The sounds of the waves crashing against the shore, the grove of the coconut leaves that dance with the whistling wind, the sultry breeze that sticks within your skin, and the overwhelming peace of the atmosphere. Tempting right? How about the towering mountains and volcanoes, underground rivers, and mystical caves along with the enchanting waterfalls? Probably, you wanted to visit these places or return but choose not to due to the expenses.
Are you sick of going to the same outing spots near your place due to a tight budget? Do you have any plans to level up your summer escapades without spending too much? If there is, worry no more because, in this blog, I will pave your speculations about expensive traveling and how to travel to the Philippines without spending too much. Come and be amazed where your short budget can bring you!
Top Tourist Spots or Best Places to Visit in the Philippines
Over the years, the Philippines has garnered multiple titles such as; The Traditional Capital of the World’s Festivities, The Pearl of the Orient Seas, and The Capital of Fun. Also, the country’s pride, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park that made its way to being enlisted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature while The Heritage City of Vigan as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities.
Philippine tourism was classified as an essential sector in the Philippine economy. Aside from the geographical spots the country was known for, the Philippines is rich in indigenous traditions and festivals that promote historical and cultural heritage. Most popular tourist destinations include Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay.
El Nido, Palawan
A quiet town yet its name makes noise for being one of the best tourist destinations not just in the Philippines, but also in the world. Meet El Nido. It is located in the province of Palawan in Region IV-B MIMAROPA. With its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, alluring coral reefs, and even limestone cliffs, El Nido is undeniably comparable to a paradise.
El Nido is best known for island hopping, cliff climbing, unwinding on beaches, and scuba diving. These activities are a really good opportunity for people to refresh and bond with their companies. If I were you, I would spend my time with my friends and family in El Nido from January until April because these months are the best time to visit this place. Since this time is a dry season, you can enjoy their outdoor activities.
How to get to El Nido, Palawan?
In going to El Nido, a budget-friendly, convenient, and faster way of traveling from Manila is to ride a plane going to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, then to ride land transportation going to El Nido. From Manila, it is about 1 hour and 25 minutes before you reach Puerto Princesa. From Puerto Princesa, a bus can bring you directly to El Nido for about 6 to 7 hours. Once you arrived at El Nido, the cheapest place to stay is at backpacker inns. You can easily find these inns that offer basic amenities in the inner streets of El Nido or near the beach.
After your exhausting travel just to arrive at El Nido, you can now enjoy their world-class features and spots. If you want to relax in a peaceful place, you must stay at Caalan, while If you want a more secluded venue and want to witness a great sunset facing west, you must stay at Corong-Corong. Meanwhile, you can also explore the whole El Nido by picking a tour package classified as Tours A, B, C, and D.
Island Hopping in El Nido
These packages include the destinations Big Lagoon wherein you can relax with its fresh waters surrounded by limestone cliffs, Hidden Lagoon wherein you can go inside of a small hole of one of the limestone cliffs and you will be astounded by the hidden scenery, Seven Commandos Beach that offers a 320-meter long white-sand beach with turquoise water which is good for snorkeling, Shimizu Island which is also best for snorkeling because of numerous sea creatures underwater, the S-shape sandbar Snake Island.
Other islands are Pinagbuyutan Island which is also a snorkeling area, Cudugnon Cave with high ceiling and different rock formations, Entalula Island which is a secluded place, Cathedral Cave with its open chamber and high ceiling, Popolkan Island which has colorful fishes, a helicopter-shape island named Helicopter Island, a spiritual oasis called Matinloc Shrine, Star Beach with crystal clear waters, Pasandigan Beach which is another snorkeling area, Paradise Beach where you can do sun baiting, Ubugon Cave with unique rock formations, and Nat Nat Beach and Bukal Island which is good for swimming.
Another promising tourist spot in Palawan is Coron. With its features suitable for family vacations and outings, Coron is often compared to El Nido. It is best known for scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, and beach glamping.
Are you ready to visit and see the beauty of Coron? The dry season is also the best time to go to Coron. From November to May, you can explore the place at its best. From Manila, flights going to Busuanga Airport formerly known as Francisco B. Reyes Airport may take around one hour which is more convenient than riding a ferry. From Busuanga, it is easy now to explore the Coron town.
