Southeast Asia has always been a popular destination for travelers from around the world because of its richness in cultural, historical, and natural travel experiences. The Philippines, for instance, have managed to always rank high on the list for the most favorite travel destinations in the region, especially for international wanderlusts.
Traveling to the “Pearl of the Orient Seas”
The Philippines has one of the fastest emerging economies in the continent, and this status is helping local and national tourist centers to promote the country’s brand as a top travel destination. With the improvements on the nation’s current infrastructure and continuously developing hospitality industry, the travel sector is looking at an optimistic future.
While some travel destinations around Asia can often be relatively expensive, fully experiencing the wonders of the Philippines don’t have to break the bank – if you know where to start.
Here are some typical costs for backpacking the Philippines in 2018:
- Dorm bed in a hostel: $5–7 USD per night
- Public ferry ride: $4–6 USD per ride
- Jeepney ride: 20–50 cents
- Street food: $1–3 USD
- Restaurant meals: $4–6 USD
- Long-distance bus: $8–10 USD
- Domestic flight: $40–70 USD
- Local beer: $1–2 USD
- 1.5L bottle of water: 75 cents
- Island-hopping: $14–25 USD
- Diving with whale sharks: $25 USD
Here are some helpful tips for traveling to the Philippines on a low budget:
1. Be on the lookout for promo flights.
Two of the Philippines’ major airline companies, Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia offer extremely cheap promotional flights to international and domestic travel destinations. If you’re coming from outside of the country and is planning to explore several island-destinations, booking promo fares is your best chance to save hundreds of dollars.
Pro Tip: Booking and travel period
Take note that while these airline companies give out promo flights with fares for as low as $10 several times a year, the booking period is often limited to 3-5 days. You also have to take into account competing with thousands of other passengers who are patiently waiting and refreshing their browsers for every schedule promo flight bookings.
Most importantly, the travel period for these promo flights is often set in 6 months to one year. This means that you already have to finalize your travel plans a year in advance. For others, it’s the other way around: Booking a promo flight is first on their list and the travel planning will follow right after.
2. Read traveler’s reviews and consult forums.
Traveling can be stressful especially if you don’t do your homework enough. While there are others who don’t really make plans and just hit the road with whatever knowledge and experience they have, it’s not advisable for beginner travelers who are still learning the tricks of surviving the most amazing yet challenging adventures.
That’s why it’s a smart move to read as much as you can. Consult travel forums from trusted tourist community websites, and read travel articles form reliable and updated sources. So why are these tips important? Two things: to save money and protect your budget.
Experienced travelers offer financial wisdom that can tell you which accommodation, travel destination, or even food place, is worth your every penny. For instance, some cheap accommodations can offer a more meaningful experience than staying at a luxury hotel; some commercialized food places will cost more but local, cheaper counterparts can taste more authentic; taking a taxi is more expensive, but alternative transport vehicles can take you to the same destination with a lower fare.
3. Travel light; travel smart.
Wherever you want to travel, whether it’s in the Philippines or elsewhere, the best travel advice is to travel light. Don’t bring your entire closet with you, especially if you’re planning to explore several places for a few weeks.
Aside from not needing to pay extra for check-in luggage, a humble yet versatile backpack can give you the freedom to be anywhere without worrying about space, comfort and that good old back pain from carrying around the unnecessary load.
4. Follow a DIY itinerary.
Creating a DIY travel itinerary may require patience and perseverance but it will all be worth it – and your bank account will thank you for your effort.
Relying on a travel agency to plan and map out your trip can be comfortable, especially for beginner travelers – but it’s a totally different story if you want to travel on a budget. Doing the planning yourself means reducing the need to pay for services and information that you, yourself, can accomplish and acquire.
5. Eat, drink, and sleep like a local.
Aside from enjoying a more authentic travel experience, eating, drinking and sleeping like a local will help you budget your trip efficiently.
There are several destinations in the Philippines that offer cheaper accommodations. Options can be Bed and Breakfast, AirBnB, hostels, and even lodging houses where you can stay with a local family for a cheaper yet more genuine experience of getting to know the true Pinoy culture.
Moreover, finding the best food places don’t have to mean searching through a list of expensive restaurants. Ask a local, or other travelers who have been to this part of the country and you’ll surely get the most interesting list of local restaurants and underrated food spots.
6. Take the road less traveled.
The Philippines is composed of over seven thousand islands facing the Pacific Ocean. As a tropical country with two constant seasons (hot and dry season), it’s an ideal destination for beach lovers, sun worshippers and nature enthusiasts.
While there are famous travel locations and island getaways that have caught the attention of international wanderlusts, there are emerging and often underrated travel destinations around the country that deserve the same spotlight – only that they’re more affordable, virgin, unspoiled, and more exciting.
Most famous places are already highly commercialized and are often twice or thrice more expensive than these undiscovered destinations. Find them, and be one of the first to experience their own definition of paradise.
7. Socialize and create connections.
Last but not the least is to socialize and create connections whether with your fellow travelers or with the locals.
One of the reasons why people travel is to meet like-minded individuals who want to share their stories and go in adventures with their crowd. By making these connections yourself, you can benefit from the inspiring lessons, helpful tips, and most importantly, practical and budget-friendly travel advice from locals and travelers alike.
8. Be Smart About Exchanging Money
No matter how you opt to change money overseas, fees are almost inevitable; the key is keeping them to a minimum. And should you desire to use your credit card, avoid using ATMs that charges commissions. Tourist can use Metro bank or Citi bank. They do not charge commissions on foreign credit cards.
A true traveler knows how to find the most wonderful destinations without having to spend thousands of dollars just to have a great time. Money cannot buy happiness, and even the best memories are priceless. Hopefully, this article will help you discover the true beauty of traveling in the Philippines and experiencing its rich and wonderful culture.