Are you looking for an affordable yet exciting place to spend your long-desired vacation, or have an urge to see the world? If you’re looking to travel on a budget, the Philippines is an excellent choice. The season here lasts all year round, but the dry period from November to April is probably the most favorable time to arrive.
The country has a lot to offer – enchanting waterfalls, endless beaches, lush jungles, volcanoes, and even underground rivers. If you love diving and snorkeling, you can consider coming here for the World War two shipwrecks, coral reefs, and picturesque sea life.
In today’s post, we will share the top and tricks for the budget travel around the Philippines.
The key to starting an independent budget trip is to start planning well in advance. Therefore, to begin with, you should decide on the places you want to visit. Then plan all the transfers and flights along the route.
Booking the Tickets
When looking at the map of the Philippines, you will understand that the country consists of more than 7,000 islands, which makes organizing the trip a little tricky. We would strongly advise you to pick the most appealing ones and focus your trip on them. Unfortunately, flights to Manila are not as cheap as to the capitals of the neighboring countries, such as Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. You can save a lot by flying to those cities, and then taking a low-cost flight to Manila. It pays off to buy tickets well in advance, at least 3-4 months before the planned vacation. Try to use ferries between the islands, whenever possible, the trips will take longer than flights, but cost a few times less.
Make Direct Accommodation Bookings
You can always come to the hotel registration desk and ask them for a discount for direct booking (on the spot). From my experience, when there are rooms available, hotels usually agree to make a discount of up to 10%.
Like everywhere, Couchsurfing here is a great way to meet people and save a bit on accommodation costs. Alternatively, you can stay at a locally run guesthouse, since they are most often cheaper than the hostels.
Get a Local Sim Card
In Manila airport, you can get a local sim card of Smart or Globe operators, which already include prepaid mobile data. This will allow you to save on:
- booking hotels day-to-day in case there is a need;
- purchasing local airline tickets and ferry tickets online;
- making use of Uber or Grab applications, and making sure your rides come at a fixed price.
Save on Currency Exchange
The recipe for happiness is simple: try to change the money at the airport of Manila, since you will not likely find a more profitable exchange rate on the islands.
Buddy up with others for the entertainment
In the Philippines, many activities will cost much less if you do them in a group and split the cost. A decent amount of budget is often spent on entertainment. It is one thing to take a snorkel mask with you and get acquainted with the underwater world, and quite another to go on a full diving tour or windsurf. Such a pleasure is quite expensive. If you wish to save on some excursions, it is better not to buy them at the travel agencies, but to find a guide from among the residents (such an excursion will cost much cheaper and won’t be less interesting).
There are many restaurants which are focused just on tourists, and the food there is often quite expensive. Try to follow the locals and ask their advice about where to eat, they always know where the best food is! Alternatively, you can ask the hotel staff where they prefer to eat.
To save on water, you need to look for the wholesale stores and buy large bottles. For 10 liters you can buy only as much as 1 liter of water at retail stores.
A penny saved is a penny gained. beware of thieves and pickpockets, and do not leave bags unattended for a second.
The capital hasn’t got a lot to offer apart from the traffic, pollution, scams, expensive hotels, and poverty. If you’re traveling on a budget, try to spend more time elsewhere.
Don’t Forget the Insurance
Unexpected visits to the doctor can be quite costly. Think in advance and get travel insurance, which will protect you against injury, illness, theft, and even cancellations. I would never go on a trip without it, since experience shows that it’s better to be safe than sorry.