Both the travel and the start-up scene in the Philippines have been enjoying a steady rise to fame recently, and with good reason: there’s a huge opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to serve the unmet needs of many people traveling to (or in) the Philippines. Whether you’re a tourist coming from another country to visit the Philippines for vacation, or you’re a local with a huge appetite for new experiences and exploring the many sights of the Philippines, you can trust that these start-ups are down to help you satiate your wanderlust. Check them out!
Just as a name suggests, Partyphile is the perfect app to download if you’re in need of some good unwinding and partying. Founded in 2009, this mobile app notifies you of the latest parties in the metro so you don’t have to scour through so many websites and blogs, especially if you want to party in a few hours. You can also use this app to save you the trouble of having to pick up a phone and call a club to reserve a table. Using Partyphile, you can reserve or join a table in the latest parties happening around the metro, and you can do so through a free download of the app.
Price: Download is free
Contact: [email protected]
Looking for some adventure but don’t quite know how to plan out an itinerary? That’s what TripKada does. A mesh of two words “trip” and “kada,” the shorthand for “barkada” which translates to “group of friends" in English, TripKada is kind of like UberPool but with trips. It’s a mobile app where you can join crowdsourced group trips organized by fellow travelers, so you don’t have to keep researching day and night to create an adventure-filled but affordable itinerary. Just log on to the app and browse through the organized trips! Because the trips are already pre-arranged, and anyone can join, you can also meet new friends along the way — without the hassle!
Founded in 2014, TripKada is powered by FlipTrip.PH, an online travel agency that aims to create unique experiences that aren’t your typical mainstream tour packages. They do these by linking travelers to new destinations in the Philippines and small local communities.
Price: Download is free
Contact: [email protected], +63 999 6011 444 / 977 2565 410
3. MAD Travel
If you can travel while helping boost the tourism and livelihood of the Philippines’ rural and urban communities, wouldn’t you take that chance? MAD (Make A Difference) Travel offers guests the opportunity to help while traveling — whether they’re a local or a tourist. This travel social enterprise promotes the Philippines as a destination where you can have an adventure with purpose, by organizing alternative tours where guests can mingle with other guests, interact with the local community, and contribute to their development in any shape or size.
One of their more well-known tours is the Tribes and Trekks Tour in Zambales, where you can stay in a quirky hostel by the beach for some surfing fun while at the same time joining the one-day trek to the Yangil tribe, where you can feast on native Filipino food, spend time with the Aeta community, and plant a tree to help them restore the forest they lost to the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. You can get all this and more for only 1000 PHP (20 USD).
Price: Starting rates for tours is at PHP 1,000 (20 USD)
Contact: [email protected], +63 9178790140
Website: MAD Travel
Some people prefer organized tours where they can see the itinerary up front, but some prefer a more adventurous route where they can see the hidden gems of their travel destination that many tourists don’t see. This is what Tralulu offers. A digital booking platform founded in 2015, Tralulu lets you connect with local tour guides from Southeast Asia who can give you the authentic, local travel experience. It connects you directly with local tour guides, minus the hassle of having to coordinate with a travel agency who probably standardizes the experiences it gives to customers (and who only give out mainstream options). So you can just log on to their website, book a local tour guide, and they’ll be the ones to show you around! Rates at Tralulu start at 18.75 USD, so booking a guide isn’t too painful on the wallet.
Price: from 18.75 USD
Contact: [email protected]
5. Trail Adventours
Are you a beach person or a mountain person? If you’re the latter, Trail Adventours is definitely something you’d want to check out. Founded in 2010, this start-up is one of the leading providers of hiking tours around the Philippines. And you don’t have to worry about skill level — they have hiking tours for both seasoned hikers and beginners, and have a huge network of about 58 guides in 50 different destinations around the country. With Trail Adventours, you don’t just go on a hike and leave either — Trail Adventours shares their profits with selected advocacies as well. Trekking and hiking tours start at 1,900 PHP (37.75 USD).
Price: from 37.75 USD
Contact: [email protected], 02 8109223 / 09 985887611 / 09 178116654
Website: Trail Adventours
6. Experience Philippines
Experience Philippines is for the genuinely spontaneous and adventurous at heart, so for the types who prefer to have their itineraries planned out to the minute beforehand, Experience Philippines may not be your cup of tea. But for those looking to spice up their itinerary while in the Philippines, this start-up organizes random tours with destinations kept secret and activities that are kept a surprise.
Founded in 2013, Experience Philippines is a great way to meet new friends (or even new beaus) as you share the thrill of going on a surprise adventure. Experience Philippines also offers “Singles Roadtrips,” where they get an equal number of single girls and boys and pairs them up during the trip, “Retro Roadtrips” for those who prefer slower-paced road trips, “Season-based Trips” that only happen during specific seasons, and “Food Trips,” which are one-day trips where you can get to know Filipino culture through food. Rates here start at 6,000 PHP (120 USD) for four days.
Price: from 120 USD for four days
Contact: + 63 917 563 9692; +632 710 564
Website: Experience Philippines
7. Zigzag Travelers
Founded in 2015, Zigzag Travelers share their mission of “empowering local communities through travel and innovation” by providing a platform for tourists to find various tour packages and tour groups in the Philippines. What makes Zigzag Travelers cool is that you no longer need to scour the entire internet, checking Facebook post to Facebook post to compare the best tours and best deals out there. Zigzag Travelers does it all for you instead, for a bang-for-your-buck starting rate of 1,667 PHP (33.13 USD).
Price: from 33.13 USD
Contact: 63 917 801 5953; [email protected]
Website: Zigzag Travelers
Off the beaten path
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
While traveling the Philippines, you may feel that there’s simply so much to do with so little time, and maybe even wonder if it’s possible to explore everything there is to explore in the Philippines. Keep in mind, you wouldn’t get much of an adventure out of your regular, mainstream tour packages unless you mix it up with adventures in the hidden gems of the Philippines. These travel start-ups are here to create an atypical travel experience for you while in the country that you don’t often see with mainstream travel agencies, so go on and give them a try!
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