18 SEPTEMBER, 2019


Everybody in the household has been working hard in school and at work. Treat the family to a much-needed R&R! Sure, it is still a few months before the Christmas break and many moons away from summer. But why wait when you can have a family vacation on the weekend?

The beauty of living in the Philippines is that you have a long list of destinations. You also do not need to break the bank to have an impromptu and stress-free family getaway. You can have a budget-friendly holiday on the white beaches of Boracay. You can also go on a trekking adventure in Benguet or a historical trip to Ilocos Sur.

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Why visit Boracay? There might be other beach destinations, but admit it—Boracay is incomparable. The world-acclaimed island remains one of the most beautiful anywhere. After the six-month environmental rehabilitation, Boracay renewed its laid-back charm. It is perfect for a weekend of relaxation with the entire family.

No need to wait for your Christmas bonus to plan for a family vacation. You can hit the road starting with a budget of Php15,000. Here are the best places for a family vacation on a budget.

An affordable Boracay weekend

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There are so many reasons why you should bring your family to Boracay this Christmas! The rainy months of June to November are considered the lean season in tourist destinations in the Philippines. Fewer people are on R&R, mainly because of the cooler weather. This means that you can take advantage of cheaper plane tickets, hotel promos, and tour discounts. A fare ticket to Boracay for the All Saints Day weekend starts at Php3,000 per person. If you want to save more, book your flight months in advance. You can also set your phone to receive notifications whenever airlines offer exclusive promos.

When hunting for accommodation for the family, choose one within budget but without sacrificing comfort and security. You can book a unit in Alta Vista Boracay for as low as Php5,000. This fully-furnished hotel room includes two queen-sized beds, a private toilet and bath, and even a mini bar! All guests are free to use their infinity pool, karaoke room, and other indoor facilities.

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As for food, how much is a meal in Boracay? Your options start at Php200 per person. There are a lot of must-eat restaurants on the island. You can fairly budget Php250 per adult, per meal, including drinks and desserts. But of course, you can check out a local carinderia for a Php100 fresh seafood lunch.

You will do a lot of walking around Boracay, and you should! For far distances, you can take the tricycle at rates starting at Php100. The charge from Caticlan port to Alta Vista de Boracay in Puka Beach is Php100 per ride (not per person!). You can also rent a bicycle to get around for about Php50 toPhp70 per hour.

A refreshingly cool trip in Baguio-Benguet

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The Cordillera region is a favorite R&R destination for it offers experiences like no other in the country. The temperature in the region is at least 8 Celsius lower than any other area, making it a top summer must-visit. Baguio City is the most accessible destination in the Cordilleras, but from there, the rest of the region is easier to reach. You can take a 30-minute jeepney ride to Benguet and about 4 to 5 hours to Mt. Province.

The bus ride to Baguio is about Php500 per person, excluding discounts for students and senior citizens. For accommodation, you can book a hotel for Php2,000 per night or a fully-furnished condo unit in Outlook Ridge Residences for Php4,000. Unlike a hotel, a condo unit can accommodate more people and allow you to cook your meals in its well-equipped kitchen.

There are two modes of public transportation around Baguio—jeepneys, and taxis. You should plan your city tour well to avoid heavy traffic. For instance, if you are visiting the famed Burnham Park, you can also walk to the Orchidarium, the Cathedral, the shops along Session Road, and the public market. Are you thinking about visiting the Philippine Military Academy? You may want to go early in the morning to avoid the lines.

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You have another option outside Baguio—the towns and cities of Benguet. Bring home fresh vegetables sold at incredibly low prices from the Trading Post in La Trinidad. Go a little further north to Atok and marvel at the Northern Blossom Flower Farm. The hectares of pastel-colored flowers are certified IG-worthy! You can get closer to nature with a trekking adventure in Kapangan. It is home to picturesque rice terraces, caves, and rivers. Do not miss the waterfalls where you could bathe in the chilly waters flowing from the mountains.

Food and souvenir items are relatively cheap in Baguio and parts of Benguet. A group of 5 (two adults and three children) can feast on a hearty lunch or dinner for Php1,000 in Good Taste cafe restaurant or Jacks Rice. You can also try the meat delicacies in eateries in Barangay Slaughter for some pizzas and kinds of pasta in Volante Restaurant.

An Ilocandia getaway on a shoestring budget

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Ilocos Sur may be best known for the old city of Vigan, but do you know that it is one of the best places for a family vacation? In Ilocos Sur, you can have a leisurely walk along the cobblestone streets of Calle Crisologo, have a food crawl in Candon City, and hit the beach in coastal towns everywhere.

A bus ride from Manila to Ilocos Sur is at around Php800. You will need to take the tricycle to go around in the province, and you should refer to the fare matrix to avoid getting ripped off. The tourist spots may not be walkable from your hotel, so you may consider booking a tricycle for your tours.

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If you want a colonial period experience, you can book a room in one of the old hotels in Vigan City starting at Php2,500 per night. The rates in rooms in beach resorts range from Php1,500 to Php4,000. Staying in Vigan is recommended if you wish to explore Calle Crisologo at day time, but if you are longing for the sea, then book a room in a resort.

Have a gastronomic escapade in Ilocos Sur. Make sure you try the best of Ilocano cuisine (especially the bagnet) in Cafe Leona or garlic longganisa in almost all local restaurants and diners. Treat your family to the sinanglao, a traditional soup of beef or carabao innards, and the famous empanada. You may budget Php150 per meal per person while in the province.

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With Php15,000, you can bring the family to a new environment to relax and recharge. Go to the beach or the mountains. You can also go on a food crawl. What are you waiting for? Gather everyone in the living room and start planning your upcoming family vacation!