Are you tired of seeing crowded beaches in Phuket? Do you want to take a break from Bali, Thailand, Malaysia but want to travel somewhere on a budget which is little off the radar for Indian tourists?
Then Philippines is the destination for you!!!!
Though Manila ranks top in the most crowded cities of Asia, trust us Palawan will blow your mind in terms of scenic beauty, gorgeous and almost empty beaches and with insanely colorful marine life.
And if you do a backpacking trip it will surely fit in your budget. The aim here is to help you out with a 9-day Palawan backpacking budget guide to Manila, Batangas, El Nido and Coron within 60k INR including everything.
Itinerary at a glance
Day 1: Arrival at Manila and leave for Batangas
Day 2: Back to Manila from Batangas
Day 3: Manila to Coron by flight
Day 4: Coron Island tour
Day 5: Coron to El Nido by ferry
Day 6: El Nido tour C
Day 7: El Nido Tour A
Day 8: El Nido to Manila via Puerto Pricesa
Day 9: Leave Manila
For easy understanding, in this Palawan backpacking budget guide, we have divided the cost in following heads
- Flight cost
- Visa Cost
- Getting around in Philippines
Before we start, Filipino currency is called Philippines Peso (PHP) and 1 PHP = 1.33 INR = 0.02 USD (exchange rate is considered during the time of our travel, June 2019)
#TEETip: Avoid carrying cash as much as possible, instead you can use a travel forex card like Niyo Global which doesn’t have any mark up while you swipe and only local bank charges are applicable for cash withdrawls from ATM.
In case you are carrying USD, we got the best exchange rate at BDO bank counter at Manila Airport. Although its known that airport exchange rates are not always the best, we exchanged the minimum USD over there but couldn’t get a better rate anywhere in Philippines for next 9 days. Surprising but true !!
We booked our flights close to 3 months in advance after going through Skyscanner.
Internally we booked two flights, Manila to Coron and Puerto Princesa to Manila.
We took ferry for reaching Coron to El Nido and took a share van transfer for El Nido to Puerto Princesa.
Flights from Manila to directly EL Nido was a lot costlier, so try to avoid that. In case you want to visit El Nido from Manila, take a flight till Puerto Princesa and then take a share van transfer which will work out a lot cheaper (Obviously you need to be on road for 5 hrs.) but it is worth if you are trying to do the trip on budget.
As applying for Philippines Visa is little costly and time consuming process, we had applied for Singapore Visa which was really quick (within 7 days we got our Visa). With Singapore Visa you can enter Philippines easily even if Singapore is not in your itinerary and you have never been to Singapore.
For details you can check Philippines entry via Singapore Visa
Singapore Visa Cost: INR 2800 (this can be cheaper; we didn’t have time so went through an agent)
Below table shows the day wise transportation cost. We were three people in total. And the cost mentioned is for all 3 people in total (even if it is a shared transport).
We had booked the ferry from Coron to El Nido before leaving India. It was high speed ferry by Montenegro Shipping Line. You can book it here
Total transport cost = PHP 9515 for 3 people = PHP 3172 per person = INR 4220 per person
Activities in Philippines::
In this Palawan backpacking budget guide, we will show you how you can experience best of the islands without spending on a private tour.
We primarily took 3 island hopping tours in Palawan:
- Coron Island Hopping – Ultimate Coron Island Tour – PHP 1500 per person
- El Nido – Tour A – PHP 1800 per person
- El Nido – Tour C – PHP 1500 per person
For both Coron and El Nido, no need to book your tour in advance You can go there and book from any tour provider or else ask in your hotel. For El Nido we highly recommend to book your tour with Art Café store.
Each tour operator covers almost same sites that come under the tour you are taking.
We recommend you to take at-least the 3 tours that e took if you only have 3 days.
