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Is Travelling to the Philippines Cheap or Expensive?
What is Cheap? What is Expensive? An Extremely Subjective Topic
To define a country as expensive or cheap is a tricky task, first of all because it’s immensely subjective. Try to have a talk with your own friends about how expensive a vacation should be, how much they are willing to spend for an overnight, for a day tour or for a meal. Most likely, you’ll be surprised discovering that the concepts of “cheap” and “expensive” are not standard in a society, often regardless of the amount of money a person has in his bank account. Some people would almost literally spend all their money on travels, while some others are more likely to use that budget for buying cars, fine furniture or technology. It’s also one of the reasons why you should choose carefully the people to travel with: you might have different needs and not even be aware of it.
The South-East Asia’s Misunderstanding: Not Everything Is Cheap
Another premise: the whole South-East Asia is sometimes perceived as a place where you can get often expensive things for a cheap price. It’s not quite like that, or at least not anymore. It’s somehow a mentality that is heritage of the 90s when, in a not yet globalized planet, mass tourists could find semi-luxurious looking private resorts with full-board meals at the same price of a small pension in their own country. Things are not quite like that anymore for many reasons, among which there are rising costs, development of local economies, increased demand and others.
Also, in the past recent years, tourism witnessed a big shift of taste among travellers: people are now searching for genuine experiences and tours rather than spending 2 weeks enclosed in a resort emptying buffet tables 3 times a day.
The Philippines: A Peculiar Case
The Philippines is then another special case: it’s a mostly agricultural country made of 7,641 islands where many manufactured items are imported or anyway have relevant transportation costs even within the country. Building infrastructures in remote beautiful places is not easy and costly.
If you want to have a truly luxurious resort vacation in the Philippines, it’s going to cost you quite a lot. Actually, the Philippines made headlines on 2019 with the opening of the “most expensive resort of the world”. You could also look here for a comprehensive list of the Eco-luxury resorts of the Philippines.
Does this mean the Philippines is expensive? No. At the same time, life in the Philippines is simple and salaries are not high, thus the local costs need to at least strive to match the local lifestyle. Practically this means that if you want to travel “cheap”, you are likely to need to travel in “local style”, choosing small-medium hotels and guesthouses and avoiding extravagant expenses. Fortunately, Filipinos have quite good standards in terms of hygiene and cleanliness compared to other developing (and also “developed”) countries!
If you are going to eat local food, even in stylish and good restaurants, your bills will be affordable and you are going to be happy about them. Food in the Philippines comes usually at an affordable price. It will be a different story if you are going to enjoy luxurious meals with wine and other imported items and delicacies: a pity for your palate, since the best way to eat good food in the Philippines is to eat local food!
Then, as usual, it’s possible to find something “in between”. You just need to search well and find a balance between the two opposites (affordable vs expensive) that fit your needs.
Last but not least, you have to consider transportation costs, especially if you like to have a tour of the Philippines and go around to visit different places. Transferring around islands is not always easy and fast (important to consider if you don’t have a lot of time for your holiday!). You are likely to need domestic flights to go around the most beautiful islands of the country. To reach the most hidden places, you could need private vehicles with significant costs.
Sometimes people choose to visit the Philippines more than once to be able to explore the country’s diversity, splitting their experience in two different holidays. Or, you might need to decide which the areas you like to explore the most are and which ones you could give up to, then build an itinerary that would balance your taste with your budget!