Spend Less and Play More in Boracay

Some of you may had a concept that holiday at Boracay is an expensive travel to do. Well, I can assure you that it is way much cheaper than you are travelling to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Well, I am referring to my fellow Malaysian of course. We are basically pampered by AirAsia with extremely cheap flights straight to Kalibo especially their twice a year "Free Seat" sales. I got my ticket 6 months before the trip was only RM300++ for a return flight and I was bought not during the "Free Seat" sales. That's a real deal. For your information, the flight duration from Kuala Lumpur to Kalibo is 3 hours 45 minutes.
***NOTE: I will only use Philippine Peso as the default currency for my explanation below. Please convert it based on the day you are reading this post***

Fun facts about Philippines

  • Preferred currency is Philippine Peso but they are willing to accept US Dollar and Euro.
  • National language is Tagalog but they can understand English
  • Main religion is Christian and their secondary is Muslim.
  • Time zone is +8 GMT
  • Power voltage is 220v and normally they use type A power socket.
  • Do not tip them in coins. That's for beggar.
  • Tourists in Boracay are mostly from Korea. China ranked second. 
  • Low season is between early June to end of October due to higher chances of rain. In rare occasion, there will be typhoon on November or December.
  • The temperature during the day is approximately 32 degrees Celsius and 28 degrees Celsius at night. It is extremely hot when you are directly under the sun but the wind breeze is somehow refreshing and pleasing.
  • When you are departing from Kalibo International Airport, you need to pay PHP500/pax for Airport Terminal Fee
  • Pork is the local's favorite meat so to my Muslim friends please take note on this when you are choosing a place to dine.

1) Transportation - you can read more in "Getting to Boracay" post

No matter where you are from, when you landed at Kalibo, you will need to take the land transfer to the Caticlan jetty. There are plenty of people trying to bargain with you so what you have to do is to negotiate the best price. You may need to know that the land transfer duration will takes approximately 2 hours.
The lowest I able to negotiate is PHP200/pax inclusive boat fare which is only PHP25. The mode of transportation is van which can fit up to 13 pax. You may need to wait for a while for them to fill up the entire van. I believe if I spend more time in negotiating I might able to get PHP200/pax inclusive boat fare and land transfer to my hotel at Boracay island. Maybe you should try this.

There are currency exchange counters here. The rate is favor to those who are carrying US Dollar and Euro. For other countries, please change at your own country before coming here. They do sell sim pack for you to make call locally and surf the net with a limited data quota. However, I suggest you to stay offline while you are on holiday mode.
This is the Bangka which is the primary mode of transport in the sea in Philippines. There is a Terminal Fee of PHP100/pax/way and a one time charge of Environmental Fee of PHP75/pax. These charges are non-negotiable. The sea transfer time is approximately 10 minutes only.
Once you have reached the jetty in Boracay Island, you will need to take their tricycle to your hotel. If you are staying at White Beach, it is PHP25/pax only. Don't take the whole tricycle. Make them to fetch more passengers so you can get at a cheaper price. The alternative is to wait for a larger tricycle than this one which they only charge PHP20/way. However, there are not many larger tricycle on this island.
Summary of transportation cost:

Land Transfer from Kalibo Airport - Caticlan Jetty: PHP200/way = PHP400
Jetty Terminal Fee: PHP100/way = PHP200
Environmental Fee: PHP75 (one time charge) = PHP75
Airport Terminal Fee: PHP500 (during departure) = PHP500
Tricycle hotel transfer: PHP25/way = PHP50

TOTAL Transportation Cost: PHP1,225/pax

2) Accommodation

There are 7 well-known beaches on this island which are White Beach, Puka Shell Beach, Bulabog Beach, Diniwid Beach, Banyugan Beach, Ilig-Iligan Beach and Punta Bunga Beach. So you need to decide which beach you would prefer to stay on.
Diniwid Beach
  • Best place away from noise
  • This is the closest beach to the most hectic White Beach.
  • You still need 40 minutes walk to the White Beach. You can always rent a bicycle @PHP100/hour.
  • The only beach on the island with rocks.
  • You can only see sunset here.
  • You can do free cliff jumping here.
  • There are more than 10 hotels/resorts on this beach.
  • The price is starting from PHP1800/night*

