The cost of travelling in the Philippines

When Dave and I decided to travel through south-east Asia this year, we thought it’d be pretty cheap. We anticipated living off $2,000 a month between us, money we expected would allow us to live the high life.

Palm tree swing East Bali Double-Barrelled Travel

Relaxing in East Bali

Living in Bali soon proved this theory wrong. We easily blew $4,000 a month on eating out and rent. Our luxurious villa was a little over the top for two people. We’d rented it for friends to come visit, but the spare room stood empty half the time.

Planning too far in advance

When we booked our villa, we stupidly paid up front two months in advance. In the end, we cut the lease short by a week and a half, as we wanted to explore the rest of Bali during this time. We only got $200 of the $400 back for that time.

We learnt our lesson – don’t plan so far in advance! Now I’ve taken to only booking one night at a time in places. When we arrive and suss out the place, if we like it I’ll book more.

Children Lombok Double-Barrelled Travel

Getting mobbed by kids in Lombok – one of our last places of exploration in Indonesia

The cost of travelling in the Philippines

When compared to Bali, I think the Philippines is a slightly cheaper place to travel in, probably because it’s not yet as touristy as some parts of Bali.

We could probably travel very frugally here if it wasn’t for our passion for scuba diving, which always seems to take us over our intended budget.

But anyway, I’ve given you a rundown in the price of travelling in the Philippines below. Please let me know in the comments if you think I’ve left something out and I’ll be happy to help!

Chocolate Hills Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

The Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

Accommodation in the Philippines

We were surprised how pricey accommodation in the Philippines is. For a basic beach shack in El Nido, Palawan – which would cost only AUS$10 or so in other south-east Asian countries – we were paying nearly AUS$40 a night. And the place didn’t even have air conditioning!

We had to hunt a lot in El Nido for cheaper accommodation. In the end, we managed to find a last minute deal online, booking a double room with air-conditioning for just over AUS$20 a night.

Looking online, the average price for accommodation in this tiny town was over AUS$90 a night. Sheesh!

The price of eating out in the Philippines

Like all countries, the cost of food in the Philippines varies greatly. We ate at some organic restaurants on Alona Beach in Panglao, an island off Bohol, which were pricey, mainly because of the quality of the food and the touristy location. In these places we were paying around AUS$12 per dish.

But then when we were in Puerto Princesa, we found a little Vietnamese hole in the wall and ate like kings, with two phos, pork buns and bottled water for just AUS$4.50. The key is to follow the locals and eat where they eat. Look for how crowded it is too – the Vietnamese joint certainly worked out perfectly for us because we followed these golden rules.

The cost of groceries in the Philippines

We found groceries to be generally cheaper than in Bali. A grocery shop for one breakfast, lunch and dinner set us back about AUS$30. But the quality of food in the supermarkets is very low, at least it was in the supermarkets we went to.

It is difficult to find quality fresh produce. There was an aisle of spam and other tinned meats, which showed you the kinds of foods Filipinos liked to eat.

Spam Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

A wall of spam at the Filipino supermarket

There are small fruit stalls and markets scattered around though which are good places to pick up fresh food. I’m not sure if we were getting tourist rates, but we paid about 60 cents (AUS) per apple in general.

The price of toiletries

Dave was still attending to his sore arm when we arrived in the Philippines and so we made a few trips to the pharmacy. Bandages and headache tablets like ibuprofen were very reasonably priced. About AUS$2 for a bandage and AUS$1.50 for a packet of headache tablets.

Sunscreen is expensive, but it’s expensive everywhere. And considering Dave’s albino-like skin, we go through it like a fat woman gorging on chocolate cake.

A small tube of sunscreen will set you back about AUS$5.

Transport in the Philippines

The most budget option of transport in the Philippines is a bus, and we used them for longer journeys, like when we travelled from Carmen to Tagbilaran on Bohol island.

Bus Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

A Filipino bus on Bohol

One of the best and cheapest ways to get around the Philippines, when you’re in the towns, is by jeepney or tricycle.

A jeepney is a long ute-like vehicle with metal seating lining the tray of the car. Locals cram inside and pay about 7 pesos (20 cents – AUS) for the ride. It’s like the Filipino version of a bus.

Jeepney Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

Me in a jeepney

Tricycles are a motorbike that has been converted into a multi-person transport car, by attaching a metal buggy to the side of the bike. The best way to use these is to ask a local how much it costs to go a certain distance, so you know how much to pay before you get in. Like with taxis, make sure you agree on the rate before you go. As a rule of thumb, a 2km journey should cost about 10 pesos per person (30 cents – AUS).Jeepney Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

Taxis are another mode of transport that’s the most luxurious but also very reasonable. For example, in Cebu City we rode in a taxi for an hour, as we had some errands to run, and it only cost us AUS$12. Make sure you get a metered taxi though. Avoid ‘taxis’ out of the front of the airport that aren’t metered and go with a metered cab instead.

The best way we found to get around was by hiring a scooter. As always, we loved the freedom it gave us to have our own transport. We hired a scooter for five days in Bohol and negotiated our rate down to 450 pesos (AUS$13.30) per day. This is still much more expensive than the AUS$4 a day you can expect to pay in Bali, but we value our freedom!

Ferries are also popular in the Philippines, given that the country is made up of so many islands. I would avoid them if you can though, as there are lots of ferry accidents each year and hundreds of people die.

Ferry Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

The ferry we took from Cebu to Bohol

Cost of alcohol

We have been off the sauce since leaving Bali, but I’ve read that Filipino beer is some of the cheapest in the world. San Miguel is the local beer (bet you didn’t know it was Filipino!) and will set you back about AUS$2 if bought in a bar.

Cocktails aren’t that expensive either, and sometimes the fruit juices are the same price on the menu. Expect to pay between AUS$4.50 – AUS$6.50 for a cocktail bought in a bar.

Entertainment and scuba diving

Scuba diving Philippines Double-Barrelled Travel

A shot from one of our scuba dives

We went to the IMAX cinema in Cebu City and the tickets were AUS$12.50 each. For the regular cinema, expect to pay AUS$5 for a ticket.

Scuba diving is very reasonable, compared to other places – especially places in the west. However, I wouldn’t recommend going with the cheapest, as they’re not necessarily the best, and safety is paramount with an activity like scuba diving.

We paid between AUS$64 – AUS$77 for a two tank dive. This included equipment and the pricer end of the scale also included lunch.

And there you have it – a rundown of the price of travel in the Philippines!

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

Have you been to the Philippines? How much did it cost you?

Travel budget in June (AUS dollars) – Bali until the 20th of June, Philippines for the rest of the month
Transport (buses, taxis, ferries and scooter hire) $274.01
Accommodation $1,027.86
Eating out $822.98
Groceries $71.42
Alcohol $66.47
Entertainment $171.19
Tips $33.48
Toilets 30 cents
Toiletries $28.90
Laundry $24.17
Gas $13.15
Scuba diving $337.55
Bank fees
Other* $962.08
Flights $119.24 (Bali to Lombok, return)$445.63 (Bali to the Philippines)
Total without flights $
Total with flights $

 

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

2 comments on “The cost of travelling in the Philippines”

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      We loved it! We will have to return when the weather is better though, so that we can scuba dive more than we managed to on this trip. Our scuba days out kept getting cancelled because of typhoons, unfortunately.

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