Philippine peso (P)
Budget: Less than P1750 (US$35)
- Dorm bed or single room: P400–800
- Local meals and three beers: P600
- Medium-range bangka or jeepney ride: P80
- Tricycle ride: P10
Midrange: P1750–5000 (US$35–100)
- Air-conditioned double room: P800–3000
- Restaurant meal with drinks: P700
- Group van or bangka tour: P1000
- Daily motorbike rental: P500
Top end: More than P5000 (US$100)
- Boutique resort: P3500–10,000
- Meal and drinks at a resort restaurant: P1500
- One-way domestic plane ticket: P2000
- Private island-hopping trip: P3000-6000
A modest amount of negotiating is expected in many outdoor markets, especially where tourist handicrafts are sold. However, prices for food commodities are usually set.
Bargaining is the rule when hiring motorbikes, or hiring tricycles, bangkas or taxis for the day. Bargaining may also bear fruit when you're walking into hotels, especially in resort areas in the low season.
ATMs dispensing pesos are widely available. Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and some shops in all but remote areas.
- Prevalent in any decent-sized provincial city; dispense pesos.
- More remote towns do not have ATMs.
- The most prevalent ATMs that accept most Western bank cards belong to Banco de Oro (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Metrobank.
- Standard ATM charge is P200 per withdrawal.
- Most ATMs have a P10,000 to P15,000 per-transaction withdrawal limit. Exception: HSBC ATMs in Manila and Cebu let you take out P40,000 per transaction.
- Cash in US dollars is a good thing to have in case you get stuck in an area with no working ATM. Other currencies, such as the euro or UK pound, are more difficult to change outside of the bigger cities.
- ‘Sorry, no change’ becomes a very familiar line in the provinces. Stock up on coins and P20, P50 and P100 notes at every opportunity.
- Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, high-end restaurants and businesses in Manila, Cebu City and other large cities.
- Outside of large cities, you may be charged an extra 3% to 5% for credit-card transactions.
- Most Philippine banks will let you take a cash advance on your card.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com
Restaurants 10% service charge added to bill in cities and tourist hotspots. Otherwise leave 5% to 10%.
Taxis Round up taxi fares, but consider tipping more (P50 to P70) for honest taxi drivers who turn on the meter.
Hotels Not expected, but slide P50 to porters or leave a few hundred pesos in the staff tip box at resorts.
Guides Always tip your guides, as they can really use it.
Tips for Saving Money
A few ways to reduce your expenses:
- Pack as light as possible since most domestic flights charge for checked luggage.
- Take overnight buses and ferries to save on a night's accommodation.
- Bring your own water bottle and fill it up whenever you can at your hotel or at ubiquitous water-refilling stations.
- Hop on communal tricycles for only P10 rather than taking 'special' (ie private) trips.
- Always go for the less-expensive fan rooms; they can be just as comfortable as air-con ones.