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Where to stay in Philippines

Hotels

Hotels in the Philippines range from five star business hotels to backpacker hostels, with the widest choice available in Manila. In other towns and cities, the choice can be more limited, although a handful of classy boutique hotels are beginning to emerge in provincial towns. Coastal settlements and small islands have resorts ranging from basic beach huts to exclusive luxury retreats.

Room prices in some tourist areas double or triple during peak seasons (Easter and Christmas/New Year). It's essential to book ahead at those times, and most places require a substantial deposit for a reservation at any time of year.

Most of the luxury hotels in Manila are in the Makati district close to the Ayala Centre. Other places with a concentration of luxury options include Boracay and Mactan (Cebu), both of which have a number of international chain hotels. Elsewhere in the country the choices at the top end are more limited, although there are some great boutique resorts tucked away on small islands or secluded beaches primarily attracting wealthy locals and Korean honeymooners.

Grading: Hotels are graded in the following categories based on standards set by the Office of Tourism Services, Department of Tourism, Manila: Economy, Standard, First Class and Deluxe.

Camping

There are few official campsites in the Philippines other than on trekking routes, although some beach resorts catering for budget travellers have camping spots and may hire out tents. Usually they'll provide access to bathroom facilities. If there are no official sites then it's often acceptable to pitch a tent on a beach, for example, but it's best to ask locals whether they object. Ideally, get permission from the local barangay (community) hall.

Other accomodation

Budget: Much of Manila’s budget accommodation (including hostels and guesthouses) is in the neighbouring Malate and Ermita districts, which are a little past their prime as the artistic hub of the city, but are handy for plenty of nearby bars and restaurants. In other towns and cities, there are usually a few simple guesthouses, often with both fan-cooled and air-conditioned rooms; shared bathrooms are one way to keep the costs down. Budget accommodation on beaches extends to nipa (palm) huts.

Homestay: Tourism Malaysia operates a homestay programme (http://www.tourism.gov.my/niche/homestay). In some other areas there are only informal options, accessed by enquiring at tourist offices or barangay (community) halls.


Resorts: There are resorts for every budget in the Philippines, from backpacker huts on remote beaches to chic boutique places in Boracay. There are also a handful of casino resorts, and places catering to scuba divers with training facilities, equipment hire and bars in which to relax and discuss the day’s adventures.