At this point, if you want to continue your stay you must leave the country and return. At that point, your passport will show an exit stamp and a new entry stamp and you can stay again 16 or 24 months. Cost varies for each extension but it is somewhere around 3000 pesos ($65 USD). At the six-month extension, there is a higher fee and then if you plan to leave the country and return, you need to get an exit visa.
There are many choices of stay in Davao and the rest of the bigger cities in the Philippines. I can only talk about Davao because I have not spent much time out of the city.
For a visitor to the city the available accommodations vary in quality and cost. One of the cheapest is a boarding house. These places are small and have little in what a foreigner would find desirable. The rooms are small and most times shared. A room for four would have two bunk beds. There is usually only one CR for the house and consist of a non-flushing toilet and a faucet to fill a pail of water to bucket shower.
Next is a Pension House. The amenities vary, some have air conditioners and some do not. Most have a shared CR. Prices range from around 695 pesos a night ($15 USD). I have never seen the insides but they cleanliness will probably vary with price.
There are many hotels here from the basic to the high end, 5 stars. The prices vary too and many times, you can get a discount from some of the booking sites. Since prices vary, I am not going to list them. Many of the hotels offer free wifi in the rooms, some charge.
There are also many Apartelles here, which are small rooms. They are clean and come furnished with hot water showers, TV’s, wifi. Some come with small kitchens. One I know of even has a pool and a small restaurant/bar if you do not want to travel and do not want to cook. These places cost around 1000 pesos ($22 USD) a day and for extended stay of over a month will give some discounted rates.
For longer stays, there are furnished and unfurnished houses and apartments available.
Lately there have been more restaurants opening with a more international choice of foods. Again, prices vary. For a visitor, most of these higher end restaurants have cheap prices. Those on a budget can still find decent foods. If you want to be more native, there are little roadside Caranderias. At these places, you can get a meal for as little as 20 pesos ($0.50).
For high-end cuisines, you can eat for 1500 pesos ($30 USD) including a Black Angus steak. However, there are many restaurants where you can eat well for a third of the price.
There are many restaurants in Davao I enjoy that are not high priced and some higher end restaurants I do not frequent because of cost. My favorites are:
Boyd’s Pizza/pasta house on Palma Hill, Obrero,
Red Knight Gardens, in Guadalupe Village, Lanang
Coco’s on F. Torres, Bajada
Bigby’s Grill on Jacinto Ext., corner of F. Torres, Bajada
The basic transportation here is the Jeepney. It looks like an extended jeep that can sit approximately 18 passengers. It is open-air vehicle with vinyl windows that will be rolled down during rainstorms. This is to the Filipinos as a local bus in the States. An average ride costs 8 pesos ($0.17 USD). That is to cover a trip not more than 4 kilometers. After 4 KM, there is an additional 1-peso fare per KM. On the sides of the Jeepney their route is painted, which streets they travel and areas they travel too. For someone that does not know the city, it might be best to take a taxi.
Here in Davao most taxis are air-conditioned. There are still some non-aircon taxis but they are slowly being eliminated. The taxis are metered; the meter starts at 30 pesos for aircon and 26 peso for non-aircon. Then the charge is 2.50 pesos per KM. Usually you can get to most places in town for around 100 pesos.
For short distances or in areas not covered by Jeepneys there are various types of vehicles powered by a motorcycle welded to a sidecar or a little van type size which can seat approx 8 passengers. There are also little 2-4 seat sidecar powered by a bicycle.
It is hard to explain a budget since some live large and some are conservative. Then you have to look at how much you will travel around town, if you are going to the beach resorts on Samal or how you will spend your time and with who.
Some of the things you need to discuss with your girlfriend before you visit is who will be joining you for meals or activities or if you will be visiting her family. Many times a Filipina will ask to invite a friend or relative to join them. Other times I have seen foreign visitors at a restaurant with 10 Filipinos at the table.
Even if you explain to your girlfriend your limited budget for your visit, in many Filipinos mind foreign men are rich and can afford their every whim. You need to discuss this before you travel here and set your boundaries. I know we all want to impress and to treat our lady well, but you need limits.
If you are coming with no lady in mind to visit and just play the field, you will need more money. A date usually includes their transportation fees to meet you and their return trip, of course by taxi, meals, drinks and going to Karaoke or clubs. If you bring one of these ladies you meet to go back to your hotel, most will expect a monetary gift. I am not saying they all are prostitutes or whores, but many Filipinas use private time with a foreigner as a way to earn money.
In future articles I will try to discuss courting and visiting “The Family”
I encourage comments from past visitors experiences and questions from future visitors.