When I had to cut short my long-term travel last year for a family emergency, I ended up with no place to stay in Manila.
I have a house, yes, but I had gotten a young couple to live there as my house/catsitters, and I didn’t want them to leave. I wanted to be free to travel without worrying about my two cats.
My solution? I stayed for months in a hostel in Makati. At around P500 ($10) per day, it was perfect for me; the location was excellent, the all-female dorm was good, internet connection was okay, and although the menu didn’t vary, there was free breakfast.
I was pretty happy to pay the price until I met Claire on the 4th month of my stay there. Claire was a Filipino-Japanese woman working at an NGO in Japan and visited the Philippines frequently for her job. She said she paid P350 ($7) for the bed in our dorm.
I was floored. Yes, the $3 difference is a very small amount, but it does add up if you’re traveling full time. In one month, for example, I could have saved over $100 if I paid what Claire paid.
She told me her secret: she uses the Traveloka app to book hotels. She travels all over Asia and she never fails to get great deals on hotel rooms (or hostel beds) when she uses the app.
I was familiar with Traveloka, of course. I knew, in theory, that they provide really good deals on hotel rooms. Unfortunately for me, I never did try it out for myself, losing on hundreds of dollars of the savings I could have had during my months of stay in Manila.
I soon checked out of the hostel after my conversation with Claire so I wasn’t able to use the app. I did, however, see for myself how effective it is in finding great deals when I went to Davao City early this month.
How to use the Traveloka app
I downloaded the app and saw how easy it was to use. On the dashboard, there are six icons: Flights, Hotels, International Flights, International Hotels, Price Alerts, and Ongoing Promos.
I have only used two of them: Hotels and Ongoing Promos. At this time of writing, they have two promotions: one giving a discount of up to P800 ($16) for hotel rooms and flights (ALL travel dates), and another is giving up to 60% discount for hotels in some cities.
Here’s how to use the Traveloka app when looking for great deals on hotel rooms:
- On the dashboard, tap “Hotels.” It will take you to a search page.
- Input your destination, check-in date, duration (how many nights), number of guests, and number of rooms.
- Tap on “Search” then choose the hotel you want. There’s a filter too, so you can organize the search results by popularity, price, or rating.
Once you choose a hotel and choose the room, the app will ask for your contact details, any special requests (like room with strongest Wifi connection). Once you’re on the payment page, input the coupon code, and then you’ll see how much you’ve saved!
My experience in using the Traveloka app
When I went to Davao City recently, I was looking for the cheapest room with a good internet connection. I found Daylight Inn; their single fan room costs P233 ($4.5) (walk in rate is P250/$5). I booked two nights for P460; when I put in Traveloka’s code, the price went down to P396. I thought it was great!
Unfortunately, when I arrived in the inn, I found it unbearable (I mean, you get what you pay for, right?). There’s no ensuite bathroom (of course), no breakfast (of course), and even though the fan was at maximum speed, it was very hot and humid. The internet was also too slow.
I asked how much their air-conditioned room was, and I was told it cost P600 ($12). Before booking though, I thought to check Traveloka first.
What I found was much better: ALU Hotel, a 3-star business hotel, had air-conditioned rooms for P1,399 ($28). When I applied the Traveloka coupon code, I only paid P651 ($13).
Which do you think I chose? The AC room of a dodgy inn (still no breakfast, no good internet connection) for P600, or the HUGE AC double room of a 3-star hotel with very good internet connection and breakfast for only P650?
I chose the 3-star hotel, of course. Its walk-in price? P2,250 ($45). Even without the code, the Traveloka app still had the better deal, giving it for only P1,399 ($28).
My wish for Traveloka
Since then, I have always recommended the Traveloka app for friends to use. I wish they will accept affiliates soon, so I can earn a bit when I recommend them!
I also hope that they can expand faster. I told a friend in the UK about it (he’s going to the Philippines next month) and he said that compared with two other sites (Booking and Agoda), Traveloka has the cheapest rates.
“It’s only an Asian site, though,” he said. “I just said I was Filipino so I can get the hotel deals.”
Not sure how it will work out, but I hope that Traveloka will have more properties outside Asia. I’m traveling to Israel and Armenia in March with my mother, but they don’t have any listings there.
In the meantime, for my travels in the Philippines and in the region, I will always check Traveloka first. Just try it and compare!
How about you? Have you used the app?
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Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!