If you don’t have much money but still want to travel, consider heading to the Philippines; a cheap and up-and-coming place on the “must go” list. The following are 6 ways save money while travelling in the Philippines.
Book flights early and have flexible dates
Chances are you’ll be flying between islands in the Philippines. There is a ferry that is cheaper, but it’s really slow and only goes a few days a week. Flights between islands can be a very reasonable price, as long as you book early! Sometimes two weeks ahead is OK. I LOVE the ‘whole month’ compare function on Skyscanner. You can see straight up an entire months worth of prices and you can pick out the cheapest. Take a look at this return flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. (Check it out: The Best Places to Stay in Palawan |Hostels & Hotels|)
Note: Due to my late booking I paid $150 for this same flight.
Make friends with local people
90% of Filipinos speak English, and they are super friendly and love showing tourists around – so you have no excuse! Filipinos are known to be some of the most welcoming people in the world, so just go up and start chatting to your receptionist, boat man or waiter. Another great way to find Filipino friends is to post in ‘Travel Philippines’ groups on Facebook or through CouchSurfing. Even if you don’t want to bunk with them, CS is sill a great way to find friendly locals who will happily show you cheap places to eat, give tips on things to do and can sometimes even get you cheaper tours!
Eat at the Markets and street food stalls
Seriously. Good. Food. Think delicious marinated pork and chicken on a stick, spit roast chickens, whole fish, curries and lots of other stir-fried goodness for a ridiculously low price! Try out some of the local food like Budel food; a plate full of seafood cooked different ways (around $10USD and enough for two) or pork sisig; small cubes of pork parts marinated in vinegar prior to being grilled.
Drink beer and rum bought at the supermarkets
The supermarkets will almost always be the cheapest place to buy alcoholic drinks, and when you can walk the streets with store-bought alcohol, why wouldn’t you? You can even take your BYO into restaurants and bars (sometimes)! Beers at the Supermarket are around 35PHP (.90c) and a 750mL bottle of Boracay Rum will only set you back 100PHP ($3). Stay on the lookout, though, for awesome extra-long happy hours at bars where you can drink there for the same price as a shop. And FYI if you want to get super drunk in Manila, try out TGI Fridays; it has bottomless mojitos for only $300PHP ($7USD)
Stay in hostels away from the central area
A lot of the cheapest accommodation options are separate rooms in family homes and are often not found on the Internet. If in need of a really cheap place to stay try walking away from the central area and checking places personally. Always haggle as prices can usually be bargained down!
Tours – compare prices and haggle
Another great thing to haggle prices down on are tours. I usually recommend ditching the tours completely and trying to do things by yourself, but if you can’t do it that way then politely ask them for a discount. They will usually give you one because there is so much competition that they want your business! When in El Nido I simply walked down the main street checking a few places for the Island Hop tour (most went down by at least 100PHP ($3) until I found one guy who (while obviously under the influence) dropped his price by a huge 500PHP ($12)!
How much I spent
Lets do the Math! The following budget does not include flights to the Philippines or internally. Flights from Manila to Palawan were around $150 USD return. Because I was moving so fast (I only had 2 weeks) I didn’t save as much money as I could have. But I did find ways for you to keep your costs down while here. Note: Coron was my most expensive destination because I did a day of wreck diving there which bought my expenses way above average.
Daily Cost of Philippines Budget Breakdown:
|Place||Daily Average in Philippine Peso (PHP)||Daily Average in US Dollar (USD)|
|Average Daily Expenses for the Philippines||1, 401.12 PHP||$31.53 USD|
|Manila||1, 070 PHP||$24.08 USD|
|Puerto Princesa||1, 457 PHP||$32.79 USD|
|Port Barton||1, 194 PHP||$26.87 USD|
|El Nido||1, 638.3 PHP||$36.87 USD|
|Coron||1, 803 PHP||$40.66 USD|
Example of Itemised Expenses (One Day):
|Expenses - A day in El Nido||Cost in PHP||Cost in USD|
|Total Expenses for one day*||1, 644 PHP||$36.99|
|Dorm Room at Hakuna Matata Hostel||300 PHP||$6.75|
|All you can eat breakfast at Austria's Place||99 PHP||$2.23|
|Island Hop Tour (Tour A of Lagoons) with Free Lunch. Booked through Hakuna Matata||1, 000 PHP||$22.50|
|Happy Hour Beer for Sunset at Coco||45 PHP||$1|
|Whole snapper BBQ dinner at BBQ places on the beach||200 PHP||$4.50|
* I chose a day which was particularly expensive to put it into perspective
Language: Many; officially Filipino, but also Tagalog and English
Currency: Philippine Peso
$1 USD = ₱44.65
I was there: May 2015
Looking for more information on the Philippines? Read this awesome Complete Guide to Traveling the Philippines which has loads of information on how to plan your trip.
There are a raft of great apps you can download to help your travels. Another thing you can try while you travel in Philippines, a cheap Desktop in the Cloud comes in handy, allowing you to access Windows applications on any device. Try CloudDestopOnline.com; they offer a risk free trial.
Want to know more about the Philippines? Read this great guide about its top attractions.