How to Travel in the Philippines on a Budget

Mt Mayon Volcano in the Philippines
Mt Mayon Volcano

Are you planning a trip to the Philippines? Have you dreamed about visiting the tropical islands but think it might be too expensive? Unfortunately, millions of foreigners visit each year and decide to book their trip on an expensive package.

Careful planning makes it possible to travel to the Philippines on a budget – this it totally doable if you have patience and are well organised. If you want to travel to the Philippines on a budget, you will have to do a lot of planning, but with these tips, it will be easy to visit this exotic destination without breaking the bank.

Kayangan Lake on Coron in the Philippines

Kayangan Lake in Coron

1. Pack Light

You can’t pack too light. In fact, it’s possible to travel the Philippines with just hand luggage and still have a fun time. Yet if you like a few creature comforts during your adventures you’ll need to bring at least one big bag with you and use it for everything.

It’s a good idea to bring along a toiletry bag or duffel bag with one compartment for your clothes and another for your toiletries. If you’re planning on staying at hostels or hotels, this will come in handy because hostels and hotels don’t necessarily provide toiletry kits.

Suppose you’re going to be spending several months in the Philippines. In that case, it’s recommended that you take a few changes of clothing so that you can wear something new instead of having to buy new clothes every few weeks. Packing light is a bit of an art, so try and practice before you set off.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

The Chocolate Hills in Bohol

2. Eat Where The Locals Eat

Many of the best meals in the Philippines are served in humble places that cater to an ever-changing crowd of travellers, expats, and locals. You’ll find cheap eats everywhere you go, but there’s a reason why the cuisine in Banaue is particularly good: it’s one of the most affordable places to eat in the world.

In this part of Asia, it’s not uncommon for a traveller to be surrounded by locals who speak no English. Understanding what they say and ensuring you order what they’re eating is the best way to get by. If you’re going out with friends, ensure everyone has their own dishes so you can pass them around as needed.

Here are some tips for eating like the locals:

  • Eat street food. It’s cheaper than eating at restaurants and often more delicious.
  • Eat Filipino food. It may not be better than other cuisines, but it’s cheap, easy to find, and will likely be served buffet-style in a restaurant or at home with your host family.
  • Eat at dive bars and public markets where many people sell food from their carts or stalls (dumplings, noodles, and meatballs). You’ll get some free samples here!
Taoist temple in Cebu, Philippines

Taoist temple in Cebu

3. Stay Away From Expensive Hotels

There are over a dozen reasons to stay away from expensive hotels:

  1. They can be expensive, especially if you want to stay there for a long time.
  2. They might not be as clean as you would like them to be.
  3. The food is not good.

If you want to save money it’s always better to book a room at an economy hotel than one at an expensive hotel. This is because economy hotels usually have their rates slashed by up to 50% compared with the more luxurious places you may want to stay at during your visit to the Philippines. Of course, if you’re booking a Philippines honeymoon, by all means opt for the more lavish resorts.

Boracay, Philippines

Sandy beaches in Boracay

4. Stay in Hostels

The Philippines is not a super cheap place to travel, but with the right attitude and planning, you can still find ways to travel on a budget. Hostels and guesthouses exist in large numbers in the Philippines – some offer dorms or private rooms for as little as $2 per night.

These prices include electricity and water, though you may have to pay more for hotel services. However, some hostels may let you stay for free if you travel solo because of your age or gender.

However, suppose you expect to meet other travellers during your stay. In that case, it’s usually better to pay a little more and get better quality accommodations with more amenities such as air conditioning, cable TV, hot water showers, and free Wi-Fi internet access.

Rice terraces in the Philippines

Rice terraces in the Philippines

5. Use Public Transportation

If you want to travel around the Philippines on a budget, there are a few things you can do. The first thing is to use public transportation. If you can find an affordable ride, then it will be much cheaper than renting a car.

Public transportation is also very convenient because it will allow you to get off at different stops during your trip and then get back on when your destination is reached. It adds a bit of spontaneity to the trip, which is all part of the adventure.

To find cheap public transportation in the Philippines, look for buses with advertisements that say “unlimited rides” and “5-trip ticket” which means they offer cheap tickets for long distances or free rides for shorter ones.

These types of buses tend to be older with fewer amenities such as air conditioning and comfortable seating. However, they are still better than taking taxis or hiring drivers because they’re a lot easier on the wallet.

Sunset sailing in the Philippines

Boat trips are popular in the Philippines

6. Fly With Budget Airlines

If you want to travel long-distance through the Philippines on a budget, flying is the best way to do it. With dozens of budget airlines offering flights all over the country, it’s easy to get around without breaking the bank.

Airlines like Cebu Pacific Air and AirAsia offer daily flights between Manila and the most significant cities in Luzon. There are also long-haul services that connect Manila with Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, and Seoul.

With these airlines, you can fly anywhere in the Philippines for less than $100 per person one-way (exceptions apply).

Tarsier on Bohol Island in the Philippines

Tarsier on Bohol Island

7. Book Your Tour With a Company Based in The Philippines

Booking a tour can be confusing for people who aren’t familiar with the area. There are many different options for travelling through the Philippines on a budget, but not all are good for your travel needs.

It’s a good idea to book your tour through a company based in the Philippines. It will ensure you get the best possible local service and a great experience while exploring the country. To beat costs, you can even book your tour before leaving your country with a cheap money-sending platform based in the Philippines.

Travelling through the Philippines has never been easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding trips you’ll ever take. There are many things to consider: the price of flights and accommodations, fees for transiting international borders, and the transportation costs for moving from one location to another. But the gist is that travelling through the Philippines can be incredibly affordable, if you spend wisely and plan carefully.

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