5 hot budget tours for P10,000 or less

Go on thrill rides and a sunset cruise in Boracay, enjoy Coron's pristine beaches, or explore Vigan's Spanish-era town—Here are 5 brilliant ways to see the Philippines for less than P10,000

By Monica De Leon

Three-day budget Boracay island tour
Sunset cruise onboard the Boracay Suncruiser

Boracay, a small bone-shaped island 300 kilometers south of Manila, fringed by the Sulu Sea to the west and the Sibuyan Sea to the east, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. It's not hard to see why. For such a small place it packs a big punch. The main attraction is White Beach, a beautiful 4km stretch of perfect white sand lapped by gin-clear tropical waters. Boracay actually has 30 beaches and coves, with others such as Puka Beach on the island's northern coast, gems in their own right. On the eastern coast, at Bulabog Beach, the onshore summer winds make it perfect for kiteboarding and windsurfing. For families and groups, there are some new fun things to try such as the whale ride, a combination of the banana ride and the flying fish in its thrill a minute; the bandwagon, an inflatable ride tugged by a speedboat; and Boracay submarine, that allows you to watch the island's underwater life in the safety of your "submarine" capsule. If you’d rather chill, go paraw sailing, or join Boracay Suncruiser’s sunset cruise. Or go solo and hire a crystal kayak to explore the island, or head to AquaFun Water Park in mainland Malay. At night, there is no shortage of bars and nightclubs to party.

Map by Randy Rey

About P12,000 for a group of fourincluding island hopping, whale ride, bandwagon ride and paraw sailing, the choice of a sandwich with drinks or a 20-minute foot fish spa, plus pick up from hotel . You can also choose to drop the island hopping option in favor of a ride on the Boracay Suncruiser. Group tour rates are usually higher for smaller groups. Other activites such as Aqua Fun Water Adventure costs P7,200 for four people , and includes one hour at the waterpark, snacks and interisland transfers. The Boracay Submarine, a refurbished submarine, takes you down to the sea floor to view Boracay's marine life without getting wet, P2,000 per person, minimum of 10 people for 30 minutes. 
To book the tours, call My Boracay at tel+63917 394 8083 or visit My Boracay

To save money, you can ditch the airplane for a 2Go ferry ride to Boracay, +632 528 7000. The cost of the ferry ride from Batangas port to Caticlan, a 10-hour travel (9pm daily) on economy class fluctuates, but promos sometimes offer P800 per person, including dinner. Economy ferry fare ?>could go as high as P2,500. Other add ons to prepare for are a P75 environmental fee at Caticlan, P100 Cagban pier terminal fee, P25 boat fare, P20 multicab fare from Caticlan pier to your preferred drop off point along the Main Road. Most hotels arrange passenger pick up.

YCL Hotel Boracay,
a new hotel in boat station 1, charges P1,600 for a room night for two on Hotels.com.

Tour cost:                                                P3,000 (per person for a group of four)
Ferry, roundtrip:                                    P1,600
Hotel, 2 nights:                                      P1,600 (per person rate for double occupancy)
Meals, 3 days:                                         P1,350 (about P450 on meals a day on a budget)
Caticlan to Boracay transfers              P365
Total spend:                                          P8,915 (US$198) per person for a group of four

Airfare option: From P2,743 via Kalibo on Air Asia

Three-day budget beach and lagoon tour of Coron
Karst islets that make up the Calamian Group of Islands off Coron. By Amanda Lago

Calamianes Island in the northernmost part of Palawan, is one of the Philippines' last frontiers, offering some of the best beaches in the country, lagoons, hotsprings, and some great snorkelling and diving. To get you started on your trip, check out Calamianes Travel & Tours which offers a three-day Coron Getaway Tour Package that covers everything from guided tours, room night with daily breakfast and snacks, roundtrip airport transfers and transfers to and from pick up point of the tour, and all tour stops’ required permits and entrance fees. The tour's first day will take you to some of the must-visit places in Coron, including Kayangan Lake, the Twin Lagoons separated by a karst rock, and Siete Pecados Marine Park, a protected park teeming with beautiful colorful corals and marine life. This tour also includes a lunch picnic. Day two takes you to three of Coron's best beaches —Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, and Bulog Dos Island. Malcapuya Island is a small, beautiful island with a powdery white sand beach. Banana Island has a smaller beach compared to Malcapuya but its water is just as clear and teeming with colorful marine life. Five minutes away from Banana Island is Bulog Dos, close to the tailend of Malaroyroy Peninsula in the northern part of Bulalacao. Its main draw is its white sandy beach, beautiful corals, and unique rock formations jutting out from different corners of the beach. If you’re lucky and arrive at low tide, you’ll find Bulog Dos' sandbar that connects all the way to Malaroyroy.


