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How much does it cost to travel in the Philippines

siquijor beach with hammock philippines1

Traveling in the Philippines can be pretty cheap if you plan your trip properly, which mainly means map out your route before you go and book your flights! If you’re like me who has a hard time planning anything in advance, you’ll have to fork out a lot for plane tickets for flights that leave a couple of days later. I will share some things to consider when planning a trip to the Philippines after my daily expense breakdown.

Note: I am using the currency exchange rate from Philippine Pesos to US Dollars from February 2015 – 1PHP = 0.02269 USD; the exchange rate might change slightly over time.philippines prices

Daily expenses

My daily expenses in the Philippines came to US$56.55, which include said pricey flights, but not my flights in and out of the country. If I leave out my costs for flights within the country, my daily expenses come down to US$43.45. It’s not necessarily cheap, especially for South East Asia, but it is still less than $50 a day. I am confident that you can travel the Philippines comfortably on $50 a day, including flights, if you book them in advance and get better prices on them than I did, and on $40 a day if you don’t plan on doing any pricey activities such as diving, boat trips or renting motorbikes – but you’d be missing out if you didn’t include at least some of these things.

Budget breakdown

For a better idea of what to expect with regards to cost of accommodation, tours, public transportation and food, read on for my budget breakdown.philippines el nido boat

Accommodation

The cost for accommodation differs quite a lot, depending on where you go. In Boracay the cheapest private room I could find (in high season) was PHP1,250/ US$28.32, a dorm room in Boracay was PHP600/ US$13.60. Dorms in a central location in Manila are also around PHP600, slightly cheaper in older hostels or hostels that aren’t located as conveniently as the hostels in Makati, for example. For a budget hotel, check out the Tune Hotel in Makati (Tune Hotels work similar to budget airlines: the earlier you book, the cheaper the room rate). Less touristy islands like Siquijor had private rooms for as little as PHP500 /US$11.33, and the cheapest dorm I came across in the Philippines was PHP250 /US$5.66. The cheapest private room I found in El Nido was PHP600 /US$13.60, dorms in a centrally located hostel were also around PHP600.

Average per night: PHP500 /US$11.33

el nido kayak
I don’t have a single picture of a place I stayed at because the accommodation in the Philippines is frankly nothing to write home, or to blog about!

Transportation

My flights were all around US$100 but you can easily get better deals than I did if you book in advance – much better deals, for as little as US$15 during flight sales, or around $30 if you book in advance. I share more tips on finding the cheapest flights below.

The other main transportation you’ll take will be ferries, which range from PHP25 /US$0.57 or PHP62 /US$1.40 for short rides to PHP395 /US$9 for longer rides (3-4 hours). On top of that, you’ll always pay a terminal fee (see below). The most expensive ferry fee I paid was PHP965 /US$22, which included the ferry ticket, a surcharge for my luggage and the terminal fee.

Other modes of transport you’ll encounter are buses, which range from very basic city buses to more comfortable long-distance coaches. A 4-hour bus ride on Cebu Island cost me PHP175 /US$3.95, a night bus from Manila is PHP470-530 / US$10.66-11.90. The 2-hr bus ride I took on Bohol was PHP30 /US$0.68.siquijor ferryMotorbike rentals start at PHP250 /US$5.66 per day.

A taxi from Manila airport into town was PHP200 /US$4.50, a shared tricycle from the ferry port in Boracay to White Beach was PHP20 /US$0.45 – just to give you an idea of what to expect.

Average: PHP1,780 /US$40 for a flight, PHP210 /US$4.70 for a ferry ride.

Tours

Island tours and sunset cruises on Boracay were PHP800 /US$18, a walking tour in Manila PHP1,200 /US$27, a snorkeling tour Apo Island PHP1,000 /US$22.50, island hopping tours in El Nido were between PHP1,200-1,400 / US$27-31.50; Sabang underground river PHP1,500 /US$33.72; a motorcycle island tour in Siquijor PHP700 /US$15.75.

