Philippines Travel Guide For Backpackers & Digital Nomads

Why is the Philippines great for digital nomads?

The Philippines is an amazing digital nomad destination due to its beaches, friendly locals, and cheap cost of living.

The Philippines is an archipelago comprising over 7,000 islands. It is blessed with stretches of gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by pristine waters, impressive waterfalls, and scores of activities, like diving, surfing, hiking, and more. Not to mention, the Philippines is also known for its rich culture, vibrant festivals, unique cuisine, and affable locals.

So, plan your travels around this fantastic location with this Philippines digital nomad travel guide.

Table of Contents

Digital Nomad Life In The Philippines

Philippines at a Glace

Language

Tagalog

Currency

Philippine peso

Best Money Exchange

N/A

Local Dishes

Adobo & Sinigang

Drones Allowed

Yes

Top Phone Providers

Smart, Globe & Dito

Is water safe to drink

No

Vaccinations

Check CDC

Power Plug Type

A, B, C

Car Sharing Options

Grab

Peak Season

March - June

Country Code

+63

Backpacker Friendly

Yes

Hitch hiker Friendly

Yes

Credit Cards Accepted

Yes

Preffered Payment Method

Cash

Low Season

July - February

Police Number

911

Quality of Life

Work

There are many cafes and coworking spaces all over the philippines so working wont be an issue. There are even foreign companies that operate here. The philippines is very remote work friendly.

Nightlife

The nightlife in the Philippines is one of the best in Asia. You can find Luxury clubs, bars, gogos, kareoke, you name it, it exists. For more about nightlife, check out these posts. Best Places To Party In BGC Best Places To Party In Poblacion Makati Where to party in Manila Siargao Nightlife 7 Best Places for Nightlife in the Philippines

Dating in the Phillipines

If you are a foreigner, you wont have any trouble dating. Ironically, western men are sought out and highly held. That being said, many women can be opportunist. Don’t be surprised to have some company but to pay for everything. If you aren’t wanting this, do not begin the friendship or relationship by offering food or drinks. If sexually active, use protection, or you risk becoming a father in a country where abortion is illegal, and where you may be treated as an ATM by the woman and her family. Not every female has bad intentions, many are looking for love and adventure, just like any person would. You will know a persons intentions very quickly.

Pros And Cons Of Living As A Digital Nomad In Philippines

1. Affordable Cost of Living
Compared to Western living, the Philippines has cheaper living costs. With an average monthly spending limit of $1,000–$1,500, you can live comfortably.
2. Warm and Hospitable People
Filipinos are known for being friendly people. Don’t just take my word for it, say hello to a local
3.Amazing Scenery
Beautiful beaches, jungles, and mountains may be found in the tropical paradise that is the Philippines. There are numerous outdoor activities you can engage in, like hiking, surfing, island hopping, and many others.
4. English is widely spoken
Many locals are fluent in english, which makes it easy to communicate and make friends.
5. Lively Nightlife
  Its hard not to make friends. The nightlife in manila will make you want to stay longer

Philippines Visa Requirements

How to apply for a visa for visiting the Philippines?

Americans and a few other countries are exempt from needing a visa to visit the Philippines for a stay up to 30 days. If you intended to stay longer visit one of the immigration offices, and pay your fee a week before your visa is to expire. If you are just a tourist, then no visa is needed. But if you are coming to live or for business, there are additional requirements found on their government website.

Is there a digital nomad visa in the Philippines?

The Philippines offers a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) for digital nomads, allowing visitors to stay and work there permanently, but you must be at least 35 years old and fulfill financial requirements, like depositing money into a Filipino bank account, amongst a few other rules

How to extend my Philippines Visa?

Visit any of their immigration offices, have cash, your passport and address where you are staying. Fees are dependent on length of stay and if you will rush your visa.

How to visit the Philippines

How to travel to the Philippines by air?

You will find the cheapest flights with AirAsia or Cebu Pacific, though their flights are often delayed. Depending where you are coming from it may be cheaper to first fly to, Singapore, Thailand or South Korea, then take a second flight to the Philippines.

