Survive Boracay On A Budget – Boracay Starter Pack
Well-known as the party island in the Philippines, Boracay has charmed travellers and tourists from every corner of the world. Either you are honeymooners, holidaymakers, or simply backpackers, locals will tell you to not miss Boracay. Despite a big crowd, Boracay still attracts foreign and local tourists to its fine white beach. Because of the massive flow of the visitors, Boracay started to be one of the most expensive destinations in the Philippines. For a local like me who visited Boracay for the first time after I travelled the most affordable destinations in Southeast Asia, I found Boracay quite expensive.
I managed to enjoy Boracay on a shoestring budget, therefore, I decided to write up an article which can be a guide for travellers who wanted to enjoy its beauty without breaking a bank. This Boracay on a budget guide will help you find the cheapest accommodation, place to eat, pick up a cheap drink, and everything in between to help you survive and enjoy Boracay.
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HOW TO GET TO BORACAY
If you are coming from Manila, you have two options; take a flight or take a bus plus RoRo(ferry boat). I transport myself to Boracay on a budget which was not a bad idea, I get to experience to travel with the locals even I’m a local myself.
FLIGHT (from Manila to Caticlan)
Flight costs from US$40, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are the two popular budget airlines in the Philippines. The flight should take less than an hour and it should take you to Caticlan. From Caticlan airport, take a shuttle bus to Caticlan Jetty Port. When you arrive at the Jetty Port, you have to take a small boat to Boracay Island, the journey is about 15 minutes. Note that you can also take a flight to Kalibo, but the drive from Kalibo to Caticlan Jetty Port is an hour.
- Terminal fee: P100.00 (US$2)
- Environmental fee: P75.00 (US$1.5)
- Boat fare: P25.00 (US$.50)
Take a bus from Cubao (Metro Manila) to Batangas pier, there are plenty of buses that you can take and are going every hour all day and all night. The bus journey will be about 2 hours depending on the traffic. From Batangas pier, take a RoRo (roll in roll out) ferry. 2Go is the popular budget ferry company, if you decide to go with them, the ferry leaves once a day at 21.00 (9 pm) and will arrive in Caticlan Jetty Port at 6.00 (6 am). From Caticlan Jetty Port, you need to take a small boat to Boracay Island.
- Bus fare: P165.00
- RoRo: P950.00 – bunk beds and free food (there are options for more comfortable rooms and beds)
- Terminal fee: P100.00
- Environmental fee: P75.00
- Boat fare: P25.00
When you arrived at Boracay Island, you need to take a tricycle or tuk-tuk to get to your accommodation or hostel. This should cost P15.00 only.
WHERE TO STAY IN BORACAY ON A BUDGET
The first thing you need to know is that Boracay has plenty of beaches, the most popular and where most travellers stay is on the White Beach. Now, the white beach is divided into three stations, station 1, 2, and 3. The station 1 is known as the expensive area, this is where the fancy resorts and luxurious hotels are located. Whilst station 2 is where all the crazy, colourful, and lively parties happen, the station 3 is more quiet and relaxed part of the white beach, this is where you can find the most affordable accommodation too.
The end part of the Station 3 or known as Angol Road, this is where I stayed. Since I stayed in an affordable dorm room, this required me to walk quite a lot. The walk to the station 2 is about 15 minutes, whilst you can easily exit the Angol Road where you can find tuk-tuks or tricycle to take you to the other beaches or stations.
HOSTELS I STAYED
Tree House – I stayed in a 4-dorm room for only P350.00 or US$7 per night with shared bathroom but without breakfast. The place is a cosy one and the staffs are very nice, plus a decent wifi (for Philippine standard). Unfortunately, they don’t have lockers, thus I have my valuables with me most of the time. The reception area has a locker where you can leave your valuables but it closes at 18.00 (6 pm). If you are travelling alone, Tree House is not the best place to socialise with other travellers, I was alone in my dorm room throughout my stay, therefore I didn’t meet anyone. Perhaps it’s better during very peak season – April to May.
Da Mario – When I found out that Da Mario offers a dorm room for only P250.00 or US$5, I moved to it right away. It’s only 150 metres away from the Tree House, my previous room is better but this one isn’t bad either. However, don’t expect anything fancy for five bucks. I had the 4-dorm room for myself as well but still, there was no locker in the room and the bathroom is a shared one.
