Mar 23

El Nido, the Philippines for Less than $25 per Day

by in Philippines, Under $25

This is a guest post by Dariece of Goats On The Road, a website for Independent & Off-The-Beaten-Path travellers.

The Philippines is a stunning archipelago consisting of over 7000 islands! With so much to see and do here, it makes sense to fly between islands, rather than taking a boat everywhere. It sounds expensive but with so many discount airlines and flights in this country, you can find flights for the same price as ferries!

One of our favourite destinations in the Philippines is tiny El Nido on the island of Palawan.

Here are some of our secrets for travelling here on the cheap…while still having a fabulous time!

budget backpacking el nido

A lovely sun set over El Nido Beach



There are loads of hotels and guesthouses in El Nido. If you stay right on the beach, rooms are not only more expensive, but they smell a bit musky and damp from the sea air.

Doesn’t sound appealing?

Stay only an 8 minute walk from the beach beneath the towering limestone karsts! A beautiful double cottage at Cliffside Cottages costs $10/night.

budget accommodation in el nido

Making breakfast on the balcony at El Nido Cliffside Cottages


The staff will treat you like family and you’ll wake up each morning with a flask of hot water waiting for you on your porch. Perfect for making oatmeal, instant noodles, tea and coffee. Go out for the day and come back to a spotless room. Now that’s my kind of place – cheap & cheerful.

budget backpacking el nido

Inside the double cottage at Cliffside Cottages, El Nido



Eating in El Nido is a treat! There are so many options for the budget traveller. Whether you feel like seafood, sandwiches, pasta, noodle dishes, curry, pizza or burgers, you’ll find it here.

If you’re on an extra small budget, definitely go to the fresh vegetable and fruit markets and buy yourself some produce. Making a salad with a can of tuna on top, or hard-boiled eggs and having a picnic on the beach is a great idea! Mangoes are also the perfect breakfast food.

el nido on a budget

Fresh mangoes make the perfect breakfast!


Apart from cooking for yourself, check out these cheap eats:

1. Squido’s – Located on Calle Hamma street away from the beach, this restaurant serves up amazing seafood, local chicken adobo with rice, noodle dishes and more. A massive seafood platter, large enough for 2 people to share, costs $8.60 and a delectable chicken adobo meal with rice will set you back only $3.45.

2. Bhing’s Bizz Curry House – Located on Calle Real near the church. The chicken curry here tastes like a curry you would have in India. It’s delicious, costs $8.60 and will feed 2 people.

3. Midtown Bakery - This place serves fresh wheat buns, cinnamon buns, cookies, cakes, coconut buns and butter buns. The best part? They cost between $0.05 and $0.50! A very cheap snack or meal.

4. Small burger joint on the road leading down to the beach. We don’t even know the name of this place! They have 2-4-1 burgers that come with egg and cheese for $1.99. Two burgers for $1.99? Great deal if you ask me. What’s an even better deal is their egg burger for $0.60.

el nido on a budget

The delicious and cheap streetside burger joint in El Nido



El Nido is jam-packed with things to do! You’ll never be bored here.

For Free:

1. Lay on the gorgeous beach reading a book or throwing around a frisbee.

2. Wander around the town, check out the church and people watch.

el nido on a budget

Spend the day relaxing and swimming at the beach!


3. Go for a hike. Follow the path along the beach, over some boulders, through the jungle, through a village and meet some interesting local people along the way.

4. Find one of the nicer hotels and go for a swim in their outdoor pool.

5. Search the jungle for some coconuts that have fallen off the tree (free), then buy a bottle of the local Tanduay Rum ($1), some orange juice ($0.30), crack into the coconuts and make some homemade coconut & rum cocktails! The perfect accompaniment to a sunset.

budget backpacking the philippines

Walking around the water in search of fallen coconuts. The finished product? Rum & coconut cocktails!


