That Time I Flew to the Philippines for 58 Cents

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Cebu Pacific Air is currently having a sale on flights from Dubai to Manila for around 967 AED ($263 USD).

DXB MNL Feb 2016

DXB MNL fare

They also have flights from Manila to the nearby island of Cebu for 3,288 PHP ($69 USD). If you’re already in the middle east, this is a good deal.


In January of 2015 this same airline had a mega sale. Thanks to a deal alert posted on Secret Flying, I was able to take advantage of the sale to plot my solo summer vacation in Southeast Asia.

I flew from Dubai to Manila for a whopping 2 AED ($0.54 USD) and then from Manila to Cebu for 2 PHP ($0.04 USD) plus taxes and fees. This is my best sale fare to date. Now, I’ll be honest with you. Cebu Pacific Air is a no-frills airline. Think one shake above the dreaded Spirit Airlines of USA. Know what you’re getting into when you book. There will not be a personal in-flight entertainment system or charging area at your seat. The flight will likely be delayed. Your flight will be uncomfortable if the plane’s AC was on low like it was when I flew. But because you’re likely to be one of very few non Filipinos on your flight from Dubai, going through customs in Manila may be a breeze. You’ll probably wait what feels like forever for a checked bag to arrive, but it’s ok. You and your belongings will get there safely and that’s all that really matters… Mostly.

In addition to the logistics above, let me warn you that Cebu Pacific Air is a nickel and dime you airline like any other budget airline. They likely make most of their revenue from the add-ons. You may be charged to pick a seat in advance. You will definitely be charged if you check a bag – for each leg of the flight. If you’d like to eat on the 9 hour flight from Dubai to Manila, you will have to purchase meals onboard your flight, or bring your own food. All of those additional fees can add up, but you’ll do well to avoid them. Or, be like me and suck it up.

dxbmnlfullfareBecause I don’t enjoy sitting in the middle seat, I chose to reserve a window seat in advance. I also had a very complicated itinerary that involved multiple flights between Dubai and Manila, Manila and Cebu, then later between Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, and New York City. I purchased trip protection and travel insurance for peace of mind. I could have easily opted not to have add-ons and retained my super cheap fare, but even my frugal behind has her limits. Once I was done with extras, the total cost of my roundtrip flights to Manila and Cebu came to about 310 AED ($84 USD).

A little closer to the flight I realized I wasn’t going to be #teamcarryon. I’m better at this now, but there was no way I could figure out how to fall within the 7kg weight limit for carry-ons and include everything I thought I would need for a week in the Philippines, 2 weeks in Thailand, and 2 weeks in the USA. I had to check a bag on each leg of flights, which added another $45 to my total costs. Of course I overpacked and didn’t need half the stuff I brought with me, but having that bag also meant that I had space to bring back my market and mall finds. And I’ll hold on to that instead of kicking myself for going from flights that cost $0.58 USD to paying over 220% more at $130 USD for the same cheap flights and extra fees. Learn from my mistakes, people! Learn from my mistakes!

Yes, I know I’m bugging. Paying $130 USD for a roundtrip international and roundtrip domestic flight is still a mega steal. Especially when those same flights are currently pricing around $332 USD.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my week in the Philippines. Deal or no deal, I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone reading. They say “It’s more fun in the Philippines” for good reason. I’ll be sharing some highlights from my trip in upcoming posts, so stay tuned. Some topics I’ll cover:

  • How I spent a 6-hour layover in Manila
  • Lechon! Good eating in Cebu
  • Spending a day with Filipino Seniors
  • Day trip to Bohol
  • Snorkeling with Whalesharks in Oslob
  • Chasing waterfalls in south Cebu
  • Visiting the Mall of Asia


So, what are you waiting for? Book your flight then come back to this space to read more about my adventures. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “That Time I Flew to the Philippines for 58 Cents

  1. Lovely to stumble upon your site Timah! This sounds like an absolute steal and I am so glad it worked out well for you. We will be having a long layover in Manila too and I was considering a quick trip to Tagaytay. Have you been there and if so, would you recommend it?

    • I didn’t go to Tagaytay, but would have loved to on my last layover in Manila. How much time do you have? A few friends went and it looks gorgeous. Please go if you can.

      • We have 12h35m there. So far some people I’ve asked have said this is just enough time but that it may be a risk since we land there on a Saturday morning and weekends are usually busy.

        Would you by any chance happen to know of any local taxis for rental by the day?

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