Philippines Budget Guide – How Much Does It Really Cost To Travel In The Philippines?

Bantayan Island, Philippines  

With over 7000 islands to choose from, the Philippines is arguably one of the most varied countries in Southeast Asia. It’s one of the most budget-friendly spots a backpacker could visit and with almost as many English speakers as the entire UK, the Philippines is a super easy country for backpackers to travel to!

So how much does it cost to travel in the Philippines?

While it hasn’t quite made it into our list of cheapest countries to visit in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is still super affordable by western standards. With a little planning, your money should stretch even longer than your visa

Make sure you’ve read our budget travel guide for general hints and tips about saving money while travelling. Or for those of you who haven’t quite got your travel funds together yet, check out our guide on how to save money for travel!

Palawan Philippines photo by Rhys-Mckay
The Philippines is a very affordable destination for backpackers!

Suggested Budgets For Travelling In The Philippines

Shoestring Backpacker: $20-$30USD per day

A shoestring backpacker can expect their money to go a long way in the Philippines! By staying in dorm rooms, eating local food and keeping your partying down to the odd night, you’ll very rarely need to exceed this budget. 

Living It Large Backpacker: $35-$45USD per day

The living it large backpackers among you will be pleased to hear that for $35-$45USD per day is more than enough to get the most out of this amazing country. You’ll be able to afford a mix of dorm beds and private rooms as well as most tours, without burning a hole in your pocket. 

Some tours will blow your budget well out of the water but it is easy to offset the expensive trips with free days chilling on the beach! As long as your average daily expenditure remains low for most of your trip, you can afford the odd splurge!

Flashpacker: $50+USD per day

The $50+USD a day flashpacker will be able to live like royalty in the Philippines. Private rooms, either in hotels or hostels will easily be within your price range and for those of you who don’t like street food, restaurants are easily affordable. Western food will be an option for you too if you really don’t get on with the local options!

Cost Of Backpacking In The Philippines – Quick Answers!

  • Cost of Street Food: 50-250PHP ($1-$5USD)
  • Cost of Local Food in a Restaurant: 200-1000PHP ($4-$20USD)
  • Cost of Western Food in a Restaurant: 500-1500PHP ($10-$30USD)
  • Cost of Water: 25-50PHP (50 cents – $1USD) for 1.5 litres
  • Cost of Beer: 20-100PHP (40 cents – $2USD)
  • Cost of a Hostel Bed: 200-800PHP ($4-$16USD)
  • Cost of a Private Room: 300-4000PHP ($6.00-$80USD)
  • Cost of a Tricycle Ride: 10-200PHP (10 cents – $4USD)
  • Cost of Scooter Hire: 300-1000PHP ($6-$20USD)
  • Cost of Long Distance Buses: 250-1000PHP ($5-$20USD)

Currency in The Philippines

The Philippine Peso (PHP) has undergone many iterations in its lifetime. Usually, this was a result of whichever colonial power had taken control of the region. There was even a currency in the early 1900s that was solely to be by those suffering leprosy. It could not be used outside of the leper colony and it was forbidden for lepers to use the normal currency. These days that currency no longer exists but it’s still a fun little fact to know!

Philippine Pesos
The Philippine Peso is the official currency.

Philippine Peso Currency Conversions

All conversions correct as of August 2020. Unless something drastic happens between then and now, these conversions will give you a good idea what your money is worth in the Philippines.

  • $1USD = 50PHP
  • £1GBP = 64PHP
  • €1EUR = 60PHP

How Much Does a Trip to The Philippines Cost?

Cost of Street Food in The Philippines

50-250PHP ($1-$5USD)

The Philippines has a reputation for bad food but this is thoroughly underserved. Sure they have a penchant for frying almost everything but look hard enough and you’ll find plenty of delicious Filipino snacks to dig your teeth into!

If you eat solely street food, you’ll be looking at spending just a few dollars per meal. Expect to pay a little more if you’re eating in a food park, which is equivalent to a hawker centre in Singapore. Meals in food parks will be between 100-200PHP ($2-$4USD) on average. 