For A Fee:

If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out these options:

1. Go Scuba-Diving! Not exactly in the $25/day category, but still a great deal – $75 for 3 dives including equipment, a day on the boat and lunch. If you are a diver, or have a higher budget, definitely check out Sea Dogs Dive Shop.

philippines on a budget

Go for a dive in El Nido, the underwater life is spectacular


2. Go to the nearby beautiful Los Cabanas Beach. The cost of a tricycle ride there is $2.95.

3. Do An Island Hopping Tour. Even though we typically prefer to travel independently, we had met up with 2 other backpackers and the 4 of us were able to go out on the water for the day with just us and a boat captain. Sailing around the coves, limestone cliffs and doing some snorkelling are a big part of coming all the way to El Nido. The cost is $17/person to see 3 islands. Snorkel gear is provided and they serve a fresh fish lunch with salads and fruit on the beach.

backpacking the philippines

Sailing around the stunning islands off of El Nido


***In order to fit the island hopping tour into your daily budget, we suggest eating the cheap burgers and making salads a couple of days before, to save up some extra dollars! Seeing the soaring cliffs, crystal clear waters and white beaches is an experience not to be missed.

The most amazing experience you can have in El Nido…

is being dropped off at a deserted island with nothing more than a mosquito net, some basic food, snorkel gear, some rum and a lighter. We lived out our castaway fantasies on a gorgeous beach for 2 days.

budget backpacking philippines

The island is all ours!


We slept under our mosquito nets, shooed monkeys away from our food, snorkelled with sea snakes, puffer fish, moray eels and more. We built a fire and cooked some spaghetti and drank rum as the sun set over the ocean.

philippines on a budget

Our home for the night under a mosquito net


This peaceful and exciting experience only cost us $10/person for the boat to take us out there, and pick us up again the following evening. Since we didn’t have a guesthouse room to pay for, two days on the island cost us $10 each, plus some cheap spaghetti and mangoes! A very affordable day in the Philippines.

backpacking el nido

One of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. Enjoyed with a bottle of rum on our deserted island


In Closing:

Budget For One Day:

Room: $10

Food: $6.50

Alcohol: $1 (bottle of rum)

Total: $17.50

This is one of the most budget friendly countries in the world. The best part about the Philippines is that it’s not on the typical SE Asia backpacker trail, it’s somehow missed by most travellers. Which is fine by us, we don’t mind having all of the islands to ourselves!

So what are you waiting for? The Philippines is easy on the wallet, the eyes and the soul. It’s time to pack your bags and head out to this awe-inspiring archipelago!

backpacking philippines

Gorgeous deserted island surrounding El Nido


For more budget tips on travelling through the Philippines, check out our tips section. For everything you need to know about travelling through this region on a budget, check out our Budget Backpacking Guide To The Philippines

Have you ever been to the Philippines? Were you able to travel for under $25/day?

About The Authors:

Nick & Dariece Avatar

Nick & Dariece have left everything behind in search of cultural experiences, beautiful beaches and off the beaten path adventures. They call themselves Goats On The Road and their website for Independent & Budget Backpackers encourages others to pack their bags and leave the ordinary behind. Visit Goats On The Road and get excellent tips for the adventurous budget backpacker!

You can also follow our journey on Twitter and Facebook.

About Agness Walewinder

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

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44 Responses to “El Nido, the Philippines for Less than $25 per Day”

  1. From Micamyx|Senyorita:

    Love this post! I stayed in El Nido for a week last August and I want to go back asap! Agness, you should come over too!

    Posted on March 23, 2013 at 11:43 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      We will be going there this year, that’s for sure!!

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:59 am #
  2. From Angela:

    We’re going to the Philippines soon so this is perfect! Thanks :)

    Posted on March 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Awesome, have fun and we are waiting for some photos on your blog :):)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:56 am #
  3. From Russ:

    Great practical advice you guys!

    I envy you.


    Posted on March 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Thanks Russ for stopping by! These guys are awesome!

