If in Europe you say Philippines, many people will not know that its capital is Manila, but I could bet that they definitely have heard of the place named Boracay. For many people Boracay is the island of their dreams. And I do not blame them at all.
Is budget travel in Boracay really possible? What kind of destination is it?
The problem is that if Europeans go on holidays to the Philippines, 99,9 % chance is they will go to Boracay as unfortunately the European travel agencies offer trips only to Boracay (not to other parts of the Philippines). So then we don’t have to be really surprised to come to Boracay and find out that hundreds of tourists did the same as we did. They all took what we could call proper beach holidays in Boracay as well.
This is the thing number 1 that us, budget travelers-backpackers can hate about Boracay – it is too touristy and overcrowded. During the peak season it can be even difficult to walk along the beach without hitting others with your elbows to let you pass. Especially at sunset the White beach of Boracay gets overcrowded which is when the majority of the party lovers wake up after a long drinking and dancing last night. The time when they come out to stroll along the beach and finally eat something.
Together with the too touristy place, the high prices come hand in hand. Another big dislike! Everything is so overpriced, for some things you end up paying approximately 3 times more than in the others parts of the Philippines. For example, I saw a buffet – eat what you can for 750 Php in Boracay?! While even 300 Php would be too much! Even the small local stalls or local shops are more expensive than anywhere else around the Philippines. Then I do not understand where the Filipinos who come here on holidays get the money for that. They must be saving for long time as the prices in Boracay are high even for the foreigners, and much higher for random Filipinos. Another thing that makes me wondering is where the locals get their food. Or do they get everything in the same shops just for different prices than the tourists? It remains a mystery to me.
Another thing to hate about Boracay can be that every 5 minutes you hear someone shouting to you. Everyone just wants to earn money on tourists. Or rip you off. If it is not a motorbike driver or a tricycle one trying to offer you a ride, then it is a massage girl, henna tattoo guy, manicure girl, sailing boat trip or one of many tours etc. Always something they try to make you pay for. After a while it can be annoying. Even if you are not a tourist, you are treated as one. Which was my case (I still think there is a big different between a tourist and a traveler). Next time when I go to Boracay, I should get a T-shirt saying I do not want to buy anything, no massage and no trip, please! I mean, unless it is free
Would you like to take a picture of only yourself? Let’s try for a couple of minutes if you can get one as there are people everywhere. And if you are alone, forget about it. I quit trying after like 10 impossible shots where it looked like I was there with another 15 people.
There is just one main road along Boracay. Sometimes there is too much traffic. It can be really annoying also. We were even stuck in the traffic jam on Sunday afternoon when we went to see famous cock fights. Another point less for Boracay. It can also get difficult to walk with your backpack around.
One of the last things you could probably find unpleasant in Boracay is that many restaurants will charge you 10% of the price on top of your bill as the tip for the staff. Dislike again! The expensive Boracay becomes even more expensive. But not all of the restaurants do that, I especially loved Island Chicken Inasal where I could enjoy my favorite chicken breast with rice, good price and not paying another 10% more.
And if you go to this paradise island just because you heard that Boracay is a great party place, please find out where to party so you won’t end up like me and my two Czech friends wasting the whole night without finding a good party place.
Yes, there are some things you can hate about Boracay, that’s for sure. But on the other hand, I am really not a huge fan of touristy places, but I still LOVED Boracay beaches. Go and see by yourself to get your own opinion.