Best Cities In the Philippines For Digital Nomads

There are many great options in the Philippines for a digital nomad to live. Your choice will mainly depend on if you prefer, cities, mountains, or beaches.

1. Manila

If you love the city life, an abundance of cafes and coworking spaces, Manila is the place for you. Manila is a good city for digital nomads because it has a high-speed internet connection and a well-developed tech infrastructure. Additionally, Manila offers a low cost of living compared to other major cities, making it an affordable location for digital nomads to work and live in.

2. Cebu City

The city itself can be explored within a few days, but you are only a few hours from beaches and adrenaline filled excursins, like diving with the sardines. Cebu nightlife is wild, especially if you stay at a local hostel called Mad Monkey. Internet is strong here and there are a few growing coworking spaces. Some of the country’s best beaches are located here, including Bantayan, Malapascua, Camotes, and Sumilon. Some other important attractions in Cebu are the Temple of Leah, Sirao Garden, and Kawasan Falls.

3. Davao City

Davao City offers a variety of activities and attractions, including outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, making it a well-rounded destination for both work and leisure. A lesser-visited place, come here for a more local filipino community and cheaper living costs, while keeping a strong internet connection. Some best places to visit here include the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography, Mount Apo, Eden Nature Park, Crocodile Park, Davao Baywalk, and Philippine Eagle Center

4. Baguio

Baguio has many attractions, including Burnham Park, the Botanical Garden of the Philippines, and the World War II Memorial Park. Fun activities for tourists here include trekking, ziplining, and ghost-hunting tours.A city with a major university, you will enjoy cooler weather and a young crowd, with some very nice cafes and night markets.

5. Palawan

Just like Sirgao, Palawan is another nomad spot. You will find many travellers here dotting the cities cafes and hostels. If you love beaches and swimming, this place is for you. Popular destination for adventure seekers and beach lovers, offering activities like island hopping, snorkeling, and kayaking, as well as luxurious resorts and vibrant local culture

6. Siargao

This city offers a peaceful environment with a laid-back lifestyle that can boost productivity and creativity. Explore its many beaches.

Other Cities To Visit In The Philippines

1. Tagaytay

There are plenty of leisure and outdoor activities for both locals and tourists. Also, most of the land area is green, and Taal Lake’s stunning view is awesome.

2. Lipa City

For all beach bums looking for some peace, this destination is the best. There are various beach resorts and fine white sand or rocky shores. Many opportunities are also available, including walking and mountain climbing.

3. Santa Rosa

Several historical sports, nature parks, hot springs, and a famous theme park called the Enchanted Kingdom are located in this region. Here, open spaces and rich natural surroundings are accompanied by many shopping spaces.

4. Vigan

It is a historic city on the northern side of the country. Their culture has a fusion of Spanish and Chinese influences originating from residents of the area. Many travelers take a ride in the horse-drawn kalesa all through the streets and appreciate the colonial architecture.

5. Subic

Quite popular among adventure-seekers, there are several places to enjoy thrilling rides, beautiful beaches, and diving points for shipwrecks. What’s more, it has excellent shopping and dining options.

6. Legazpi

One of my favorite spots, was exploring Mayon Volcano, an active volcano on Manila Island. Check out this Mayon ATV Tour

Popular Tours

Cost Of Living In The Philippines​

How much does it cost to live in the Philippines?

The cost of living in the Philippines for a digital nomad can average between $800 – $1500, depending on the area you decide to stay in. Please see the breakdown below.
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Transportation

One-way bus or metro tickets in the Philippines cost less than $1, making public transportation comparatively inexpensive. Taxis and Grab are other options; they run about $3 to $5 each. Transportation can be $50 – $100 a month.

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Accommodation

Luxurious backpacker hostels can cost a lot in the country, charging you as much as $18 per night for a dorm bed. Places other than Manila have a multitude of budget accommodation options. For instance, dorm beds are available for at least $5 a night in Palawan. Many hostels offer Wi-Fi and air conditioning at times. Local guest houses have rooms available for rates less than hostels. You can get one cabin for a couple of dollars per night. Or 300 – 700 a month for long term term stays.

