El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, May 2016. As an alcohol free traveler I can spend time hanging out for cheap at some of the more pricier destinations in Asia and not worry about a booze budget. Here in El Nido I’ve managed to whittle down the costs and still enjoy that awesome Filipino scenery and beaches.. Here ‘s the rundown on how I survived on an average spend on £12 per day over nearly 2 weeks.
1. Stay at Austria’s Place where the room price includes breakfast. A small single bed fan room is around 500 pesos on booking .com. A good breakfast with around 4 items, coffee and 1 free egg. Google Map
2. Save on the cost of drinking water at Austria’s. Buy a 1 litre bottle of water then refill for just 10 pesos.
3. Coffee need not cost-a-lot. Buy a bunch of Nescafe sticks for 3 pesos each from the shop a few doors down and Austria’s will give you free boiling water. Powder creamer is free too or buy fresh UHT milk for 28 pesos – Austria’s will keep it refrigerated for free.
4. The biggest money saver in El Nido is to eat local food. A good canteen exists on Real Street opposite the church. Here you can pick and choose from an array of food for 60-70 pesos. You’ll end up with a pretty good hot meal. Google Map
5. Walk. The place is so small with all three beaches within walking distance from the town centre. No need to pay for pricey three wheeler transport.
6. Use local bus’s to and from El Nido – Roro bus is pretty good.
7. Paradise for free. Walk 25 minutes to Garden Bay and chill in their hammocks under the palms for free. Swim in the clear shallow waters for free and tap into the Wifi for free, when its working of course! You may want to buy their coffee for just 50 pesos – good taste, good value. Google Map
8. Island hopping. When all those tourists have departed from the town beach, rent a Kayak for 500 pesos all day and do your own Island hopping adventure. Do it twice and you’ll still save money!
9. Be nice. Be extra nice to the cafe staff at Austria’s and they’ll let you share their evening meal, and they won’t take any payment. Most nights its fresh fish with fresh rice!
10. Bring cash. There is one ATM but it may not always work with international credit cards. I had trouble with my British Mastercard credit card but my debit card worked fine, thankfully! Bringing cash will save on expensive money-gram transfer fees if the ATM route fails you.