Rumor has it, travelling in South-East Asia is cheap. Unfortunately, it is not always true. During my 5 years in the Philippines, I have lost a considerable amount of money just because I look like a foreigner. Who I actually am! However, I also figured out some simple tips on how to save money while living here. Straight to business:
- Smile! As easy as it may seem, being friendly really helps! And Filipino people are very friendly unless you are being a snob to them. I saw so many tourists showing off, being rude or pissed with local service. Such an approach will not get you anywhere. The service will not get better and you will not get any discounts from, say, seafood sellers if you keep on bitching. Be nice, you are just a guest here. Sometimes I even get some extra stuff for free on the market just because I do not forget to say “please”, “thank you” and smile to the vendor (not always, since sometimes I tend to be a bitch myself:).
- Learn a couple of words in Tagalog. If you can answer back, you become sort of “a local” yourself plus show respect to local culture, so the vendors and drivers will not try their best to rip you off! “Salamat” (thank you), “oo” (yes), “hindi” (no), “mahal” (pricey) should be enough.
- Before paying yourself, watch the locals and make sure they get the same rate for goods and services.
- Do some preliminary inquiries about approximate prices before coming to a certain place: read feedbacks on TripAdvisor or inquire on a Facebook page of a local community.
- If you think you might have excess luggage, do pay the fee for it while buying tickets. You will not be able to get away with even one kilo of excess baggage without paying, when it comes to local air companies. The rate in the airport will be considerably higher.
- Unless you are travelling during a peak season, do not book accommodation for the whole period of your stay. Check in a hotel for one night and try finding a budget-friendly place to stay straight on the spot. If possible, take a Filipino friend with you so he can negotiate the price. You can also try looking for accommodation in local communities on Facebook.
- Smile! 🙂