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My tour of The Philippines is complete (at least for now).

Please SEARCH FOR ‘Philippines‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.

Meanwhile, here is some general information about The Philippines and / or the places of interest that I did not get to …


Avoid Holy Week – which is around Easter – hotels book out months in advance and prices triple… In 2015, Holy Week is Monday 30th March through to Sunday 5th April.

Bargain hunters, out-door types, and the food obsessed should look to the Philippines.

The country’s combination of cosmopolitan affordability and splendid nature make it a destination that offers a lot for the money.

Lonely Planet recently named it one of the top value destinations for 2014, and according to CIO Wealth Management Research’s Prices and Earnings report, Manila has some of the cheapest shopping and upscale dining in the world.

For example, a couple can buy a new wardrobe there for about $410 — seven times less than what you’d pay for similar items in Tokyo. And the average cost of a three-course meal in a good restaurant is a mere $18, compared to about $95 in Geneva or Oslo (two of the cities featured in our recent story on the world’s most overpriced destinations).

In the Philippines, your dollar stretches (and stretches and stretches), and most expats live comfortably on $800 to $1,200 per month. This will fund a lot of luxuries, such as household help. In the provinces, the monthly salary for live-in maids is around $65. In a coastal town on Negros Island a haircut can cost as little as 77 cents.

If you chose to live in cities located in provinces like Cebu City in the Visayas, housing would cost from $300 to $900 a month. In the more rural cities like Tacloban, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, or Butuan, you would pay around $200 to $700.

In many places the monthly rent for two-bedroom apartments and bungalows is $200 to $300.

Private health care is inexpensive and the Philippines is a popular destination for medical tourism.

For cheap travel check out 2GO Travel Ferries.

A large apartment or condo in Cebu can cost anywhere between PHP 27,000 (NZ$770) and PHP 50,000 (NZ$1,430). In Manila, you would pay between PHP 39,000 (NZ$1,115) and PHP 80,000 (NZ$2,285) for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center, while the price lies between PHP 15,000 (NZ$430) and PHP 25,000 (NZ$715) in Quezon City. Smaller places at so-called boarding houses can be rented for as little as PHP 4,000 (NZ$115) if you want to save on your cost of living in the Philippines, although you should not expect too much from these cheap accommodations.

Utility costs can be a lot higher than you might expect. For an average-sized apartment, you will have to pay between PHP 3,000 (NZ$85) and PHP 6,000 (NZ$170) for basic utilities (including electricity, heat, water, and garbage disposal). In fact, the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia.

If you’re concerned about whether a visit to the Philippines is appropriate so soon after the recent Typhoons, know that the country considers tourism to be an important part of its recovery. Large portions of the country — and the majority of popular vacation destinations — were undamaged.

The hotels and guesthouses in The Philippines are of a great value. Although the average room cost is a little bit higher than other countries in Southeast Asia they are usually of pretty high standards. Beach huts and bungalows in The Philippines are actually of better value than similar places in Thailand and you will often get breakfast included.

VISAYAS (& around):

Allow 4 weeks minimum to tour the Visayas.

They say the best things come in small packages, and this is undoubtedly true for the smallest island group in the Philippines.

Offering a variety of retirement options, the Visayas has gained a reputation for being the next big retirement destination in the country.


Cebu is the most densely populated island in the Philippines. Surrounded by coral reefs, the Visayas are perfectly set up for divers.

Heavily developed, particularly on its eastern coast, Cebu has a long, bare backbone of a central mountain range that has confined most of the population to the coastal fringe.

The beaches at the northern tip of the island and on its southwest coast have the whitest sand and the most spectacular diving. To the north, the idyllic offshore islands of Bantayan and Malapascua are steadily increasingly in popularity, and deservedly so (stay at guesthouses that can cost for as low as Php 400 (NZ$12 / US$9) a night that you can share).

To the south, Moalboal‘s Panagsama Beach packs a concentrated dose of dive centres and budget hedonism.

Gaining much attention as the next best option after Metro Manila is the “Queen City of the South.” Those who appreciate city living without the pricey tag will enjoy residing in the vibrant province of Cebu. But Cebu City itself may not be that nice… so find somewhere 1-2 hours away or a nice town within a day drive.

From Cebu, get the first bus going north and start island hopping the Visayas… stop at Medellin, Malapascua or Bantayan… then bus through Cebu to Moalboal / Lilo-An… then on to Negros / Dumaguete for nightlife and diving… then Apo… Siquijor (cheap)… back to Dumaguete and bus to Sipalay and on to Pulupandan… boat to Guimaras then Iloilo City… then Looc then Romblon or Sibuyan…

Cebu is for Retirees who are looking for a tranquil environment that is still near modern city conveniences. Although it features highly urbanized areas, the way of life here is definitely more stress-free and slow-paced. The prices here are also lower relative to Metro Manila. You could buy a 2-bedroom house here at a price of a 1-bedroom condo unit in a high rise building in Makati, Manila.

Cebu Island is blessed by its geography. Cebu is at the southern edge of the typhoon belt, and it is surrounded (on all sides) by other islands. So most years there are typhoons that lash Manila to the north…earthquakes in Negros to the west…sometimes even volcano eruptions to the south. But in Cebu…wala’y problima.

