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Staying in the Philippines during December

I want to find out information about accomodations during the month of December.
12 years ago, October 6th 2010 No: 1 Msg: #120508  
I'm planning to travel in the Philippines for 3 months: this coming December, January and February.

I have heard that it is difficult to find accomodations during the month of December and that they are also much more expensive than they are in the off season (assuming December, January and February are high season).

I'm assuming that this mainly applies to the big cities like Manila and Cebu City.

To what extent should I be concerned about this? Right now, I'm setting a budget of around 1,000 pesos per day for accomodation and don't want to pay more than that

Also, I'm flying into Manila and will stay there for 3 nights, but after that I'm not really sure where to go. I'm open to suggestions; basically I want to avoid places where the hotel prices are going to be jacked up

Hoping someone can shed some light... Reply to this

12 years ago, October 7th 2010 No: 2 Msg: #120586  
Can't shed any light at minute, but we have the same worries, for the xmas new year period mostly. In Khatmandu at the minute and are gonna take a day out tomorrow to try to book something. If I remember, and if we manage to book something, I'll post here again soon. Watch this space.... Reply to this

12 years ago, October 7th 2010 No: 3 Msg: #120599  
B Posts: 366
The Christmas season is a busy season for hotels in the Philippines, especially the Manila area. Because Filipinos are mostly Christian they flock home by the millions to visit families over the holidays. Christmas decorations go up in many malls in October. Many Filipinos work overseas to get some decent money in and they like to return home during the holiday season.

For 1000 pesos you have to expect less for your room. I wouldn't worry too much over food prices, worry about a decent place to sleep at. There are lots of supermarkets, Seven Eleven type stores and little places to eat at plus food courts in malls - food less of a problem! Even McDonalds and Jollibees are available at normal (Filipino) prices.

Here are a few places in the Ermita area:

In the Ermita area there are restaurants, nightlife, Robinson Mall, casinos, you can walk to the MRT and lots of Seven Eleven type stores. Short drive from the airport. Meter taxis cheap if you use the meter only. Jeepneys loud and agressive but cheap. (Especially loud at night if you have the windows open!)

I have used the Stone House a few times at 1000 baht per night for a small room with air, hot water, TV and private toilet/shower. No hooks to hang stuff with. The cockroaches were free! Little restaurant at this place was cheap but limited. Beer not that expensive either. Staff friendly enough. I am too old to take places without air, I like my windows shut to keep out noise and stray lights from blinking lights or advertising. Also, with an air conditioned room your windows are shut to keep out "invaders" either 2 legged or those who fly in! Your money - your choice!

I think you can get some places out in the sticks that are cheaper than 1000 pesos even during this time.

If you have been to Thailand before I find the hotels in Manila to be more expensive for the same quality or if they are the same price a hotel in Bangkok will be better and offer more. Tours and transportation are better organized in Thailand too!

One thing you have to nail down first is how to stay in the Philippines for 3 months. Sort your visa requirements out first before you fly there. How long you can stay in the P.I. depends on the passport you travel under and country you are from.
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12 years ago, October 8th 2010 No: 4 Msg: #120650  
Sir Halberd,

Thank you for your response.

I'm not too worried about my visa. At the moment I have a 59-day visa, so I'm clear to stay for that long and then I'm told I will have to go into Philippine immigration (either in Manila or Cebu) to get an extension on my 59-day visa which will take me through to 3 months. (I'm American by the way.)

My biggest concerns right now are 1.) my budget and 2.) safety.

Let me ask this: since I will be travelling for a long time (3 months) I have to bring a lot of money with me. I already know from experience travelling in the Philippines before that bringing U.S. dollars are the easiest form of currency to exchange, but they are also the riskiest (if they get stolen). On the other hand, traveller's checks are safe but extremely inconvenient (I'm told I can only cash large denomination checks in Manila and Cebu City). I don't have a credit card.

Is there a workable solution to this riddle? I really don't want to make myself vulnerable to theft/mugging by carrying my entire wad around with me in dollars; on the other hand, I don't want to be hampered, limited and confined to the vicinity of Manila and Cebu if I carry traveller's checks.

