Budget Travel Guide To Manila & Cebu
Out of all the countries I visited in Asia this was my favorite and I would definitely come back to spend more time on the different islands. Did you know that the Philippines has over 7,000 islands?! Although I preferred being in Cebu for all of the water adventures, here you’ll find my budget travel guide to Manila & Cebu.
I felt pretty safe. Everyone here speaks perfect English (I would say it’s even better than mine) and the food is amazing, especially the lechon (pork).
The traffic is horrendous in Manila so it took forever to get anywhere. Although Uber and Grab work here, I happened to experience a couple drivers who cancelled my ride. The taxis kind of suck too, they ask you where you’re going and they can tell you no if they don’t want to go in your direction.
For Cebu make sure to bring water shoes if you don’t want to use the rentals, waterproof bag, and waterproof cell phone case.
$1 USD = 53.9 Philippine Peso (php)
The wifi here is very slow. I got a SIM card at the airport because I needed it for Uber – 600 php ($11.12 USD) for 6gb. I’ve seen them at the malls for cheaper for 350 php ($6.49 USD) for 4 gb.
1st Stop: Manila (MNL) March 5 – March 8
Average Temperature: 93 degrees and humid
Flight: Singapore Airlines Business Class from DPS –> MNL
Original Cost: $1,590.00
Paid: 20,000 Kris Flyer points + $20 USD
Accommodations: We stayed at a friends apartment in Makati
Transportation: Take Uber or Grab – It cost me $6 USD to get to Makati
What To Do
I didn’t do too much here. First off, it was just too hot to be out during the day time and traffic sucks. Second, we were supposed to go to the Pagsanjan Falls but never made it because I went to the wrong bus station. We spent most of the time indoors with air conditioning and ate all sorts of food.
2. Bambike Tour – 2.5 hours – 1200 php ($23 USD)
3. Chinatown Food Tour – 3.5 hours – I believe this is 1200 php ($23 USD)
4. Greenbelt Mall – Large indoor/outdoor shopping mall
2nd Stop: Cebu (CEB) March 8 – March 13
This was by far one of my favorite parts of this Asia Trip!! The plan was to drive 3 hours all the way down to Oslob to snorkel with the whale sharks early next morning. Then after that do some canyoneering at Kawasan Falls. After that, drive to Moalboal for a couple of nights to do some snorkeling and relax.
Tip: Please make sure that you have enough cash for your entire stay – ATM’s were hard to come by in Oslob, Kawasan, and Moalboal.
Average Temperature: 82℉
AirAsia from MNL –> CEB including bag: $67.91
Transportation from CEB airport to our hotel in Oslob: 3,300 php ($62 USD for 2 passengers) IslandTrekTours.com set me up for pick up. I paid 50% deposit online and gave cash to the driver after I was dropped off. On the way to Oslob our driver stopped in the city CarCar where you will find the best lechon. Then before arriving to our hotel he stopped at Tumalog Falls. It’s 20 php (.37 cents) for the entrance and bring 50 php (.93 cents) for a round trip ride on a bike. It’s a pretty steep hill but it’s doable if you want the exercise. If you want to set up this private transfer service you can email email@example.com
Snorkel With The Whale Sharks – 1000 php ($18.56 USD)
The sunrise is breathtaking!
When you walk down the main road there’s a huge sign for whale sharks (can’t miss it). It’s an amazing experience that you should get up early to do. Do not wear any sunscreen or lotions. Snorkel, masks, and flippers were available at no extra charge. Either bring a waterproof bag or just come in your bathing suit. By 6am there was already a line but it moved pretty fast. When you get to the area, register your name and country. Then get in line to pay. They will do a 2 minute briefing on rules and safety. After that you are handed a number. Once they call your number, you are handed a life vest and they tell you which boat to get on. You then have 30 minutes for interaction. Beware of the tiny little jellyfish in March. They don’t leave welts but it’s just more of a nuisance.
Kawasan Canyoneering – 2499 php ($46 USD) Includes pick up and drop off.
They had someone pick us up from our hotel in Oslob and then bring us to their registration desk where you have to sign a waiver. Included in this price is water shoes (we brought our own) helmet, life vest pack with a bottle of water and energy bar. Then they take you on a bike for 30 minutes to the start location and the next thing you know you’re jumping and sliding into pools of water. This was so much fun. After you reach the end, they provide a lunch. Then they took us to our next hotel in Moalboal. Please make sure you have pesos to pay them. There were no nearby ATM’s and the money exchange rate was terrible.
Hotel: Quo Vadi Dive Center $58/night – Best location and since it’s a dive center they offer scuba and snorkeling.
Moalboal was a really cute small town. You can rent a scooter for 300 php/day ($5.78 USD) and ride up to a white sand beach called Panagsama Beach. Around noon, go swim with the sardines! I’ve never seen anything so amazing.
I also booked a boat ride to Pescador Island through the hotel for some snorkeling – 470 php ($9 USD). They do a scuba diving tour as well.
Ven’z Kitchen – I came here 3 times and ordered the “sizzling pork sigsig”
Lantaw Restaurant – perfect place if you love seafood
Transportation Back To Cebu City
For budget travelers there is a bright yellow bus that costs 116 php ($2.23 USD). Make sure it has air conditioning. You have to take a tuk tuk to the main road to get picked up and I read that buses start running at 2am.
I reached out to some private transfer companies and they quoted me 2,000 php $38 USD.
Then I had a friend reach out to tell me that his family owns this transportation company called LadyBird. The pick up was right near the Moalboal Municipal Police Station so I took a tuk tuk which cost me 150 php ($2.89 USD)
Book your private transfer!
Manager Paul Albert Mendoza: +63 942 498 8299
Johanie Mendoza: +63 923 233 8578 / firstname.lastname@example.org / @heyimhaniie
We stayed one night at the Bayfront Hotel Cebu $57/night before our flight the next day. The only thing to do was to hang out at the SM Mall across the street. There’s a skin clinic that offers facials for 400 php ($8.66 USD)
Flying out of CEB Airport
An Uber ride from Bayfront Hotel Cebu to the airport cost 243 php ($4.68 USD) You must pay an exit tax of 750 php ($14.42) if it’s not already included in your ticket. I have no idea how you can tell by looking at the ticket but they only accept CASH.
I’m in the progress of planning a trip back to the Philippines for November 2019 and this time I plan on exploring Coron, El Nido and back to Cebu! Can’t wait 🙂
budget travel guide to manila and cebu