On an island in the sun ?? #sunsoutbunsout #paradise #bulogdosisland #philippines

A photo posted by Jessie-Rose (@jessierosecutler) on


The Coron Getaway Tour Package costs P6,500 per person for two to three people, and includes a two-night stay at a local lodge or tourist inn in an airconditioned room with private bathroom and hot and cold shower, TV and free Wi-Fi at the Wi-Fi zone, airport transfer, daily breakfast with two delicacy snacks and one picnic lunch, and during tours, hotel pick up and drop off, guided tours using a licensed guide, entrance fees and use of kayaks.
To book your tour, call +63917 792 7227, or visit Calamian Islands Travel & Tours

Take a 2Go ferry from North Harbor in Manila to Coron, a 15-hour ride (1:30pm to 4:30am, every Tuesday and Friday). Economy class fares ??>varies, but there’s an ongoing promo for P900 per person, including dinner. The highest rate for economy is about P2,500. 
If you'd like to break your P10,000 budget and spend on airfare, Skyjet offers roundtrip flights from Manila to Coron for P6,174.

Tour cost, including hotel room nights:             P6,500 per person for two to three people
Ferry, roundtrip:                                                      P1,800
Meals, 3 days:                                                           P1,350
Total spend:                                                            P9,650

Three-day budget heritage tour of Vigan
Kalesa ride along Calle Crisologo in Vigan. By Daniel Soriano

A UNESCO world heritage site, Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, on the west coast of Luzon, takes you back to Spanish Philippines, with its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and heritage streets. UNESCO describes it as "the most intact example in Asia of a planned Spanish colonial town, established in the 16th century." Walk along the charming cobblestone streets of Vigan's Calle Crisologo and find houses and buildings that were mostly built in the mid 18th to late 19th centuries, and check out stalls selling souvenirs and items such as miniature antique furniture, vintage and costume jewelry, and woven straw hats. Travel Ilocandia Tour and Travel offers a Vigan Tour package taking you to some of the preserved Spanish colonial era buildings including the Padre Jose Burgos National Museum, a stone house built in the 1700s that used to be the house of one of three Filipino martyr priests, the St Paul’s Cathedral, a Baroque mid-century church with subtle Chinese and Chinese-inspired details. The tour also takes you on shopping stops for antiques, local Ilocano Abel fabric and blankets, bibingka or rice cake, and the local Vigan sausages. To complete your authentic Spanish town experience, ride the kalesa (horse drawn carriage) and stop  at the beautiful Plaza Salcedo down the road from Calle Crisologo. At 4pm, stalls selling local specialties, from the Vigan empanada similar to Cornish pasty and Vigan garlic sausages start setting up stalls. 

Travel Ilocandia Tour and Travel offers a Vigan Tour package for P2,200 per person (for four to five people). A kalesa ride costs P150 per hour per carriage that could accommodate up to four. A two night stay for two at Aniceto Mansion costs P3,000 per night with breakfast for four people.
Visit Travel Ilocandia Tour and Travel. If you'd like to break your budget and fly to Laoag, the gateway to Vigan, air fare on Cebu Pacific are from P5,476 from Manila to Laoag City, roundtrip.

Take a deluxe Partas bus from its Cubao Terminal in Metro Manila to Vigan, a 10-hour travel, for P805 . 

