One Ticket For Paradise..

living abroad in the philippines[Calif., USA – April 11, 2012]  Okay, so Eddie Money had “two” tickets for paradise.  Well, I only need one.  And I’m making it a one-way ticket at that.  Yes, today was a milestone day after nine months of preparation and finally getting online to shop for and purchase my airline ticket to the Philippines!

I’m telling you, when I hit that “Purchase” button my heart was beating faster and I took a few deep breaths waiting for the confirmation page to appear.  I was worried for 6 seconds that fate might somehow prevent me from having a ticket of my own to my long-awaited destination.  The confirmation number came in and then I just leaned back in my Starbucks chair and let it sink in.

“I’m going to the Philippines.”  That’s all I could run through my mind.

Now, for those of you planning to go to the Philippines, I should mention that you can’t just jump on a plane with a 1-way ticket and stay forever in the Philippines.  You need to arrive and show the Philippine Immigration at the airport your “continuing flight” OUT of the Philippines before they let you go run amok in the white sandy beaches.

Like they say at ‘closing time’ at the bar.. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”  Being a tourist pretty much works the same way.  You arrive and can stay for about 20 days, after showing you have a flight ‘out’ of the country already paid for.  You don’t have to go back to the US, but you do need a flight continuing on to Thailand, Singapore, India.. anywhere outside of the Philippines.  Going from one island to another does not count.  So, since a round-trip ticket back to the US costs about $400-$600 more (depending on which airline, plus the cost of extending the departure date).. So instead I got a 1-way ticket for a separate flight from the Philippines to nearby Thailand.  Also known as a “throw-away” ticket.  Why?

Well, remember that 20-day limit?  Before that’s up, you get yourself to the nearest Bureau of Immigration (BI) and request an Extension for about $20 (or less.. the exact amount for the fee and length of a tourist stay is at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website, found in the Resources/Links section) and you’re golden for another 2 months.  Simply repeat for the rest of the year.  There are some other fees too, but that’s all covered at their website.

After a year.. you need to leave the country for about 24-48 hours (I still need to check on exact time, but I’m fairly sure it’s not more than a day or two) and then you can re-enter and repeat the process.  After awhile you can apply for longer extensions.  (Or eventually get married to a citizen there and that makes staying much less of a hassle.  Just remember.. no divorce is allowed in the Philippines.)  As for that $40 “throw away” ticket, it expired months ago and you’ve long since “thrown it away“, but at roughly $80 round-trip to a nearby country it’s a much cheaper option than flying back to the States just so you can fly back again.

As for the trip, if leaving from California (as I will) it means roughly 20 hours of ‘in air’ flight time.  You’ll be flying across time-zones and that gets kinda confusing that you’re in the air for 15 hours and arrive in Hong Kong for a layover only 6 hours later.  Kinda mind-bending.  Just stick to your itinerary and you’ll be fine.. leave the time-space continuum stuff to people who majored in physics.  From Hong Kong it’s about another 4-5 hours and bamm.. you’re in the Philippines.  Shave some time off it you happen to get a non-stop flight.

From what I hear the airlines know it’s a long-ass time to be on a plane so they provide movies and earphone music to try to keep people sane.  I plan on taking my laptop to do some writing, a book to do some reading and maybe my own movies to watch on the laptop.  20 hours is long no matter how you slice it, but it sure beats 3 months on a slow boat to Asia.

As for me.. I’m traveling light.  My laptop bag and ONE suitcase.  I doubt I’ll even fill the suitcase.  Getting my 20″ monitor in there and ‘maybe’ my scanner, padded with just enough clothes to get by for a week.  Once I’m there I plan to get clothes that are better suited to the humidity.  The temperature in the Philippines is fairly constant annually.  Humidity is always High but temps stay in a fairly constant range.  So.. new wardrobe when I get there, leaving my jackets and suits behind me.  (I’m still debating whether to take a backpack, with just overnight stuff and my camera.  Might be a good idea.)

Just a few more items on my ‘to-do’ list to wrap up some loose-ends and then it’s ‘count-down’ time!  Looking forward to it.  Stay tuned by entering your email into the email-list box at the bottom of the page.  No spam from me, just updates on new articles.  See you next time!

