2019 Update: Countries in Africa that are visa-free for Philippine passport holders
Today, a blog reader wrote to me: “I applied for a visa in Italy and was rejected. What will I do?” What will I do? What will I do seems to be a very hard question. Something I couldn’t answer. Something that only you can answer. However, I am here to help.
Now that I am traveling to visa-free countries for Philippine passport holders, I have let go of all the pain, unhappiness and rejection while processing visas. I will always choose to be happy rather than stick my head into an area that I am not welcome in.
Our image of Africa is always about the animals, the safari, the wildlife — images that are true and obviously exciting to explore. But let me tell you that Africa is more than that. Wouldn’t you want to be in a place where you feel truly welcome? Where your travels are not judged by your income tax or money in the bank?
We’ve established that it is already visa-free. But you might be wondering — “what can I do in these countries?” I know it doesn’t sound appealing to you because you have no idea what some of those countries are. I’ve visited 50% of the list so I will make a brief introduction for each destination. I will walk you through 19 visa-free countries that Philippine passport holders can visit.
Visa-free allows you to enter a country without applying for a visa on a certain number of days. For most Filipinos, the ASEAN countries are the familiar visa-free countries as this is where we always start our travels. In the past, I received a lot of inquiry about unfamiliar visa-free countries like Morocco. Again, visa-free is visa-free. Just like entering Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc, you don’t need to present any document or proof of income. A valid passport is all you need.
Visa on arrival (VOA)
VOA is granted upon entry. Note that you don’t need to apply prior to arrival. When you see a destination labeled as VOA, all you have to do is book the ticket. You will be issued a visa when you land. No need to go to the Embassy!
An e-visa is a visa you have to apply for online prior to arrival. This is super easy to do as you will do everything over the Internet (submission of documents, payments, etc). Each country has its online visa application portal where you can easily process your application. Once approved, you will get your visa via-email. This is what you will present upon entry in a certain country.
1. Cape Verde – visa on arrival (VOA)
A Portuguese colony and is officially known as the Republic of Cabo Verde, it is an island country located 350 miles off the coast of West Africa. Cape Verde is famed for the hospitality of the people. You’ll see why many arrived and didn’t leave.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Cape Verde:
- Cape Verde Tourism Board
- Cape Verde country profile by BBC
- Cape Verde Travel by Lonely Planet
- 10 reasons why Cape Verde is the most underrated winter sun destination on Earth by the Telegraph
- 12 reasons to visit the beautiful Cape Verde islands by CNN
- Travel guide to Cape Verde by Conde Nast
2. Comoros – visa on arrival (45 days)
Mysterious, stunning, enchanting — these are the three words that best describe Comoros Island. A mixture of a remote and a fugitive type of destination, it is filled with beautiful beach resorts and a surprising nightlife. It is not a destination for everyone though. Islam is evident everywhere and as usual, women are expected to show modesty and alcohol is a no-no for everyone.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Comoros:
- Comoros country profile by BBC
- Comoros travel by Lonely Planet
- Silvia Laurence wrote a personal account about traveling in Comoros entitled Everything I Wish I Had Known Before Traveling to Comoros
- Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Colin Hancock wrote and took beautiful photos of the Comoros Islands for CNN. Read 5 reasons to visit Comoros now!
3. Djibouti – visa on arrival
Djibouti has a few similarities with Iceland — outdoor activities, extinct volcanoes, stunning salt lakes and of course, this comes with heaps of outdoor activities. However, the cost of living is not that cheap but worth every penny!
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Djibouti:
- For starters, Djibouti Tourism Board website has a great amount of information regarding travels to Djibouti. However, the website is in French.
- Djibouti country profile by BBC
- My friend Drew Binsky made this video about Djibouti!
- Djibouti travel by Lonely Planet is always a good resource!
4. The Gambia – 90 days visa-free
A small West African country, Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa. Since it is located in the Atlantic coast, stunning shorelines and beaches are the main attraction of the country. Eco lodges and wildlife parks are already available so it’s a perfect, secluded vacation spot for your planned unplugging!
