Because I started making a little bit of money working part-time for Corazon Puro, and because traveling can be really low-cost in the Philippines, I was able to go to Siargao for a few days with a friend just for some fun, exercise, and exploration. You can watch the video I made above to see how that went, but I just wanted to make a comment about how affordable it is to vacation in the Philippines. So here are some tips on how to travel on a low budget!
My entire trip including airfare, transportation, surf rentals & instruction, motorcycle rental & gas, food, room for two nights, parking & entry fees, tips, etc. all added up to about P5635 (~125 USD).
Here’s the breakdown:
Shuttle from the Airport to the Resort P300
Plane ticket from Cebu to Siargao P1200
2 nights at Point 303 Resort P1500 (P750 each for the 2 of us)
Surf board Rental P300
Motorcycle Rental for 8 hours P500 total (P250 each for the 2 of us)
Parking Fee P20 at Magpupunko total (P10 each for the 2 of us)
Island Hopping Boat Rental P1500 total (P750 each for the 2 of us)
Entry fee to Guyam Island (P10)
Shuttle from the Resort to the Airport P300
P100 Airport terminal fee
P1420 Food (3 meals at resorts, 3 meals from the town, a couple of snacks)
1) Plan your trips early & wait for promo fares.
We initially got the idea to go to Siargao because I saw a promo fare on Cebu Pacific Air and I really wanted to go. By the time we finally set a date, the promo fare was gone, so we just kept waiting until Cebu Pacific Air got another promo fare to Siargao. They have promo fares all the time, we just had to wait and check back every day until we saw a promo fare. Normally when there’s a promo fare, you have to buy your ticket at least 3 months in advanced, so if you don’t give yourself enough time to plan, there probably won’t be any promo fares. We ended up getting our tickets for P388 each way totaling to about P1200 after taxes and fees.
There are cheaper ways to get to Siargao. We could have taken a boat to bring costs down, but my friend could only take a few days off from work, so we didn’t want to spend that time on a boat.
2) Travel on weekdays.
This was really awesome for two reasons. 1) plane ticket prices are usually cheaper on weekdays, and 2) there were few people at the touristy places! We were literally the only ones at Magpupunko when we got there and there was no one there to charge us an entry fee. I think there was 1 other person surfing while we were surfing, and we were also the only ones at Naked Island for a time, but a few people ended up coming to the island as we spent more time there. It’s “summer” over here, but it wasn’t crowded anywhere we went.
3) Don’t forget to book your lodging
We did all the research on the cheapest lodging and we were actually going to book a room that was P200 per night per person (which would have saved us P350), but we found that place 3 months before our trip, which they said was too early to put in a reservation. And, when it was about 2 weeks before, all the rooms were occupied. I think we should have checked back more often to reserve our room. Anyway, our stay at Point 303 for P750 a night was fine. We had a ceiling fan room. The bathrooms were quite clean. The manager was very helpful. The food was pretty good.
4) Buy your food at the market
We had 3 meals at the resorts, which I think hurt us the most financially. We probably spent P325 per meal at the resorts. The food was good, so I didn’t mind paying so much, but if we wanted to save a little bit of money, we could have done a little extra work and gotten it for a lot cheaper. If you buy your food at the local market, resorts normally will be willing to cook it for you for a small fee. For example, we spent P135 on ingredients and the resort charged us P50 to prepare the kinilaw. So for the both of us, we had a nice simple and healthy meal for about P65 each. Also, on the menu at the resort they had a deal: P120 for either grilled chicken, pork, or fish. We got that the first day, but the second day, we went to the market and bought 1 kilo of fish to be grilled for P140 add some rice and we had a nice grilled fish meal for about P75 each. More food, less money. If we did all our meals this way, we could probably have gotten very luxurious meals for P125 each (saving us about P875).
Also, we went walking around to buy some water. The sari-sari stores near the resorts that were filled with foreigners were selling their water for P60. When we went maybe 20 meters down the road, they were selling the same bottle for P30.
5) Travel in small groups
For this trip, I only traveled with one companion, which was great because we had a lot of flexibility and quality time! However, if we wanted to save more money, we could have gone in a group of 4 instead. That way, we could have split the island hopping fee by 4 instead of 2. (That would have saved us P375)
In conclusion, if we had followed all of these tips, we would have saved a whopping P1600! But, I don’t really regret spending a bit more for some things. On vacation, you’re allowed to splurge a little.