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am #
  4. From Noelfy:

    You see? This is the amazing place I was based for 2 weeks…

    But somenthing to add:

    -For really cheap accomodation go to Corong Corong, where you can still find rooms for 500php (12$)In Corong Corong there are also places that sells food for 40php (1$), the typical rice and topping meal.

    -Also very cheap, if you don’t want to dive, you can join one of the boat going to dive but just doing snorkel and pay 200php (4,89$) and you still can enjoy the water and the limestone;)

    I definitely love the idea of the island if I would have someone to share that mosquito net with :P

    Posted on March 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      I know, I know. You told us before about El Nido and we are so excited to heading there very soon, maybe not for 2 weeks :-). Thanks for sharing. I am writing it down and hope to get there soon so we can share the mosquito net with you :-P

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:52 am #
  5. From Franca:

    I like the way you guys suggested how to budget especially to make sure not to miss the hopping tour. Food is pretty important while traveling, but having the same cheap meal for a couple of days to make sure you don’t miss out on other great activities is not the end of the world and it’ll definitely be worth it.
    Great tips! Now we just need to go to the Philippines. :)

    Posted on March 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      So true Franca! Food is super important for us but all of these activities are so tempting. We would go for them all at one go LOL without eating anything :-P

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:51 am #
  6. From Hannah@Getting Stamped:

    Thanks for all the tips! We will be going to the Philippines on our upcoming RTW trip, we leave in 96 days! So excited to see how cheap it is here, think at least a weeks we will be here!!

    Posted on March 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Awesome news guys! Enjoy your travels and hope you will fall in love with the Philippines :)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:49 am #
  7. From annonymous:

    Short and sweet….you said it all to make me want to explore El Nido. We all know that beaches are relaxing…but hunting for coconuts to fill them with rum and sitting on the beach!…now that’s relaxing enough for me.

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 2:05 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Heaven on Earth! :-)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:48 am #
  8. From kle:

    wow! Philippines were already on my itinerary and they are ever more now!
    I definatily want to try the “castaway” experience, must be amazing!
    Thanks for sharing your tips with us:)

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 2:24 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Philippines are also on our next itinerary and we would love to try the castaway experience too! :-) Hope you’ll have fun there, safe travels Kle!

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:48 am #
  9. From Bernie:

    That’s we’re l wanna go…yup yup.

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 8:36 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      That’s were we wanna go go now too!! :):)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:37 am #
  10. From Tom:

    Great article Dariece very informative. The cost of travelling there is outrageously inexpensive. $1.00 for a bottle of rum you have to like that. The scenery looks fabulous great sunsets and beautiful beaches. Look forward to more great articles.

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Thanks Tom for your comment. Indeed the prices are very low :). We love the sunsets and the beaches too :)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:32 am #
    • From Dariece - Goats On The Road:

      Thanks for the comment! As you can imagine, we drank many bottles of rum :) The scenery was stunning, you have to go to the Philippines! Cheers for the comment.

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:46 am #
      • From Agness Walewinder:

        It’s our pleasure. Great to be in touch with you guys and we really do looking forward to going to the Philippines soon.

        Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:57 am #
  11. From Hogga:

    great pictures!

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      The photos make us wanna go there right now!!! :-)

      Posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:27 am #
  12. From Laura:

    Great tips! No idea you could have such a great time for sooo cheap!

    Posted on March 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      That’s probably the cheapest place ever!

      Posted on March 31, 2013 at 6:00 am #
  13. From Evan:

    Great pictures!! Im telling you guys, Philippines is really worth a try, I live there and i can suggest so many fun places. El Nido is a treasure, its not that popular unlike Boracay so it is really well preserved and not that commercialized. Also near El Nido is the place included in new 7 wonders of nature – which is Puerto Princesa Underground River. Definitely worth a try plus its friggin cheap!!

    Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:40 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Sounds really great. We are heading to the Philippines very soon. Started our countdown already!! Thanks for the info!

      Posted on April 2, 2013 at 5:20 am #
  14. From debbie:

    Absolutely loved this article! The photo’s were amazing. I am planning a trip this year and after reading this the Philippines will be it! Thanks!