To me the question comes down to security. I need to find a secure place to deposit my money, preferably in a bank. I know that some hotels have safe deposit boxes which are great but they tend to be only in the more expensive accomodations, which brings me back to my other concern, budget; I can't afford to stay in the more expensive hotels.

Any and all suggestions are welcome and most appreciated because I'm very concerned about this.

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12 years ago, October 8th 2010 No: 5 Msg: #120670  
B Posts: 366
Cash in your pocket or cash in a bank or credit union back home is the same cash. When you have cash in a checking account back home you can use a debit card to withdraw it in the Philippines from an ATM. I have banks and credit unions with debit cards. I use the debit card from the credit union most often overseas because they pay for many of my ATM charges. Also, with the credit union they also issue travelers checks without any charges too. You have to set this up ahead of time before you leave your country and practice using that debit card before you leave your country to make sure it works okay. I always pick up some travelers checks because from the CU there is no charge so why not! Yeah, harder to cash in the P.I. but not impossible. Plus the rates you get are not as generous as what you get in Thailand where a TC gets a hair more than cash for currency exchanges and the fee to cash one is only around a dollar US.

For overseas I have used MasterCard and Visa debit cards without any problems. A debit card is just a withdrawal from your own checking account. You can only take out as much as you have on deposit. I do have to use a 4 digit pin number with my cards. Also, you must FIRST notify your bank or CU that you will be overseas or your ATM withdrawal may be denied because they think the card number is stolen.

With my debit card checking accounts I can transfer cash between the different accounts. I can transfer cash from my bank via the internet and BILL PAY to the credit union account if I need more cash. You can even set up automatic transfers to the account you will use most often. I only keep a limited amount money in that credit union account I most often use in case the card is stolen or the number is compromised. That way the "thief" only gets what is in that particular account. If you don't pay bills by BILL PAY or whatever they call it at your bank get familiar with it now while you are still back home.

I only stay in hotels or guest houses that have a security box or at least a safe that you can lock valuables up in. That often rules out a lot of cheaper places with woven walls and shared facilities. But I am retired now and don't want to live like a kid backpacker in some crappy place. I like my A/C, TV and private toilet and shower. You can also use a lockable night deposit bag when you store money in a shared safe. If someone steals something from that type of bag they have to cut it open or steal the entire bag. A lockable document/cash bag prevents hard to detect pilfering by hotel staff. Something like this below bag can be found in office supply stores:

A couple more things you can do to protect your cash. You can save a copy of your passport and visa information pages on the internet in email form. Scan any important documents in email form. Send that email to yourself and then save that info in a folder. If your passport is stolen you can pull up that info at one of the many internet shops to get your ID data for your embassy. At the very least photo copy your passport info page and long term visa in case you lose your passport or a girlfriend runs off with it. Other need to know personal information can be saved in that same way but ONLY use an email that NO ONE else has a the password to. You could open a separate email account in Yahoo or Hotmail that are free but don't use a Mickey Mouse password that is easy to crack or someone already knows. You can also record the serial numbers of any hundred dollar bills or whatever equivalent large currency your country has in email form. When that money is stolen at least you can identify the particular currency but good luck on finding it! You can record travelers check serial numbers too the same way and the telephone numbers you need to call when they are stolen or lost. Make the internet your friend!!!

You already know to bring currency that is not all beat up and old because the banks can be a little fussy when they change money over.

One of the first things I do when I use a cheaper place is to replace the 25 watt bulbs with something around 60 watt so I can read and also locate the #@$#@ cockroaches to stomp on! For some reason most of the cheap places seem to not have enough coat hangers or even hooks to hang stuff from. What's a hook cost maybe 50 cents - 20 pesos?

Good luck.

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12 years ago, October 8th 2010 No: 6 Msg: #120696  
Ah, lucked out on the resort on North Pandan Island, fully booked. Looked so amazing too...

Gone and joined the crowds for new year, booked some place on Boracay. Wouldn't normally go there but as it's new year. 1200 pesos a night for a 2 bed room. Seems alright for time of year.

