What is the cost of food in the Philippines? Well, it somewhat depends on which city you’re in. In Metro Manila, you can feast on street food for as low as PHP100 ($1.90), or sit down for a nice restaurant meal for PHP300 to P600 ($5.80 to $11.60).
But wherever you are, it’s safe to say that food is generally cheap in the Philippines!
If you have a majestic allowance, the options are always endless. But if you’re sticking to a meagre budget, you can certainly survive well on cheap eats. The trick is just knowing where to go.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic and talk about the cost of food in the Philippines.
The prices used below are in Philippine Piso (PHP) or United States Dollar (USD)
Cost of food in restaurants
Fancy a sit-down meal in a cosy restaurant with a wait staff to take and serve your orders? There is no shortage of options in Manila. As much as 50% of mall tenants are restaurants or stores that sell food items.
Normally, a budget of PHP300 to P600 ($5.80 to $11.60) per person would get you a very nice meal. If you’re a party of five or more, the cost per head tends to go down a little as you may end up sharing orders.
Of course, the kind of food you order will affect your total bill. Most chicken, pork, and beef dishes, as well as noodle specialities, fall within the same price range. But if you’re craving for imported steak and seafood such as crabs and prawns in Manila, you could spend as much as PHP1,000 ($19.30) per person. Contrast this to a coastal city such as Iloilo or Roxas where you can enjoy crabs, fish, and prawns for less than half the cost in Manila.
Restaurants in classy hotels are expensive as they adapt to the star rating of the hotel. A single restaurant lunch in a five-star hotel could set you back by PHP600 to PHP1,000 ($11.60 to $19.30). You’re paying for the food – and the ambiance.
Cost of buffets, Korean barbecues and hot pots
One dining trend that has remained popular for the past several years is buffet restaurants that offer international dishes.
There are also speciality places where you can get your share of native Filipino dishes, Korean samgyupsals, Mongolian barbecues, and seafood. Many hotels also offer buffets at hotel prices. (Check out our tips section below on how you can avail of these buffets at a discount.)
Buffet restaurants will cost you around PHP800 to PHP1,000 ($15.50 to $19.30). Korean and Mongolian barbecues are around PHP500 to PHP700 ($9.60 to $13.50). Unlimited crab and shrimps run around PHP600 to PHP900 ($11.60 to $17.40). Hotel buffets range from PHP1,000 to PHP2,000 ($19.30 to $38.60) per person.
Cost of fast food in the Philippines
Fast food or quick-service restaurants are highly in demand with the working class and it’s almost impossible not to see one wherever you go.
Jollibee, the most popular chain offers burgers, fries, spaghetti and fried chicken as their main fares. Rice is the standard side dish (although for the Filipinos, it is the staple food for any meal).
Prices of international fast food chains – such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Krispy Kreme – are cheaper than its counterparts abroad.
If you’re on a budget and would like to enjoy a burger and a soda, you won’t break the bank when you walk into these joints. PHP60 to PHP200 ($1.20 to $3.90) would get you a good meal.
Cost of eating in a food park
These eating places are the equivalent of hawker centres in Singapore. They are all over the city, situated on former vacant properties in major avenues and inner streets.
In a food park, you can find a variety of food offerings at a much lower price than in malls. There are cheap drinks, snacks, and desserts as well as speciality dishes. But let us warn you – most of them are open only in the early evening to late nights, and some of them only on select days of the week.
You will need around PHP80 to PHP200 ($1.55 to $3.90) to enjoy a decent dinner in a food park.
Cost of street food in the Philippines
Technically, street food in Manila mainly refers to food that ambulant vendors sell along sidewalks or small kiosks in street corners. These are mostly deep-fried snacks or grilled exotic fares.
If you are not picky or squirmy about these things, they are worth a try. Your list should include balut (fermented duck eggs), fish balls, isaw (pig or chicken intestines), taho (Filipino version of soft silken tofu sweetened with sugar syrup), halo-halo (the equivalent of chendol) and sorbetes (street ice cream).
We suggest you try them from a stall in a food park (if there’s one) and not just from a random vendor you encounter on the street.
Your PHP100 ($1.90) will buy you a lot of goodies from a street vendor – but double that budget if you’re buying street food in a food park or a mall.
Price of coffee and milk tea in the Philippines
Coffee shops in the Metro are flourishing and thriving, not just surviving. Filipinos have discovered their taste for good coffee and milk tea. Each week, it seems like more new flavours are released into the line-up of the milk tea and coffee universe.
The range of prices covers a wide scope from the cheap to the (little) expensive. International brands like Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Tim Hortons, Chatime and Gong Cha are still less expensive here compared to their branches abroad.
Your recreational coffee budget could be anywhere from PHP50 to PHP200 ($1 to $3.90). For your milk tea experience, prepare to spend a minimum of PHP80 ($1.55) per order.
Price of beer and liquor in the Philippines
If you’re going local (meaning, Filipino brands), you could have your fill of alcohol with a little less stress on the pockets. Of course, when you order it in a restaurant, the prices more than double. If you buy it from a convenience store or a neighbourhood store, that’s where the savings come in.
Most local beers in the Philippines retail from about PHP40 to PHP80 ($0.80 to $1.55) per bottle or can. Local whiskey, rum or gin commands about PHP100 to PHP160 ($1.90 to $3.10) per 750ml bottle.
Grocery prices in the Philippines
If you’re buying the basic necessities for home, you should be okay with a grocery budget of PHP300 to PHP600 ($5.80 to $11.60) per week for each person.
Big supermarkets carry both Philippine-made and international products, and most grocery items follow a price ceiling, so they basically remain stable for a long time.
What about the price of rice in the Philippines? You can get a nice variety for around PHP40 to PHP55 ($9.80 to $1.10) per kilogram.
How to save money on food
Want to stretch your budget a little, lower the cost of food in the Philippines, but still enjoy your dining experience? Here are some things you can do:
Cook your own food. The local market is a good source of fresh and cheap food, plus you’ll find most ingredients you need. Some accommodations allow you to cook inside the room, so why not take advantage of it?
Use coupons or avail of promotions. There are a handful of websites that offer coupon discounts for as much as 70% off on select restaurants and buffets. Buffet restaurants often have a birthday promo where the celebrant eats for free on (or within two weeks of) his/her birthday as long as there is a paying companion.
Eat in carenderias (neighbourhood eateries). Nothing would be as authentic a Filipino food as what you will find in a carenderia. Just take a stroll along some side street and you’ll probably find one. Your PHP140 ($2.70) would feed two persons here.
Dine in groups, share orders. Most restaurant servings are good for more than one person but a little less for two. If you’re a group, you can order less but still have enough for everybody.
Order combo (combination) meals. Many establishments offer combo meals where they bunch together some of their best offerings at an affordable price. And surprise: some will throw in a free iced tea with your meal. You’ll spend around PHP80 to PHP130 ($1.55 to $2.70) – but it’s a complete meal nonetheless.
Dining is part of the travel experience. Don’t be overly conscious about the food budget. It’s certainly cheaper to eat and enjoy here than in other major cities around the world.
Also Read: Tipping in the Philippines – Yay or Nay?