How To Visit Manila (The Philippines) Cheaply
The Philippines is a very polarizing country. I’ve received messages that I should be careful not to get kidnapped, robbed or worse. Before visiting this country, I thought about the same thing. The truth is that while the Philippines is different and it is not your average tourist friendly country, it is very safe, very comfortable and very cheap.
Below are my ten tips for enjoying the most out of the Philippines on the cheap.
#1 — From NAIA (the airport), pick a yellow taxi. The yellow taxi is more expensive but it is metered and a lot safe. Plus, it is clean. To Makati (the expat city, a city that looks more American than Asian), you should pay around 250–300 PHP (5.9 USD).
#2 — Hotels are not expensive but if you’re on a budget, you can get a hostel on the cheap. I’ve paid around 300 PHP (5.9 USD) at a very good hostel in Makati, with breakfast included. All the hostels are cheap and this is the cheapest country I’ve been in so far, cheaper than Eastern Europe.
#3 — Find local places to eat. There are places suited especially for foreigners and places for locals. In a place for the locals you can get a serving of Teriyaki Beef for as low as 80 PHP (1.5 USD). My average meal price was around 150 PHP, with drinks included.
#4 — Avoid hotel transfers. They are overpriced because they capitalize on the fear of foreigners of what may happen. You have Uber, you have Grab, you have the yellow taxis so unless you have a big group, it makes no sense to do this.
#5 — Go to a local laundry mat. Eventually, you’re going to have to wash your clothes. You can go to a dry cleaning where it is going to cost you quite a bit (since there are two set of prices, one for locals, one for foreigners) and there are self service laundries. The price for a self-service one is about 140 PHP (2.7 USD) per washing machine and it includes drying but NOT ironing.
#6 — Take advantage of Family Mart. While there are cheaper things in a supermarket, chances are you won’t find one with ease. However, Family Mart has good coffee for 20 PHP (0.4 USD), ham sandwiches for 40 PHP (0.8 USD) and everything in between. Plus, the Filipino beer is only 35 PHP (0.7 USD) and it is very good.
#7 — Avoid tourist and sport bars. I guess this is easy to understand. The prices are rather high, pretty girls will ask you for drinks and generally, someone will find a way to make you part your money. The same is true with escorts, massage services, etc. Anything that involves easy sex in the Philippines will either be expensive, risky or both.
Generally, I could live in Makati, which is the most expensive city in the area for 20% of what would cost me in London. It is a safe place, a beautiful one and apart from the weather, I could live there long term. The only real expenses in Makati are related to vices. There are many holes in which you can lose everything you have in your wallet but with a little common sense, you can make your money go a long way there.
I’m a marketing consultant, start-up entrepreneur and generally, a huge geek. I write on Medium in order to help other people take better decisions and live better lives.
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