Average: PHP1,000 /US$22.50

Philippines Island Hopping Tour
Island Hopping Tours in El Nido: A full day of snorkeling, a lunch buffet and island hopping for PHP1,200 /US$27

Food

A meal in Boracay cost me around PHP300 /US$6.75, up to PHP500/ US$11.25 for a nicer meal. Prices in Manila were about the same. Food from a street food stall is between PHP25-50 /US$0.56-1.12. In other places, I usually paid around PHP200 /US$4.50 for a cheaper vegetarian meal, dishes with fish or meat were usually around PHP300 /US$6.75. I usually paid PHP190 /US$4.30 for breakfast, but in touristy areas (El Nido or Boracay) up to PHP350 /US$8 and a fancy breakfast in Manila set me back at PHP650 /US$14.72.  A big bottle of water averaged PHP30-50 /US$0.68-1.13, a decent cup of coffee was between PHP100-125 /US$2.30-2.83; a fresh fruit shake cost around PHP110 /US$250.

Average: PHP200 /US$4.50 for a vegetarian meal & PHP300/US$6.75 for a non-vegetarian meal.Food in the Philippines

Entertainment

Let’s start with alcoholic drinks: Beer is usually between PHP40-60 /US$0.89-1.35, in some pricier places PHP80 /US$1.79. Cocktails were on average around PHP200 /US$4.50, but can be pricier in some bars in Manila and Boracay. I never paid entrance fee for nightclubs since I only went to clubs and bars that didn’t have a cover fee.

Average night out: PHP250 – 500 /US$5.66-$11.33, depending on your drink of choice.Philippines drinks

Things to consider when planning a trip to the Philippines

Have a return ticket!

Most countries require proof of a return ticket out of the country, but I’ve seen this rarely checked, especially in South East Asia. In the Philippines, however, I had to show my ticket and prove that I’d be leaving again. Luckily I bought a ticket from Manila to Bangkok the night before I boarded my flight to the Philippines, otherwise I wouldn’t have been allowed on the plane.

Plan in advance

My main recommendation is to plan your trip as detailed as possible – especially the flights you’ll be taking. Since you’re only issued a 28-day tourist visa in the Philippines anyway, you should know your dates for at least some of your flights already.cebu pacific plane

Factor in terminal fees

When you take a ferry or a plane, you usually have to pay a terminal fee in the Philippines. These vary considerably – from PHP100 (US$2.27) to PHP200 (US$4.54) at airports to as little as PHP14 (US$0.32) at ferry ports. While they are not outrageously high, it is still an expense you need to factor in. Sometimes they are included in the ferry ticket, other times they are not. When leaving the Philippines, I paid the highest terminal fee: PHP550 (US$12) at Manila Airport.

Compare airlines

I found that in the Philippines, it could make a huge difference which airline you took. Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific, the least reliable airline, often had the cheapest tickets (none of my flights was ever cancelled, but I was usually delayed – other travelers were less lucky), but sometimes PAL Express or AirAsia had better ticket prices. It pays off to compare prices on each individual website instead of using flight comparison websites because they usually don’t include all of the budget airlines and/or don’t factor in extra charges for luggage.

tarsier in bohol corella
Cheapest activity in the Philippines: Visiting these cute little tarsier guys in Bohol – PHP50, around US$1

Avoid high season if possible

This one might be obvious, but especially destinations like Boracay or Palawan, which are very popular with Filipino travelers and visitors from other Asian countries, fill up like crazy during local Holidays such as Holy Week or Christmas, and prices for accommodation sky rocket.

Planning around the seasonal weather is a good idea anyway, because you don’t want to cruise around the islands near El Nido when it’s raining or overcast, or get rained out during your beach vacation in Malapascua.

Htrail walletow I keep track of my expenses

I used my indispensable travel budget app Trail Wallet, which I highly recommend to track your expenses. You can read more about it here.

Have you been to the Philippines and got any tips to share on how to travel in the Philippines on a budget, or were you able to spend less than I did during your trip? Please share your experiences in the comments below!

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Where to stay in Thalpe Beach, Sri Lanka: Era Beach by Jetwing Hotels

