Digital Nomad Philippines: A Guide to Navigating the Archipelago

Aerial shot of Palawan, excellent digital nomad destination

As more of us demand a better work-life balance, including choosing to work when and where we want, destinations offering a more affordable cost of living and attractive lifestyle are evermore appealing. Having lived in multiple countries around the world, I like to give first-hand and personal accounts of my experiences. You can see other examples of the good as a Cape Town digital nomad, and the not so good when getting my drink spiked in Colombia.


Now, having just completed six months as a Philippines digital nomad, it’s now time for me to sum up my experience. And yes, there were the good, the bad, and sometimes strange. And I’ll cover all three. As my loyal readers know, I don’t hold back, I tell it like it is. As such, I apologize in advance for any offensive content – sorry (not sorry).



First, a bit about one of the main challenges digital nomads face:

Relationships are hard as a nomad

Digital nomad couple staring at sunset on a Philippines island

I thought a fellow, female nomad was the answer to having a successful relationship on the road. As such, I joined such Facebook groups as Nomad Soulmates and Single Nomads in the hope of finding a female version of myself. Someone I could travel and work remotely with.


And I did! We clicked easily online over our shared passion for travel, digital marketing and remote work. But as it turns out, traveling, living and working from home together has its own set of challenges. There’s a reason why so many married couples divorced during the COVID government-induced work from home orders – couples need their space! 


As a result, for the latter three months of my time spent in the Philippines, I was a single man. Being a foreigner, dating in the Philippines was on another level. But more on that later.

Digital Nomad Life in the Philippines

Waterfall cascading down a tropical cliff into the Philippines sea

The Philippines is a popular destination for digital nomads, thanks to its affordable cost of living, beautiful beaches and mountains, friendly people, and expat friendly processes. However, there are also some downsides to living in the Philippines as a digital nomad, such as the traffic, bureaucracy, and petty crime. In this article, we’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the bizarre of being a Philippines digital nomad.

The Good

  • Affordable cost of living: Not as affordable as it used to be but still one of the lower cost of living countries in Asia.

  • Beautiful beaches and mountains: The Philippines is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and mountains in the world.

  • Friendly people: I found the people in the Philippines some of the most friendly and welcoming I have experienced in my vast travels worldwide.

  • Tourist visa extension: You can basically just keep extending your tourist visa at the Bureau of Immigration, albeit for a fee. 

  • Beautiful women: For the lads – there are many beautiful women in the Philippines and are much more feminine (not feminazi) as you find in the west.

The Bad

  • Traffic: The traffic in the Philippines can be very bad, especially in the major cities such as Manilla and Cebu. If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, it can be a challenge.

  • Bureaucracy: The bureaucracy in the Philippines can be slow and inefficient. If you need to get a visa or other paperwork done, it can take some time. You will need to practice patience – Grant me patience, Lord. But hurry!

  • Petty crime: There is some petty crime in the Philippines, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching. But to be fair, I did experience this in the places I stayed.

  • Internet: While you will be fine in the cities and larger towns, when you go island hopping to more remote destinations, you may struggle to get data. Even the WIFI in some hotels is sketchy. Additionally, many cafes do not provide WIFI, meaning you will need to hotspot your phone.


Best Places for Digital Nomads in the Philippines

Although I didn’t get to experience the whole of the Philippines as a digital nomad, (after all, there are 7,641 islands to explore!) I believe I chose pretty well. Based on my own experience and from meeting and speaking to other nomads and expats, here are what I consider to be the best places for digital nomads in the Philippines:


Boracay is a small island and where I spent the majority of my time living as a digital nomad in the Philippines. It has long been a popular destination for tourists from around the world, but the island has seen a surge in digital nomads attracted by its vibrant beach culture, thriving nightlife, and affordable cost of living. 


Philippines coworking spaces are increasing all over Boracay. A few of which include:



  • Musyon CoWorking: It’s tiny but stays open all night so is good for nomads who need to work on opposite time zones such as the US. The Internet is solid and has a proper barista so coffee is good.

