This is a summary (with some details) of all our travel expenses for the 55 nights / 56 days we spent in the Philippines during October / November / December 2019. You should keep in mind that if one travels at a slower pace it's easier to save as especially transportation can eat into your budget quickly. Particularly transport in the Philippines can add up quickly. That said, we found that if one can contain accommodation costs and avoid upscale (western) restaurants, the Philippines is a fairly affordable destination.
Travelling full-time changes the way one travels and it becomes less of a quest to tick off the 'popular' sights than it becomes a way of experiencing your surrounds in a slower, relaxed fashion. Many further cost savings are indeed possible, but one should also not completely deprive oneself of uniquely local experiences that ultimately add value to your visit to a foreign country. However, more often than not, the events, encounters and connections with people that stand out, are those that you do not foresee or could even have planned for. Like most things in life, a balance between being frugal and making use of opportunities should be sought.
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MOALBOAL, PHILIPPINES - How To Get There, What To See And Do
BOHOL, PHILIPPINES - What To See And Do
PORT BARTON vs SAN VICENTE, PALAWAN
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(Note that the following spending does not include flights to and from the Philippines, but does include local flights within the Philippines.)
We stayed in 13 different accommodations over the 55 nights spent in the Philippines. We had a few functional 1 or 2-night stays (Sabang, Cebu City, Manila) while spending about 5 to 7 nights in most other locations. We managed three 1-week long AirBnB stays which, although they did not offer great cost-saving, did allow us to be able to make our own breakfasts during this time and also reduce our transportation costs compared to if we had moved on every few days. Interestingly, we also booked most of our shorter stays through AirBnB and the remainder of our bookings through Agoda and one or two via Booking.com.
For most of it, we did not find accommodation in the Philippines to be particularly good value nor cheap! Our average nightly cost came to $30 and although this is not necessarily expensive, the choice and quality of accommodation were not great compared to other Southeast Asian countries. We found that wanting an en-suite bathroom limited our choices dramatically as there are plenty of budget style accommodations available with shared bathroom facilities. If you are willing to spend in the region of $40-$60 per night, you may also find that you get much better value compared to most Western, European or American standards. It seems to be the $20-$30 ‘budget-but-comfortable’ range which is a little more tricky to find. Perhaps the proximity to the end of year holidays also influenced the price?
Coron Town, Palawan 5 nights - CTJJ Guest House
The apartment is one of 4 such rooms on the second floor of the building. The apartment itself was spacious enough with a dining table, 3 chairs and a very basic kitchenette (fridge, rice steamer and sink). The bathroom had a wet room style shower with very dated and worn fittings (no toilet seat or seat cover). Location was right within Coron Town and less than a 10-minute walk to where the Island Hopping Boats depart from. It was well located to explore the town, find local food and even climb Mount Tapyas. The area had the usual Filipino neighbourhood noises and was neither quiet not excessively noisy. Our booking included a basic breakfast which was brought to our room daily.
El Nido, Palawan 4 nights - Rodriguez Lodge
(AirBnB Double En-suite Room)
The room is on the second floor of the building with a lovely view of the cliff mountains (except that they were busy constructing a steel staircase right outside our room!). The room itself was clean and spacious enough. The bathroom has a wet room style shower. Location was right within El Nido Town and less than a 10-minute walk to where the Island Hopping Boats depart from. It was well located to explore the town. The area had the usual Filipino neighbourhood noises and was neither quiet nor excessively noisy. Our booking included a very basic breakfast which was brought to us daily.
San Vicente, Palawan 6 nights - Peace and Love Resort
(Agoda Double En-suite Room with Balcony and Sea View)
The room is one of only two rooms which have this wonderful sea view. The room itself was lovely, spacious and well decorated. There was a seating area with a coffee table inside and a lounger, table and two chairs on the balcony. The bathroom had a separate shower. There is a lovely swimming pool (also with sea view) and a restaurant on the premises, which was very convenient. Location was at the edge of San Vincente Town and about a 10-minute walk to where the Island Hopping Boats depart from. It was well located for us as it offered a great view, was fairly peaceful and was still within walking distance of the town, to be able to get breakfast and local food. Long Beach is within about 1km walking distance. This was one of the nicest places that we stayed in during our two-month stay in the Philippines and at $31.60 per night, with a sea view, balcony and swimming pool, we thought it was pretty good value for money.
Sabang, Palawan 1 nights - Dayunan Sabang Tourist Inn
This was a very functional stay and although the property is ideally located if you want to visit the Underground River, they were the least welcoming and it was the worst reception that we received in our two months spent in the Philippines. The room was on the second floor with a small balcony and located just across from the Underground River National Park Office on the Pier. The en-suite bathroom had a separate shower. There are eateries nearby as the town is very small.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan 3 nights - Purple Fountain Inn
Lovely spacious en-suite double room, with an extra single bed and a couch. Nice clean bathroom with separate shower. Most rooms have an outside table and chairs which were nice to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the Purple Fountain Courtyard. What really made this place special, was their hospitality. They are situated very close to the airport which was convenient for us, but you will have to take a tricycle if you want to reach any of the sights within the city. The area was a relaxed local neighbourhood and there were a few Carinderias eateries as well as western restaurant options along the road. They also have their own restaurant for convenience.
Cebu City, Cebu 1 nights - RedDoorz near Cebu Metropolitan
This was a very functional one-night stay as we only arrived in Cebu City very late afternoon and wanted to take the early morning ferry to Bohol. Although the location suited us fine from a practical perspective, this RedDoorz is in a very poor and incredibly dirty neighbourhood and probably not suited to most. The room itself was very compact but did at least have a table and two chairs and a spacious en-suite bathroom.