    Posted on April 4, 2013 at 3:02 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Great to hear good news! We are also heading there in May :-)

      Posted on April 4, 2013 at 3:47 am #
  15. From Jaklien:

    I’m thinking of going there this summer. Thanks for the tips, they will come in very very handy!!

    Posted on April 7, 2013 at 11:41 am #
    • From Cez Krol:

      We’re happy you found it informative and that you’re going to this beautiful country. Have fun!

      Posted on April 8, 2013 at 6:15 am #
  16. From Sab:

    El Nido is one of the most amazing places I’ve been, I just recently wrote about it.

    It’s quite hard to survive El Nido on 25 Dollar a day, unless u don’t go for Island Hopping which is actually the main attraction in El Nido. Going to El Nido and not doing Island Hopping would definitely miss the whole point, since the Archipelago is simply breathtaking and one of the most beautiful and unique seascapes on earth. The beach in El Nido itself is nothing compare to that.

    A few years ago Island Hopping had only cost a few dollars, meanwhile it’s around 20 Dollar per person include lunch. A bit pricey but definitely worth it! A few photos from this magic Archipelago on my latest post about El Nido:

    Don’t miss this amazing place!

    Posted on May 24, 2013 at 9:46 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Thanks Sab for the info. We can’t wait to finally make it there… !! We will definitely follow your budget tips! :)

      Posted on May 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm #
  17. From budget jan:

    Great guide. No wonder you inspired Agness to go. I’ll go a mango for breakfast any day :)

    Posted on January 24, 2014 at 3:15 am #
  18. From Ania:


    Bardzo fajny artykul. Bardzo podoba mi sie spanie na bezludnej wyspie:) czy moglibyscie podzielic sie wiedza jak to zorganizowaliscie?

    Bede bardzo wdzieczna za jakiekolwiek informacjie.


    Posted on March 4, 2014 at 10:58 am #
    • From Agness Walewinder:

      Czesc Ania,

      To jest guest post napisany przez znajomych blogerow. Zadaj im pytanie po angielsku, a na pewno odpisza :).

      Posted on March 5, 2014 at 2:33 am #
  19. From Juanderkid:

    Hi! Did you bring your own mosquito net when you slept on the beach? How did you arrange this? Thanks! :)

    Posted on April 14, 2014 at 9:36 am #
    • From Dariece @GoatsOnTheRoad:


      Yes, we did bring our own mosquito net when we slept on the beach. We went to Africa as well on that trip and were travelling with a net in our backpack. It definitely came in handy for sleeping on the beach :)

      Friends we were with borrowed a net from the guesthouse we were staying at.


      Posted on April 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm #
  20. From Carina:

    El Nido is one of my favourite places on earth! Seeing these stunning pictures, make me miss it a lot. Thanks for sharing with us. Love your post.

    Posted on July 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm #
  21. From Kristin Waugh:

    I’m really glad you all were able to visit ElNido and the surrounding areas before the place was ruined! Bryan and I were there this past April and it was disgusting how tourism has destroyed the Philippines’ beautiful beaches! :-( There was trash everywhere, jacked up prices on crummy rooms, bad food and poor service. I even visited the tourism board to complain and had an impromptu island clean-up with some local kids but no one responded to my queries. :-( I really hope the Philippines cleans up their beautiful country before it’s too late!

    Safe, Happy Travels, Goats & E-Trampers!

    Posted on August 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm #
  22. From Carlotta:

    I’m flying to the Philippine TOMORROW, and I still haven’t decide where to go! It’s crazy! I have just 2 weeks, so I was thinking to skip El Nido because I read that was more expensive and kind of difficult to reach. But after this post I might reconsider it! Aaaaahhh! I’m really bad in taking decisions, and when there are so many awesome islands to choose from, it become IMPOSSIBLE.

    Posted on March 5, 2015 at 3:09 am #


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