  • KnEsq Coworking Space: This is a larger coworking space and is good for conference calls or if you need some privacy. Internet and coffee are also good.

  • Starbucks: The Boracay Starbucks takes the cake for the best views from any Starbucks I’ve worked at in the world (and I’ve sampled a lot!). It is situated on the White Beach(front) and spans two levels plus a rooftop balcony (pictured below).  Downside – no WIFI and limited electricity port but the office views more than compensate. I would do a few hours work with my Grande caramel macchiato, take a break and swim outside in the crystal clear waters – and repeat two or three times a day.

View of White Beach from the rooftop of Starbucks Boracay, excellent spot for coffee and remote working

Boracay is really all about White Beach, consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the world. This is because the sand is as white (hence the name) as the water is clear – some of the cleanest waters I’ve ever seen. The beach is super long and broken up into 3 sections:


  1. Stations 1: This is the upmarket end with swanky resorts. It’s great if you want a bit of peace and quiet. The water here is super shallow, you can literally walk out 100 meters and still have your head above water,

  2. Station  2: This is the hub, where all the action is at. The epicenter is DMall where there are several shops, restaurants and bars. This is the most touristy and crowded section of White Beach, or the whole of Boracay for that matter.

  3. Station 3: Here is like a happy medium of Stations 1 and 2. A mixture of resorts, restaurants and bars but less crowded than Station 2. The water here is deeper if you enjoy proper swimming.


On the other side of the island is Bulabog Beach. Also nice and much quieter than White Beach. It is also a kiteboarding destination and attracts kiteboarders from all over the world for the season from November through May.


The island also offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts, making it suitable for digital nomads to affluent holidaymakers. You can find good deals in Facebook groups. 


As the sun sets over White Beach, some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, Boracay transforms into a lively hub of activity, with beachfront bars and restaurants offering fresh seafood, live music, and quite a few ladyboys! Beware lads, some are gorgeous and not always upfront about their original gender.


If beach and island life is your thing, with a healthy dose of nightlife, then Boracay could be the perfect paradise for you. I managed three months before I needed more action, amongst other solopreneurs and freelance business owners. Being a city boy at heart, it took me to my next destination…


Cebu City

View of Cebu City skyline with the mountains in the background, a top destination for digital nomads in the Philippines

Although I spent limited time in Manila, I personally felt Cebu was more the city for me (sorry Manila!). Cebu is more connected with nature, which is always a big plus for me – it’s not hard to escape the hustle and bustle into nature whether it be a ferry ride to Bohol or Camotes or a half-hour drive up the mountains or venturing inland to waterfalls. 


For me (and a lot of expats), the best place to live is Cebu IT Park. It is well developed, clean and safe. It is also home to multi-national corporations, Ayala Mall and several dining and bar options. There are also countless cafes and coworking spaces. 


Cebu is located smack-bang in the middle of the Philippine archipelago which makes it a great base for exploring other islands. The city has all the amenities you need. The traffic, like Manila, sucks but I lived in Cebu IT park and rarely left except for when exploring other areas outside the city. I rented a nice studio apartment with a mountain view for about $370 USD per month – not bad!


One of the biggest attractions of Cebu Island is Oslob at the south of the island. This is the embarkation point to swim with whale sharks. As much as I wanted to do it (swimming with whale sharks is on my bucket list) I decided not to after learning of the unethical practices to cater for tourism dollars.


Hidden Beach in Palawan, consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world

Although I didn’t live here, I visited and liked what I saw. I also know of Philippines digital nomads choosing their base as Palawan. The main issue here is internet reliability, as the long island is mainly un-spoilt nature. Puerto Princesa is the capital and where the most reliable internet connection is. It’s no surprise then that most nomads choose to base themselves here and explore other parts of the island when not working.


