How to Find the Lowest Airfare Prices to the Philippines: 7 Tips to Score Cheap Flights

How to Find the Lowest Airfare Prices to the Philippines: 7 Tips to Score Cheap Flights

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Airplane going to Manila & Woman in swimsuit in El Nido Palawan

The Philippines is known for its pristine beaches, stunning islands, beautiful mountains, and beautiful diving spots, a lot of which can be found in popular destinations like Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Siargao, and Palawan

Being an archipelago, the Philippines has a geography unlike most countries, as its major cities and destinations are scattered across different islands. Because of this, exploring the top destinations in the Philippines usually requires taking several flights. If you are planning to go on a DIY trip, finding cheap flights to the Philippines is one of the most important things you have to master.

This guide will give you tips on how to find the lowest airfare for international and domestic flights for your Philippine vacation.

1. Avoid the peak season.

Tourist photographs Chocolate Hills

As with many travel destinations, traveling to and within the Philippines is cheaper during the lean season. The best time to travel to the Philippines for cheap airfare (and hotel bookings) is usually from the months of June to October, but note that this lean period also falls on the rainy season. 

Avoid planning your trip for November, December, and January, as many Filipinos abroad will be flying home for All Saint’s Day, Christmas, and New Year. March, April, and May are also considered peak season because these months are usually the warmest in the country and many locals and foreigners will be flying to different Philippine destinations. Holy Week, which is considered a major holiday in the Philippines, also usually falls in March or April.

Bang-og Island from Bonbon Beach

The same goes with domestic flights within the Philippines. But you should also take note of the Philippine festivals as these can cause airfare to become more expensive. Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is held every third Sunday of January, Bacolod’s Masskara Festival happens every October, while Davao’s Kadayawan Festival is celebrated in August. If you’re not interested in participating in these festivals, don’t schedule your trip for the mentioned months.

A tried and tested travel tip from a local travel blogger is to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays usually have the most expensive domestic flights.

2. Check the cheapest airlines.

NAIA Terminal 2

Not all airlines are equal, and if you can do away with all the luxuries that a full-service airline provides, you can save a lot of money on your airfare by booking with budget airlines. 

For international flights to the Philippines, the selection of airlines will depend on your airport of departure, but some of the cheapest airlines you can book when coming from Southeast Asia and other nearby countries are Cebu Pacific and AirAsia. Other airlines you can consider are Scoot, Jetstar, and China Southern. Just keep in mind that these are cheaper airlines, and the service will be very different from those of more expensive airlines.

Cebu pacific airplane above Philippines

For flights to Manila or flights to Cebu from countries further away, you should consider your different departure airport options, as different airports are serviced by different airlines. For example, depending on the airline and your travel dates, LAX to MNL flights may be cheaper than SFO to MNL flights and vice versa.

When traveling within the Philippines, there are three major airlines you can book with: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia. Outside of sales, these three usually have a similar price range when it comes to domestic flights. For example, when searching for flights to Boracay, it is best to check all airlines, as the prices will vary depending on your travel dates and inclusions.

White Beach Boracay

Note that some destinations in the Philippines, like Sicogon Island in Iloilo and San Vicente and El Nido in Palawan, may only be reached directly by boutique airlines like AirSwift and SunlightAir, and airfare will generally cost more compared to other destinations.

3. Set up alerts for flight promos.

Man waiting for airplane

Booking earlier is generally cheaper, but if you’re planning a trip six months to a year earlier, you can take advantage of airline sales and promotions to maximize your savings. Local airlines usually have seat sales and other promos that offer cheap flights in the Philippines. The sales offering the biggest discount are often referred to as Piso Sales or Piso Fares, so be on the lookout for these.

El Nido Palawan

To make sure you are aware of these sales, follow the social media accounts of airlines and setup alerts and notifications. You can also subscribe to newsletters from airlines. Note that sales like these are usually limited to a few seats, so if you’re fully decided on your trip, book as soon as possible to avoid running out slots for the sale.

Philippine passport

If you already have specific dates in mind, another option is setting up alerts from Google Flights. You can simply input the port of embarkation, the destination, and your preferred travel dates, and it will give you a list of available flights. To set alerts in your email for price changes, just toggle Track Prices on the upper left portion of the search results.

