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Budget travel in Boracay – what budget travelers can hate about Boracay

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.

Boracay White beach full of tourists at sunset

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 :D

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.

tricycles on the main road of Boracay in Philippines

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.

Island Chicken Inasal restaurant menu in Boracay

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.


  1. Comment@ Neil.skywalker:
    I loved Boracay, Neil. There’s always both good and bad things about every single place. And I also went to Puka beach, very nice!

  2. Too bad you’re a bit negative on Boracay. I really liked the place. I went there in 2010 with my Russian girlfriend for two weeks and had an great time there.
    I didn’t think there were lots of European tourists. I saw lots of Korean, Chinese and Russian tourists though.
    100 pesos (couple of dollars) will take you to Puka beach by tricycle where the beach was amazing and secluded. It was awesome to snorkel there too.

  3. Comment@ Missy l Sole of Missy:
    It’s the same in all the touristy destinations so not just in the Philippines :) It was not really expensive for me there to be honest as I did not pay for the accommodation, but I guess it is expensive for other foreigners. Thanks for your tips!

  4. I am a Filipino and a frequent of Boracay. I feel sorry that you feel like other Filipinos are taking advantage of foreigners, it’s kinda difficult to accept, but yes that is true. Most of the stores, restaurants, and services in Boracay tend to increase their rates if they are catering to foreigners. Boracay vacation is actually cheap if you know how to go around. I wrote a blog about it here – http://www.soleofmissy.com/2009/12/affordable-and-memorable-boracay.html I hope it can help.

  5. Comment@ Marx:
    Definitely, Boracay is still amazing!

  6. Hi, I’m starting to read your posts about the Philippines and I was glad that despite of the touristy and costly Boracay you still loved it. Well same thing for me, despite of those things I still love Boracay. I can’t blame those people who complains about the place but we do all have our own preferences when it comes to a beach. When it comes to beach party, then Boracay is the place to be. You can do beach bumming or quieter place elsewhere. :D

  7. Comment@ Beachstuck:
    Yes, Boracay is too pricey and overcrowded during the high seasons but it was still one of my favorite places in the Philippines. The beach is the best, especially at Station 1! Enjoy!

  8. @ Rome:My family and friends are Filipino and I am American so they have friends in Boracay and get huge discount for all of us. I will be not inclined to swim if I see algae in the water meaning high sewage dumping due to the overcrowding conditions. You’re right about overpriced tourist trap. There are many nicer quieter romantic and intimate places to visit in the Phils that are not costly.
    The beggars and persistent harassment from sellers would drive me crazy. I’ll post back when I’m done with my trip in May 2012. They might just ruin that nice little island down to a worthless place that no one will want to go to even if free. It’s overbuilt and crowded.

  9. Comment@ Rome:
    Thanks for your kind words :) yeah, filipinos can save to travel to Boracay but it is not easy to travel outside of the Philippines … Hope to go there again soon!

  10. Hi ms sexy traveler . . . i love your blog.. very interesting..

    You mentioned in your blog where filipinos get their money to pay for expensive meals . . .a lot filipinos have well paying jobs and we save if we wanted to travel and would spend on expensive things (sometimes) . . :)

    Keep posting…. mwah . .

  11. Comment@ MY Photography:
    That’s exactly the 2 things I loved about Boracay and I would definitely go back for longer :)

  12. I agree, Boracay is getting expensive, especially in food. I usually eat chicken inasal too. What I love about Boracay is the sunset and the beach.


  13. Comment@ jehzlau:
    Hahaha they wanted to charge my local friend in Bohol Beach Club, too. Unfair! And the weirdest how it may seem, I never went to Makati, just passed through it by taxi. Thanks for the tips, I will defo visit the Philippines again :)

  14. Comment@ crazy sexy fun traveler: Hahaha… Yeah… :D You need to pay to enter the Bohol Beach Club, unless you’re a local.

    Try visiting Pearl Farm in Davao City, if you ever come back to the Philippines in one of your future trips.

    Good thing you’re only charged twice with the 10% service charge. Haha. If you dine around Makati, almost all of the restos charge that fee. O_O Woooooooot!

    Anyway, It’s more fun in the Philippines! Haha!

  15. Comment@ Rose:
    Haha good to know, thanks Rose for the tips :) Next time I make sure to make local friends :) Two days were not enough the last time to do so ;)

  16. If you are really wondering where do locals eat in Boracay, they eat in Andoks (meal cost around 100Pesos) or sometimes in Mang Inasal (100 pesos for a chicken meal) its all over Boracay.

    but most of the locals cook their food, so we get rooms that have kitchens provided that’s why its cheaper.

    For the drinks, we drink at our place and get drank and order 1 bottle of redhorse and party all night in Station one!lol

    Befriend a local next time if your on Boracay. They know the cheaper place for coffee,shakes and booze.

    Rose of Branson show tickets

  17. Comment@ jehzlau:
    I got charged 10% service in restaurants only twice during 3 weeks in the Philippines :)
    I know, even at Boracay beaches I found parts of the beach with no tourists, I’m good at it :D And I don’t like Bohol Beach Club as u have to pay to enter the beach.

  18. Most restaurants here in the Philippines adds 10% service charge. Hehehe.

    There are a lot of beaches here in the Philippines that is not crowded by tourists like Boracay. :) You should visit Bohol beach club or Pearl farm nxt time. Hehe. :)

  19. Comment@ belladonna:
    @ belladonna:
    Of course, Philippines are my 2nd favorite country in the world, so definitely one of the best places to visit and it has a lot to offer to everyone.

  20. Comment@ Bhety:
    Bhety, you are right! There’s many nicer places, cheaper and less crowded around the Philippines than Boracay.

  21. Comment@ ayan:
    I so agree, Ayan. If not White beach and Pudsa beach in Boracay, there would be more reasons to not to go there … but those 2 beaches still make Boracay a paradise :)

  22. same sentiments here…
    i am not a fan of touristy places…
    but the beach here, powdery sands and blue waters, still, despite all the things we hate about Boracay..it still is beautiful..

  23. I am a Filipina but Boracay is the last place that in my list… There are so much island to explore in the Philippines like the beaches of Siquijor, the remote beaches in Cebu like Camotes Island… snorkling in the rich underwater of Apo Island in Dumaguete… Go swimming in the lake in Coron Palawan…Stay in a 900 pesos a day small resort called castaway Resort in Coron where you can go boating or fishing for free… Plus the crabs is just 5 euro that’s good enough for 4 people.. Surfing in Baler… Visit the falls of Iligan City… Philippines has so much too offer than just Boracay plus its cheaper in other part of the country…

  24. Comment@ melo : out of town blog:
    After a long time it was a touristy pricey place for me and Boracay has one of the nicest beaches ever, so I did love it :)

  25. I’m glad you still loved Boracay despite of the sky rocketing prices you spent while in the Island.

    Beach Party : More fun in the Philippines

  26. You can also to visit another tourist spot in the Philippines. There’s a lot of beautiful views here.

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