Philippines Travel Tips
The cost of travel in the Philippines is relatively cheap, with average South East Asian prices. The most expensive part about traveling to the Philippines is the initial flight to get there, given its location, a chain of islands off the coast of the Asian subcontinent.
If you plan on visiting many destinations throughout the Philippines, fees can add up due to island hopping and plane flights. If you wish to stay put and not try to hop around to too many islands, the price of daily living can be very affordable.
The Philippines uses the Philippine Peso: 1 USD = 43.40 Philippine Pesos (PHP)
To be honest, I couchsurfed and stayed at local Filipino homes for the majority of my 2 month stay in the Philippines. That being said, there are plenty of options.
- Dorm Beds: If you aim to save money, search for dorm beds which can be found from $2 – $5 (not always available)
- Private Double Rooms: More common than dorm beds are private rooms with a few beds in them; lowest private double rooms go for $5 – $10
- Step Up (Mid-Range): $15 – $30 will get you a nice hotel room
- I stayed in small guest houses and bungalows in Banaue, Batad, and Mayoyao rice terraces for 200 – 300 PHP ($4.64 – $6.96) per night by myself
- I splurged for a very nice guest house dorm bed in Sagada and paid 250 PHP ($5.80) per night
Accommodation can get more expensive on islands popular with tourists, like Boracay.
There are plenty of street snacks and edibles that are super cheap. However, most meals, which include rice and side dishes run from about 50 – 150 PHP ($1.16 – $3.48) on the street.
- Manila street dining – Jolly Jeep street food: 50 – 150 PHP ($1.16 – $3.48)
- Meals at fast food chains: 100 – 200 PHP ($2.32 – $4.64)
- Sitting down for nicer meals at restaurants can cost anywhere from 200 – 600 PHP ($4.64 – $13.92) per meal. I splurged on a wonderful Korean meat barbecue dinner that came out to be 500 PHP ($11.60) per person after we were all overly stuffed.
- Giant seafood extravaganza known as seafood dampa (order fresh seafood and they cook it right then and there): about 300 PHP ($6.96) per person
Nightlife / Drinking
As the home of San Miguel beer, the Philippines (just like Vietnam) has some super cheap beer.
- Beers from convenience stores / local bars: 20 – 40 PHP ($0.46 – $0.93)
- San Miguel beer from bars: 30 – 50 PHP ($0.70 – $1.16), often a deal of 6 for 200 PHP ($4.64)
- Tanduay is the most common local liquor: 1 liter for 50 – 100 PHP ($1.16 – $2.32)
- Drinks at fancier clubs and bars: 100 – 200 PHP ($2.32 – $4.64)
- Some nicer nightclubs charge a cover: 200 – 500 PHP ($4.64 – $11.60)
- Metro: 10 – 15 PHP ($0.23 – $0.35) per ride
- Bus: 10 – 20 PHP ($0.23 – $0.46) per ride
- Jeepneys: Usually 7 – 10 PHP ($0.16 – $0.46) depending on where you are going
- Taxi: 30 PHP ($0.70) start up fare and then increases from there. Make sure to confirm the driver uses the meter.
- Tricycle: Small motorcycle constructed vehicles that run around the neighborhoods of Manila and small towns, should cost 5 – 20 PHP ($0.12 – $0.46) depending on the distance.
Outside of Manila
- Flight: I took a very cheap one-way flight with Zest Airlines from Manila to the island of Palawan for 488 PHP ($11.33), coming back to Manila I purchased a flight 1 day ahead of departure for 1300 PHP ($30.17). Other airlines to check out for flights to other island are Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, or SE Air.
- Bus: A very decent overnight bus from Manila to a city called Naga City in the region of Bicol cost 850 PHP ($19.73). I also took an overnight bus from Manila to the rice terrace town of Banaue for 450 PHP ($10.44).
- 2 hour bus ride from Manila to Tagaytay to see the world’s smallest active volcano: 110 PHP ($2.55)
- 6 hour bus ride from Manila to Baguio City: 350 PHP ($8.12)
Sample Costs of Sites and Attractions
- Manila Ocean Park: 400 PHP ($9.28)
- Walking around old colonial town Intramuros: Free
- Fort Santiago: 75 PHP ($1.74)
- Ayala Museum: 350 PHP ($8.12)
- Night of Karaoke: 300 PHP ($6.96)
Outside of Manila
- Hot Spring in Bicol – 200 PHP ($4.64)
- All day and night personal guide hiking through the mountains of Ifugao region of the Philippines (I was by myself) – 350 PHP ($8.12)
- Guide for hiking through a cave in Sagada: 200 – 400 PHP ($4.64 – $9.28) per person
- Round trip from Manila to the top of Mount Taal – the world’s smallest active volcano: around 700 PHP ($16.24)
- Renting a boat and crew to cruise around Coron island (above): 500 – 1000 PHP ($11.60 – $23.20) per person depending on how many people are with you
Traveling and attractions around the islands of the Philippines often cater towards groups and for this reason, it’s normally cheaper to have a few friends to split costs with.
When taking into account the cost of travel in the Philippines, don’t forget about the 750 PHP ($17.41) tax when leaving the country!