Tour cost:                  P2,200
Kalesa ride:               P38
Bus, roundtrip:         P1,610
Hotel, 2 nights:        P1,500
Meals, 3days:            P1,350
Total spend:            P6,698 

Three-day budget land and water tour of Puerto Princesa

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. Screengrabbed from Palawan.com

Puerto Princesa, located south of Palawan, is also known as the "City in a Forest". It is surrounded by natural attractions, one of the most famous being the St. Paul Subterranean River in Sabang, said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world at 8.2km and one of the World’s 7 New Wonders of Nature. CML Travel and Tour offers a tour of the St. Paul Subterranean River National Park, Puerto Princesa City, and Honda Bay Island Adventure for only P3,700.
Some of the city's famous stops include the Crocodile Farm – Palawan Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Center; the scenic Rancho De Sta. Monica, former politician Ramon Mitra’s ranch located on Baker’s Hill; and the Binuatan Weaving Creations and Palawan Heritage Village, home of traditional loom weaving, where you can try your hand at weaving or shop for woven products such as bags, table runners and placemats.
At the Honda Bay area, discover some of the country's gorgeous beaches, snorkel and feed fish in Snake Island, swim and have a picnic lunch at Pandan Island, and do more snorkeling at Pampanto Reef.

CML Travel and Tour's P3,700 tour of the underground river, Puerto Princesa City, and Honday Bay Island Adventure includes guided tours, entrance fees and permits, tranfers within tours and hotel pick up and drop off, and picnic lunch (except for the city tour). Accommodation costs about P995 per night for two people at Go Hotels if you book on Agoda.

Take an Air Asia flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa, about P3,349, roundtrip.

Tour cost:                     P3,700
Airplane, roundtrip:  P2,145 (Philippine Airlines)
Hotel, 2 nights:           P995
Meals, 3 days:              P,1,350
Total spend:               P8,190

Three-day budget eco adventure tour of Albay and Sorsogon

ATV ride up Mt. Mayon. By Christian SangoyoAlbay is the Philippines new adventure playground, with all-terrain vehicle trails to the famous Mt. Mayon volcano, pristine beaches, waterfalls, and river cruises. Tours on offer here includes stops at the Vanishing Island, a one-hectare sandbar off Malilipot in Albay province in the Bicol region, just a 30-minute boat ride from the province's main Tabaco port. From Legazpi Airport, take a jeepney or a tricycle to the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal, where there are jeepneys and aircon UV Express Service vans that ply to the different towns and cities in Albay like Tabaco.
On the way back to Legazpi City, visit Vera Falls at the foothills of Mt. Malinao in the town of Malinao, next to Tabaco, and take a dip in its clear shallow pool. 
Some of the activities to include in your itinerary are the all-terrain vehicle rides up Mt. Mayon, taking the green lava trail, passing muddy terrain, river beds, rice plantations, grazing cows, the dry river, and stops at any of these five places for the best views of Mt. MayonCagsawa Ruins in Daraga; Nuestra Senora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate), also in Daraga; Taysan Hill in Sto. Nino village in Legazpi City; Legazpi Boulevard in Puro, also in Legazpi City; and Sumlang Lake in Sumlang village in the town of Camalig for the best views of Mayon.  Hop on a van to Sorsogon City and take a tricyle or jeep to Buhatan River in Sorsogon City for a river cruise to watch endemic birds and see fireflies come to life at night.

Bicol Adventure ATV rents out a 150cc ATV for P699 for the Cagsawa trail and P1,500 for the Green Lava 1 trail. Vanishing Island tours costs P250 at Tabaco Travel and AdvenTours. The Buhatan River cruise costs P2,500 for 10 people, including a guided tour and snack onboard.

A Two-night stay in a superior room at Ellis Ecotel in Legazpi City is about P1,300 per night for two people if you book on Expedia.com.ph.

Take a DLTB bus from its Ali Mall Cubao, Quezon City station to Legazpi City, P810. Best to take the 8pm evening trip so you reach Albay early morning of the next day. Getting around Albay is usually done by jeepney, about P7 per ride, and P20 for a tricycle. Budget P200 transportation cost per day. You also have the choice of flying from Manila to Legazpi City in Albay, from P3,237 on Cebu Pacific, roundtrip.

Tour cost:                                    P2,000
Bus, roundtrip:                           P1,620
Hotel, 2 nights:                          P1,300
Meals, 3 days:                             P1,350
Transfers within tours:             P600
Total spend:                              P6,870

Tips on how to get the best domestic flight deals, according to South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) president Patrick Tan:
1. Don't check in your baggage to get a cheaper fare. Airlines have a seven-kilo hand carry allowance per passenger anyway, which should be enough if you pack light.
2. Choose the best time to book. Most of the new rates come into effect at the strike of midnight so if you can manage to stay up late, book your flight in the wee hours.
3. Choose unpopular flight schedules because these are usually cheaper.

Published July 2016