Punta Bunga Beach/Banyugan Beach
  • A lot of high class resorts and hotels are located here. The most popular one is the Shangri-la Hotel for owning the whole Banyugan Beach.
  • It is a quiet and extremely private beach. You can't access this beach unless you are staying in one of the hotel here or you are signing up their Island Hopping tour. 
  • You are basically dining in your own hotel and no other shops or restaurants around here.
  • You get to see the sunset here...privately without many people standing in the view.
  • There are around 4 hotels here
  • The price is starting from PHP5500/night*
Puka Shell Beach
  • The northern part of Boracay Island
  • Facing Coracao Island and is the best place to watch sunset.
  • Quiet and peaceful place
  • The sand is rough
  • Not many restaurants available here. Mostly you are dining in your own hotel/resorts all the time.
  • Hotel/resort price started from PHP3000/night*
  • Only less than 3 resorts here and they are all rated 4 stars and above.
Ilig-Iligan Beach
  • The most quiet beach in the whole Boracay Island. Some call it a deserted beach.
  • Actually they are not really deserted because there are 2 resorts here.
  • You will see sunrise from this beach
  • This is the closest to get to the highest peak of the Boracay Island which is known as Mt.Luho. The scenic view from the top on to the beaches and sea is just amazing. The only place to see the panoramic view of Boracay Island. Great photos can be taken from here.
  • Getting here is easy but leaving here is hard. It is better to sign up a tour package instead of staying here.
  • Hotel/resort price started from PHP2300/night*
Bulabog Beach
  • The second most popular beach in Boracay Island.
  • The best place for water activity lovers. Most of the water activities will be held here. You name it and they got it.
  • The sand is not as fine as White Beach but this is the place you can see the sunrise.
  • Bulabog Beach is located opposite of White Beach and it is just 20 minutes walk between them. Therefore it is easily to access the restaurants and shop at the White Beach.
  • They have their own restaurants and bar too! They are not going to be quiet at night.
  • There are more than 20 hotels and resorts here.
  • The hotel/resort price is starting from as cheap as PHP750/night*
White Beach
  • The most popular beach in Boracay Island with over 50 resorts/hotels
  • The most happening beach in Boracay Island with lots of night performance that you will never expected
  • The finest and the whitest sand in the whole island with a beautiful sunset to be expected 
  • The nosiest beach in Boracay Island with over 100 restaurants, stalls and bars 
  • The longest beach in Boracay Island which they have to divide into 3 stations which are Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. The walking distance between Station 1 and Station 3 is 3 km which you will need to spend at most 45 minutes to walk.
  • The only place with the mall which is known as d'Mall located at Station 2.
  • The most popular station is Station 2.
  • The popular Willy's Rock is located at Station 1.
  • The cheapest hotels/resorts in the whole island are mostly located at Station 3.
  • The boat pickup for sea activity is at Station 1 and Station 3.
  • Do take note that during the month of March - May. There will be green moss along the beach at White Beach which sometimes may looks disgusting. Usually happens in Station 2 and some parts of Station 1 and Station 3.
  • The hotel/resort price is starting from only PHP700/night*!!!
    *NOTE: The price is based on the high season. You may get almost half of the price during the low season. The lowest I have seen so far was PHP300/night at Station 3. However, I do not recommend to travel during the low season. You are not here for a week or a month. So with the limited days and you do not want to spoil your holiday with their unpredictable weather here.

    This is the sand on the White Beach. It is that fine! So my suggestion to you is to stay at Station 3. The reason is you will not spend most of your time in your hotel room because you will probably out by 8.00am for breakfast and back to your hotel by 4.00pm for a change before hanging out through the night till 1.00am. So basically you are in the hotel only to sleep. No point staying in an expensive hotel. Usually cheap hotels/resorts doesn't include Wi-Fi service but this service is still available at a fee of PHP150/day.
    My tips about booking an accommodation:
    1. Always book early
    2. Book them online to get online offer
    3. Offer to pay them in full to get the best discount rate. The Philippines love to receive cash earlier.
    4. Stay longer for further discount
    5. Fan room is good enough because it is not really hot at night especially after a cold shower.
    6. Don't top up for their TV because the channel that is offered is in Tagalog. You don't even understand.
    7. If you are coming in larger group, you will able to get better saving after sharing the room.
    8. Final note: Please check the place clearly and read more other reviews before you decide to haggle the price with them.

