Guest Post by Boom Rizal
Many western tourists can attest that (almost) everything is affordable in Southeast Asia. The primary reason is the exchange rate. As of press time, your US$ 1 can buy goods and services worth Php50 in the Philippines. That is enough to buy you a decent snack, a cup of brewed coffee in a bistro and two bottles of beer. You can get a room in a three-star hotel for US$ 50, a two-way plane ticket to the southern islands for US$ 100, and a dinner buffet for US $10. If it’s an off-peak season, you can get huge discounts from 20% to 50% on plane tickets, accommodation and even refreshments. Amazing, right?
If you want to maximize your travel budget, the Philippines is the place to be. The country is made up of 7,100+ islands. You can’t visit all of them because many are no bigger than your village, but you have more than enough destinations. Here’s a quick list of budget-friendly destinations for your Philippine vacation.
Luzon’s Beaches, Mountains and Homegrown Coffee
Photo courtesy of guilianabencovich via Pixabay
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is home to the capital region, Metro Manila. If you’re arriving from abroad, you’re likely to land on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. The poshest hotels, casinos and restaurants are in Metro Manila. This is also the main transport hub to reach the rest of the archipelago. You can take a bus going to the northern provinces where you can find surfing spots, trekking sites and gastronomic destinations. The white sand beaches of San Juan in La Union is a popular surfing haven. Travel farther up north and you’ll reach the majestic Cordilleras where the temperature is about 8 degrees lower than any part of the Philippines. Discover the rich indigenous cultures of the Cordillerans and their homegrown produce. A kilo of organic coffee beans is only US$ 5.
Surfing Spots in Baler
Photo courtesy of jon_lo1 via Pixabay
Your next stop from Baguio City, the capital of Benguet Province in the Cordillera, is Baler in Aurora Province. Baler is in Central Luzon, which is a 5-hour drive from Benguet. It is a coastal municipality with some of the top surf spots in the archipelago. Surf at Sabang Beach, swim at Ditumabo Falls and take as many selfies as you want at Dicasalarin Cove and Diguisit Rock Formations. You can camp out with your friends for a truly unforgettable adventure.
The Ccuba Diving Spots of Puerto Galera
Photo courtesy of arhnue via Pixabay
From Metro Manila, travel to Southern Luzon to reach the scuba diving spots of Puerto Galera. This coastal destination is at the tip of Isla Verde Passage in the province of Oriental Mindoro. Puerto Galera (Spanish for “Port of Galleons”) has an incredibly diverse coral reef that was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1970s. The shores may be a bit too rocky for beach volleyball, but its scuba diving spots are definitely topnotch. Coco Beach Island Resort offers affordable diving rates from US$ 29 to US$ 75.
Boracay, A World-Renowned Beach Destination
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No travel guide to the Philippines is complete without tips for a Boracay vacation. Boracay in Aklan Province, in the Visayas group of islands, has been named one of the most beautiful islands in the world. If that isn’t enough to entice you, nothing probably can. Boracay is known for its white powdery sands, clear waters and vibrant night life. There’s a wide selection of accommodation in the island from transient home to five-star hotels. An overnight stay in a premier hotel with infinity pool and function rooms starts at US$ 70. A seafood dinner in a resto will cost you less than US$ 5.
The Secret Wonders of Siquijor
Photo courtesy of Broesis via Pixabay
Another Visayas destination for the frugal traveler is Siquijor. The island is a cheaper alternative to Boracay. A tricycle tour to major landmarks, including the 150-year-old Lazi Church and Salagdoong Beach, is US$ 20 for three persons. The multi-cab for a larger group can be rented for US$ 60 for a day tour. What can you do in Siquijor? You can visit the fish spa, the centuries-old churches of San Isidro and St. Francis of Assisi, and the Butterfly Garden. And of course, have a relaxing swim in Siquijor’s majestic beaches.
A Paradise Called Palawan
Photo courtesy of AvidExplorer via Pixabay
If you’ve been researching about island destinations in Asia, you must have chanced upon Palawan. This long narrow island has been named the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure for the third time in a row. It’s a paradise in every sense of the word: rich flora and fauna, the world’s longest navigable underground river, white sand beaches, hidden pockets of pristine waters, and breathtaking landscapes. For US$ 300, you can enjoy a three-day luxurious escape on this island.
A Coastal Escape in Dipolog City
Photo courtesy of photo-graphe via Pixabay
A plane ride will take you to Dipolog City from Palawan. Dipolog is in Zamboanga del Norte, in the Muslim region of Mindanao. It features eco-parks, cultural sites and sleepy coastal communities. Dipolog City is regarded as the Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines. You can expect the freshest and the widest array of seafood at very affordable rates. When night falls, this humble destination becomes a cozy tourist spot where you can listen to live bands and have Php5 (US$ 0.99) tequila shots. Yes, you read that right! Get the best view of the oriental sunset at Dipolog Sunset Boulevard where you can also take a gastronomic tour of favorite local street foods.
The Historic Intramuros
Photo courtesy of radiobj5 via Pixabay
Before you fly back home, have a historical tour in Intramuros, Manila. The Walled City was the seat of power during the 300-year Spanish regime. It was witness to foreign colonizations, wars and the fight for independence. What to see in Intramuros? Check out the old dungeons of Fort Santiago, Chinese artifacts at Bahay Tsinoy, and religious relics at San Agustin Museum. You may spend US$ 50 for a day tour, including transportation and snacks in this tourist destination.
You think you can’t travel without a fat wallet? Visit the Philippines and you’ll understand how far you can go with your budget.
About Boom Rizal
Who better to highlight the beauty of the Philippines as well as its budget friendly destinations than a Filipina investor and property consultant. Boom spent a number of years working overseas as a consultant to overseas Filipino workers, advising them on making smart investing decisions. She has since returned home and appreciates the beauty of the Philippines now more than ever. When not writing, Boom enjoys spending time with family and visiting her favorite Philippine destinations, which include Boracay and Palawan.