The old saying, ‘you get what you pay for’, is never so true as when applied to accommodation in the Philippines. You can have world class, five star hotel accommodation for what we would pay for a decent motel back in Australia, say $100/P4,000 per night for a room for two people. The same kind of five star $250 a night room (which is where it begins, you can pay a ton more than that just to have somewhere to close your eyes for 8 hours) back home.
If you want to spend less, then there are numerous alternatives to choose from, depends how much you wish to spend and how you wish to spend your evening. At the bottom of the scale are ‘bed spacers’. This is a bed in a shared room with, if lucky, a power point for your own fan, shared CR and you wash under a tabos, or bucket and ladle arrangement. Bed spacers can be a good business if you have a property close to a factory or university. Some are still as cheap as P1,500 a month, or just under $40. Are they secure? Are they safe? Are they clean? For a bit over a buck a day you are asking an awful lot, there, fella! What do you think? They might be clean, safe and secure, then again being a kano, you might draw the wrong kind of attention.
There are many boarding houses and cheap hotels that charge P200-600 a night. Again, not usually in the nicest parts of town but they will be a room mostly to yourself. Facilities will be basic, shared and might be ok, might not be. Don’t get me wrong, you can find some well run, clean places to stay in this price range in the provinces; just don’t expect too much. Better than sleeping on the streets, but often only just.
Above these sub-P1,000 a night places things really pick up. There is a lot of decent 1,2 and 3 star stuff out there for P1,000 –P3,000 a night. It depends on the usual factors such as location, availability, what’s going on in town and so on. Around Chinese New Year, Holy Week and All Souls/All Saints Days…. Forget it. The rest of the year you should always be able to find something. More often than not, it finds you.
Even before you get off the ferry to wherever you are going, touts will find you and offer you glossy photos of great accommodation deals. Many people get irate forever telling these guys to buzz off, fearing a rip off or set up of some kind. It happens. I don’t. If I like the tout, I will make it clear I am interested (if I don’t have anything booked of course) and will check it out; but if I don’t like it I will go somewhere else. If you are arriving after dark, it might pay to find one you trust, or have arrangements in place at a more upscale establishment.
Cheap doesn’t always mean nasty and I have found some great places for very little money, all over the islands. So long as you adjust your expectations to where you are and how hard it might be to keep the place stocked with your western food items you can’t live without, you will always find somewhere decent to stay.