    Summary of accommodation cost (based on 4 nights):
    Deluxe Fan Room with Hot Shower (max 2 pax): PHP700/night = PHP2800 = PHP1400/pax

    TOTAL Accommodation Cost: PHP1400/pax

    3) Activities - for more detail information please check my post about activities in Boracay during the day and activities in Boracay during the dawn

    You can choose some simple and free activities such as sunbathing, swimming and relaxing by the beach by doing some reading while listening to the sound of the wave. It is really peaceful and comfortable. However, please make sure you apply a good amount of sun screen for every hour because the sun in Boracay is just too fierce.
    Willy's Rock at Station 1 is a must visit place and it is free. If you do not mind to spend a little money, you always can choose to rent a snorkeling gear at any dive center nearby for PHP500/day and dive at any spot you like especially at Willy's Rock. Other affordable activities will be Skim Boarding for only PHP200/hour, Kayaking @PHP600/hour and Stand-Up Paddling @PHP600/hour.
    In the evening, you can rent the volleyball net and volleyball for only PHP100. Start playing with 2 persons and you will see more people started to join you in no time. It is the best time to get along with other tourists and had fun.
    If you have your own flying saucer, create your own space and start playing with the locals and this activity is absolutely free!
    Doing a 3km jog along the White Beach is definitely healthy and keeping yourself fit. With the cool wind breeze from the sea, sound of the wave and the sunset view accompanying you along the way, definitely priceless! The best part is no one is going to charge you for doing that.
    How about starting to show off the creative side of yourself by building a sand castle? Since the sand in the White Beach is so fine, you can easily build a tall sand castle like this. You will be easily spend 2 hours here. Once again, it is FREE!
    I believe you will definitely bring your camera here. Taking photograph of the sunset is definitely a MUST! After the sunset, just go for a night swim! And it is ABSOLUTELY FREE!
    There are beach hopping trip is worth to go such as Puka Shell Beach, Ilig-Iligan Beach, Diniwid Beach and Bulabog Beach (if you are staying at White Beach). Hire a tricycle which will just cost you PHP100-PHP150/pax for a return trip and checking out the uniqueness in other beaches with different sands, sea and corals. Such a trip will easily spend half of your day. Please take note that you will have a bit of a problem to return from Ilig-Iligan Beach because there are rarely a tricycle will go past there. Try hitch a hike! Apart of that, do not forget to go to Mt.Luho too for the best panoramic view of this whole island. You only need to spend PHP100/pax/way to there. While at Diniwid Beach, the only beach with rocks, you can experience free cliff jumping instead of going to Ariel's Point for it.
    There are other trips which easily spend half of your day which is very worth doing it if you have extra budget such as the popular Island Hopping package for only PHP700/pax. You will be travelling in a Bangka to Crocodile Island for snorkeling, Crystal Cove (entry permit @PHP200/pax (optional) to explore the cave on the island), Magic Island (entry permit @PHP150/pax (optional) to do cliff jumping) and the private beach of Banyugan Beach. This trip is inclusive of BBQ lunch at Tambisan Beach. The whole trip will take approximately 6 hours. Total cost of the Island Hopping can cost you up to PHP1050/pax only.
    There are some activities that are below PHP2000/pax which are very worth it. It is inclusive of luxurious meal, bottomless drinks and exciting boat ride. Sitting still on the same island can be boring. Below are the 2 activities which I highly recommended only if you have extra budget.
    Looking for nature thrill and excitement, Ariel's Point Cliff Jumping package @PHP2000/pax which inclusive of meal, boat transfer, entry permit and bottomless drinks will be the best choice. Ariel's Point is at Magic Island. This island is a private island so entry permit fee is required.

    A more nature based trip to Panay Island which is located south of Boracay Island. It is only PHP2000/pax and it is worth to join too. You will spend 5 hours cycling and jungle trekking around the island. Ride through coconut groves, cross rivers and enjoy a great picnic next to a waterfall. This is something away from the sea by getting close with the locals and the nature.

    I do not recommend any of their sea activities which are way too expensive except their sunset sailing. If you have at least 4 pax and you can negotiate for PHP300/pax for 30 - 45 minutes ride. It is an awesome ride through the wind and heading towards the sunset.
    Actually there are a lot of vendors there promoting all sorts of activities by the beach to you. You will never lost the idea on what to do next as long as you have money. However, spending with your kids by the beach is definitely priceless. They will help you to save your money from doing all those expensive activities because you need to pay your attention to them and giving all your effort to make them happy. Just reward them with a snack or an ice cream for helping you save your money.
    I will suggest a 5 Days 4 Nights budget activity for you. If you are from Malaysia like me, basically there is nothing for you to do on the first day of your arrival because you will reach the island approximately 6.00pm after checking in your hotel. So what you can do at night is to visit the only mall on this island which is known as d'Mall. It is a great place with some shops selling awesome deals. That's for you to find out on the first day of your arrival.
    My suggested 5 Days 4 nights budget trip:

    1st Day:
    Window shopping at d'Mall - Free

    2nd Day:
    Island Hopping Tour - PHP700 + PHP200 + PHP150 = PHP1050/pax
    Ariel's Point Cliff Jumping Package - PHP2000/pax - only if you have extra budget

    3rd Day:
    Beach hopping to Diniwid Beach, Puka Shell Beach, Ilig-Iligan Beach and Mt Luho - PHP600/pax + Renting snorkeling set - PHP500/day = PHP1100/pax
    Mountain Bike Cruising and Trekking in Panay Island - PHP2000/pax - only if you have extra budget

    4th Day:
    Sunbathing, swimming, Stand-up paddling/ Kayaking @PHP600/hour, snorkeling @PHP500/day, Jogging, Volleyball game @PHP100, building sand castle, night swim - PHP1200/pax

    5th Day:
    Go home

    TOTAL Activities Cost: PHP3350 - PHP5200/pax

    4) Food and Beverages - for more information, please check out my post about Delicacies in Boracay.

