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What does a cheap meal in Manila cost?

Hello, Asiahopping. I'm planning my budget for my trip to the Philippines next year and was wondering how much a typical meal would cost, so I can factor that into my plan. By meal I mean a substantial lunch or dinner. For breakfast I'm likely to just buy bread. Thanks! I appreciate all the help you guys do for backpackers like me. - Milt - Guest

cheap meal manila cost
Hi there Milt! One of our favorite topics here in Asia Hopping—FOOD! But only because Asia has some of the best grub, both in the restaurant and the street scene.

You will eat well with a budget of 700 PHP (about 15 USD) per day, which already includes hefty meals from good restaurants and a bottle or two of beer to cap the night off. If you are more resourceful, you can get by at 500 PHP (11 USD) per day and still save a few bucks for some delicious street grub.

A typical meal in a decent restaurant will cost you anywhere from 100 to 300 PHP, but you don't have to splurge to get the best eats, especially in the city. You will find great places to eat on the streets, most serving up the best local cuisines for cheap (try 50 to 70 PHP for an entire meal). Don't forget to try local favorites like sinigang (seafood/pork cooked in sour base like tamarind broth) and adobo (chicken/pork meat immersed in a marinade made from soy sauce, vinegar, and other flavors and spices)!

I stayed in Manila for about a week before heading off to Boracay. Based on my experience, the best, cheapest, and safest street grub isn't on the streets - it's in the air conditioned food halls of the malls that litter the city.

Megamall in particular (close to where I stayed) has a very good "food court" in the basement, with multiple food vendors serving authentic Philippine dishes. I went there almost everyday for dinner, before going back to my hotel.

The rice meals are particularly cheap and seriously delicious. These are some of the dishes and snacks I remember having and how much they cost:

Bagnet, my ultimate favorite - $2 (You get rice, fried pork rinds, and a choice of vegetables)

Bibingka - $1 (Great snack, like pancake but better)

Fresh coconut juice - 50 cents

Ensaymada - 50 cents per piece

Chinese noodles - $2

Empanada stuffed with local sausages and egg - $2

The price of Manila food isn't really expensive if you eat where the local office workers eat. Food halls offer fantastic value. There seems to be one in almost every mall.

To really save money on Manila food, you must love rice (like I do). The rice meals topped with anything from adobo to vegetarian dishes typically don't cost more than $2. Prices for these dishes easily go up to $10 or more in fancier restaurants.

I should add that the food halls are clean and comfortable.

Sebastian F.

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