Philippines Currency Exchange Guide

Known for stunning beaches, delicious fruit, and happy and resilient people, the Philippines is an archipelago made up of over 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia. From dramatic mountains and pristine coral reefs to steaming volcanoes and diverse marine life, the Philippines is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you enjoy snorkelling and diving in the clear waters in Coron, hiking through the lush rainforests of Sagada, or riding ATVs down the active volcano of Mt. Mayon, there’s an adventure waiting for you in the Philippines.

General Philippines Currency Information

What is the currency of the Philippines?

The official currency in the Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP).

What do Philippine notes & coins look like?

ph coins

The Philippines has a rich history that is reflected in its currency. Philippine notes and coins feature a variety of images and designs, from prominent Filipino figures on the obverse side to modern depictions of the country’s natural beauty on the reverse side. The designs also change regularly, keeping the currency fresh and interesting.

ph notes

Philippine notes are made from locally-produced high-quality paper (80% cotton and 20% abaca), and the coins are composed of nickel-plated steel – except for the 20-peso coin with bronze-plated steel on its ring. This gives them a distinctive appearance that is immediately recognisable. Philippine currency is also very colourful, making it a pleasure to use. Whether paying for goods and services or collecting souvenirs, Philippine banknotes and peso coins are a beautiful way to experience the country’s culture and history.

Economy

With a GDP growth rate of 8.3% in 2021 and 7.7% in 2022, the Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. As of 2022, the GDP is estimated to be worth $405.34 billion, making it the 32nd largest in the world. The country’s strong economic growth is being driven by a rapidly expanding middle class and increasing foreign investment. The Philippines is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional economic bloc promoting trade and investment between its member countries. Overall, the Philippine economy is in a very strong position and is expected to continue growing rapidly in the years to come.

Brief currency history

The Spanish peso made its debut in the history of Philippine currency during the late 18th century, ousting the various currencies used by the Spanish Empire. One peso was equal to eight reales; coin values were halved or quartered (the quarter nicknamed a cuartillo) for making change.

In 1898, the Philippines saw a significant transformation when the country’s capital was utilised to issue notes and coins for its currency. However, the change was only temporary, as the currency’s circulation ended in 1901. The United States acquired control of the Philippines and instituted a gold-based monetary system valued at half of what the USD was worth at the time (USD). The peg of 2 pesos to the dollar lasted until independence in 1946.

In 1949, the Central Bank of the Philippines was established and sought to keep the US dollar at 2:1 in the 1950s. However, it became practically impossible when black market peso sales began to exceed the fixed system, frequently exchanging them at a 3:1 exchange rate.

The central bank adopted the Filipino language for use in currency in 1967. Then in 1969, a series of notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos was introduced. The BSP continued and introduced the new 500 and 1,000 PHP bills in 1987 and 200 PHP notes in 2002.

Fast forward to December 2019, the BSP announced that the 20 PHP note would be converted into a coin, to be completed by late 2021 or early 2022. They also revealed a new design for the 5-peso coin of the New Generation Currency, which will include bumps on both sides of the coin.

The currently used coins have values of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, as well as 1, 5, 10 and 20 pesos. The banknotes in circulation are worth 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos.

Taking Travel Money to the Philippines

Travel in Philippines

What currency should I take to the Philippines?

If you’re travelling to the Philippines, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Philippine pesos (PHP) before you leave. Read our guide on exchanging AUD to PHP here. 

Is it cheaper to convert currency in Australia or the Philippines?

Converting your Australian dollar to the Philippine peso before you leave Australia is generally the cheapest option. Most Australian banks offer competitive rates for currency exchange, and you’ll avoid any fees or charges that may apply when using your debit or credit card overseas. Another thing is that you’ll be able to budget wisely for your trip, knowing exactly how much money you have in Philippine pesos.

How much money can I take to the Philippines?

You can bring up to USD $10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency) in and out of the Philippines without declaring it. If you carry more than this, you’ll need to declare it with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Where to convert currency?

When converting your Australian dollars to any foreign currency, such as the Philippine pesos, Crown Currency Exchange is your go-to place for the best exchange rates and services. With more than 20 years of experience, we provide our customers exceptional customer service and a great PHP exchange rate, whether you’re looking to buy or sell Philippine pesos. Furthermore, you may instantly get your travel money at any Crown Currency Exchange location across Australia without hidden costs or commissions. Our stores are located in CanberraSydneyBrisbane, The Gold CoastAdelaideTasmaniaMelbourne & Perth.  

Is tipping customary in the Philippines? How much is expected?

Tipping is not generally done in the Philippines, so you, as a tourist, don’t need to feel obligated to tip anyone. However, it has become more common in more tourist areas because tourists from other countries are used to giving tips.

In the Philippines, locals seldom leave a gratuity; even when they do, it is generally only a 20 peso bill. If you wish to give tips to service providers in the Philippines and still have some change on hand, keep plenty of those on hand.

Airport staff: Airport staff are not allowed to accept tips, which is against the rules. The only exception to this rule is baggage porters. Porters at airports typically only receive tips as payment for their service since the services they offer are optional. They will transport your luggage from the conveyor belt to where you hail a taxi. A porterage fee usually goes entirely to the airport, with only a small portion going to the porter themselves. You may give them 20-50 pesos or more if you feel inclined or think they are deserving due to the amount of luggage.