The two main tourist destinations of Palawan are:


  • El Nido: An archipelago of pure-nature islands characterized by towering limestone cliffs and pristine aqua-marine bays and beaches. Hidden Beach (pictured) was recently named third best beach in the world.


  • Coron: More stunning natural landscapes, including crystal-clear lakes, coral-rich oceans, and limestone cliffs. It’s a mecca for divers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering some of the best wreck diving spots in the world.


These are just the famous destinations and are well-worth visiting – just make sure you go outside Philippines holidays (I made the mistake of going during Holy Week) to avoid the crowds. I know that if you lived in Palawan long term you would discover many hidden gems that the rest of the world doesn’t know about. I hope to return one day to do this.

Philippines Visa Process for Nomads

Most passports will enter the Philippines on a 30-day tourist visa. Here is the process to become a digital nomad in the Philippines:


  • During your 30 days you can apply to have your tourist visa extended by another 30 days. This can be done either at a Bureau of Immigration office or online. This will cost you roughly $50.

  • After your second month, you must apply for an Alien Certificate of Residence (ACR). This will be the most expensive part of the process – roughly $150, but allows you to extend your visa for six months. You must register this in person at a Bureau of Immigration office as they will provide you with a physical ACR identity card – do not lose this!

  • When your ACR runs out, you may wish to apply for extension or residency. Marrying a Filipnia or Filipino helps your case.

From my own experience, they asked me more questions about my intentions to extend my visa in the Bureau of Immigration in Boracay, a small island. It was a somewhat smoother process in Cebu. But for the easiest (no questions asked) process, apply for visa extension in the BOI in Manila (pictured).


Dating in the Philippines

Attractive young Filipina, dating in the Philippines in good for the male nomad

I’ll be honest, as a single white foreigner, dating in the Philippines was epic. And I’m not flexing here (okay, maybe a little), but it was so good to meet such friendly and feminine women who were so fun to hang out with. Sure, you get your bad-eggs who see you as an ATM machine, but you can filter them out pretty easily.


And this is not just for the men. I saw plenty of western women enjoying the company of local Filipinos too. Unfortunately, I did not find my forever friend/soulmate there, but I certainly gave it a good nudge.

The Trans Factor

I don’t have anything against trans – whatever floats your boat. What I did find frustrating, however, was the deceptive ones. Too many times I would match with a “woman” on a dating app only to learn once we started talking that they were trans because they hadn’t stated it upfront on their profile. This would create unnecessary and awkward conversations. Sometimes, it can be incredibly hard to tell the difference and many ladyboys are gorgeous looking. 

The SexPat and Sex Tourist Factor

Eventually,I had to leave the Philippines in fear of becoming a sexpat – these are mostly old western men (mostly American and UK) who are there for either sex tourism or to find a beautiful young wife they otherwise could not score back home, or both. For example, I saw one attractive young Filipina, no older than 35, with a seriously old man in a mobility scooter. I shit you not. 


Of course, money plays a big role here – the man gets his trophy wife, and the woman gets her financial needs met when job prospects and wages are so low in PH), which creates a win-win scenario. I am actually considering my next non-fiction book to be titled, Women Want Money, Men Crave Sex... controversial, I know (but true). And that’s why I like it.

Next Chapter

Calpe Rock in the Costa Blanca, Spain, my next digital nomad destination

Now, I’m in the Costa Blanca, Mediterranean Coast of Spain, for three months. I am staying in a tiny village called Xalo Valley. There’s literally nothing to do here. The place is full of geriatrics, both Spanish and English. But that’s the point. The Philippines got a little too distracting for me as a single man, if you catch my drift. 


I came here to focus on finishing my first novel, Highly Flawed Individual. It is the first in a series called, The Misadventures of Archie Flynn: Modern-Day Nomad. Not based on me at all… Hopefully the next post will be announcing its launch!


Until then,


Remember, YOLO!

Be free,


Fly like a bird,


Fuck the system. 

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