Cost of Restaurant Food in The Philippines

200-1000PHP ($4-$20USD)

The cost of restaurant food in the Philippines will vary depending on where you are and what you are eating. Local meat and noodle dishes are on the low end of this budget, whereas imported steak or seafood (assuming you are in a city not near the coast) will be at the high-end. 

Save your seafood binge for when you are on the smaller islands to get the best deals. In some places it might be all that’s on offer, so get your fix for other meals when you can!

If you are on the hunt for western meals in the Philippines, you may end up disappointed. While it is easy to find western food in all cities and most major backpacker spots in the country, the prices are eye-watering. You can expect to pay more for western food than you would at home! Ouch. 

Of course, some amazing restaurants will cost significantly more than this estimation but they are often attached to snazzy hotels. Unless your best backpacker garb is up to scratch, you may well not be allowed to enter these anyway. 

Chicken adobo is the most famous Filipino dish.
Make sure you try Chicken adobo during your trip!

Cost of Water in The Philippines

25-50PHP (50 cents – $1USD) for 1.5 litres

Much like the rest of Southeast Asia, tap water is not safe to drink in the Philippines. You may see locals consuming it, so you can be sure it wouldn’t kill you in a pinch. However, it’s full of little nasties that our weak traveller tummies aren’t used to so is best avoided! If you don’t want to use plastic bottles all the time, consider investing in a filtered water bottle so you can purify tap water for drinking!

Bottled water is plentiful around the country but the prices will fluctuate depending on where you are. The further away from civilisation you are, the more you can expect to pay for clean drinking water. As you would expect, it’s not cheap to ship tens of thousands of litres at a time between islands!

Cost of Beer in The Philippines

20-100PHP (40 cents – $2USD)

Home of San Miguel, the Philippines is full of super cheap, super tasty beer. You’ll find the best deals at local markets or local bars but even in tourist hotspots, you’re unlikely to be paying more than a dollar a bottle.

Nightclubs and high-end restaurants can make drinking pricey. Sometimes the exact beer you can buy on the street for 20PHP will set you back hundreds in a swanky club. Avoid these places, grab a few bottles and head to the beach with some folks from your hostel instead. Is there a better way to spend an evening than watching the sunset over a tropical beach surrounded by great people?

Cost of Accommodation in The Philippines

In general, accommodation in the Philippines is cheap and plentiful. You’ll often find the best deals by turning up and asking about. This is not always practical during high season (November – April) though as places book up quick. If you are travelling during these times, use sites like HostelWorld or Booking to secure the best deals!

It’s worth being aware that although most hostels, hotels and guesthouses in popular spots offer WiFi, it is usually pretty crappy. The Philippines is notorious for having terrible internet speeds! Outside of the major areas, you are likely to find that hostels won’t even offer WiFi so prepare for some digital detox time!

  • Hostel Dorm (per night)

200-800PHP ($4-$16USD)

Throughout the Philippines, dorm rooms are generally very well priced and most of them are fantastic! In major cities such as Manila or popular spots like Boracay, prices will be a little higher. Outside of these areas you’ll be able to find dorm beds for the low end of this range.

A nighttime view from the rooftop terrace bar at Z-Hostel, Manila
Z Hostel, Manila, Philippines. From $11 US per night for a dorm bed.
  • Hostel Double Room (per night)

300-3000PHP ($6.00-$60USD)

Sick of dorm rooms but still craving the hostel atmosphere? A lot of hostels in the Philippines have at least a few private rooms available. These range in price a lot and it all depends on the location, as well as the type of room you go for. 

Single rooms in a less touristy location, with a fan, limited electricity and shared bathrooms will come in as cheap as 300PHP ($6USD) per night. An air-conditioned room with a private bathroom in Cebu will start at around 700PHP ($14USD) per night. 

