How to Travel to the Philippines on a Budget
Money saving tip: Fly directly into smaller towns instead of arriving at larger hubs and then taking bus/ferry transfers – weather forecasts can often throw a spanner in the works! Just make sure that typhoons do not interfere with your plans!
Be ready to negotiate over transportation and accommodation. Raising your voice or showing signs of irritation could cause irreparable harm and put others off their guard.
Arrive in Manila
Visit the Philippines means going beyond beaches and backpacker hotspots, yet still finding plenty to do in this stunning nation. Discovering Filipino culture off the beaten path through visiting smaller villages and towns offers plenty of surprises!
Tricycles (motorbikes with sidecars) are the preferred form of transportation in the Philippines and often more cost-effective than taxis. Be sure to bring along sunscreen, since local versions can be quite pricey!
Nonstop flights to Manila do not currently exist from the UK and Ireland, however you may be able to fly via Hong Kong or another Middle Eastern hub for a much quicker journey. Always exchange currency at an official money changer rather than the airport rates as these can often be much better!
Get a visa
Filipinos are friendly and welcoming people. However, initial interactions may be reserved at first. Just show a bit of patience and they’ll warm up to you quickly!
After two years of strict quarantine rules, travelers with fully vaccinated status are nearly back to normal – now is an excellent time to plan a trip abroad!
Philippines being an island nation, you should anticipate spending much of your time riding buses, boats and tricycles. Carry light luggage if possible as weather in this tropical island nation can be unpredictable! Also make sure to consult typhoon season forecasts prior to traveling!
Get a medical certificate
Many smaller towns and islands in the Philippines feature airports that enable travellers to save both time and costs by opting to fly instead of taking buses and ferries to reach them. This is particularly useful when travelling from Puerto Princesa to El Nido where taking an aircraft flight saves an entire day’s travel.
Filipino domestic helpers must obtain a “Fit To Work” medical certificate, which can be obtained at any Department of Health-accredited clinic.
Staying current with Covid-19 guidelines before travelling to the Philippines is crucial. Airlines and transiting countries may have specific requirements that must be fulfilled before travelling; register on the eTravel Portal and complete your COVID-19 vaccination test prior to leaving home.
Get a hotel reservation
Philippines is a tropical paradise of breathtaking beaches, sparkling seas, breathtaking sunsets and friendly locals – an excellent budget travel destination perfect for beach holidays, scuba diving excursions, hiking trails or island hopping adventures.
Many hotels in the Philippines have partnered with popular hotel booking apps to make planning your trip simpler and avoid booking directly at a hotel. You can also use these apps for finding affordable flight and tour packages in the Philippines.
Get a local SIM card
Philippines comprises over 7000 islands and can make transport difficult due to slow ferry routes or delays due to typhoon season – expect delays or cancelled flights and expect disruption.
Buy local SIM cards in international airports, mobile provider stores and convenience shops – be sure to choose an established provider with high coverage at a fair price.
Make sure you drink bottled water or bring a water bottle fitted with a Lifestraw filter; tap water in the Philippines isn’t safe to consume. Also bring along a mosquito net; couchsurfing is popular here and a great way to meet locals!
Get a local guide
Experience the natural beauty of the islands while meeting friendly locals – most speak English and are more than willing to smile at visitors.
Purchase a cheap tricycle (motorbike with carriage) to transport your luggage around and save yourself a bundle compared to taxi fares.
Expect lots of mosquitos and bring bug spray if necessary. Also bring malaria medication and a mosquito net, and drink only bottled water and avoid raw or undercooked meat products.