Is the Philippines Cheap?
I have a friend who’s lived in the Philippines for the last 13 years and I asked him if it’s cheap to travel to the Philippines?
And this is what he said:
The Philippines is incredibly cheap to travel to, and so is everything else like renting a room at a hotel, eat out, drinks, sightseeing, etc. Compared to all western countries it’s extremely cheap.
Here is more information on just how incredibly cheap the Philippines are to travel and why it should be your go-to tropical tourist destination.
A trip to this Southeast Asian country won’t leave a hole in your pocket just to experience world-class travel destinations.
Another major plus is the Philippines is a foreign tourist-friendly destination.
The majority of the locals speak fluent English and this country is known for their incredible hospitality.
But how cheap exactly is the cost of living (or visiting) in the Philippines?
Your expenses for this trip can go as low and as high as you want to.
The Philippines offers a full range of vacation styles that can suit your budget, no matter how cheap or expensive it is.
We all want a low-cost trip without sacrificing the experience. In the Philippines, they call it “Sulit”. Since we all want overseas bang-for-your-buck travel, let’s see how Sulit Philippines can be.
Cost of transportation in the Philippines
You probably already shelled out most of your transportation money for your airfare fee to the Philippines.
Lucky you, transportation expenses are really cheap in the Philippines as long as you know how to use the country’s transportation system.
This is pretty much the standard regardless of wherever you are in the country.
Here are the different transportation methods you can use to go around the Philippines and how much can it be:
Using the trains around Metro Manila should be your first choice since the capital of the Philippines and its surrounding cities are notorious for its unbearable traffic.
LRT and MRT cover the major highways of Manila. PNR is an older train than both but it is currently the only intercity rail in the Philippines which runs from Manila to the province of Laguna.
Here is the price range for each train:
- LRT: $0.30–0.60
- MRT: $0.26–0.55
- PNR: $0.30–1.18
The trains can only take you so far and it’s mostly around Manila only. You will likely have to use buses to get to your destinations.
A short-trip bus can cost you for about $0.49-1.18 while long-trip provincial buses will set you back at around $9.85.
Riding a jeepney is definitely an experience on its own and most tourists don’t leave the Philippines without riding one.
Called the “King of the Road”, Philippine jeepneys will surely be your go-to transportation mode whether you are in the cities or remote locations.
They are one of the most accessible and fuss-free public vehicles that go almost anywhere. The minimum fare for a jeepney ride is $0.16.
A tricycle is a motorcycle with an attached passenger’s sidecar. Next to jeepneys, this is the second most popular means of transportation in the Philippines.
Depending on your location and your destination, a tricycle ride can be as low as $0.20.
If you want to pay the lowest fare, you will have to wait for other passengers.
But if you want the tricycle ride on your own, you can tell the driver that you want a “special” ride. It will cost a little bit more but considering the capacity of the vehicle, it’s more comfortable to ride alone.
Hotels and Hostels
The general rule for cheap accommodation booking is to stay away from Manila.
Five-star hotels located in the capital of the Philippines can easily cost you up to $275 per day but will only set you back as far as $69 per day in cities near Manila.
If you think that you’ll spend most of your time outside and don’t really need a high-star room, consider booking from hostels or from Airbnb.
Owners of condominium units usually rent out their whole unit for as low as $19 per day.
Here are some of the hotels and hostels that my friend recommended:
Sofitel Philippine Plaza (Manila)
Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5
Price: starts at $127
Listed on the hotel website, this 5-star 42 sq. meter room features “traditional Filipino design elements and contemporary interiors with a private balcony overlooking the Manila skyline”.
Sofitel is one of the well-known hotels in the Philippines for its luxury rooms and suites.
If your priority is a more-than-comfortable luxurious accommodation, then consider shelling out a couple of hundreds of bucks from your budget.
Nordic Pearl Unit, Tagaytay Prime Residences Condo (Tagaytay City)
Airbnb rating: 4.86/5
If you want a hotel-like experience but for a significantly less price, then Airbnb is probably your best shot.
This condominium unit offers an elegant and stylish interior.
It comes with utilities that your house can offer as a complete kitchen and dining set so you can brush up your cooking skills and save money from eating out.
The unit also comes with free access to a pool, speedy WiFi, and Netflix and can accommodate up to 4 guests comfortably. That’s about $5 per person!
Haven Backpacker’s Hostel (Makati City)
Tripadvisor rating: 4/5
Haven Backpacker’s Hostel is an incredible budget-friendly place for those who are looking for simple accommodation with no frills.
Perfect for backpackers, this hostel is equipped with all the basic facilities you might need.
On the downside, this hostel only offers mixed dorm beds. So, if you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers of your opposite sex, then this hostel might just be for you.
If you really want to skimp up, you can try looking for transient homes when you reach your destination.
There are plenty of bed spacing arrangements around tourist spots and you can easily locate one when you ask a local.
Pricing depends on the owner but transient homes and bed spacing can go as low as $2 a night.