    You can save all you want by saving money from spending in expensive activities but you still have to eat 3 meals a day. That is something you can't save. Too bad, human is born to eat. Honestly, dining in Boracay is quite expensive. Each person will easily spend PHP200 - PHP250 per meal. However, you can try to save some by not ordering their drinks because almost all the restaurants in Boracay Islands provide their own drinking water for free. You can refill as many as you want. That's a good news!
    There are plenty of buffet options at night starting from PHP250 onwards but during lunch time, there are little option. However, one of the best option is all you can eat seafood paella for PHP250++ at Dos Mestizos, Station 2 beside Police Station. It is started from 11.00pm - 3.00pm. Luckily I skipped my breakfast for this, so that I can finished up 4 plates. It was really delicious and worth it.
    Actually there are not many restaurants that are selling cheap food but the cheapest food in Boracay is got to be Andoks. A complete meal starting from PHP40 only. You will never get bored with them because they got many other varieties here such as roasted chicken, fried chicken, roast pork and their local Filipino cuisine. Their set meal never goes beyond PHP100/pax. Basically you can save a lot of money by dining here everyday.
    You will probably close this page by now if you see me asking you to eat Andoks everyday. Don't worry. There is a local and tourist favorite restaurant which is known as Smoke Resto. It is located inside the d'Mall. You can see they are full house and there are people lining up for it. It is good enough to show to you how good they are. They are serving Filipino cuisine and their most popular one will be hotplate beef and their beef soup. Their price is not too expensive ranging between PHP130 - PHP300.

    Getting bored with Andoks? You can try Master Siomai selling delicious snacks from PHP45 only. There are 3 stalls located in each station at White Beach.
    I am not a big fan for this Shawarma rice or noodle. However, there are a lot of people queuing up for it. It is up to you to judge if they are good or not. Same like Master Shiomai, there got 3 stalls located in all 3 stations at the White Beach.
    If you do not feel full at all with those restaurants, please do try the local barbecue stalls. They are selling lots of kinds of barbecue meat with the price starting from PHP10 to PHP500. They are located all along the White Beach.
    If only drinking plain water is not a good idea for you, please do try Avocado Milk Shake from Jonah's Fruitshake & Snack Bar which is located at Station 1. It is in 500ml size and it is only selling at PHP100 only!!! The avocado taste is so strong which will eventually becomes the best drink to chill your hot day. 
    Do try their local coconut too! Their coconut is so sweet and it is only PHP80! Please do not just drink but do eat the coconut flesh as well. It is so smooth and delicious.
    Do not expect other country's beer selling here. In Boracay Island, they only sell their own local beer which is known as San Miguel. It is really a good beer which I believe it is able to compete with any other foreign beer. Their beer is cheap especially during their Happy Hours between 7.00pm - 9.00pm. The beer at Shantal's Resto Bar is only selling at PHP30!!! This bar is located at Station 3 in front of Arwana Hotel. I drank their beer everyday because it is cheaper than their mineral water which is selling at PHP35.
    Summary of Food and Beverage cost (for me throughout 5days 4 nights):

    Andoks: PHP100 x4                                            = PHP400
    Smoke Resto: PHP200 x4                                 = PHP800
    Dos Mestizos: PHP275 x1                                  = PHP275
    Master Shiomai: PHP45 x1                                = PHP45
    Leylam: PHP65 x1                                               = PHP65
    Jonah's Fruitshake & Snackbar: PHP100 x1 = PHP100
    Coconut: PHP80 x1                                            = PHP80
    San Miguel Pilsen: PHP30 x4                          = PHP120

    TOTAL: PHP1885/pax

    This is how I spend less than PHP8000/pax and still able to enjoy the best of Boracay. I believe you can do it too or maybe better than me! Do share your experience to me ya?
    Overall Summary:

    Transportation cost: PHP1225
    Accommodation cost: PHP1400
    Activities cost: PHP3350
    Food and Beverage cost: PHP1885

    GRAND TOTAL: PHP7860/pax

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