  • Double Hotel Room

200-4000PHP ($4-$80USD)

Hotels in the Philippines vary in quality as much as they do in cost. That’s not to say you can’t find really good hotels for cheap but it’s certainly worth reading reviews before you book! 

In more off the beaten track locations, it’s possible to settle into your own little beach bungalow for less than 500PHP ($10) per night! Sure it’ll be rudimentary but for that price, it’s worth going without a few home comforts!

Cost of Transport in The Philippines

Short Distance Transport

  • Taxis

30-60PHP (60 cents – $1.20USD) to start plus 3-5PHP (6-12 cents) per 300 metres travelled

Taxis in the Philippines get a bad rap. Backpackers and locals alike discuss stories of being ripped off or completely robbed by taxi drivers. While there will always be a few nasty folks trying all sorts of common travel scams, as long as you’re sensible and careful, getting a taxi in the Philippines is safe enough. Make sure you only use licensed taxis and always get them to use the meter. If they refuse, just get out and find another taxi! You can also get hotels to book taxis for you, most of the time you don’t even have to be a guest. Just ask the doorman if they can sort it for you. As long as you are polite, you’ll get by no problem!

It is worth noting that although taxis are cheap, they are not exactly fast in big cities. The Philippines has a pretty tremendous congestion problem in its cities, meaning a 10 mile journey could take up to two hours somewhere like Manila!

If you are still a tad nervous about jumping in a Filipino taxi, consider using Uber. Not only will you save a small amount on the fare but you’re also more protected when using a system that tracks exactly where and when the driver picked you up and dropped you off!

  • Tricycles

10-200PHP (10 cents – $4USD)

Equivalent to tuk tuks on the mainland of Southeast Asia, tricycles make getting around congested cities a little easier. They are small enough to carve through traffic but big enough to hold 4-6 people. 

The cost of your tricycle journey depends on where in the Philippines you are, as well as the time of day, how many people you’re with and how loaded you look. Yep, it’s another one of those.

Minimum fares vary depending on where you are but are usually between 10-20PHP. Prices go up if you are travelling a long way and you’ll usually be quoted a price per person. So if there’s two of you, you’ll pay twice as much! If there are still seats available, don’t be surprised if your driver stops to pick someone else up too!

  • Jeepneys

8-20PHP (16-40 cents)

Jeepneys are the Filipino answer to a public bus system. Thousands of these brightly coloured trucks fill the streets of cities across the Philippines’ and provide THE cheapest way to travel short distances. Sure they have bald tyres, bits are either missing or falling off and they certainly would not be road legal in Europe or the US but they are a local experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Jeepneys take fixed routes but you can wave them down whenever you see one. The stops they make along their route are generally written on the side of the vehicle, as are the roads they take to get there. This can be a little daunting for a first time user but never fear, Filipinos are a super friendly bunch and will be more than willing to help point you in the right direction!

Jeepneys
The famous Jeepneys of the Philippines!
  • Scooter Hire 

300-1000PHP ($6-$20USD)

In a country made up of so many islands, you’d think renting a boat would be better than renting a motorcycle. However, the more populated islands in the Philippines are pretty massive. Hiring a scooter or motorcycle is far and beyond the best way to explore some of the more off the beaten track spots!

Prices will vary depending on where you are. Renting a bike somewhere like Manila or Palawan will be at the high end of this range, whereas renting a bike in Siquijor will come in at the low end. 

Most of the time, you’ll be quoted a higher rate for motorcycle rental because you are a foreigner. This is the perfect time to practice your haggling skills and knock the price down a little. Even in the more expensive locations, you should never be paying more than 1000PHP ($20USD) per day!

It is worth being aware that if you do not have a motorcycle license in your home country, you are not legally allowed to ride in the Philippines. This is very rarely enforced but if you are stopped by the police, you’ll have to pay a “fine” of 1000PHP ($20USD). It is also standard practice to leave your passport with the motorcycle rental firm so be prepared for this. Some places might take a large cash deposit if you are not comfortable with leaving your passport but everyone does it and there are very few, if any, reports of companies losing or messing with passports. 