Once you arrived at the mainland, you can stay at beach resorts or hostels. If you want beachfront access, then you must book and stay at beach resorts. Meanwhile, hostels are cheaper accommodation for backpackers. Hostels offer basic amenities and free breakfast as well.
I guess after the travel, you are already tired and want to relax. Top destinations at Coron are Barracuda Lake where you can swim in a lake surrounded by limestone cliffs, Culion’s Beaches including Malcapuya Island and Ditaytayan Island where you can do island hopping and see the pristine beaches, Kayangan Lake which is one of the cleanest lakes in the Philippines and you will get astonished with its deck view from an elevated cliff, Maquinit Hot Springs which is a natural saltwater spring, and Mt. Tapyas where you can go hiking and it is the second tallest mountain in Coron.
Bantayan Island, Cebu
Stretching its coast from the west of the northern end of Cebu Island across the Tañon Strait, a nostalgic and sleepy escape paradise known as the Bantayan Island has the beauty worth traveling for. It was an island situated at the Visayan Sea sporting a wide bed of white sand, fresh tropical air, and gentle waves.
If you prefer a peaceful and quiet tour, I recommend you to travel from June to February or the off-peak season. Bantayan Island was known as a spot celebratory of Good Friday, therefore I advise you to go there on the Holy Week season to celebrate. On the contrary, if you are up for the fun, people and beach gatherings, travel during March to May since it is peak season.
How to Get to Bantayan Island?
To arrive in this soothing island on a budget, you will first take a plane ride to Cebu. Then, you will head on a bus ride from Mactan Airport to the North Bus Terminal, it was only scheduled every 30 minutes from 7 am-11 am while every 20 minutes from 11 am to 9:30 pm. Upon arriving at the North Bus Terminal, ride a bus going to Hagnaya Port, or if under tight budget you can take a bus accompanied with a ferry ride that will take you around 4 hours.
You will then ride either through an island shipping or Super Shuttle Ferry to Santa Fe Port with a travel time of an hour. At the Santa Fe Port, you will walk down the covered walkway towards the Tourism Office. Lastly, take a tricycle ride to your place to stay. Several inns cater to your basic needs to cut down your expenses.
Bantayan wide shores and azure waves seem inviting the first time to step your foot on. The island offers its top tourist destinations such as, Paradise Beach to celebrate your peace for a walk on the secluded shore stretches, Ogtong Cave a small cave to take a dip from its “small” natural pool, Kota Park a fort built by Spaniards that was then transformed into a park, Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park a mangrove forest that can be explored by a boat kayak or barefoot, and Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island that offers an island hopping tour. If you are fond of extreme sports, I suggest you go Skydiving to experience the thrill you are craving to fulfill your travel.
Boracay, Aklan (this has been featured multiple times as one of the best places to visit in the Philippines from international magazines and news)
Who would not know the top beach the Philippines has to offer? From the long stretch of powdery white sand beach, the crystal-clear teal, and turquoise waters, I guess you get the hint of the place I am talking about. You would regret to waste any second to try fun activities in most cited beaches in the world, Boracay. It is best for swimming, island-hopping, diving snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, parties, and dining.
Your Boracay trip is suitable all year round but it is best to travel during the dry season, December to May if you are a crowd-chaser. Also, it is fine to plan a trip to Boracay’s peak season from March to May.
Excited to see the renowned beach? There are multiple ways to travel to Boracay but the fastest route is by air arriving at your destination for just an hour. The ferry ride was more convenient to travel cheaper. Once you arrived at Boracay, you can ride primary public transportations such as electric or motorized tricycles, motorbikes, and shared or private tours. If you are still not tired and opt to explore some parts of the island, you can just walk around even barefoot and no one would mind.
Never miss enjoying the pristine Boracay White Beach and other beaches like Diniwid Beach that is less crowded. Aside from the outstanding beaches Boracay offers, here are some more fun activities to maximize your stay.