Anyone got any tips for a place/island to stay on for xmas period? Reasonably close to Manila/Borocay type area. Quiet, relaxing, beautiful, not too expensive! Reply to this

12 years ago, October 9th 2010 No: 7 Msg: #120725  
B Posts: 130
i think your question has been comprehensively answered but i just wanted to ask where your from? im out in the philippines at the moment, and i wish id looked at exchange rates before i came over, if your from the uk,only get a small amount of PHP before you come, the exchange rate for £'s is the highest of all the currencies and youl do far better by bringing a stash of english money with you and changing it while your here, the best rate ive seen so far is 67.70 php to the £...when i changed up at thomas cook before i came i only got 59 to the £.
Euros and £'s have the highest exchange rates out here 😊 if that helps..just wish someone had told me before i came out lol!

scott and danny..check out ocean breeze inn in Boracay, they have their own website..i stayed there for a couple of nights recently, only 2 mins away from the beach and the owners are the friendliest ive come across on my travels so far! they are on hostelbookers etc but its cheaper to contact them directly but a few hundered PHP.
Im currently staying at Roys Renezvous resort and bungalows..which is cheapers than ocean breeze..with fan bungalows and aircon rooms..but then again high season is going to be pretty expensive and busy all round i guess. good luck youl have a wonderful time out here >_<

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12 years ago, October 9th 2010 No: 8 Msg: #120746  
B Posts: 366
Thailand is the same way as the Philippines, you get a better exchange rate once you arrive at those countries. When you change your pounds or dollars back home you also pay a commission fee which eats into that exchange rate. Exchange rates do change every working day, sometimes up a little bit or down a little bit. What you get one day will be a hair different on another day - up or down.

In the Philippines they seem to be a little more fussy with US $100 bills. I have been unable to cash a few at banks because of wear marks on them. In the Ermita area I found the Robinson Mall money changer fussier than some of the banks. Easiest place I cashed used currency at is at the casino on United Nations Avenue, Ermita, near McDonalds. But you do have to put some long pants on and a real shirt just to get into the casino!

Have fun. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 9th 2010 No: 9 Msg: #120747  
Hey Redshoes, the place we booked on Boracay is the Ocean Breeze!! I'm glad to hear it sounds so good. Little expensive but for New Years I guess not too bad. Wanted to stay on North Pandan for xmas but place fully booked (got it for a week earlier though as it sounds so amazing). What I'm looking for is a quiet island within travelling distance from Pandan and Borocay for six days at xmas. Any ideas?

Reply to this

12 years ago, October 10th 2010 No: 10 Msg: #120815  
red shoes,

i did the math and it doesn't matter if you use the british pound or the dollar because in the end it all equals out, basically. also, i seriously doubt the british pound is accepted as widely as the dollar in the philippines. you're at boracay right? so they probably accept a wider array of currencies there because its such an international tourist destination

sir halberd,

thanks for the plentiful information. so your answer to my dilemma was to get a debit card. i will look into this possibility, but i'm concerned about banking fees which might rob me in another way. right now i live in south korea and have a u.s. dollar account. i have been watching the daily exchange rates and am waiting for the most opportune moment to transfer all of my won into dollars
i also think i will take some traveller's checks with me

i have been doing some reading and thinking for the past couple of days and pretty much decided that some of the places i would like to see while in the philippines include taal volcano (sounds pretty cool), banaue rice terraces (though it's a painful 9-hour bus ride one way from manila), as well as some sightseeing in manila. since all of these places are all more or less geographically concentrated, i'll make them part of the first leg of my trip, to be done within the first month.

i have a vague idea of going south in the second month to cebu and checking out the beaches there as well as going to bohol to see the chocolate hills.

and no idea about the third month. i've heard mindinao is beautiful, but i don't want to take the risk. it might be nice to go back to boracay (i've been there before), but only if the hotel rates go down

well, that's all for now. i'll post more as things develop

thanks to everyone for their input~ Reply to this

12 years ago, October 11th 2010 No: 11 Msg: #120827  
B Posts: 366
Even though you pay an ATM fee for using a debit card their value is not having a whole pile of cash on your person or in your hotel. Same with a travelers check, although you pay a fee to cash one their value is that they will be replaced if stolen or lost.

U.S. dollars work but be fussy when you get the currency. Don't bring any older series, older $100 bills have smaller Ben Franklin heads than newer series. When you hold a new US hundred dollar bill to a bright light you will see a security strip. On that strip you should be able to read the value of the note. Some counterfeiters bleach out 5 dollar bills and print over it with the hundred dollar design, that is why the strip is also printed with the amount.

