The Philippines is one of the least visited countries in Southeast Asia, and this is mostly because the archipelagic nation is only accessible by plane. Do not let this stop you though. Getting there will have you realizing that the Philippines is indeed one of the premier travel destinations in the world. You will love that it is great for solo travelers too! Learn how you can travel in the Philippines on a budget.
Your first port of call will be Manila, the country’s sprawling metropolis. As the metro can be an urban mess sometimes, you might not want to stay there for too long. But you’d do well to explore the city, if getting to know the country on a deeper level is what you’re after. Staying in an affordable hostel and avoiding splurges on expensive restaurants can help you stay on budget.
Your return ticket from the country can be as little as $80 if you have it prebooked. You should also have your flights within the country booked in advance, as many budget airlines offer enormous discounts for early bookings.
Travel on the cheap in Palawan through ‘joiners’ tour packages
A world renowned travel destination, Palawan can be an intimidating option, especially in terms of budget concerns. This does not have to be the case though. With the right travel hacks, you can enjoy this paradise island without burning a hole in your pocket. The following step-by-step guide will ease you of your worries.
Take a flight to Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan, where you can grab an air-conditioned minivan that will take you to Sabang (the fare will cost you Php600 or approximately $10). Here you will find the world’s longest subterranean river. You can spend a day lounging and soaking up the sun on beautiful white beaches, after which you can take a local bus ride to El Nido via Salvation Junction.
You will find the best of tropical paradise in El Nido. Spared from being overly touristy, you will love the relaxed vibe on this pristine island. You can have an exhilarating time enjoying island hopping, scuba diving, and snorkeling in the crystal blue waters. You can also enjoy rock climbing inland, and indulge yourself with the fresh seafood offered in the countless restaurants dotting the island. You can do everything on a budget even if you are traveling solo by taking part in “joiners” tour packages. These tours often include everything, from your food and boat rides to entrance fees and guide payments. Depending on the package you choose, these tours can cost you between Php500 ($10) and Php2,500 ($50).
There aren’t any taxis in Palawan. You will be taking a rickshaw, or what is locally known as the tricycle, which is great as this ride costs much less than a taxi. You can take jeepneys for longer distances. These are also affordable and will cost you half the price of the minivan fares.
Accommodations can vary between Php400 ($8) and Php1,500 ($30). It’s best to go further down the beaches and away from the big hotels, if you are to find the best deals.
Forego the travel tours when in Bohol
You can take a connecting flight to Bohol from Palawan via Manila, or you can take the ferry from Mindanao. Once in Bohol, you can visit the mystical Chocolate Hills and set your eyes on the rare tarsier.
You can avoid the package tours while in Bohol, as they can be both unnecessary and expensive. You can simply hire a tricycle or rent a motorbike to get around. Public transport is also accessible all day long.
Avoid the resorts by the beaches, and head inland for cheaper accommodations.
Take a cheap ferry to Camiguin Island
To reach Camiguin Island, you can catch a cheap ferry from Bohol. You can also fly to Mindanao, then take a ferry to the tiny volcanic island of Camiguin. Here you get to visit a sunken cemetery, climb volcanoes, relax in hot springs or just enjoy the island life.
Enjoy cheap accommodation in Sagada and Banaue
By now you would have already experienced much of the quieter life in the Philippines, and are ready to confront the urban jungle again. Fly back to Manila, where you can arrange a bus ride to Sagada in the north. The place will have you experiencing the fabled hanging coffins. You can also trek into the lush forested mountains and go underground caving.
From Sagada, you can take another bus ride to Banaue, where you get to set your eyes on the magnificent rice terraces. You can spend the night in the area without worrying much about your budget, as accommodation is quite cheap. This is yet another location where you can steer clear of package tours. There will be no need for a guide, as all the trails are marked out well.
Enjoy Boracay on a budget
Drive back to Manila where you can take a bus ride from Cubao to Batangas. In Batangas, you can take a ferry ride to Boracay. This mode of transportation will only set you back by P1,000 or $20, much cheaper than if you go to Boracay by plane. Just like Palawan, Boracay is world-renowned and could easily have you thinking of swanky beachfront bars and high-end restaurants. Don’t let these thoughts intimidate you. If you know where to look, you can easily find meals that are only a little over $1. Just head over to eateries like Jaspers Tapsilog and Resto, Shanghai Eatery, and Kolai Mangyan Fudhaus, and you can enjoy delicious meals that will cost you no more than P60. Also, remember to take advantage of the Happy Hour offered at bars.
Time spent in the Philippines is simply not complete without experiencing this paradise island. While Boracay has been getting the rap for being overly touristy, you can still find pristine islands if you know where to look. Check out our Boracay travel guideto get you in the right direction.
You will be pleasantly surprised to find yourself enjoying even the touristy spots. Just make sure you choose accommodation that offers more privacy and tranquility, so you can have a relaxing escape from the lively party vibe common along the island’s famous White Beach. Checking in at the relatively secluded Alta Vista de Boracay, example one, will have you enjoying peaceful views on the island’s higher and more isolated terrains, while keeping you in close proximity to the quieter and more pristine Puka Beach.
Solo travel in the Philippines
With nearly everyone in the Philippines speaking English, traveling solo in the country can be a breeze, not to mention the fact that Filipinos are an incredibly helpful and friendly bunch. Their famed hospitality is a real thing, as you will soon discover once you finally make it to the country. Signages, bus and plane routes, and maps are all in English too!
– Be mindful of the terms offered by cheaper guesthouses in Manila. You can get charged for 12- or 24-hour periods, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your preferences. Most of the other accommodation types in the country operate at the usual check out times.
– Food in the Philippines can be very affordable. You can eat really good meals without spending more than $2 per meal. Among your best options are popular local restaurant chains. You will find places like Chowking and Mang Inasal in malls and practically every busy area. They offer good food for less without leaving you worried about hygiene issues.
– Always book ahead with the local budget airlines. This will cut your ticket price by half.
– Feel free to haggle at guesthouses in the Philippines. You might not always get great offers, but you can expect a welcome surprise every now and then.
– Remember to always smile. Filipinos love it when their hospitality is duly rewarded.
What are your top budget travel tips for the Philippines?
This is a guest post by Patricia Evans.
Patricia Evans is an interior designer, Huffington Post UK blogger, and a full time mother. She worked in Marketing before but she quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior decorating. She is also into green and simple living; she loves traveling, cooking, and having tea. Follow her on Twitter @patricia016 or LinkedIn Patricia Evans and check out her website www.articletuts.com.