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Imagine you have an infinity pool that looks out right at the ocean and you only have to share it with a handful of other people. You take your cocktail to the pool, listen to the clashing waves in front of you, and enjoy the peaceful bliss of the moment.era beach by jetwing pool and vaseAt Era Beach on Sri Lanka’s south coast, this is not a dream, but your daily reality. With only eight rooms, it is one of the most exclusive boutique hotels I’ve ever stayed at and it almost felt like I was in a private villa instead of a hotel. Even at full capacity, the hotel can never feel crowded, and you will have the pool or the sun loungers almost to yourself. If you are looking for an intimate, luxurious beach getaway in Sri Lanka, there is no better place than Era Beach by Jetwing Hotels, the country’s leading chain of small boutique hotels.Jetwing by Era BeachThe rooms are spacious and comfortable, equipped with dark wooden furniture that complement the overall feel of the elegant colonial villa. The bathrooms can only be described as huge, almost as big as the room itself, with a shower big enough for two (just sayin’ 😉 ). The rooms all have a tea and coffee maker, best enjoyed on the balcony outside the room which offers the best view over the dream pool and the gorgeous grounds. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this:era beach by jetwing pool viewBut you won’t be spending a lot of time in your room while you’re at Era Beach – the pool area, nestled in between two lounge areas, one of which has a well-stocked bar and the other one the breakfast / dining room, is where you would want to spend most of your time. The saltwater pool is one of the most beautiful swimming pools I have ever come across, and just like everything at the hotel, it was designed in an effort to catch your eye and is without a doubt the star of the property.Jetwing by Era BeachNo matter where you look, the decor at Era Beach has been selected thoughtfully to match the overall feel of the property – sophisticated, luxurious and exquisite. Giant flower vases that resemble the Dutch-colonial style meet contemporary art and sleek furniture in the outdoor areas – one thing I loved about the resort was that all the common spaces were designed in a way that they had an open feel to it – wide open colonial doors and windows, or fully open terraces.Jetwing by Era Beach gardensEra Beach is so exquisite that they even offer a butler service, but I found the staff to be extremely discrete, always on call, yet never intrusive, adding to the elitist feel of the boutique resort.Jetwing by Era BeachUnder a few coconut palm trees right by the beach, eight sun beds are lined up, allowing you to look out at the ocean while relaxing and working on your tan. Because that’s about all you should be doing here: relax, recharge your batteries, chill out, and get a nice tan.Jetwing by Era Beach beachThe only time you might want to get out of your chair would be after the generous breakfast, to walk it off, so that you can order some fresh seafood for lunch. You get down to the beach via a set of stairs and walk on the soft sand for at least a kilometer in either direction. You won’t come across many people, only a few local fishermen and a small number of tourists from other nearby resorts. Following the beach to the right (when facing the water) would bring you to Unawatuna, a small nearby beach town, only a short 15-minute tuktuk ride away.

In Unawatuna, you’ll find everything you need from funky beach bars to tourist souvenir shops and Ayurveda centers.Jetwing by Era Beach sri lankaThere’s not really any need to leave Era Beach, however: the food is absolutely divine and you can order lunch and dinner a la carte – the menu offers a mix of local cuisine and Western dishes – in addition to the breakfast which is included in the room rate and comes with fresh fruit and yogurt, fresh breads and pastries and a full hot breakfast on top of it. You’ll be dining outside, on the covered terrace on either side of the pool, enjoying the sunset and the absolute peace and tranquility around you.Jetwing by Era Beach breakfastIt is impossible not to relax at Era Beach – if you are looking for a romantic getaway, tranquility, solitude and five star service, you will love Era Beach.

Stand out features

What makes Era Beach unforgettable is the exclusive and private feel that the resort has. The beautifully designed property, something that all Jetwing Hotels are known for, the excellent quality of food and service, and the breathtaking pool are what make a stay at Era Beach an absolute exhilarating experience.Jetwing by Era Beach decor

Room for improvement

The Wi-Fi situation was not very satisfying for me. While a few of the other guests were able to connect to the Wi-Fi in some downstairs areas, I could only ever connect in the reception area, and that’s the last place you want to spend time in at this resort. Whenever I was online, the connection was still painfully slow. I hope this is something that can be improved, but I am saying that from a standpoint of someone who works while traveling. For people on vacation, it might actually be a nice break from the digital world and sometimes you need to be forced to let go. In an enchanting environment like Era Beach, you shouldn’t be anywhere else but right there in the moment.

The other thing I thought could use some improvement were the bathrooms which were very big, but lacked in character. But then maybe that’s part of the minimalistic design.Jetwing by Era Beach bathroom

Details

Amenities: Saltwater pool, complimentary breakfast, tea and coffee maker in the room, free wi-fi, butler service, bar and restaurant
Location:
834 Galle Road, Talpe, Galle, Unawatuna Beach, Unawatuna
Price:
Lobby rooms start at $80 per night (including breakfast), $104 per garden suite, $144 per sea view suite. Room rates vary depending on the season – please note that prices are considerably higher during high season (Dec – March). Half-board and full-board can be booked for an additional fee.
LGBT Friendly:
Yes

Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes

Website: www.jetwinghotels.com/erabeachJetwing by Era Beach

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