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Food

Those who want to save money can have street food for as little as $1. Meals served in tourist-centric eating spots cost up to $20. In Manila and other similar regions of the country, people end up spending loads of money on food and drink. Groceries are about $100- $200 a month. 

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Activities

The money you spend on activities depends on the location and your travel style. Boracay and Manila, especially, are more expensive, where you can expect to spend $35 daily. You can also learn diving for as little as $25 in some places. Snorkeling is even cheaper; its gear is available for a few dollars on many beaches.

Looking for transportation? Check out Easybook, for all your transportation in the Phillipines.

Cost Of Traveling In The Philippines

How Much does it cost to travel in the Philippines?

For the average traveller, I would budget $50 – $100 a day,especially if its a short trip. This includes, food, transportation, housing and an activity or two. If you enjoy the nightlife, expect to spend atleast $50 on drinks. Flying within the Philippines is a great option, but it can cost you a lot, for example,$40 – $100 per domestic flight. So, it is best to stick to ferries if you are short on cash. Expect to pay between $4-$6 per public ferry ride. Many decent long-distance buses also run across some of the bigger islands.

Money In The Philippines

Gcash

If you plan on staying more than one month, its worth installing and registering with Gcash, a local payment provider that everyone uses. You will need a registered simcard as well.

ATMS

Atms in the Philippines , have high fees for foreign cards, be sure to take out larger amounts, and to refuse the dynamic conversion rate, as it is an extra fee.

Money Transfers and Exchanges

The best way to exchange money, well there isnt. Be sure you check for correct change, and get a receipt. The better way is to western union yourself money, as there are less fees with that.

Budgeting Tips

Philippine money

While its easy to get used to eating out, to save, learn how to shop in local markets, or stick to local food stalls, instead of western food. Additionally, learn how to commute using Jeepneys, instead of taking Taxis.

1. Look for Airline Sales

Mostly, airlines run sales to let passengers grab affordable airfares. Air Asia, for instance, is among the most reasonable airlines servicing Filipinos and travelers. So, it is better to sign up for their newsletter to snap up cheaper than standard rates.

2. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is well-received in the Philippines. It is not only great to meet new people but also helps a lot in saving accommodation costs.

3. Walking Tours

Take walking tours in major cities and most of them are almost free and you can also learn about the history.

Food and Drinks In The Philippines

What is food like in the Philippines?

Filipino food has a strong street food culture, with vendors selling all sorts of delicious and affordable food. Common street foods include lumpia (a Filipino-style egg roll filled with vegetables and/or meat), isaw (grilled chicken or pork intestines), and balut (a fertilized duck egg that is boiled and eaten in its shell). Be sure to also try Adobo, Sinigang and Lechon.

The Water

Do not drink local water, stick to bottled water.

Alcohol

Try local vodka!

Halal Food in the Philippines

Coming Soon

Vegetarian Dishes

Filipino cuisine often features meat, but there are several vegetarian dishes that are still flavorful and delicious. Here are some popular vegetarian Filipino dishes:
  1. Adobong Sitawa vegetable dish made with long beans or green beans, tofu, and a sauce similar to adobo (made with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaves).
  2. Ginataang Kalabasa -a stew made with squash, coconut milk, and vegetables such as spinach or okra.
  3. Pinakbeta vegetable dish made with bitter melon, eggplant, tomatoes, and onions, cooked in a shrimp paste sauce.
  4. Lainga dish made with taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and spices.
  5. Tokwa’t Baboya dish made with tofu and boiled pork, served with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and chili.
  6. Pakbeta mixed vegetable dish that can be made with various vegetables such as eggplant, squash, okra, and string beans, cooked in a shrimp paste sauce.
  7. Tofu Sisiga vegetarian version of the popular meat dish sisig, made with tofu, onions, and chili peppers.
 