#TEETip: Art Cafe store in El Nido offers a great value for money. By giving 200-300 PHP extra per person you can almost get a private tour as their boats are small and they dont take more than 6 people in any tour. You can avoid the crowd and the guide will personally help you and give more time in each place. A great way to do Palawan backpacking on budget without compromising on the experience
Total activity cost = PHP 4800 per person = INR 6800 per person
We spent total 8 nights in Philippines: 1 night in Batangas, 2 nights in Manila, 2 nights in Coron and 3 nights in El Nido
Day 1: Stilt Resorts, Batangas, an amazing resort by the beach which also have water villas. We got a dorm room for 3 of us for 1 night at PHP 6100 including breakfast (A bit costly, but that was the closest to the marriage venue we went to Batangas for. Batangas is a beautiful beachside province 4 hours from Manila. You can skip that and add a stay in Puerto Princesa where you can do underground river tour)
Day 2: ZEN Rooms Broadway Court QC : 1 single and 1 double bed room : Total PHP 1576 for one night
Day 3 and 4: Bakawan Hostel, Coron: 2 nights 3 bunk beds : Total 4500 PHP (including breakfast)
Day 5,6&7: Raje Residence : 3 nights 1 double and 1 single room: Total 6450 PHP (including breakfast)
Day 8: Santan Hostel, Manila , 3 bunk beds for 1 night, total 1500 PHP (including breakfast)
#TEETip: we wouldn’t recommend staying at Santan Hostel in Manila, not the best of places we stayed. Zen rooms where we stayed on Day 2 was much better
Total accommodation cost for 8 nights for 3 of us: PHP 20126 = PHP 6709 per person = INR 8922 per person
Food cost in Philippines is very much like India. Most of the days we had breakfast included in the stay and all the tours for island hopping have lunch included in them.
Few food items worth trying in Philippines are Buko Juice (fresh coconut water), Halo- Halo (a layered dessert consisting of beans, fruits, shaved ice drizzled with evaporated milk, and ice cream) and other seafood and pork items (if you are non veg)
When in Manila we bought lunch and dinner items from SM Mall of Asia’s supermarket. We also got grocery items like bread, juice, fruits just to fill in when needed. It was very economic and worth it
Day 1: Manila and Batangas – Total food cost PHP 615 (shopped from supermarket, SM mall)
Day 2: Back to Manila – Total food cost PHP 985 (lunch and dinner from SM mall)
Day 3: Fly to Coron – Total food cost PHP 645 (lunch and dinner at Coron)
Day 4: Coron Island hopping- Total food cost PHP 590 (dinner at Coron)
Day 5: Reach El Nido – Total food cost PHP 1160 (lunch and dinner El Nido, amazing seafood)
Day 6: El Nido Tour A- Total food cost PHP 630 (dinner at El Nido)
Day 7: El Nido Tour C- Total food cost PHP 1000 (dinner at El Nido)
Day 8: Transfer to Manila: Total food cost PHP 1450 (Lunch on the way and dinner at Puerto Princesa airport)
Total food cost for 8 nights: PHP 7075 for 3 persons = PHP 2358 per person = INR 3140 per person
So on an average INR 400 per person per day is enough in Philippines if you spend judiciously and have breakfasts included in stay (lunch is anyway provided by all island hopping tours).
Apart from above expenses we spent on Souvenirs, Sim Card and Body-Massage in Philippines.
Souvenirs from Palawan
Souvenirs starts from PHP 50 and they are pretty good. We did shopping in El Nido. Coron seemed a little pricey for Souvenirs
For simcard we got it from airport for PHP 1000
Finally, massage, this is one thing you must try in Philippines. We pampered ourselves with full body massages in El Nido after full day island hopping tours on Day 6 and Day 7. Trust us, they are really good and relaxing.
Most importantly for 1 hour it starts from as cheap as PHP 400. There are so many of massage parlours, feel free to walk in, take a quote and choose whatever suits you best.
Total spent on miscellaneous, PHP 2000 per person = INR 2700 per person
Finally, to sum up, here is the list of expenses per person
As you can see, the entire trip is very much doable within INR 60k per person including your food at airport while in transit.
So why the wait??? Book your tickets and have a taste of the Filipino life. Find yourself completely amazed amidst those towering cliffs and aquamarine blue waters sprawling with rich marine life. Above all you now have the Palawan Budget Backpacking Guide with you !!
Still not convinced, check out our Postcards from Palawan and it will surely make you feel …”Just Go Now” !!!