We didn't plan on going to the Philippines, but browsing through my SEA Lonely Planet I started reading bits and pieces about the country and am interested, as well as I have cousins who are half-Filipino and aunts who have been.
I am interested in going, I would like to go before China but we're already set on that route and hoping to be finished before it gets cold in northern China and Tibet, so maybe next year after India. I'm wondering about the costs of the country though. I realize there are prices listed for everything in guidebooks, but I’m wondering how much people spent during a one month visit (on the 21 day visa). We generally stick to the cheaper places, like to stay in rooms costing less than $15 a night and eating local food type of budget. If you've done this and have a close estimate as to how much you spent your input would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks
Have you ever been to anywhere in Asia?
Food won't be that much of a problem. There are supermarkets where you can get some bread and sliced meat for sandwiches and other snacks. There a lots of little places where working men eat at with a several choices from around 30 pesos. There are McDonalds, Burger Kings and KFC's where the prices are cheaper than back in the US or Canada. Drinking water you can get in local Seven Eleven type stores reasonably priced.
If it was Thailand I can find places where you have a room with air, TV, hot water, private toilet for $15 a night. In the Philippines I find for the same amount of money you get a room that is not as good. Personally I don't do hostels, I like my own private toilet, shower and I like A/C. That would be a minimum of around 1000 pesos for Manila per night. (I usually start at a better place for a few days and then book a night or two in a cheaper place - but with air! Once you get out in the sticks you can get some better prices. It can be hot in fan rooms! Also they can be noisy with jeepneys and other traffic noise. Also, with the windows open for ventilation all you have to keep outsiders out is a mesh screen. (One reason I prefer to NOT have ground floor rooms!) I don't care for sleeping in a pool of sweat no matter how cheap the room is but I am older now and want a minimum of comfort in a tropical country.
Bus travel is pretty cheap between the provinces but they can be crowded. On some buses you have to keep all of your possessions with you inside because of pilfering from the storage bins. Local taxis in Manila are not that expensive IF you use the meter and not bargain the fare. There is a MRT in Manila that is helpful. When you figure out the jeepney schedules and prices you will get a good deal on those rides. Watch for pickpockets in crowds and on buses and jeepneys.
Here is a link to a few places that have fan rooms and dorm rooms along with private rooms.
I have used this Stone House B&B but only the small room with A/C, TV and private shower @ around 1000 P. This place is on the same street as the above Mabini Pension. Small kitchen with simple cheap meals available. Over the counter beer wasn't priced that high either. Easy walk to Robinson Mall and cheap eats from store front restaurants. Malls have food courts, by the way, which have some cheap choices. Some pubs with expats in them also in this area. Many bars and pubs have frequent "happy hours" with discount drinks. The places that serve food often have daily food and drink specials.
In all of Asia you will encounter some cockroaches in the rooms. The less you pay the more chance you will have them as neighbors - above places no exception! If you are choosing a fan room avoid rooms on any main street because of traffic noise and sometimes even the blinking neon advertising can be a nuisance at night.
The prices you see for the above guest house/hostels are what they are. Personally if it was me sharing a bed with my wife in a tropical climate I would pay a little extra for A/C. A price of $15 US is about 700 pesos.
Can you do it - sure YOU can do it that way - but not me!
Have a nice trip.
I forgot, for getting around the islands you may have to use cheap airlines to save time. Watch the weight limits of these airlines. If you are packing a lot of stuff that makes you overweight you pay a surcharge. Ferries are often overloaded - sometimes they sink but fortunately not that often. I wouldn't pack myself way down in the bowels of any ferry if I could help it!
Thanks for the tips! I'm not sure if we will go on this trip, I would like to check it out as it seems like an interseting country, I'm wondering if it's different then the rest of southeast asia with the spanish influence and huge population of Christians vs the more french influence we've been encountering in Cambodia and Vietnam.
We've been to Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam so far this trip. China next!
Get a few more opinions. I am almost an old fart now so some things that appeal to you don't necessarily show up as important to me. I like the Philippines but my introduction was a long time ago when I was practically a kid in the military. Lots of backpackers do visit on tight budgets and still seem to find a place to stay pretty easy.
There is a Spanish, Chinese maybe even Indonesian influence in the Philippines. They drive on the same side as Europe and the US. They are very religious, show up in the P.I. in December and it is often difficult to find a hotel to stay at. Many of the overseas employees come home for Christmas holidays. Christmas decorations can start going up in late September. It is kind of strange to hear Christmas carols so early. Lots of old churches to look over if that is any interest. There is a "Sound and Light" Show at Corregidor which is pretty good.
Philippines is pretty much more westernized now. Majority of the population are Christians except in the Mindanao area where most of our Muslim brothers/sisters reside. People speak more English than Spanish (the elders are mostly the ones who can still speak the language). There are lots of beautiful beaches around, Palawan being the most recommended, I believe. Philippines could be one of the cheapest destinations in Asia. Sir Halbert might have said most of the info that you need 😉 Let me know if you need more help.
Thanks so much!! If we do wind up going it won't be until early 2011 so I'll post again when we know for sure. 😊
try cebu and siargao for beaches, adventure and eco-tourism!!!!