The downside is, you really can’t book these kinds of arrangements online and you will mostly rely on your instincts when doing so.
Remember, even if Filipinos are kind and hospitable, there will be bad ones out there!
Must-try Filipino food
For your basic food and beverage needs, the prices are the following:
- 1.5L of bottled water: 75 cents
- Local beer: $1-2
The Philippines, like other Southeast Asian countries, is a home for surprisingly cheap local foods!
A complete meal will only cost you around $1-2. When it comes to street food, a dollar goes a long way.
That means enough food and drinks to fill you up!
Here are your must-try local cuisine, fast food, and street food in the Philippines:
You can’t get any more Filipino than this fast-food chain.
Filipinos love Jollibee as much as Americans love McDonald’s. You’ll never go wrong trying their world-famous Chickenjoy.
A standard fast food meal at any restaurant costs around $1-3 depending on the restaurant.
This is one of the top contenders of the best Filipino dishes.
It’s a full pig stuffed with aromatics and slowly roasted over open charcoal, leaving the skin crispy and glistening with juicy meat.
Lechon is usually sold by weight and a kilo of it can go up to $10.
It’s on the expensive side in the Philippines but Lechon is definitely one of the guilty pleasures of Filipinos.
Never leave the Philippines without trying adobo!
Considered as their national dish, adobo is chicken or pork dish cooked in soy sauce and vinegar.
Simplicity is what makes it delicious.
Pair it with a soft boiled egg and tomatoes to get a full Filipino meal experience.
Filipino street food
Barbecue, fish ball, kwek-kwek, balut, basically anything that you can see on food carts and street grillers is absolutely cheap and delicious.
Any kind of street food worth buying is only under a dollar. Of course, you have to be careful when eating street food.
Municipalities in the Philippines usually have ordinances for health and sanitation control of street foods.
Tip: A great tip is to book a street food tour on Airbnb and get yourself a local tourist guide and have them take you out for an ultimate food trip experience!
Nightlife in the Philippines
For a bustling nightlife not heavy on your pockets, the Philippines is the way to go.
This country has a lot of variances depending on where you are at.
The price of alcoholic drinks differs on the type of club you’re in, but these are pretty much the standard prices for your nightlife essentials:
- Local beer: $1-2
- Cocktails: $3+
- A liter of alcohol: around $10
- Wine: $3+
- Coke: $0.59
- A pack of cigarette: around $2
Check out these places where you can satisfy the party animal within:
As the capital of the Philippines, you can expect that this city is very much alive when the night falls.
There are 3 main nightlife areas around Manila: the P. Burgos Street, Ermita, and Malate.
Each area has different takes of bar crawling, but you can expect a lot of things in this district from sports bars, clubs, KTVs, and lots of other stuff in between.
Beach and drinking definitely pair well together.
Boracay is one of the top destinations for tourists and its unique nightlife is one of the many reasons.
From fancy and chill bars to raving spots, Boracay will not let you down.
Take advantage of clubs’ Happy Hour for cheap drinks!
The top (cheap) destinations in the Philippines
Boracay is a tourist trap but that doesn’t mean you need to fall into it.
The island can definitely be packed with tourists and locals during summer but there are hidden gems in Boracay where you and your wallet can relax.
Try the famous White Beach with its beautiful white sand and turquoise water.
Go to Station 3 for fewer tourists and cheaper accommodation that costs as low as $20.
But the real deal is Balinghai Beach. It’s a small, secluded beach only accessible when low tide. You’ll only have to pay an entrance fee of $9 and you can stay there as long as you like.
Pitch up a tent and you’re good to go.
Other things to do in Boracay:
- Snorkeling: $5-7 inclusive of snorkeling gear
- Island hopping: $10
Palawan Underground River
Located in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, this underground river features beautiful limestone landscapes and it’s one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Take a boat to explore its many underground caves and experience the full mountain-to-sea ecosystem.
A lot of agencies offer underground tours. A tour costs around $30 per person where you will be in a paddleboat exploring the length of the underground river for at least 45 minutes.
It is a standard in Palawan that all underground river tours include hotel transfers and a buffet lunch.
Batangas is home to many beaches that can rival Boracay’s.
A lot of beaches and resorts in Batangas are free of charge. Free! Like this Josie Beach Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas where you only have to pay a $0.39 ecological fee.
You’re free to pitch up a tent along the shore and enjoy the beauty of the sea.
When visiting Batangas you should not miss going to:
The National Museum of the Philippines
Learn all about the country’s history, culture, and other fun facts by visiting the National Museum of the Philippines for free!
The National Museum is made up of 4 different museums all located in one huge compound in Manila.
It operates the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and National Planetarium.
While visiting is free of charge, you can get the best experience by booking a tour.
While you’re in there, also check out Rizal Park located just beside the compound.
The Philippines is truly one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets when it comes to cheap travels.
The only thing you need to do is to plan your trip wisely in order for you to get the best experience out of every dollar and to not fall into any touristy gimmicks!
Now, are you ready for your next ultimate summer escapade?