The remote location, and postcard perfect beauty of El Nido in the Philippines probably strikes thoughts of ‘too difficult to get to’ and ‘too expensive to enjoy’. Before I started researching, I assumed a place like El Nido was for a very select group of people. This is far from the truth. In fact, El Nido is extremely affordable, and has accommodations, restaurants and activities for every kind of budget; from bare bones to luxury.
We spent a week in El Nido exploring the islands, drinking beers on the beach, zooming down unpaved roads in tricycles, getting massages every day, and in general, having an adventure filled, yet relaxing vacation.
We were not on any particular budget (besides don’t spend all of our money!) and still managed to get by without spending very much! In typical fashion with how we travel, we wanted to spend as little as possible, but would not sacrifice comfort or limit ourselves because of money.
That being said, even with tourism booming, El Nido is pretty inexpensive. If we tried, it would not have been too hard to stay under $50 a day for 2 people.
*All of the expenses are for 2 people
*In January 2015, $1 USD = 44.15 PHP
11,990 PHP ($270) – 36% of our total expenses
Food was cheap, and not particularly impressive, but similar to our time in Central America, we ate a lot to compensate for the cheap prices! Most of the restaurants offer similar food and similar prices. There are a few fancier/more touristy places, like the Art Cafe, where prices were a bit more expensive.
- Grilled fish – 90-150PHP ($2-$4)
- Hamburger – 100-200PHP ($2-$4.50)
- Smoothie – 50PHP
- Filipino Breakfast – 120-150PHP ($2.50-$4)
3,605PHP ($81) – 11% of our total expenses
Coming from Korea, where beer is definitely not cheap, we were very excited to see the price of alcohol in El Nido. A beer cost less than a bottle of water in some places! Beer was the most popular libation of choice for us with Red Horse, San Miguel Light and San Miguel Pilsner being the popular three options. Buying an entire bottle of rum for yourself is the most economical choice, especially when combining it with fresh coconut water! Yum!
- Beer – 35-70PHP ($.80-$1.50) *stores are cheaper than restaurants
- Bottle of Rum from store – 90PHP ($2)
- Glass of Wine from a restaurant – 90-120PHP ($2-$3)
- Cocktail – 100-200PHP ($2-$4.50)
11,800 ($267) – 35% of our total expenses
We stayed at two different places, the first place, El Gordo’s Action and Adventure Lodge, was a hostel with shared bathrooms and a community vibe. Bulskamp Inn was a clean and beautiful B&B. El Gordo’s was $30 a night and Bulskamp Inn was $40 a night. We found these prices to be in the middle range of hotel prices. Lots of places were cheaper, and lots of places were more expensive! Our stay at Bulskamp Inn was comfortable, clean, and air conditioned and I would highly recommend staying there.
5,250 ($119) – 17% of our total expenses
Our activities included island hopping tours, guides for trips, and massages. I feel like we did a lot of stuff during our week in El Nido and the amount we spent on activities goes to show how inexpensive things are.
- Island Hopping Tour – 1200-1500PHP ($27-$34)
- Local Guides – 300-1000PHP ($7-$23) *depending on the activity
- Massage – 400PHP ($9) *for one hour
3,220 ($72) – 1% of our total budget
I was actually surprised to see the total of this because transportation seemed so cheap, and we didn’t take any huge journeys (aside from Puerto Princesa to El Nido). The majority of our transportation was tricycles to and from the various beaches around El Nido. We took a very uncomfortable 14 passenger van on the 5 hours drive from Puerto Princesa to El Nido which cost 600PHP each. And our way back was on a much more comfortable (but longer journey) coach bus for 450PHP each. Other than that the tricycle rides were typically between 50 and 150 depending on where we were going.
925 PHP ($21) – <1% of our total budget
I guess I didn’t really need to include this, but since the water comes from a well, and is undrinkable, it was something that we needed to buy each day. We bought large jugs of water and kept them in our hotel room and filled up our reusable water bottles.
Total amount of Money Spent for one week in El Nido for 2 people: 33,570PHP ($760)
For a week vacation in paradise, without sticking to a budget, El Nido in the Philippines is do-able for any kind of traveler.