The Philippines is one of the best backpacking destinations in the world for travellers on a budget, and you can experience some of south east Asia’s best beaches, food, culture and laid back backpacker culture for very little money. I get asked all the time how much it costs to travel in the Philippines and this article will help you plan exactly how much to budget for a month in this awesome country.
The Philippines is one of those destinations that is very well known to backpackers and experienced travellers, but it still just enough off the banana pancake trail and the dreaded mass tourism radar that it never quite seems crowded or for the most part at least over touristy.
It has some of the most spectacular scenery from pristine lakes, stunning beaches and islands, awe inspiring volcanoes and vast underground caves. You can trek through lush tropical jungles, bath under hidden waterfalls in picturesque lagoons and snorkel and dive some world class coral reefs.
The Philippines truly are paradise, and the best thing is the prices are very backpacker friendly too.
All prices are correct as of time of writing and are based on an approximate exchange rate of 70 Philippine Piso to £1 GBP. This of course is subject to change at any time, and prices fluctuate dependent on season and other factors too, so check the current exchange rates and adjust your plans accordingly.
I will break up the costs into different sections and then add up the general costs at the end.
The Philippines truly is a budget friendly destination that backpackers can easily get by on with £15 – £20 a day on a comfortable average. You can get by on much less if you really stretch out your costs, stay in the cheapest hostels and limit your activities, but at the same time the sky is the limit cost wise if you want ultra luxury and private resorts.
At a glance average costs at the time of writing include:
- Hostel dorm per night: £3 – £4
- Snack from a street stall: Less than £1
- Meal from a street stall: £1 – £2
- Meal from a sit down restaurant: £3 – £5
- Local beer: £1 – £1.50.
- Local bus, tricycle or Jeepney ride: Less than £1
- Local ferry: £3 – £5
- Long distance bus: £5 – £7
- Activity: £10 – £25.
Like most of south east Asia there are a range of accommodation choices in the Philippines from basic budget hostels to luxury hotels and resorts. Prices are often more expensive in the capital Manila and as usual get a lot cheaper once you get out to the more rural areas.
If you budget well and minimise monthly costs on basic accommodation like hostels or beach huts most of the time, you can easily accumulate enough in your budget to spoil yourself from time to time in a nice private room or hotel. It is quite often the case in many parts of the Philippines that a local guesthouse is better value than a lot of the hostels too.
- Average basic budget in a dorm = £3 – £6 per person per night.
- Average mid level budget in a private double room = £5 – £20 per person per night.
- Average hotel price = £25 per person per night upwards depending on level of luxury.
- Average boutique resort = £50 – £100 per person per night upwards.
Average monthly costs for budget backpackers = £80 – £160 per month.
Average monthly costs for mid level backpacker/flashpacker = £140 – £400 per month.
Average monthly costs for comfortable private rooms/luxury hotels every night = up to £600 per month or more.
Food and Drink.
Filipino food gets a bit of a bad reputation compared to it’s more famous foodie hotspot neighbours like Singapore or Thailand, but it really is amazing! You can get some lechon or a plate of adobo for as little as a pound or two, and you definitely have to try the halo halo! I mean cheese, on Ice Cream! It’s the future!
- Average basic street food meal = Less than £1
- Average basic Western meal = £2 – £3
- Average meal in a sit down restaurant = £3 -£5
- Average Western fast food chain meal = £3 – £5
- Average cost of a bottled beer = £1 – £1.50
- Average cost of a large bottle of water = Less than £1
Average monthly costs (mix of local and Western food and 1 beer per night) = £70 – £90
It is hard to generalise a rough monthly cost for transport as a lot depends on how slowly you travel or how much you move from place to place, and of course what transport options you take.
Budget airlines such as Air Asia are as always a godsend to travellers sticking to a tight budget and they are a good option for covering large distances quickly at a relatively cheap price. Long distance buses and local transport options like Jeepneys are as always the best way to get around on short distances and of course being the Philippines you will end up at some point island hopping on one of the many ferries and boats that ply the islands.