Swim in the colorful marine life in Crocodile Island but worry less because there were no actual crocodiles here, try cliff diving at Ariel’s Port, Go Paraw Sailing and enjoy the sunset perfect for your Instagram posts, Zip Line and Cable Car glide with the 70-meter thrilling zip line while marveling Boracay Island at bird’s eye view, and Enjoy the Water Sports and Activities that include, banana boat riding, jet skiing, parasailing, paddleboarding, and helmet diving.
Also, Go to Parties to experience the hip nightlife at the beach and Shop endlessly from Boracay’s shopping areas such as D’Mall and D’Talipapa selling beach wares, snacks, treats, and souvenirs.
The Best Among the Rest
Among the four above mentioned tourist destinations here in the Philippines, I must say they are all the best. They all have unique features that they can be proud of. If I were you, I would try all those four spots because they are worth spending time and money. Besides, it is the cheapest way to visit the Philippines and if you are on a budget tour, you better choose the destination closest to your place.
You can save more money especially when it comes to a transportation allowance. The nearer the destination, the cheaper the fare. Another thing, if you have relatives living near any of these tourist attractions, you can save more money since you can stay at their houses instead of renting a hostel or inn. With proper planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a cheap yet high-quality journey.
With your one thousand Peso bill, you can travel for a day but your expenses will blow if you plan to stay on luxurious resorts and fancy restaurants. A typical stay on a dorm bed or hostel costs around $5-7 or P250-P350 per night. Riding a public ferry starts from $4-6 or P200-P300 per ride. A long-distance bus ride costs $1-3 or P400-P500 though domestic flights start from $40-70 or P2,000-P3,5000. Also, street foods cost $1-3 or P50-P150 while restaurant meals start at $4-6 or P200-P300 per meal.
Except for the typical expenses, here are some tips to save money for your budget:
Couchsurfing or staying with locals is popular in the Philippines due to their natural hospitality.
With this, you will save up your budget for accommodation while meeting new people at the same time. However, if you are not into couch surfing, local guesthouses are available that are way cheaper than hostels.
Get updated on the flight sales to snap up cheaper fares than the normal.
Regularly check, the airline’s online sites so that if there were travel promos you can pre-book your flight. In my case, I set Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and AirAsia to “See First” in my Facebook account. I also subscribed to their mailing list. I always want to get notified of any travel promos from these airlines.
Travel with a buddy.
Best experiences and activities are way cheaper if you tour with a group to split the expenses and save both of your budgets.
Eat local foods.
You can also save up by consuming locals’ food that has the best value and taste without the expense of tourist-trap restaurants.
I would suggest for you to take a tent and camp on epic places the country has to offer since nobody will mind. Some beaches and hostel gardens allow you to camp in exchange for buying drinks at their bar.
About Visa When Traveling to the Philippines (For Foreign Tourists)
Are you thinking about how to get a foreign travel visa? For foreign tourists, if you have already decided to visit the Philippines, you need to prepare the requirements for a temporary visa. The minimum requirements for applying a temporary visitor’s visa are passport or travel document valid for at least 6 months, properly accomplished visa application forms, 2 passport-size pictures, proof of bona fide status as a tourist, confirmed tickets for return or ahead journey to the next port of destination, and also the payment for visa dues.
Meanwhile, if you are worried about the travel tax imposed by the Philippine government for tourists, here’s the answer. You don’t need to worry anymore because this fee is exclusive only for Filipino citizens and other permanent Philippine residents.
For detailed information of the Philippines Visa Policy, please check this Wikipedia link
Positivity despite the Pandemic
Due to the continuous sprawl of the pandemic, it will be a challenge to fulfill your travel desires. Only Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), non-OFWs; diplomats and their dependents, tourists, exchange visitors, and scholars, and foreigners but only those with Filipino spouses and children can be accommodated that will still require them to undergo the mandatory testing and quarantine.
On the other hand, Traveling to the Philippines is undeniably fun. I assure you that the Filipinos will make it worth your stay with a heartfelt and interesting experience. Regardless of what you do in the country or wherever you go, Filipinos will complete your vacation. Be always up-to-date, always consider your destinations when looking for the best time to travel to the Philippines.
What are you waiting for? Book your tickets to explore the beauty of the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Truly, it’s more fun in the Philippines!
I hope that this travel blog about the best places to visit the Philippines helps. Feel free to drop a line and I’d be happy to help. 🙂