Photos by: Twinkle Legaspi
With 7,107 islands, travelers have a lot of destinations to choose from in the Philippine archipelago. This Southeast Asian country boasts a lot of interesting places for the thrill-seeker, the foodie, the culture vulture, the honeymooner, and other types of travelers. The trick is to find ways to make your travel budget-friendly so you can maximize your experience.
Here are some suggestions on how to travel around the Philippines without creating a hole in your pocket.
1. Plan ahead and book early
If it’s possible for you to schedule your trip early, then do so. Hotels, resorts, and airlines normally have promotions for early bookings. Local airline companies, for instance, regularly hold seat sales for those who reserve ahead. Take note, though, that most discounted fares are non-transferable and non-refundable so you have to schedule your vacation leave to make sure you can get on that plane. Its affordability makes promo fares really tempting, but before you purchase anything, always read the fine print.
2. Travel off-peak
Be aware of the high and low travel seasons in the Philippines. This tropical country basically has two seasons—dry and wet. The peak season is obviously during summertime—from March to May. And would you believe that there is even a super peak season? Holy Week, for example, falls under that category. Note that the rates of airfares, hotels, resorts, and such are relatively high from the months of November to May, while the off-peak season is from June to October. The only downside of traveling during off-peak months is there is a risk of ruining your vacation because of occasional typhoons.
3. Befriend locals
Locals are a good source of insider tips. Who would better know the ins and outs of the place? Filipinos are generally friendly and helpful people, and would be happy to share tips or advice. All you have to do is ask. Who knows? They might just be generous enough to take you around town or even offer you a place to stay.
4. Practice the art of haggling
Haggling is a big part of the Filipino culture and you will mostly see it happening in the shopping areas. Don’t be shy to try your hand at it. It would be better if you learn some useful phrases to get you further. Ask “Magkano?” which means “How much?” Then follow it up with, “Wala bang tawad?” which translates to “Can I get a discount?” It won’t hurt to say these sentences, especially if it can save you a peso or two. There’s no harm in asking. The worst thing that could happen is you’ll get “No” for an answer.
Tip: In some shopping malls, such as Divisoria, purchasing retail items in bulk can get you a wholesale price, thus, giving you more value for your money.
5. Avoid tourist traps
Instead of heading to the popular tourist attractions like Boracay, go to similar but lesser known places. For those who want a taste of the beach life, there are numerous destinations where you can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Just research on up and coming beach sites that won’t cost an arm and leg for you to get there. Try Bantayan Island in Cebu or the pristine beaches in Camiguin. Ask around for recommendations for less commercial destinations.
With these tried and tested tips, you can enjoy traveling around the Philippines in a budget-friendly way. Happy trip!