4. Use flight comparison websites.

Airplane going to Manila

Instead of checking the individual websites of each airline you are considering, you can use a flight comparison website like Guide to the Philippines. You can instantly see and compare the different prices of flights to and around the Philippines so you can check the cheapest ones. The many filters (preferred number of stops, price range, travel time, layover time) also make it easy to find the perfect route for your travel preferences.

You can even check different ports of embarkation and disembarkation to see which route offers the cheapest airfare to the Philippines. For domestic flights, if you haven’t decided which Philippine destinations to go to yet, you can also see your different options before you finalize your itinerary and book flights to the Philippines online

People swimming in Kayangan Lake, Palawan

The best part about booking with Guide to the Philippines is that there are no additional or hidden charges within your itinerary, so you won’t be surprised with the total amount when it’s time to check out and pay.

5. Book late-night or early-morning flights.

PAL flight taking off from Baguio AirportPhoto by Philippine Airlines

Most travelers prefer to go on flights from late morning to late afternoon, which means flights scheduled early morning and late night have a lower demand, resulting in cheaper airfare. Sometimes booking just 2 hours earlier or later than your preferred time can save you a lot of money.

An added benefit of this, especially for early-morning flights, is that there are usually fewer people in the airport during this time, so you will most likely encounter shorter queues and less crowded gates. For the lean season, there are also usually fewer people on early-morning and late-night flights, so there is also a higher chance that you will end up not sitting next to anyone. 

Plane lands in airport during sunset

However, note that with some destinations, if you arrive too early in the morning or too late at night, you will have limited options for public transportation. To avoid any hassle and delays getting to your accommodations, it is recommended that you book airport transfers in advance.

6. Check the nearest airport for your destination for direct flights.

Cebu AirportPhoto by Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Some foreign travelers may automatically think of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila for their flight to the Philippines, but if you’re not planning to explore the National Capital Region and Luzon, you can skip Manila and fly directly to other international airports in the Philippines which may offer cheaper flights.

After the Manila Airport, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second busiest airport in the Philippines and has flights from neighboring countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, as well as countries further away, like the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The Cebu Airport is also a great gateway to the Philippines, especially if you’re visiting other destinations in the country. 

Signs in the Mactan-Cebu International AirportPhoto by Mactan-Cebu International Airport

For example, if you’re planning to visit the pristine beaches and Chocolate Hills of Bohol, you can book a flight to Cebu and then board a ferry to Bohol instead of going on a flight to Manila and then boarding another flight to Bohol.

If you are planning a multi-city trip, Cebu is also a great option for your first destination as its airport also has flights to Caticlan (near Boracay) and Baguio Airport. Apart from enjoying the cool weather of Baguio City, you can also visit other popular attractions and destinations nearby like the Banaue Rice Terraces, Sagada, and Buscalan, where you can get the chance to get a traditional tattoo from Apo Whang-Od, the most famous traditional tattooist in the Philippines.

If you’re planning to focus on the Mindanao region for your trip, you can start by landing at the third busiest airport in the country, the Davao International Airport. From here, you can explore the rest of the Davao Region. You can trek to Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines, enjoy the beaches at Samal Island, or visit other Davao tourist spots like the Philippine Eagle Center and Malagos Garden Resort. 

From the Davao Airport, you can also book flights to Cagayan de Oro, flights to Siargao, or to other airports in Mindanao.

7. If direct flights are too expensive, look for alternative airports and routes.

Puerto Princesa Underground River in PalawanInstead of a direct flight to El Nido, you can fly to Puerto Princesa Palawan first and explore the Underground River

Sometimes, depending on your destination, you have little to no choice when it comes to direct fights. For example, if you want to visit El Nido, the flights going directly there are relatively expensive because, as previously mentioned, it is serviced by only one boutique airline. 

You can still visit El Nido and save money by booking flights to Puerto Princesa. After landing at Puerto Princesa, you can take a land transfer to El Nido. You have the option to book a car rental or take public transportation. Note that this will take several hours longer compared to a direct flight to El Nido, so you will have to decide if you want to save time or money.

Save time and money when you book with Guide to the Philippines!

View of Philippines from a plane

If you’re planning a multi-destination trip to the Philippines and want to save money and avoid having to book all the flights yourself, you can check out our best Philippines itinerary travel packages. These packages come with transportation between destinations, accommodations, and guided tours, making them perfect for those who don’t have the time to plan and create their own DIY Philippines itinerary

Those planning to immerse themselves in one destination can book Philippine holiday packages. Some of these packages already include domestic flights, accommodations, and tours.

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