Philippines on budget
--- the ultimate backpacking travel guide ---
Philippines are in general very cheap country, but only if you are at not at very touristy places, because prices at destinations like El Nido or Alona beach can go skyhigh. It may not be the best for backpackers, but if you spend some time searching, it's definitely possible to find a cheap food and place to stay. Read more about prices if you are planning to go to Philippines to enjoy the incredible beauty of this country.
The local currency in Philippines is Philippine peso (PHP).
The exchange rate in 2017 is 1 USD = 50 PHP.
Like everywhere else it is best to bring US dollars and exchange them. Otherwise you can withdraw money from ATM with a fee of 200 PHP.
Average cost per person: 25 USD per day
including accommodation, food, transport, entrance fees, souvenirs
excluding visa and flight tickets
The main thing you can save money on are the flight tickets. Read our tips how to find cheap flights.
Use jeepneys in the big cities to save money. It is a great way to meet local people. Traveling by jeepneys is awesome, because there is always something going on and you never know how many more people can get on (usually three times more than you can imagine). Another possibility is taking the tricycles. They can be very cheap like for example in Puerto Princessa, but usually you need to bargain as they can give you ridiculous high prices as for example in Banaue.
Try not to book organized trips and rent a motorbike, especially on Palawan and Bohol and explore the islands on your own. We enjoyed the rides actually more than the attractions that we were heading to. Palawan and Bohol are beautiful and peaceful and going through the small villages surrounded by palm trees belongs to our best memories from Philippines. For longer distances use buses. Some of them have AC, others not, but in general they are ok.
Prices example per person (2017)
- UBER from the Manila airport to the city - 200 PHP (4 USD, taxi drivers started from 500 PHP)
- bus Manila - Capas - 200 PHP (4 USD)
- bus Capas - Baguio - 275 PHP (5.5 USD)
- bus Baguio - Sagada - 275 PHP (5.5 USD)
- jeepney Sagada - Bontoc - 40 PHP (1 USD)
- bus Bontoc - Banaue - 120 PHP (2.5 USD)
- jeepney Batad - Banaue - 150 PHP (3 USD - price for tourists)
- bus Banaue - Manila - 490 PHP (10 USD)
- van Puerto Princessa - El Nido - 500 PHP (10 USD - price for tourists)
- a motorbike rental - 300 PHP (6 USD)
- ferry Cebu - Bohol - 455 PHP (9 USD - including all the fees)
Comparing to other countries in Southeast Asia, the standard of the rooms for the same value is a bit lower. The prices vary a lot according to a destination. We travel as a couple, so we stay usually in cheap double rooms, but in Philippines we stayed also in rooms for 3 people with our friend.
The price per person can go from 250 PHP (5 USD) per night for Sagada, Banaue or Porto Princessa, but it can start from 500 PHP (10 USD) per night for Mt. Pinatubo, El Nido or Alona beach. And we had to bargain hard for this price.
Food in Philippines.... Well, we don't want to complain here, but we missed typical asian street food a lot. There are many fast food restaurants and the locals eat a lot of fried chicken, burgers and donuts like everywhere else in western culture. That was a bit shock and disappointment for us coming straight from Vietnam and having Philippino friends who cook awesome meals. Definitely it is a bit hard to find a healthy and good food for reasonable price. Best is probably to eat the barbecues fish and seafood on a beach. We enjoyed food in Sagada, but in general we didn't find many great and cheap restaurants in Philippines. The cheapest meals like burger on the street costs around 35 PHP (0.5 USD) . A meal in a cheap restaurant costs 100 - 250 PHP (2 -5 USD), but the restaurants for tourists can charge you 250 PHP (5 USD) for a toust with jam or frozen pizza or 500 PHP (10 USD) for a mexican food with doubtful quality.
Entrance fees for some of the tourist attractions are still cheap, but booking some of the tours can be expensive. If you book an organized tour, don't expect much like for example in Thailand. It is usually very chaotic with no extra service like a bottle of water. But it is what it is and if you don't have big expectations, you are gonna be ok.
There are certain attractions where you don't have any other choice than booking an organized trip like for example trek to Mt. Pinatubo or watching the whale sharks, but you can do your own trips in Sagada or Bohol.
Prices example per person (2017)
- Mt. Pinatubo trek by 4W - 2,250 PHP (45 USD)
- Connection Cave with a guide - 400 PHP (8 USD)
- Honda Bay on our own (jeepney, a boat - 5pax, geer, all the fees) - 775 PHP (15.5 USD - organized trips started from 1200 PHP)
- El Nido all included tour - 3 days A, B, C and 2 nights in a tent on a beach - 4,500 PHP (91 USD)
- tarsiers, Bohol - 60 PHP (1 USD)
- Chocolate Hills, Bohol - 50 PHP (1 USD)
- snorkeling with whale sharks - tour from Bohol - 1,800 PHP (36 USD - poorly organized, very touristy, I wouldn't do it again)
More tips for traveling cheap here