The good news is all of these local options are very cheap, costing less than a pound for local buses or Tricycles for short hops, between £3 and £7 for a ferry or long distance bus and of course anywhere between £15 and £30 for a local flight.
Assuming a basic monthly itinerary needing an internal flight into Manilla at around £20, 5 ferry journeys at £5 GBP each, then a handful of local buses, tricycles and private taxis at a grand total of £40 GBP, then we can come to a rough guide estimate.
It is entirely possible you may not need this many transport options however, or you may need more. The price will obviously depend on your needs.
Average monthly cost = £65.
Again, the average costs of what you do in the Philippines completely depends on what exactly you want to do. The best thing about the Philippines is that there is so much to do at all price ranges you will never really be short of options, and the fact is that the Philippines is probably one of the cheapest places to do certain activities, especially diving, but the downside to that is that activities will probably be the largest part of your budget.
Here are the rough prices (roughly correct at the time of publishing) of a small range of activities just to give you an idea. Remember these are a rough average and you may be able to get a little cheaper if you shop around or you may find slightly higher prices, particularly in more touristy areas.
- Massage = £3 – £5
- Basic PADI course = £60 upward
- Diving = £25 upward per dive
- Snorkel hire = £2 -£3
- Daily motorbike rental = £6
- SUP/Surfing rental = £6
- Chocolate Hills trip = £10
- Entrance to Busay falls = Less than £1
- ATV adventure ride = £10 – £50
- Shared boat tour around El Nido and Coron =£25
Assuming most backpackers will have a mixture of independent activities and a few local tours every week, and then weeks where they just want to explore on their own as well, a budget of £200 per month should account for one big must do activity a week such as an island hopping tour, a dive session or two and a few smaller activities such as snorkelling on most days. This is only a rough guess though and it is always a good idea to overbudget for this portion of your itinerary, as you will always find more things you want to do whilst you are there.
Average monthly cost = £200 – £300.
Again, this totally depends on the individual traveller, but most backpackers will at some point need a bit of cash for something that isn’t planned for, so it is important to take this into account when planning your budget.
Things like splurging on an unplanned night out (beers at roughly £1 – £1.50 a bottle), buying souvenirs and gifts, buying a local sim card (at around £4 – £7 GBP fully loaded with data) or even paying for unplanned emergencies such as over the counter medication for minor ailments and so on, all these things can add up. If you have a small fund on top of your planned budget for these things, you won’t find you are running short to pay for the necessities.
If you don’t use it, then save it up to splurge later on. Bonus.
Average monthly costs = £100.
So how much does all this add up to for an entire month?
Average mid level backpacker expenses for a month in the Philippines = £575 – £955.
This will cover a good mid range comfort level. A mixture of mostly budget backpacker accommodation with the odd splurge to a private room, a mixture of cheap street food with a few nice restaurant meals and some alcoholic drinks thrown in, a good mixture of activities and transport options and of course the extra funds for miscellaneous expenses.
It goes without saying that if you want to really scrimp and stay in ultra budget accommodation, only eat at very cheap street stalls, travel by local transport only and limit your activities, you can knock a good chunk off this average budget. Around £600 a month should be adequate for this type of travel, although I’d argue you may miss out on a lot by doing this and that kind of missing the point.
Of course the opposite is true as well, if you go to town with as many activities as you can, a live aboard PADI course or two, nice hotels every night and more, then this budget will obviously go up. A lot.
A lot is dependent on the individual. This budget is a simple baseline average for you to plan your own budget based around your own specific tastes and individual travel style. For example I personally like to do a lot of activities and mix backpacking with flashpacking to get myself a private room (especially now I am not in my twenties anymore!) And my own personal budget for a month in the Philippines comes in at the higher end of the mid range level at £800 – £900 on average.
The Philippines truly is an awesome destination and is perfect for backpackers on any budget. I hope this article will help you plan your own trip there and inspire you to see the Philippines for yourself!
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