Henry ‘Reekay’ V.


Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. I look forward to coming to visit with you in October or November to swim with the Whale Sharks. I am very happy that you are headed out to follow your dream. I hope that it stays a paradise in actuality for you and it is what you have been searching for.
    If you ever get tired of Cebu, we can always make room for you in Connecticut. The immigration laws are a little stricter here. You can visit and stay as long as you would like, but even when you leave, you MUST leave your money.

    See you, Scooter!

    1. Looking forward to it.. check out for tickets, I saved about $300 on a 1-way so you might save even more on a 2-way.. IF you feel like going back to the snow, that is. 🙂

  2. Wow Henry, the cost of the 38 day visa is over 72 dollars. You can stay for up to 16 months before you have to leave. Philippines is paradise??? You have NEVER been to the Philippines! I live here and love but paradise??? Hahahahahaha. You will not last very long.

    1. ha!.. I guess depends on anyone’s idea of ‘paradise’, eh? For me, being near my g/f.. able to afford writing my novels, enjoy the beaches, that’s my paradise. The humidity, roaches, chickens and noisy streets is what I miss from my visits to Mexico so, even that fits into my ‘paradise’. 🙂

  3. There is no doubt about it, it can be hard living in paradise. Yet with your youth and flexibility you can live the dream.

    1. I landed here in Cebu over 2 weeks ago and just wanted to update that I can confirm this is one of the best decisions I ever made. 🙂 I love it here and definitely plan to make it my new home. It’s got a little of everything.. hopefully I can convey and share that with you as I continue to add to the site so.. subscribe and stop by every so often to see the latest adventure I run off into. 🙂

      1. Henry, I hope you will travel about the islands a bit before you decide Cebu is the only Paradise in the Phils. I came here 1 1/2 year ago thinking I would go to Cebu also because it seems there is large ex-pat community there. The evening mgr of hotel I stayed at in QC (Quezon City) talked me int spending a weekend with his family “in province)–Candaba, in Pampanga province. Except for my bi-monthly trips to Manilla to renew my Visa and the required “VISA Run” to Hong Kong, I haven’t left. My G/F and I have beautiful 2 bedroom house with HUGE kitchen, nice sized living room, and fine terrace for me to sit on and watch all the pretty girls walk by while I drink coffee in the morning, cold water or iced tea in the afternoon, and San Mig or Emperador light in the evening. My rent is p5000 per month (about 110USD). There is an SM mall about 30 min. away by trike where I do my banking and buy food and other necessities.
        There are some decent restaurants in Baliwag also and nearly anything else you would find in a 100,000 pop. city. So, I will beg you not to settle into any of the so called ex-pat cities, but get out and enjoy ALL of this Beautiful country.

        1. Pampanga.. I’ll have to check it out on the map to get an idea where it’s at. From what I’ve heard there are so many awesome places to live here in the Philippines it’s kinda like having to choose which of the many cute women to decide on. For now, Mactan works for me since my girlfriend is in Cebu. I don’t really care for city life and in Lapu Lapu I can be near enough to malls, theaters with a cab ride.. but enjoy my quiet studio or the beach as well. My g/f and I have a farm up near Bogo, so she’s thought about living near Malapascuas area, which I hear has world famous snorkeling/scuba locations. I have so much adventuring still to do.. so glad I came here!

        2. Update: As of March this year I moved to Bohol and loving the province life here. There’s a mall about 3km away for all that stuff. A hospital 2km away if I ever need it. Really digging this natural beauty of the island! Been here two months, planning to stay awhile, knock on wood.

  4. Henry: Coming from someone who lives in one of the coldest places in the continental US, retiring to the Philippines is quite tempting (I don’t care how hot and humid it gets there, I’d rather be hot than cold). However it could be at least another 20 years before I can relocate there since I have a young child who’s still in school. Also I’ll probably have to wait to retire until I’m 70 (will be 51 later this month). Which begs the question of whether I’ll be able to afford to retire there in 20 years, since there will probably be fewer places I can retire in the US (one could call it a choice between living in the PH and surviving in the US).

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