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about The Gambia:
- Gambia Tourism Board regularly updates their website and may be reachable for any questions.
- Gambia country profile by BBC
- Gambia travel by Lonely Planet
- Early in 2017, the UK Foreign Office has changed its advice about traveling Gambia. They published an article on The Telegraph entitled Is it safe to visit the Gambia – and can I cancel my trip?
- From golden beaches to sleepy fishing villages, The Gambia has a lot to offer, writes Marta Portocarrero in her article 10 reasons why you should visit The Gambia in 2017
- Travelling Tom published a personal account on his blog entitled Things you need to know before your first trip to The Gambia
- Check out Tanya Michelle Korteling’s archives on the Gambia. You can ask her questions, too!
- Kathryn Burrington’s Gambia archives has over 10 articles so make sure to browse her blog!
5. Guinea Bissau – visa on arrival (90 days)
Located in West Africa, Guinnea Bissau was once part of the Gabu and the Mali Empire. Because of the wars, the daily life is tough but its people always find a way to have fun and make music. Stunning beaches, natural forest, mansions and castles are the main tourist attractions.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about The Guinea Bissau:
- Guinea Bissau travel by Lonely Planet
- Phil Sylvester wrote about safety in Guinea Bissau for World Nomads
- Diana Jarvis wrote a beautiful article and published a lot of photos on Rough Guides. The title of the article is: In pictures: an introduction to Guinea Bissau
- World traveller Chris Guillebeau has an interesting account about getting to Guinea Bissau
6. Kenya – visa on arrival (90 days)
Vast savannahs and a tremendous wildlife, Kenya is home to the greatest animal species in the world. Kenya has stunning landscapes, numerous wildlife activities and it is a perfect place to unplug and be closer to nature.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Kenya:
- Kenya travel by Lonely Planet
- Check out CNN’s Kenya Travel Guide to explore the best things to do and places to stay, plus get insider tips, watch original video and read inspiring narratives.
- National Geographic’s archives on Kenya is pretty loaded with information and great photos!
- British writer Becki Enright wrote that traveling in Kenya was an experience of a lifetime for her
7. Madagascar – visa on arrival (90 days)
Yes, the lemur from the Madagascar movie really exists. Baobabs, rainforest, trekking, diving and a lot of outdoor activities. Madagascar is the most exotic destination there is.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Madagascar:
- Madagascar travel by Lonely Planet
- Chris of Unusual Traveller provided some great information from his experience traveling around Madagascar in April 2017.
- Nomadic Matt’s account on how to travel Madagascar is a good resource, too!
- Joe Kennedy wrote 10 Things To Know Before You Travel To Madagascar with amazing visuals!
- Audrey Scott of Uncornered Market wrote an experiential travel guide about Madagascar, updated on 19 October 2018
9. Malawi – visa on arrival (21 days)
Did you know that Malawi’s capital city is one of the most expensive cities in the world? It might be an unknown African country but Malawi is beautiful and has a lot to offer. I went here for a volunteer work for children’s education and my experience was amazing! I did not go around that much but I have friends in Malawi whom I can recommend to take you around! Just let me know!
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Malawi:
- Madison Park for CNN wrote 5 reasons Malawi should be on your African travel list and the list is super true!
- Malawi travel guide by Lonely Planet
- I also have an article on the blog, written by my good friend Mwaona which tackles the safety in Malawi
10. Mauritania – visa on arrival (but the entry should be at Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport)
I think Mauritania is my favourite African country in terms of culture. I was involved in women and children’s rights movement here and I have discovered a lot of beautiful things about their culture. But we are not going into that. Mauritania is located in West Africa close to Morocco. Since it is close to West Sahara, it has outstanding sand dunes, plateaus, and attractive little towns.
Travel articles, websites, and resources you can read about Mauritania:
- Mauritania travel guide by Lonely Planet
- Kate Eshelby wrote about her family adventure in Mauritania (yes, with her son!) published on The Guardian
- The Telegraph lists Mauritania as one of the 17 most dangerous countries in the world. They said the information was provided by the UK Foreign Office.
