It’s Cheaper in the Philippines (Manila) Nov-2016 Edition

Since I am still working on a new BalikBayan Box article (I’m shipping a baby stroller!!) and other travel updates (I’m lazy editing the videos)

I decided that today Im doing an It’s Cheaper in the Philippines (Manila) Nov-2016 post


I always get flaked by US based friends and acquaintances on why I can afford to frequent the Philippines nearly every year.   They always assume I have tons of money.  My secret to that is careful and wise budgeting. I blogged before on how I crazily put away small stashes of cash for my vacation spending, including expenses for Taxi fares, parking fees, entrance fees, manicure etc.

As for my airfare, I schedule my flight and trip during non peak travel season. Which are between end January-mid May (Philippine Summer)  or mid September-end November (Rainy Monsoon Season)

I don’t book via Philippine Airlines.  On a regular off season fare the baseline fare is $850,  lucky if you find a $650-750 deal on their flash sales.  The only positive part about Philippine Airlines is that they are a direct flight.

I, however opt flying with either ANA-All Nippon, Delta, EVA, Asiana or Korean Air which have low fare economy for between $600-800 with a 1-2 hour stopover in either Tokyo, Japan or Seoul, Korea. Not bad really. And sometimes on a good sale day airfare can go as low as $580  (from Los Angeles) Almost $200 saving that goes to my pocket money.

In fact it’s cheaper to travel to another country rather than traveling within the US. A flight from San Diego to New York for me would cost around $450- 550 depending on date and airline. Yeeesh! only a couple dollars difference to fly back home (or go to Japan, Mexico or Hongkong)


A search on LAX-Manila Airfare for Feb 2017 flight.  Philippine Airlines being the most expensive on the low budget fare cost

Normally when I vacay to the Philippines I stay around 20-24 days- almost 3 weeks.  Since I stay mostly at my parents old home- I don’t worry about paying for hotel fees and such. So I really just spend about $500-650 on pocket money if I don’t oversplurge.


The Philippines is such a great place to vacation & live due how cheap most local activities are.  Plus you don’t feel too left out since places like Manila have many of the western comforts especially restaurants – Chillis, TGIF,  Krispy Kreme, etc.. but sold at much lower rates that their US counterparts.

In fact according to Numbeo: Consumer Prices in United States are 112.40% higher than in Philippines
Restaurant Prices in United States are 246.81% higher than in Philippines
Groceries Prices in United States are 120.27% higher than in Philippines

A normal date night activity in Manila are significantly low priced.  Here is a table comparing US-Philippine rates of items and activities we normally spend on. The conversion is based off exchange rates as of November 2016   $1.00= Php 48.00. Note that prices are subject to change

A HUGE JUMP from my article back in August 2014  on your Philippine Spending Guide.


What Are They Reg US $ Rate Philippine Peso Rate US Equivalent Nov 2016
Movie tickets $15.00  Php        260.00 $5.42
Movie tickets Imax $18.00  Php        300.00 $6.25
Movie Soda $4.00  Php           30.00 $0.63
City or Mall parking $5.00  Php           50.00  
Popcorn $6.00  Php           50.00 $1.04
McDonalds Value Meal $5.50  Php        120.00 $2.50
Uber Ride 12 Miles $30.00  Php        150.00 $3.13
Pizza Medium $13.00  Php        280.00 $5.83
MRT/Trolley $6.00  Php           25.00 $0.52
Bus Fare Manila $2.50  Php             8.50 $0.18
Taxi Fare 12 Miles $25.00  Php        150.00 $3.13
Jeepney fare Manila    Php             7.00 $0.15
1 Hour Sweedish Massage $75.00  Php        700.00 $14.58
1 Hour Premium Massage $120.00  Php     1,500.00 $31.25
Haircut Regular $30.00  Php        175.00 $3.65
Haircut Mid range $75.00  Php        300.00 $6.25
Haircut w Stylist $150.00  Php        500.00 $10.42
Manicure Regular $17.00  Php        200.00 $4.17
Manicure/Pedi Deluxe $30.00  Php        500.00 $10.42
Mani Pedi Spa Treatment $50.00  Php     1,300.00 $27.08
Mid City Hotel $80.00  Php     2,750.00 $57.29
Hotel Parking $35.00  Php        100.00 $2.08
4 Star Hotel $175.00  Php     5,500.00 $114.58
Facial w/ Mask $100.00  Php        320.00 $6.67
Gel Manicure $40.00  Php        680.00 $14.17
Breakfast Buffets Deluxe $35.00  Php        900.00 $18.75
Round Cakes $12.00  Php        300.00 $6.25
Bottle Shampoo $3.50  Php        100.00 $2.08
Soap $3.00  Php           80.00 $1.67
RT Plane tickets  354 mil $240.00  Php     4,678.00 $97.46


My favorite comparison is how large the margin between a regular movie night here in the US compared to a typical day in Manila. Even with the luxury cinemas you still will spend a quarter of what you would with US Fares.

Also buying or building your own home (much recommended) is significantly cheaper.  You can own a 4 Bedroom home with 4 bathroom located in a modest gated community for under $200,000.  For groceries rates get cheaper as you go further into the provincial and countryside areas where everything are locally sourced and organic.

There are still things that are more affordable to buy in the US than the Philippines, especially branded US & UK items due to  VAT tax imposed once they are sold in its branch stores in Asia.  TV, Laptops and most US electronics are cheaper. However mailing them to the Philippines means you need to pay Philippine customs a certain tax fee that is nearly as expensive as the electronics themselves. Plus the voltage requirements between US and Philippines differ so it’s better to spend that extra difference for those Asia manufactured/sold brand than have your US bought appliance explode and fritz out on you.

Here’s a short table showing same rates where US products are cheaper or same as their Philippine counterpart.

Cheaper/Same in the US Reg US $ Rate Philippine Peso Rate US Equivalent Nov 2016
32″ TV $210.00 Php11,500.00 $239.58
Beats Headphones Solo $90.00 Php15,000.00 $312.50
Designer Bags (Coach/MK) $250.00 Php18,000.00 $375.00
Honda 2017 Civic $23,000.00 Php1,200,000.00 $25,000.00
3-4 Bedroom House $600,000.00 Php9,000,000.00 $187,500.00
Baby Carrier/Stroller $65.00 Php2,800.00 $58.33
Baby Playpen $60-75 Php3,700.00 $77.08
26″ Mountain Bike $90-110 Php7,700.00 $160.42
Android Tablet 7″-8″ $49-60 Php2,700.00 $56.25

That’s all I have for now. Till the next post!


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