December 14, 2018 – January 8, 2019
Even before touching the ground of the Philippines, we faced a severe obstacle. How on Earth to choose the right island(s) out of seven thousand? We had flight tickets to Cebu so logical decision was to stay somewhere around. But as we realised, flights with Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are so wide-spread and cheap that it is not necessary to limit ourselves to surrounding islands. Anyway, in the beginning, we were thinking to stay only 14 days max and go to Bohol etc. Luckily we changed our mind with both length and destinations.
Read more: Japan in a nutshell
We found the Philippines so beautiful and spending months instead of weeks would not be any problem. Our homework with finding the right islands to visit was well paid off. We were mostly able to avoid crowded places and discover real Philippines and Filipinos. It was the most relaxed part of our entire journey and maybe the most beautiful in a combination of various factors. Travel plans were not fixed from the beginning and itinerary was based heavily on improvisation. At the end it looked like this:
Places we visited:
Cebu -> Moalboal -> Negros (Dauin/Apo Island) -> Siquior -> Bohol -> Limasawa -> Southern Leyte (Padre Burgos) -> Tacloban -> Manila
Our visit to the Philippines felt in December, which has its pros and cons. Christmas time can be very rewarding because of the religious nature of the country. Every little village or town was beautifully decorated and clean. Maybe even people behaved better? Who knows. Weather was perfect for travelling, not so rainy, not so hot. In any way, we can recommend this time of the year for a vacation. On the other hand, if your main goal is to burn yourselves on a beach or just discover underwater beauties, then there could be better months.
With respect to all other countries we’ve ever visited, we truly think that Filipinos are the most friendly and nicest people. They seem to enjoy life.
For us, it falls into this category. Cheap, convenient, quick, and almost always fun. For others, it may be in CONS as unreliable, dangerous, crowded. Depends on your setting and luck 🙂
A tropical paradise with turquoise waters and incredible marine life.
The best fruit in the world, available everywhere.
We found Philippine food tasty but not always easy to find or not so good and cheap as in other parts of Asia.
In comparison to any other East Asia countries, you pay at least two times more for a half quality. On the other hand, if this helps keep tourism on a reasonable level, I am happy to bear this.
Big city life
Better to stick with less populated islands.
Our costs for one month in the Philippines
Regardless you stay in a tourist place or town where only locals are, it never comes so cheaply as you would expect and standard will be rather low. Count with paying 800 PHP for something very simple or around 1400 PHP for some relative standard.
It is entertaining if you survive… no, it is not so bad, but the truth is that it does not have the best reputation, especially ferries. Which you are going to use quite often 🙂
It is super easy to get almost anywhere by public transport. Just don’t count on any comfort. Even in the bus or shared van, you may not have a proper seat.
Longer distance by bus or shared van around 150 PHP pp (3 USD)
Shorter journey by Jeepney circa 20 PHP (0,5 USD)
Between islands by ferry between 200 – 700 PHP pp (4-14 USD), depends on distance and quality
Scooter rental 400 PHP (8 USD)
To fly be prepared for a price between 2000 and 6000 PHP (40-120 USD). It usually depends on how much in advance you buy a ticket. In any case, you don’t need to break the bank.
Local small grocery shops are sometimes located in every second house, in towns you’ll find 7-Elevens so there will always be at least something to eat and drink. Also, you will find bakeries in many corners. It is a little bit different style than in Europe, but the variety is wide and prices low. That is the good part. However local eateries are not so common outside towns. Therefore it is not always easy to find a cooked and ready-to-eat meal. Choice can also be grilled pork (Liempo) or chicken from a stall. Sometimes you can find restaurants, mainly in tourist places, but those are quite pricey – still relatively cheap for tourists from western countries. But it does not necessarily mean it is tourist rip-off. Even proper restaurants for locals can be at the same price level.
In a bakery count with 10 PHP per piece
Grilled chicken 150 PHP (3 USD)
Meal at local eatery 130 PHP pp (3 USD)
A meal in a restaurant 250 PHP pp (5 USD)
Beer 45 PHP at a shop, 60 PHP in a restaurant (around 1 USD)
Water 35 PHP 1,5 litre (less than 1 USD)
Mango 100 PHP per Kg (2 USD)
In total, both of us, without inbound/outbound flight tickets, insurance etc. for our 26 days in the Philippines, we spent 87,000 PHP = 1720 USD. That makes daily average per person equal to 1673 PHP = 33 USD.