WHERE TO EAT IN BORACAY ON A BUDGET
I honestly lost count how many travellers shyly told me that Filipino food isn’t the best. After I personally tasted authentic Vietnamese, Turkish, French, Italian, and Middle Eastern dishes, I can’t blame these tourists, they are not being unfair about Filipino dishes. On the other hand, you still need to eat whilst exploring Boracay, so here are some tips where you can find affordable places to fill in your stomach and let your taste buds judge Filipino food.
Before we move on, another thing you need to know is how much Filipinos eat rice. In the Philippines, an average Filipino eat rice three times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner). The normal meal set is composed of rice and ulam. Ulam does not have a direct translation to English, throughout the time, we use the word “viand”, ulam is the dish that comes with rice as its partner.
Local Eatery or also called “karinderya” is a local small restaurant mostly offer local dishes who caters the budget conscious customers. These karinderyas offers wide options of food matched with rice plus free cold water. To order the food you want, you have to get up to where the food is displayed, choose which one you want and tell it to the person in charge, don’t forget how many cups of rice you want. Most karinderyas offer free soup (day’s broth) as well. Here are the locations of karinderya right by Angol Road and one at station 2.
- Rice: P5-7
- Ulam: P35-40
*When you order one ulam, normally, it comes with rice but depends on the place. Make sure you ask for the price of your order.
Mang Inasal – This is a popular fast food chain in the Philippines which focuses on Filipino cuisine. What I love about this place is their “unlimited rice”. If you choose a meal that comes with unlimited rice, you can eat as much rice as you want, this order comes with a good sized grilled chicken plus free soup (day’s broth). This is perfect if you are starving and feel like you could finish at least three cups of rice. The best catch of this is the price, for only US$2.5 or P125.00 you get to enjoy this order of the meal. Find Mang Inasal on the map.
HOW TO PARTY IN BORACAY ON A BUDGET
Even Boracay is quite an expensive island for its popularity, drinking and partying is still affordable especially for the Europeans and the Westerns. Just like everywhere, sitting in a pub will cost more than buying a drink at the supermarket. However, drinking by the shore is not allowed in Boracay, so even you have your own drinks purchased by the market it’s a challenge to find a place to drink it.
Hit the supermarket right at the entrance of D mall Boracay Street, the supermarket is called Budget Mart. There you can find cheap and affordable alcohols, I found a bottle of wine for P230.00 (US$5.50).
- Beer: P70-80 (US$1.5)
- Cocktails: P100-150 (US$2-2.50)
- Bucket of beer (5 pcs): P320-420 (US$6.4-8.4)
TOURS IN BORACAY
I personally find the prices of tours in Boracay quite fair if you compare it to Vietnam, day tours are between P2,000-5,000 (US$40-100). If this is still beyond your budget, try to talk to some boatmen instead of going to the travel agencies. Ask the boatmen how much they would charge you for a certain trip. If you are going in groups, you will find better deals. Touring in Boracay on a budget is definitely possible, as long as you are resourceful and don’t mind being honest whilst negotiating with the local that you are on a budget. Or you can also just spend your day on the beach and watch the famous Boracay sunset.
If you have more free time during your stay in Boracay, check out Tambisaan Beach.
GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND
You can easily hop on to some tricycles or tuk-tuks, they will take to you wherever part of the island you want to. Remember to always ask how much the fare is and make it clear before driving off. It’s always better to ask a couple of tricycle drivers to see who has a better price. Another trick is to mention that you are looking for the “shared tricycle”. This will let you pay only for yourself and not the entire tricycle.
Another budget tip is to rent a motorbike if you are going to stay for over a week, better rent a motorbike. My friend found one for P500.00 (US$10) per week, he rented the motorbike for 10 days. He said he got some offers for P1,000 and up for a week, therefore, try to find a better deal.
If you need a motorbike driver to take you around, I met a guy who was only a text or call away and then he shows up and ready to pick me up and drive me around the island. His name is Jayson, tell him you got his number from Mary, who he drove to Shangri-La (0909 289 3601).
I was able to explore Boracay on a budget and had a fabulous time there, I hope you will too! Let me know if you have any question/s.
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