Despite being pegged as an expensive tourist island, Boracay still receives tens of thousands of travellers each year.
Tourist arrivals continue to satisfy expectations month by month, with a recent June record hitting 110,246 domestic and foreign arrivals, thereby bringing the year-to-date total of 845,299 closer to the local government’s goal of 1.5 million tourists for 2014.
This shows that the Philippines’ premier island destination, no matter the season, is prestigious enough to magnet all kinds of travelers—foreigners, locals, rich, middle-class, groups, couples, singles.
Boracay is for smart travellers. So, challenge the “expensive” rumour and see how far you can stretch your Php10,000 budget. With these 10 money-saving tricks, you are sure to come back often!
Tip 1: Book on-sale plane seats.
It is common knowledge that airlines drop rates during holidays and special seasons. Major airlines in the country (Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia Zest) offer piso fare as a base rate for the ticket, exclusive of other flight fees (admin fee, tax, terminal fee, fuel surcharge, etc.). Subscribe to their newsletter and social media accounts to snag the best deals, which can save you from Php3,000 to Php5,000 for a one-way ticket.
Tip 2: Go on the off-season.
What hot-blooded traveller would fear the rain? From June to November, Boracay becomes a hotbed of budget-conscious travellers who take advantage of the marked-down prices of hotel rooms, transfers, and activities. This lean period also offers a smaller crowd, which might be an overstatement for two simple facts: First, our Asian neighbors choose this season for their escapade, so they often outnumber locals. Second, many locals have discovered the merits of a Boracay low-season travel that it has now become the worst kept secret.
Tip 3: Stay at a budget hotel.
Three-star hotels dominate Boracay island, so it is easy to find an affordable yet decent accommodation even for walk-ins. Those used to pre-booking their hotel during high and peak seasons have started a good habit since these periods sell out accommodations faster despite steep rates. Low-season travellers need not book at all; they can check out hotels upon arrival and stay at one with the best location and basic amenities. By and all, whatever season, travellers must opt for budget hotels, three of which—La Carmela de Boracay, Real Maris, and Gran Prix Boracay Hideaway—have specially adjusted rates for this year’s lean season.
Tip 4: Pack light.
“Light” depends on how much of your possessions you allow yourself to part with for a while. But for the purpose of saving, do not pack to the point of availing a baggage add-on. Bring light clothes that are easy to wash and dry so you do not have to bring clothing sets for each day your on the island. Think like a backpacker! After all, Boracay favours bare feet and revealed skin—typical of a beach bud who can go anywhere.
Tip 5: Heed hotel regulations.
Take note that each hotel has its own regulations for guests. Some to clarify upon check-in are those that might give unwanted cost, such as a charge for consumed provisions, for stained mattresses and pillows, and for damaged amenities. Further, be mindful of your check-out time, for you will be charged an extra night if you check out past schedule.
Tip 6: Plan activities.
Activities let wise travellers save since deals are open for haggling. Go directly to operators and enquire for a packaged set of activities, such as island hopping with snorkeling and trekking; the third activity can be replaced with a visit to Crystal Cove. Another good set is buggy or ATV ride packaged with a zorb ride and entrance to Mount Luho. Bargain for the price of individual activities to save up to Php500 per person. And to ensure you will get the lowest possible price, tell the operator that you have checked out rates from others and they must match or beat the lowest one you got.
Tip 7: Keep an expense diary.
While it sounds painfully meticulous, keeping an expense diary allows you to compute the total cost of your trip to Boracay. This also facilitates budgeting for your succeeding trips. Many budget-conscious travellers even scribble whenever cash leaves their wallet, which is a rather serious level of management. On the whole, it pays to have an idea of how much each aspect of the trip costs, in turn making you a more informed traveler.
Tip 8: Bargain.
Bargaining or haggling is a skill bona fide budget-conscious travellers do naturally. Parsimony is never frowned upon on the island, and a won deal of a few hundred less adds up to the enjoyment of activities. When checking out activities, make sure to ask around thrice before settling for a deal. Souvenir shopping is also a scene of price dance, especially at the D’Mall; bid half the offered price straight away to make sure you get an item lower than advertised. If possible, shop in bulk.
Tip 9: Roam free.
This means walking as much as possible. Though exhausting, walking will let you see the island at face value, not to mention not contributing to pollution by riding a cab, tricycle, or jeepney often. If you are worried about wasting too much time walking, go for the next best thing: biking. Rent a bicycle for one day and tour the entire island on wheels, ensuring to explore the inner parts away from the bustling beaches where you can breathe fresh air and chance upon native fauna.
Tip 10: Dine for less.
Follow the unspoken instinct when it comes to food: look for different. But this suggests otherwise that you have to sacrifice your budget for great-tasting food. Head to D’Talipapa for fresh seafood and have your pickings cooked at a nearby paluto restaurant. Remember to haggle! Do not forget to try only-in-Boracay food experiences by checking out the best stops for your food exploration. Important: Bring a refillable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated and save on drink cost.
Do you have tricks for a cheaper Boracay escapade? Share them and help others enjoy the island more. Give your budget tips in the comment area below!