Hotels: While tipping is not necessary for hotels throughout the Philippines, it is appreciated. You don’t need to tip security guards or front desk staff, but feel free to leave a gratuity for bellhops, concierge workers, servers, and housekeepers.

Tour guides: While in the Philippines, if you can only afford to tip one person, make it your tour guide. They often work long hours for little pay, so even a small gratuity goes a long way. A 50-100 peso tip is always appreciated, but make sure to give a tip per person if you have hired the guide for a larger group.

Salons and spas: Although tipping at service providers in the Philippines is not required, it is greatly appreciated. Anywhere between 50 and 100 pesos is enough, but anything more than that is too much. If you believe you received outstanding service and would like to thank your service provider, please do so.

Restaurants: It’s generally better not to tip anything when a service charge is included because the tip money may not actually go to the waiter. It’s quite conceivable that the restaurant will just take the cash, so you’re not really assisting anyone when you toss in a tip on top of it.

Taxi and tricycle drivers: Tipping taxi and tricycle drivers is relatively standard in the Philippines, even more than tipping at restaurants or salons. Tipping your taxi driver is always appreciated, and 20-50 pesos is the norm in the Philippines. Keep in mind that 100 pesos are only about AUD $2.65, so even if you’re feeling extra generous, it won’t make much of a dent in your wallet.

Can you bargain in the Philippines?

Definitely! In the Philippines, people are typically open to haggling, so don’t be afraid to do it. However, keeping a poker face is key if you want to get the best price possible.

What is ATM access like in the Philippines?

There are tons of ATMs all over the Philippines, so you will have no problem accessing your money. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, so you shouldn’t have trouble using your credit or debit card. If you’re using a foreign credit or debit card, you may be charged 250 pesos for the foreign transaction fee, so keep that in mind.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

If you’re planning to travel in the Philippines on a broke-backpacker budget, you can expect to spend about AUD $25-32 daily. Living with the locals will help to keep your costs down, as will eating street food instead of dining in restaurants.

You can have a full-size meal at a restaurant or carenderia (commonly known as “turo-turo”) for less than AUD $4, so spending a lot of money on food is unnecessary. You’ll only need to spend more money if you’re planning on doing some serious partying, which can quickly add up. At this budget level, you might not enjoy what this beautiful country has to offer to the fullest.

Moderate

If you want to enjoy more comfortable accommodations and amenities, you should budget AUD $100-130 per day. With this budget, you can stay in nicer hotels or hostels, enjoy some restaurant meals, and do a few activities without breaking the bank. On many beaches, you can rent snorkelling gear for as little as AUD $5–8 per person. Most theme parks will cost around AUD $15-20 to enter, and island hopping tends to fall in the AUD $35-70 range.

Luxury

Expect to spend over AUD $200 a day if you’re planning on enjoying a luxury trip to the Philippines. This budget will allow you to stay in 5-star hotels, enjoy private tours, and dine in style. You can have a sumptuous meal at many restaurants for AUD $135 per person. However, if you want a truly luxurious experience, you can have fine dining for $180 per person with imported wine. If you want to go all out, you can even charter a yacht or book a private villa for your stay.

Currency details

Currency:

Philippine peso

Currency code:

PHP

Currency symbol:

Central bank:

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Nickname:NoneCurrency sub-unit:

Sentimo = 1/100

Bank notes:

₱20, ₱50, ₱100, ₱200, ₱500, ₱1,000

Coins:

1, 5, 10, 25 sentimos, ₱1, ₱5, ₱10, ₱20

Must-do's while you are in the Philippines

philippine balut

1. Eat "balut"

Balut is a fertilised duck egg that is incubated for 16-21 days before it is cooked. It is a popular street food in the Philippines and definitely has an acquired taste. If you’re feeling brave, give it a try!

philippine kalinga

2. Get tattooed by the oldest Filipino tattoo artist in Kalinga

Apo Whang Od is living proof of the art of tattooing. At 105 years old, she is the oldest tattoo artist in Kalinga province, located in Buscalan village, Philippines. Thousands of tourists visit Whang Od Oggay in the Philippines every year to get a mambabatok – or traditional Kalinga tattoo. She’s been performing this art since she was just 15 years old.

philippine siargao

3. Go on an adventure in Siargao

Siargao is an island located in the southeast of the Philippines and is fast becoming a popular tourist destination. It is often referred to as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” and is home to some of the best waves in the world. If you’re not a surfer, don’t worry – there are plenty of other activities to enjoy on the island, such as exploring the jungle, going on boat trips, and visiting waterfalls.

banaue rice terraces philippines

4. See the Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2,000-year-old terraces carved into the mountainside by the Ifugao people. They are considered to be one of the wonders of the world and are a must-see when you’re in the Philippines.

boracay philippines

5. Chill out in Boracay

Boracay is a small island off the coast of the Philippines that is renowned for its beautiful beaches. It’s the perfect place to relax, soak up some sun, and enjoy the clear blue waters.

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