My credit union pays for some of my ATM charges, even overseas. Since you do pay a fee to use an ATM take out the most you can so you don't waste fees on small amounts. Record the serial numbers of the larger currency you bring with you in email form then send that email to yourself and save it. If the currency or TC's are stolen just pull up that email and give the info to the police.

There is not much you can do when you travel far away from home. You usually use cash, debit cards or even travelers checks for some places. Some travelers use mostly credit cards and when they get home they are often surprised when they see all of the fees, not to mention some charges they did not make.

Have fun.

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12 years ago, October 14th 2010 No: 12 Msg: #121051  
where are you from matchstickj??

I am from California and planning to visit philippines next month

will be renting a 2 bedroom Condo apartment there..

i was actually looking for some people who want to travel there in philippines Reply to this

12 years ago, October 18th 2010 No: 13 Msg: #121282  
Arrived in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines on 24th December 2008 and found plenty of budget accommodation available same day Reply to this

12 years ago, November 8th 2010 No: 14 Msg: #122572  
crisis23: i will be arriving in december; first destination is manila. if you want to hook up that sounds fine to me

edvallance: you went to palawan?? what was it like there?? was it worth the visit??

a question to anyone who feels like answering: it looks like i will be in manila for a while and i'm wondering what the outstanding sites to see are there Reply to this

12 years ago, November 8th 2010 No: 15 Msg: #122592  
B Posts: 366
"....a question to anyone who feels like answering: it looks like i will be in manila for a while and i'm wondering what the outstanding sites to see are there.........."


For Manila my recommendation is to stay in the Ermita area. In this area you will find hotels in all price ranges. You will find restaurants, travel agencies for tours, nightlife, casinos and only a short walk to the MRT. Also in this area you will find the Robinson Mall. Although older than the big Mall of Asia on Roxas Boulevard, the Robinson Mall has lots of places to shop at and eat at.

Google up "what to see and do in Manila" and you will get many links. One place I liked was is the "Light and Sound" show for Corregidor.

One pub I like eating at and where they have daily food and drink specials is the G Point Bar.

Good luck.
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12 years ago, November 22nd 2010 No: 16 Msg: #123424  
B Posts: 130

i did the math and it doesn't matter if you use the british pound or the dollar because in the end it all equals out, basically. also, i seriously doubt the british pound is accepted as widely as the dollar in the philippines. you're at boracay right?

Hi i didnt mean to use it as currency, i meant to take british money out there with you to exchange into PHP when you get there, because you get a far, far better exchange rate than you would at home..and its the strongest currency out there. Reply to this

12 years ago, December 15th 2010 No: 17 Msg: #124732  

You may also want to visit Baguio City, known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines!

You will love the weather especially during the Christmas seasons, and not to mention numerous hotels and inn available in the city!

Second option might be Tagaytay City, weather is as cold as Baguio City. If you want some to visit historical and cultural places, visit Vigan City. For hotel accommodations, please see below:

Check the following links:

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9 years ago, June 24th 2014 No: 18 Msg: #182833  
In response to: Msg #120508 Pearls Letting Agency have over 80 furnished condos for rent in Manila and there are condos with monthly rates from PHP 18,000 up to PHP 30,000 per month which will fit your budget. During December the rates stay the same but availability disappears quickly because most hotels are doubling their rates during December so condos are a popular choice. December availability opens up from September 1 every year. Here is a link to their quick find listings page where you can view all of the condos in price order, with location and categories so you can find a condo that fits your budget and requirements easily.
[Edited: 2014 Jun 24 08:19 - traveltalesofawoollymammoth:258356 - no commercial links please]
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8 years ago, January 27th 2015 No: 19 Msg: #188283  
Wow this is all awesome advice! Thank you for all the input! I am going to the Philippines from March 2015, hoping to go for 3 months as well... But how is it with the visa situation. Isn't the allowance only for a month?? Reply to this

8 years ago, March 15th 2015 No: 20 Msg: #189335  
You can extend your visa, or get a tourist visa which I think is for longer. Reply to this

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