - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] South Africa’s Cederberg mountain range is a place where time stands still, and city lights have never shown on the horizon. This unspoiled hiking paradise is rich in nature’s giant sandstone carvings and San rock paintings in secret caves, and is a hiker’s paradise for those who choose to sleep beneath the twinkling stars. […]

  10. Drakensberg Boys Choir | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] South Africa‘s Drakensberg Boys Choir is in the upper foothills of the mighty Drakensberg range that soars to 11,424 feet / 3,482 meters. Early settlers named them it for the many peaks they thought looked like giant dragon’s teeth. The indigenous people still refer to them as Quathlamba or uKhahlamba, for to them they suggest a barrier of spears. […]

  11. Cederberg Wilderness Area Hiking - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] South Africa’s Cederberg reserve – the names means ‘mountains where cedars grow’ – is inland from the rugged west Atlantic coast and two hours’ drive from Cape Town. This place of towering mountains and dramatic beauty is largely the preserve of hikers content to sleep beneath the stars, although here and there are stone overnight huts for backpackers, and the occasional bed and breakfast. […]

  12. Addo Elephant National Park South Africa - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Elephant National Park South Africa is a 1,640m2 (639 square mile) wildlife conservation area on South Africa’s southwest coast near the city of Port Elizabeth. It takes its name from the African word for […]

  13. Weird Christmas Traditions from around the World | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] of enjoying a plump turkey, juicy goose or delicious loin of roast beef on Christmas Day, locals in South Africa dig into plates full of deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor […]

  14. Tips for a Road Trip in South Africa | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] you’re looking for a place to rest your head, seek out hostels or guesthouses. They might not be as luxurious as some of the hotels. But they’re often in beautiful locations, […]


Leave a Reply