Long Distance Transport

  • Buses

250-1000PHP ($5-$20USD)

Of course, with the country being made up of thousands of islands, you won’t be relying on buses quite as much as in Thailand or Vietnam but that’s not to say you won’t be using any! On the larger islands, such as Bohol, Cebu and Palawan buses are a super affordable way to travel. Prices will vary depending on the type of bus you get (air-conditioning vs none), the time of year you are travelling and exactly where you are in the country. You should never need to pay more than 1000PHP ($20USD) per journey!

  • Planes

1500-3500PHP ($30-$70USD)

Due to the make up of the Philippines, flying between major islands is often the most time-efficient way of travelling. The cost is higher than ferries but the trade-off is the speed and ease of travel planes provide. Don’t expect them to actually be on time though, especially during the wet season (June-October) when the weather can have an adverse effect on plane travel. You probably don’t want to spend too much time on a ferry this time of year either!

You should also be aware that most airports in the Philippines levy a departure tax on passengers passing through. This is usually around 200PHP ($4USD) and must be paid separately.

  • Ferries

250-500PHP ($5-$10USD)

Ferries provide the backbone of public transport in the Philippines, they’re not fast and are often pretty uncomfortable but they are perfectly safe. Locals use them all the time! Unless you are travelling in the middle of high season, you won’t really need to book your ferries in advance. Just turn up at the docks a couple of hours before you want to leave and head to the booking offices. Depending on where you’re staying, you might be able to arrange for your hostel to book the tickets for you. This will often incur an extra charge though!

All ferry passengers are also expected to pay a terminal departure fee of around 50PHP ($1USD) and all foreigners must pay an environmental fee between 50-100PHP ($1-$2USD) on top of your ticket price. 

Ferry in the Philippines
The islands of the Philippines are connected by a series of ferry routes.

Cost Of Activities In The Philippines

This is just a small sample of the many activities on offer in the Philippines but it should give you a good idea of how much things cost in the country. 

Learn to Dive – 15,000-30,000PHP ($300-$600USD)

Southeast Asia is famed for its amazing diving spots and what makes it even more popular is the cost of getting your diving qualification! The Philippines is no exception, with the majority of open water diving certificates starting at 15,000PHP ($300USD). That might sound like a lot of money to spend but the equivalent course in the UK or USA would set you back closer to double! 

Diving – 800-2000PHP ($16-$40USD)

Once you have your certificate in hand, you’ll want to be using it! Luckily you can book a day’s diving, including equipment rental for less than $40USD in most places around the Philippines. Prices will rise slightly during holidays and in more popular spots!

See the Whale Sharks  – 1000-3000PHP ($20-$60USD)

Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines has come under fire recently for not being the most ethical way to see these giant beasts. However, if you do it properly, read reviews and avoid busy locations such as Oslob, you’ll be fine.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Asia - The Ethics
Swimming with whale sharks is one of the major backpacker attractions in the Philippines.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour – 800-2000PHP ($16-$40USD)

El Nido is one of the most popular spots for backpackers travelling through the Philippines. A massive draw to the area is the El Nido Island Hopping Tours. These amazing tours visit a mix of beaches and islands around the area and give you a chance to kick back, relax and stare out at some amazing scenery while your boat glides through the water between each location. 

Chilling on the Beach – Free

There is no point visiting a county with over 36,000 kilometres of coastline if you are not planning on spending at least a few days at the beach! The best thing about chilling out in the shade of palm trees all day is that it’s free. Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in the Philippines so leave a few days free to experience them and save some money in the process!

Now you know how much money you’ll need for your trip, it’s time to start planning your Philippines itinerary!

Where to next? Check out the average costs for Southeast Asia here!

How much money would you budget for a trip to the Philippines? Head on over to our Facebook group to let us know and join our community who live and breathe Southeast Asia!

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book 'From Paralysis to Santiago' chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.