Why is the Philippines So Cheap?

The Philippines are extremely cheap because the day-to-day expenses tend to be lower. For example, a snack in a tourist area costs $1,5. A hotel room in Manila costs $18. A full vacation week in En Nido costs ₱21,868, or $455. Overall living in the Philippines is 60% cheaper than living in New York City.

How cheap are the Philippines for travelers?

When it comes to traveling, tourists can spend more than expected. Let’s see if that is the case for the Philippines. After some research, I was able to find the average price of vacation and to back it up with complementary data. So, how cheap are the Philippines for travelers?

Travelers spend around $65 a day in the Philippines. For a one-week vacation, this is equal to $455. This price includes 3 days on a boat, 3 days relaxing, and hotel rooms every night. It also includes breakfast, a restaurant meal, and a snack per day

Let’s now see the maths behind this number. Indeed, I took some assumptions to make the result as close as possible from the reality.

How cheap is one tourist day in the Philippines?

In order to find the exact price of one week of vacation in the Philippines, let’s invent a virtual day for one tourist in El Nido, Palawan. First, we will eat breakfast, do some island hopping on a private boat, bring a snack, eat dinner in a great restaurant and spend the night at a hotel. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find real prices of restaurants and hotels.

A classic breakfast for one person in El Nido costs 75 PHP (PHP means Philippines Pesos). This is equal to USD 1,5. Then, a private boat tour starts at around 7,900 PHP (or $165). This price will be divided by the number of people. Let’s assume that you are a couple for its honeymoon. We will then divide this price by two.

You bring a snack onboard for $2. At nighttime, you choose to eat a complete meal in a great restaurant. It will cost you 500 PHP, or $10. Finally, you sleep in a hotel room for 1,000 PHP. This is equal to $20. Since you are two, it is $10 per person. Let’s now sum up all the prices.

One day in El Nido, Palawan, in the Philippines costs $106 for a tourist. This includes a private boat tour, the food, and the hotel room. The prices can decrease if more people participate in the boat rental.

Type of expenseAmount ($)
Private Boat$82,5
Table showing the price of one day in El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines.

A travel report in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, Palawan is one of the places tourists love to visit… and for good reasons! It is simply one of the most beautiful places on Earth. This is the place I used during my one-day expenses experiment that I just presented to you. But after that research, I wanted to back up my data with real experience. This is what I was able thanks to the following video.

Credits to Brett Conti

As you can see in the video, the numbers are relatively close to the ones I found. The big difference is the boat rental. In the video, they were way more people on the boat, which lowered the price per person.

Overall, the best thing to do in order to be realistic is to do a price range. Indeed, you will not do a boat tour every day!

A tourist day in El Nido without boat rental costs around $30, whereas a full day on a boat costs around $100. We can assume that you will spend half of your vacation in El Nido on a boat, and the other half resting on the beach or hiking in nature. So we can do the mean 30 and 100. This is equal to $65. An average day in El Nido costs $65 for one person.

And El Nido is an incredible place to visit. As you can see in the next picture, the landscapes are scenic. Some of them are even better than the ones you can find in Bali, or in Zanzibar for instance.

travel boats on island in el nido in cheap philippines
El Nido, Palawan. Visiting the numerous lagoons with a private boat is a great and affordable option! Credits to Alana Harris

How cheap is the Philippines : the results

Finally, I backed up my research with one last resource, called Budgetyourtrip.com. It is a website that analyses big data to give vacation prices around the world. But you should be careful about this website because sometimes the maths behind the numbers is done the wrong way. For the Philippines, you can find the following on budgetyourtrip.com:

A vacation to the Philippines for one week usually costs around ₱18,490 for one person. So, a trip to the Philippines for two people costs around ₱36,981 for one week.

Quote from budgetyourtrip.com

My experiment showed that a tourist spends $65 a day, or ₱3124,11. Multiply that by seven, and you arrive at ₱21,868. My numbers are 18% higher than the ones you can find on budgetyourtrip.com. This could be due to the fact most people rent boats with friends, just like Brett Conti does during his trip.

How cheap is it to live in the Philippines?

Now that we saw the experience of travelers, we can also change our point of view and be local. The things that will change are that we now want to consider the rent prices and the grocery prices. We also favor living in larger cities where there are jobs. This is why I did some research about Manila. I was able to find a very helpful resource called numbeo.com.

Family of four estimated monthly costs is 1,688.05€ (98,337.50₱) without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly cost is 489.19€ (28,497.71₱) without rent. Living in Manila is 53.87% lower than in Paris. Rent in Manila is, on average, 50.12% lower than in Paris.

This data was found on numbeo.com. It is created thanks to an estimator analyzing big data, just like for budgetyourtrip.com.

Overall, I trust this data. Living near Paris, I know the prices in the area and I agree with the results. But still, I wanted to do complementary research to back up this data. The only issue I have with this data is that we do not know where it comes from. So let’s back up this data.

How cheap is one day in Manila?

Let’s basically use the same approach as the one used for a tourist day in Manila. Thankfully, someone already did it. His name is Jason, and you may recognize him from the article I wrote about Thailand. He is a budget traveler who shows the real prices in the town he visits. The following video is a gold mine because you will directly see all the prices from real menus and hotels. I will let you watch it and we will debrief it afterward.


As you just saw in the video, Jason was able to live a full day in Manila for £24,09. This is equal to $33,22. Manila is extremely cheap. Living one full day in Manila costs around $30. This takes into account food, hotel, and transportation.

Thanks to the cheapness of Manila, you can choose to live for a long time in hostels and sleep in dorms. But when it comes to living your whole life in the Philippines, maybe it is better to look for the rent prices.


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