Where To Stay

Accommodation in the Philippines is very accessible, you can find cheap hostels at $10 a night, to luxury hotels for thousands of dollars.

Tips on finding long-term rentals

Check Facebook groups, or book or message an Airbnb host to see if they can offer discounts for long stays.

Accomodation Suggestions

Makati

Lub D

Draper Startup House

Mad Monkey

Palawan

Mad Monkey

Bagio

Coming Soon

Davao City

Coming Soon

?

Coming Soon

CouchSurfing

The couchsurfing community is very active in the Philippines, and you may be able to find free housing from a host.

Volunteering

Another way to find housing is to volunteer using Workaway, in exchange for housing.

Trustedhousesitters

Check to see if there are any pet sitting opportunities, you take care of someone’s home and animals in exchange for free housing.

Digital Nomad Communities and Networking

The best way to find other nomads is to join various Facebook groups. In the Philippines, there are several Facebook groups for digital nomads, expats, and travelers. Digital Nomads Philippines, Expats/Foreigners in the Philippines, and Backpacking the Philippines are three popular groups. Currently there are growing nomad groups within Couchsurfing, Draper Startup House and MundoNomad Network.

Meetup.com

I am happy project – Manila, Philippines
The Expats of Manila
Manila (Philippines) Entrepreneur & Business Meetup Group
A SPACE Events
Cebu English & Japanese Language meeting
Language Mix Manila
Manila Sahaja Yoga Meditation
House Party Makati
Cebu Activities Meetup Group
Cebu Adventure Meetup
The Manila Business Networking Meetup Group

Facebook

Bounce Back PH
Online Filipino Freelancers

Other

Small Business Network PH
Philippine Marketing Association
Filipino Start UP Network

Coworking Spaces In The Philippines

You cant be a digital nomad without wifi. So below are some spots where one can work comfortably. Dont forget to check my nomad lunch break section for places you can still visit and/or work from during lunch. #nomadworkspace

Manila

Accler8 by UNIONSPACE
Commune Cafe and Bar

Cebu City

The Company Cebu
Bicester Cafe

Palawan

Coming Soon

Bagio

Coming Soon

Davao City

Stash coffe Co
Startupz Co-working Space

?

Coming Soon

Nomad Lunch Breaks

Balancing work and exploring can be tough, here are some activities or places you can visit during a lunch hour. You will see the words hotspot, wifi, or break which indicates what you can use to work there, or if you cant and its time for a work break. #nomadlunchbreak

Makati

Coming Soon

Cebu City

Coming Soon

Palawan

Coming Soon

Bagio

Coming Soon

Davao City

Coming Soon

?

Coming Soon

Wifi And Internet In The Philippines

I am sure you have heard that the internet in the Philippines can be slow and unreliable, but that has changed over the years. Still do your research when choosing an airbnb or hostel. But most internet is dependable. Have a local sim card or hotspot handy as a backpack. I used globed with no issues.

How To Get Around The Philippines

The Philippines has many different options when it comes to transportation. Understanding that it could be tough to figure out the right one, we have covered all main transport modes in the following section:
bike icon

Tricycle

Motorized tricycles, or just tricycles, are a common means of private and public transportation in the country. Depending on the driver’s discretion, the tricycle can ferry up to seven people and cost at least less than a dollar per person. These can be simply hailed outside your hotel, business establishment, restaurant, and tourist spots. Make sure you agree on a price before you start your trip.
boat icon

Ferrys

There are inter-island ferries to travel between major islands. The rates are cheaper than flights. Ferries also allow passengers to carry more luggage and cargo on board.
chicken bus

Jeepneys

An iconic national symbol of the country, jeepneys can be found everywhere as their open-air design and bench-style seating make them among the cheapest land transportation modes. One ride costs less than a dollar, based on the origin and destination.
Taxi Icon

Taxis

Grab taxi is your best taxi application. Metered taxis take passengers anywhere within the city for as little as $3 but charges more when you go beyond city limits. Airport taxis are also available, which only serve riders coming to and from the airport and charge higher fees than other taxis. Air-conditioned taxis, called FX taxis, can be common during normal hours waiting for passengers at designated terminals.

