5 Affordable Places to Visit in the Philippines
A lot of people think traveling is only for the rich and famous. But, if you really want to travel, don’t let financial circumstances stop you. In this article, I share with you how I was able to travel two of the world’s best beaches for under PHP 10K (Philippine Pesos) ($200 USD). *1 USD = 50 PHP
I’ve always had a penchant for traveling. While many perceive it as a luxury, I have made it my mission to redefine its status quo and travel within a budget. In my blog, Travels with a Hobo, I share with my readers the adventures I take with my boyfriend, Beep, also known as “The Hobo,” the one who inspired me to travel backpacker style.
If you have always wanted to be an outdoor enthusiast, here are a few affordable places to visit in the Philippines that we highly recommend:
First on the list is Coron, Palawan. Dubbed as one of the best beaches in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine and Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic Traveler, you might think it would cost you an arm and a leg just to experience its beauty.
But, surprise! Back in 2012, I was able to travel around Coron (4D/3N) for just PHP 5,000.
When you are traveling backpacker style (meaning with a limited budget), there are only two things you should be concerned with: a place to shower and a place to sleep.
Instead of booking a lush hotel that might have cost me my entire budget, I stayed at Patrik & Tezz Guesthouse. Despite being a low-cost inn (PHP 400 a night), they ranked #1 Bed and Breakfast in Coron on Trip Advisor.
El Nido, Palawan
The next affordable place in the Philippines that you might not have realized was actually affordable is El Nido, Palawan, which is also among the top beaches to visit in the world.
My friends and I dared to take the 7K challenge as our entire budget for our El Nido adventure. This included airfare, transportation, accommodation, tours, food expenses, terminal fees, environmental fees, and the like.
Here is how we traveled around El Nido for less than PHP 7,000. A direct flight to El Nido can easily cost you PHP 10,000 for a roundtrip ticket. But, my friends and I opted to take a longer but cheaper route via Puerto Princesa. From there, you can either take a bus or van to El Nido. Just remember to allow at least a day for the trip because the drive takes about 6-8 hours long.
What also helped cut down costs was the fact El Nido’s town proper is so small, everything can be accessed by foot. As for accommodations, we tried out Tay Miloy’s Inn, which was roughly PHP 240 a night.
An El Nido experience would not be complete without going island hopping. Tour guides charge approximately PHP 1,200 to P1,400. We booked our island hopping tour with Lagoon Tours, which was recommended by a good friend of mine.
We were also lucky that the owner of Lagoon Tours, Kuya Harvey, gave us a pretty awesome deal. He offered two tours for PHP 1,000, so we only paid PHP 2,000 for all four tours. Apart from tour fees, we also rented out snorkel gears for P100/day and kayaks for P300/day.
One of the things that can rack up travel expenses is food. To keep up with our 7K challenge, we allotted PHP 50 for meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and PHP 30 for snacks or merienda.
It is not difficult to find reasonably priced meals around El Nido. Stores that sell affordable roasted chicken like Andok’s and Baliwag offer pretty filling meals for only PHP 150 – 200.
When our trip was almost over, and we still had a surplus of cash, we decided to splurge a little bit on one of El Nido’s most expensive restaurants – The Alternative Restaurant and Bar.
The total amount we spent at the end of the trip was PHP 6,730.66. That was for five days and four nights.
If you’re looking for affordable places that are conveniently near the metro, you can take a bus to Tarlac and be mesmerized by the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo.
A day-trip budget to the captivating mountain costs roughly around PHP 1,500 – 2,000 per head. You can take an unforgettable 4×4 jeep drive and trek to the crater of the mountain.
It can be a long walk, but once you reach the top, the view is absolutely worth it. You can bask in its glory or take a boat ride across the Crater Lake and camp overnight.
Another destination that is just near the heart of the Philippines’ capital is Zambales. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you are going to love camping at Zambales’ Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove, which is located at the base of Mt. Pinatubo.
Zambales was buried by ash when the sleeping volcano erupted decades ago. The campsite has risen to popularity as more and more tourists flock to visit its ashen sand and agoho trees (similar to pine trees).
Last but not the least, if you are looking for some adventure, take a drive down to Anilao, Batangas. Just about three hours away from Manila, Batangas offers you a unique diving experience. At Anilao, you can see thousands of fish in action. Swimming with them as they go along the current.
If diving is not your cup of tea, you can also trek to Mt. Gulugod Baboy. It is a fairly easy climb that is suitable for beginners. A day-trip in Batangas can cost you about PHP 1,000 – 1,500 per person. Just board a bus going to Batangas City and alight at Bolbok. From there, you can take a jeep to Anilao (Mabini).
Do not let finances stop you from traveling, even if it is just around the Philippines. For PHP 700 and PHP 5,000 or less, you can visit two of the world’s best beaches. You just have to be open to the experience of traveling on a budget. Not to mention, you’ll have a healthier and happier disposition with all the Vitamin D you’ll be getting from spending a lot of time outdoors, as proven by science. Want more tips on how we travel to our hearts’ content without getting broke? Here’s another helpful guide.