Cebu City / Mactan Island

Mactan island is just adjacent to Cebu City, across a bridge (where the Cebu international and domestic airports are located).

Like Boracay, Mactan has sandy beaches (but not as good quality as Boracay). It is also packed with upscale 5 star hotels and resorts. Yet, whereas Boracay is more remote, accessibility to Mactan Island is excellent due to its close proximity to Cebu City. Additionally, there is a casino on Mactan Island for those who enjoy the addition of gambling to their retirement lifestyle.

Lliving on Mactan Island provides that resort atmosphere, due to all the resort hotels, yet it is close to great medical facilities and upscale shopping malls across the bridge in Cebu City. Housing costs are lower on Mactan than on Boracay.

North of MoalBoal / White Beach

A few kilometres north of Moalbaol / Panagsama Beach lies White Beach. Unlike Panagsama, White Beach actually has a beach – and not a bad one at that.

Popular with locals, it is subject to the usual flux of domestic tourist spots: relatively quiet during the week, overflowing on weekends and holidays.

If you want to see a true Philippine beach party, drop by on any given Sunday.

There is only one resort worth the name here, otherwise this is beach-shack and barbecue territory.

White Beach is an outrageously expensive 20-minute tricycle ride from Panagsama; or a P40 tricycle ride from Moalboal.

Camotes Islands

Camotes Island is defined by crystal clear pristine waters, sugary-white sand and spectacular sunset views, which for many years have been unexplored, remote and remained Cebu’s best kept secret. In recent years though, the local tourists have discovered the islands and to date has become a top tourist destination picked by foreign travelers due to the unique experience one will have when in Camotes Island.

There are no jeeps, no taxis, and few cars. Like in other places frequented by tourists, the island was equipped with convenience stores and Internet shops.

The island  has a lot to offer from about 20 tourist resorts and summer beach houses catering to both domestic and international visitors.


Davao City in southern Philippines — the de facto cultural, economic and political epicenter of Mindanao — is voted the country’s most livable urban center for many years running. Davao’s got it all: pristine white beaches, thick rain forests, teeming wildlife sanctuaries, sunny island retreats, green mountain resorts, invigorating city parks, lush timberland, pineapple / banana / coffee / coconut plantations, and a balmy typhoon-free weather all year round.

However, I have read that Mindanao is the Muslim heartland of the Philippines. Given the current world troubles, I have decided to avoid all Muslim countries / areas.


This area has rapidly become a favorite retirement area, especially for retired US military personnel and for Koreans. Until 1992, Subic Bay was the base for the huge 7th Fleet of the US Navy. These days it is in the process of being remolded into a tax free foreign trade zone and a modern tourist destination. A modern new superhighway was completed in 2008 which has cut the travel time from Manila by an hour.

This provides great access to all that Manila has to offer, yet permits retirement in a smaller resort oriented community with all that has to offer. The population is now in excess of 200,000. The presence of Koreans is largely due to the construction in 2006 in Subic Bay of a large Korean shipbuilding plant.

Housing costs have risen considerably in 2008 and 2009, yet they are significantly below Manila costs. There are lots of retired military people living in this location.


The coolest towns / cities in The Philippines are:

  • Baguio, Luzon
  • Balamban, Cebu
  • Banaue, Luzon
  • Canlaon City, Negros
  • Davao City, Mindanao
  • Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros
  • Itbayat Island, Batanes (in the far north)
  • Kidapawan, Mindanao
  • Lake Sebu, Mindanao
  • Lantapan, Mindanao
  • Malaybalay, Mindanao
  • Marawi, Mindanao
  • Sagada, Luzon
  • Tagaytay, Luzon

Avoiding Typhoon areas is, obviously, highly desirable.

Typhoons from the East tend to be worse than those from the West.

Some central islands, such as those in the central Visayas, are naturally protected by the land masses around them.


Retirement options include Palawan Islands and the Visayas. Other retirement options include Bacolod or Dumaguete or Negros.

When it comes to retirement locations in the Philippines, one has many options – major urban cities, larger rural cities, beach resorts, mountain retreats. Each has its own unique and attractive features. The most popular beach resorts are (i) Boracay Island, (ii) Mactan Island, (iii) Panglao Island, (iv) Subic Bay, (v) and Puerto Galera.

My Initial Thoughts…

My places of tourism and retirement interest are:

  • Manila
    • Palawan Islands
    • Puerto Galera
    • Tablas Island (just north of Borocay)
  • VISAYAS (Central & Western)
    • Cebu City / Mactan Island
    • Bantayan Island
    • Siquijor Island
    • Camotes Islands (Pacijan & Poro & Ponson & Tulang)
    • Borocay
    • Panay
    • Dumaguete
  • Caramoan Island, Bicol
  • Anawangin Cove, Zambales
  • Vigan

I have high hopes for The Philippines… the highest of all of the South East Asia countries on my route.

Palawan and the surrounding MIMAROPA Island(s) sound very interesting…

So do the Western & Central Visayas. Although I wouldn’t (probably) want to live in Cebu City itself, I could see me settling in one of the nice towns 2-3 hours away… and the thought of being able to just pop off for long weekends (or longer) to any of the multitude of island destinations available with 1 day’s travel is very appealing.

I have planned my route through the Philippines to avoid Rainy / Typhoon Seasons in Palawan and the Visayas:

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