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Bus

Private buses operate within the country for long-distance land transportation. Regular and air-conditioned buses connect provinces with the capital. Ordinary bus fare is cheaper, without air-cond. Premium provincial bus companies also have Wi-Fi and an onboard toilet.
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Airlines

Exploring the country by air is the simplest method of traveling among the islands. Some budget airlines are Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific, which serve domestic routes on a budget. Normally, a one-way domestic flight costs as little as $12.

Resources

Best Time To Visit Philippines: Weather And Seasons

Picking the ideal time to visit the Philippines is no difficult task since the country has only a couple of seasons. The dry season, which is between December to February, is an ideal time of the year to visit this destination. During this period, temperatures are from 24°C to 31°C, and all regions country-wide are accessible, including its gorgeous islands and remote areas. Another good time is during the shoulder month of May when it is less crowded, but the weather is still pleasant. The wet season runs from June to October and is best to be avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons.

Common Questions About Philippines

If you are looking for better infrastructure between the two, manila wins. there’s a lot more to do there (bars/pubs, night life) than in Cebu. Cebu though has easier access to beaches. it depends really.
Cebu is next to Manila in terms of internet connectivity and accessibility, even better for tourist destinations. Cebu gives you portal to visit other provinces across the country as well. I would suggest you stay within Cebu Business Park or Cebu IT Park areas, where hotels, condos, apartments, co-working spaces, gym, coffee shops, dessert house, bar and restaurants are just nearby. There’s Ayala Mall, and Landers in Cebu Business Park, and there’s also Ayala Malls Central Bloc in Cebu IT Park, where you can buy groceries and go shopping
Check Airbnb, booking, agoda, or local facebook housing groups.

Yes, there is open acceptance around the country.

You can wear anything here, generally the weather is warm, so shorts and a shirt for men. Shorts or dresses for women.

Safety When Travelling In The Philippines

guatemala scams

Is the Philippines Safe?

Though it is generally safe to travel around the Philippines, there are many risks that tourists should avoid. Here are some do’s and don’ts when you are in the Philippines:

Scams In The Philippines

The most common scam is taxis overcharging you. And young women targeting older men, for their money.

Solo Female Travel

Female travel in the Philippines is very safe, people will open make sure a female is safe.

How To Stay Safe

1. Be Modest

Avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing showy or expensive jewelry. Instead, keep your belongings safe from pickpockets and purse-snatchers roaming everywhere in the metropolis.

2. Watch your drinks

Going to clubs in manila and makati can be a great time, keep your drinks on you to prevent anyone with bad intent taking advantage.

3. Public Buses

Watch your pockets

4. Travel Insurance

Accidents happen, be ready for emergencies and have travel insurance purchased for your trip.


Packing List

Are you planning an exciting trip to the Philippines? There is a lot to consider while packing for this lovely destination. The following section contains essential items that must be a part of your packing list:
Shorts Icon

2 Pairs of Shorts

Polo Shirt Icon

5 long sleeve

Underwear Icon

8 pairs of underwear

medicine icon

Medicine

Jeans Icon

2 Pair of jeans

Flip Flop Icon

Flip flops

toiletries icon

Toiletries

Lock Icon

Locks

Trunk Icon

Swim Trunks

Shoe Icon

Comfortable Sneakers

Towels Icon

Quick dry towel

Bag Icon

Laundry Bag

Shirt Icon

5 shirts

Socks Icon

8 pairs of socks

Deodorant Icon

Dedorant

Hand Soap Icon

Hand Sanitizer

Power Bank

raincoat icon

Rain jacket

Sun Glasses

Sun Screen

Final Thoughts: Is Philippines Good For Digital Nomads?

The Philippines is a good destination for digital nomads because it offers a  blend of food, beautiful beaches, friendly people, and low cost of living.

Did I Miss Something? Let Me Know In The Comments!

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