After splurging in Malaysia we were hoping to reduce our travel costs in the Philippines. We only had 21 days to explore but the Philippines turned out to be one of our favourite countries so far; the scenery in the mountain provinces of Luzon were unrivalled in their beauty and what’s more we managed to keep to a much better budget than in Malaysia. So, here’s how much we spent during our three-week Philippines travel experience.
Activity Costs in the Philippines
We had a few things on our ‘must-see’ list for the Philippines, these included trying to spot tiny tarsiers and visiting the amazing Chocolate Hills in Bohol and exploring caves in Sagada. We also wanted to visit the famous Batad and Banaue rice terraces which meant we needed to hire a guide in Batad. While these kinds of experiences would cost us a small fortune in countries like New Zealand, we found all the activities in the Philippines ridiculously cheap. Entrance fees to the Tarsier Sanctuary and Chocolate Hills were less than a pound each while we hired cheap private guides in Sagada and Batad, including three entrepreneurial 11-year-old boys.
|Tarsier Sanctuary Entrance Fee||£1.50||£0.75|
|Chocolate Hills Entrance Fee||£1.50||£0.75|
|Batad Hiking Guide||£9.50||£4.75|
|Massages after hike||£12||£6|
|Amy’s Massage at Nuts Huts||£4.50||£2.25|
|Cave Connection tour in Sagada||£15||£7.50|
|Mini Guides in Sagada||£2.30||£1.65|
Philippines Accommodation Costs
Our accommodation costs for the Philippines have been the lowest of our trip so far, over £1.50 less per day than in super-cheap Indonesia. The places we stayed in usually didn’t have hot water though and at Nuts Huts we had manual-flush toilet; we also would have had to pay extra to use power points in Batad and Banaue. However, overall we found that Philippines hotels were good value for money; hotels in Manila, for example, can be expensive but we found a studio apartment with air-con, hot water, fridge, TV, table and chairs and a balcony all for just over £10 per night. In Sagada we had a really nice bright room with a great view from the balcony for about £9 per night. There was only one hotel we didn’t like in the Philippines in Baguio City; it was dingy with a disgusting bathroom and we couldn’t wait to get out the next morning.
|Expense||Total||Per Person||Per Day|
Philippine Food Costs
This was one of our (Amy’s) biggest worries about visiting the Philippines, as we’d heard that it was hard to find vegetarian food there. However, the reality for us was that we tasted some of the best food so far on our adventure. While in Tagbilaran we ate a few times at The Buzz, owned by The Bohol Bee Farm; this café had some delicious salads and freshly-baked bread which meant we returned time after time; the only problem was that we argued over who got what when sharing the meals out! We also loved The Yoghurt House in Sagada; the breakfasts were second to none and we had nearly all of our meals there while staying in the mountains. We also had great food at Nuts Huts and got by with simple rice dishes in Banaue and Batad. Manila was one place we didn’t really explore much and as such didn’t find amazing food, we had a pizza at Shakey’s and went to the supermarket to make some noodles back at our apartment.
No doubt we could have lowered our food costs had we stuck to local dishes but that would have meant either rice and omelettes for Amy (everything else was very meat-based) or sugary fatty fast-foods. I’m glad we splurged on some tasty meals though, especially since we did so much trekking and the Philippines.
|Expense||Total||Per Person||Per Day|
Transport Costs in the Philippines
Considering we took two domestic flights during our trip to the Philippines, we kept our transport costs pretty low. Domestic flights are so cheap in the Philippines; our flight to Manila cost us just £15 each with Zest Air. There isn’t a well-established tourist transport network in the Philippines so all the buses we took were the same ones the locals used; these were comfortable and it was reassuring to know we weren’t being ripped off. We took quite a few buses during our three-week trip, most of which were great as we got to see such spectacular scenery, although the overnight bus from Manila to Banaue was awful, with the ice-cold air-con blasting us in the face.
We also took the ferry to cross from Cebu to Bohol, this took about an hour and a half and they even showed the latest Hollywood blockbuster (pirated of course) en-route. The crossings were smooth and they served food on the ferry too if you wanted it. The only problem we encountered was that the taxi drivers waiting at the port would hike up their prices.
Overall though, taxis are reasonably priced in the Philippines and often run on a meter. We nearly booked a taxi to take us all the way from Manila to Clark Airport for £50 after realising that Tiger Air had changed our flight to Thailand. However, in the end we managed to find a bus from Manila at about 2.30am which saved us about £40.
We took a few fun trike rides in the Philippines and managed to negotiate reasonable prices each time. Lots of people get around on scooters, which are pretty cheap if you’re confident enough to drive one. You can also use a local jeepney; these open-ended vans are cheap but can be a little hairy at times, we often felt like sardines as more and more locals crammed in, hanging from the sides and flexing the roof of the brightly-coloured vehicle.
|Flights||Manila to Cebu: £31.90||£15.95|
|Cebu to Manila: £29.80||£14.90|
|Buses||Philtranco bus from Clark Airport to Manila: £12||£6|
|Bus from Manila to Banaue: £13.70||£6.85|
|Bus from Banaue to Bontoc: £3.60||£1.55|
|Bus from Sagada to Baguio City: £6.70||£3.35|
|Bus from Baguio City to Manila : £14||£7|
|Bus from Clark Airport Lounge (Manila) to Clark Airport: £6||£3|
|Bus from Tagbilaran to Nuts Huts Entrance Road: £1.20||£0.60|
|Bus from Nuts Huts to Chocolate Hills (Return): £1.80||£0.90|
|Bus from Nuts Huts to Tagbilaran: £0.90||£0.45|
|Jeepneys||Three Jeepneys in total: £6.70||£3.35|
|Taxis||Ten taxis in total: £23.50||£11.75|
|Trikes||Nine Trikes in total: £9.90||£4.95|
|Ferries||Ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran: £10||£5|
|Ferry from Tagbilaran to Cebu: £10||£5|
We had a few miscellaneous costs while travelling in the Philippines; we found that our travel adaptor didn’t quite fit all the sockets so we had to get another one, Amy’s flip flops broke at the most inopportune moment and my sunglasses took their last fall and lost their lenses so we needed to get replacements. Laundry was similarly priced to the other countries that we have visited, so there were no surprises there.
|Sim card & credit||£3.80||£1.90|
|Tourist Registration Fees in Sagada & Batad||£2||£1|
|Sunglasses, flipflops, adaptor, map||£11||£5.50|
|Tips for photos at the Banaue Rice Terraces||£1||£0.50|
Total Philippines Travel Costs for 21 days
The Philippines became our surprise favourite country during our three weeks there; we ate some delicious food, met some wonderful locals and saw some mind-blowing sights. We managed to keep costs pretty low for our time here too which was a bonus. Even though we spent very little we still enjoyed ourselves immensely and we have already planned a time to re-visit the Philippines islands.
|Expense||Total||Per Person||Per Day|
As always, we used the tremendous Trail Wallet app to track all of our spending – version two is out now in the app store!