- Photographer Brendan van Son has a few Mauritania travel tips in his blog
12. Mauritius – visa on arrival
13. Morocco – 90 days visa-free
Morocco is the African country where I spent most of my time in Africa. It is one of the Muslim countries that is very open to tourists. Because of its close proximity to Europe, Morocco is flocked by thousands of visitors every year. I’ve been to Morocco twice and in both cases, I ended up maxing out the visa!
14. Mozambique – visa on arrival (30 days)
Stunning coastlines and a beautiful and rich culture, Mozambique has a lot of opportunities for outdoor adventures. You might not think of visiting this country but its beaches, turquoise waters and colourful ocean wildlife will make you want to stay.
15. Rwanda – visa on arrival (90 days)
Rwanda, a country which is always incorporated with the genocide in 1994 is always ‘dangerous’ to many tourists. However, the country has developed miraculously through the years in terms of politics. Tourism boosted again. Rwanda prides itself with its beautiful mountains and jungles.
16. Saint Helena – visa on arrival
Yes, it’s a country and I visited this, too! Walking trails and wildlife encounters is Saint Helena’s specialty. The Galapagos of the Atlantic, Saint Helena has over 500 species and marine life including dolphins and whale sharks. Perfect for the wet traveler in you!
17. Senegal – visa on arrival (30 days); invitation letter from a Senegalese is needed
I visited this country just because it was mentioned in one of Manu Chao’s song. However, upon visiting, I discovered a lot more. Like Marrakesh, Dakar is full of nightlife, markets, beaches and of course, my favorite part — the music. Senegal’s music is definitely a good reason to visit the country!
18. Seychelles – visa on arrival (30 days)
Part of my 2016 destination pick, Seychelles is the ultimate paradise of the world. Never heard of it? Imagine yourself sunbathing on a powder white sand, not sharing the beach side with other people. See it? That’s Seychelles. Famous as a honeymoon destination, Seychelles is full of marine reserves and magnificent beaches. Worry not — it is definitely an affordable destination!
19. Somalia – visa on arrival (30 days); invitation letter should be submitted 2 days before the travel date
To date, it is not advisable to travel in Somalia because of the 2 recent terrorism attacks in Mogadishu. There is a very high threat of terrorism including kidnapping. Food shortage is also ongoing. Kindly research on travel safety advice in Somalia as I haven’t been there myself.
20. Tanzania – visa on arrival (30 days)
Ahhhh, another favourite. I spent a month volunteering in Zanzibar and I definitely enjoyed it! Located in East Africa, Tanzania is also home to herds of wildlife and stunning landscapes. The famous Mt Kilimanjaro is also located here.
21. Togo – visa on arrival (7 days); proof of yellow fever vaccine required
Looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination? Togo is it! Landscapes, lakes and a load of outdoor activities await!
22. Uganda – visa on arrival (90 days); entry should be at Entebbe Airport
At present, it is advised NOT TO travel to some of the remote northeastern districts (except trips to Kidepo Valley National Park). However, some parts of Uganda are safe to travel to. Nicknamed as the pearl of Africa, Uganda is home to the tallest mountain range in Africa and to a herd of wildlife.
23. Zambia – visa on arrival (90 days) or apply e-visa online before the trip
Wander with animals and visit the most beautiful waters of Southern Africa including the spectacular Victoria Falls (bordering Zimbabwe). A wide variety of activities and a taste of culture is available, too.
Traveling from the Philippines
Unfortunately, there are not much direct flights going to these destinations but you can always opt to fly to South Africa. The estimate round trip flight from Manila to Johannesburg costs Php35,000 – Php45,000 ($700 – 800 USD). From South Africa, there are a lot of cheap flights going to these countries, individually. You can also fly from the major cities of South Africa: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit.
Please take note that Filipinos need a visa to travel to South Africa. Visit the nearest consulate in your area for more details.
So what if your Schengen/USA visa wasn’t approved? Don’t you think these options are more exciting and have room for more adventures? Let me know what you think! Leave your comments below!
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