Use Your Money Wisely in the Philippines!

I understand that most of the readers are students and a lot of you will not be working while you are here in Korea, so you’ll need to spend money wisely. I also know that some of you might be interested in traveling to other countries during your exchange. An affordable place to travel is the Philippines and it will cost less than $500 for the whole experience depending on what you do. Traveling alone can be just as fun as traveling with a group, but the more the merrier.

I bought my ticket a week before for exactly 264,000 won and could have gotten it cheaper, so plan ahead. I traveled with 6 of my friends and pre-departure was a dramatic journey because we almost missed our flight due to the irresponsible behavior of one of us the night before (wasn’t me). Most citizens from other countries are allowed entrance into the Philippines without visas, so check if your country is on the allowed list. We chose to stay in Manila and landed in Manila Airport (MNL), but two of my friends decided to go to Boracay (the party Island with lots of beaches), so they had to catch another flight from Manila to Boracay. We booked a hostel prior to coming and for one person, it was about 15,000 won or less per night.


Make sure you get enough cash on hand before traveling if you intend to use money from your Hanyang card. We were all unable to use the card at the ATM. I didn’t let Shinhan bank know about the trip, so that might have been the cause. On a side note, we were better off exchanging money at a dollar rate because the peso per dollar rate was higher than the pesos per Korean won rate. There are other things you should be aware of when you get to the Philippines. The temperature is humid because the Philippines is located at the equator, so stay hydrated. Traffic is awful and you’ll have to leave between two to three hours earlier to get to your destination. Never pay more than 200 pesos for a taxi. Anything more than that is a rip-off and you are being probably being duped. Jeeps, which are WWII army trucks used as buses, charge 8 pesos for a trip. Likewise, food is cheap but the portions are small.

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Sightseeing in Manila include the Mall of Asia (MOA), which is the largest mall in all of Asia, hence the name. It has heavy western, especially American influence like Forever 21, Zara, and many more. There are more affordable and stylish clothes to purchase in the Philippines compared to Korea, so pack light and go shopping. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are firework shows at around 7pm. Sometimes, concerts are held at the mall with big name artists performing. There are also rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel, and the mall is located behind an ocean bay. Also in Manila is Star City, an indoor/outdoor amusement park. It’s awesome in all respects because there are rides and attractions, but it also has Snow World—one of the largest manmade snow attractions. You can get unlimited ride in Star City for about 450 pesos and a 100 pesos more will get you a pass into Snow Word.

Photo Sep 27, 2 12 25 AM (1) Photo Sep 27, 5 17 23 PM Photo Sep 30, 1 55 04 PM

You have the option to go to Tagaytay. In Tagaytay, there is a lake that has a volcano that has a lake inside of the volcano. It’s a lake inception. You can take a bus from Manila for about 200 pesos. You can also pay 30 pesos to walk to the edge of Tagaytay to see the volcano from the mountain top and 50 pesos to have a nice picnic at the park—bringing lunch is not a bad idea. In the park, you can zip line above a 100 meters from land for 400 pesos, pictures included, and enjoy a fish spa for 200 pesos, if you choose. I do recommend going on a boat ride to the volcano which is around 1,500 pesos or less for a group of 4. But at most 7 people. There are a few packages whereby you can go horseback riding to the volcano for an additional 500 pesos.

I hope I have provided you with a few things you can expect and look out for. If you plan well and do travel to the Philippines, don’t forget to say “Salamat po,” which translates to “Thank you,” to the wonderful people you meet on your trip. Go out and make your experience!!!


Article by Esther from the U.S.A.

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