Travel to San Francisco on a budget!
We’ve left our hearts in San Francisco, and we’re sure you will too! Home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, and the Golden State Warriors – San Francisco is one stop you shouldn’t leave out of U.S. itinerary. The city by the bay has stolen the hearts of millions around the world, and with just Php 60,000 all-in, you can be one of those people as well.
Whoever said a trip to San Francisco is way too expensive definitely hasn’t seen our budget guide. Keep reading to find out how you can save big with Tripsle!
Before you fly off to San Francisco, there are a couple things you need to be aware of, and as well as a couple things you need to book before your trip from visa applications to San Francisco transport passes.
⭖ USA Visa (for Philippine Passport Holders)
All Philippine passport holders are required to apply for a visa to travel to any state in the United States of America. For more information on the application process and as well as some visa-application tips, we’ve got a step-by-step guide on the blog on how to apply for a US Visa for Filipino travellers.
Cost: $160 (Php 8,600)
⭖ Roundtrip Flights (MNL-SFO, SFO-MNL)
As of now, Philippine Airlines is the only airline servicing straight flights from Manila to San Francisco, daily. The usual schedule for MNL > SFO flights depart at night PH time and arrive at around 8 to 9 PM California time.
However, if you don’t mind layovers or connecting flights, there are a handful of airlines that service a MNL to SFO route, daily. Connecting flights are usually more cost-effective, and have more departure options for passengers. Some of these airlines include EVA Air, Cathay Pacific, and ANA (All Nippon Airways).
Estimated Cost: Php 22,203*
Unless you are staying with relatives to save some cash, you should know that figuring out the location of your accommodations is crucial. Not only are prices pretty steep as compared to other states, but San Francisco does have quite a high crime rate. That said, it is important to avoid these areas as much as possible.
Tripsle Tip: Check booking.com and agoda.com regularly for price drops!
Definitely if you’re a first-time visitor, it’s always best to stay close to wear the action is. If you situate yourself in Union Square, you’ll have easy access to all the shopping areas, convenient transportation and a number of great restaurants as well. However, with that said, prices here can be steep. Although it’s rare to come by a one-night’s stay for less than $100, hostels are generally lower in price.
Orange Village Hostel: $38 (Php 1,938) / night
HI San Francisco Downtown Hotel: $42 (Php 2,142) / night
USA Hostels San Francisco: $43 (Php 2,193) / night
If you’re looking for a location with easy access to the city’s best tourist spots minus Union Square’s sky-high prices, the Marina District is a great location. Not only is the area close to attractions such as the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, it’s also decked out with great local boutiques and restaurants as well.
Music City Hotel/Hostel: $35 (Php 1,785) / night
HI San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel: $44 (Php 2,244) / night
Estimated Cost: $43.5 (Php 2,200) / night x 5 nights = $217.5 (Php 11,000)
⭖ San Francisco Travel Essentials
4G WiFi Device for 5 Days (Php 2,950) – Stay connected throughout your vacation with a 4G WiFi device! Getting around the golden state will surely be much easier with this travel essential. Pick this up in NAIA Terminal 2 or 3 before your flight.
Two-way Shared SFO Airport Transfer (Php 1,626) – Enjoy fuss-free transfers from the airport to your accommodation and back with Tripsle’s shared SFO airport transfers. Not only is it more convenient, it is also cheaper than taxi rates from the airport!
GO San Francisco Card – Explorer Pass (3 Choices) (Php 3,298) – Purchase a discounted GO San Francisco Card from Tripsle and visit all of the city’s top attractions for absolutely FREE! For this itinerary, we selected the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Hop On Hop off Big Bus San Francisco Classic Tour: 1 Day Ticket and Golden Gate Bay Cruise. This pass also includes a free 1-Day Muni Pass which gives pass holders access to cable cars and other transportation services around the city.
How to travel smart in San Francisco
1. Be vigilant around homeless people
Unfortunately, there is a very visible homeless problem in San Francisco. However, this shouldn’t hold you back from exploring this beautiful city! Locals advise tourists to be cautious and quickly dismiss any questions and queries they might pose. Additionally, always be wary of your surroundings and carry purses that aren’t easy to snatch or open.
2. Be aware of where you’re going at all times
There are areas of the bay area tourists are told to avoid at all times – The Tenderloin, Bayview-Hunters Point, Sunnydale, Portreto Hill at night, and BART (The Bay Area Rapid Transit). These areas are usually crowded with dangerous street-dwellers, and simply being wary of where you’re headed will help in getting lost in these area.
3. Don’t bring a car
Unless you’re travelling around the city with relatives who are locals, we highly advise you don’t bring a car to San Francisco. Car break-ins and burglary are some of the most common crimes in the city, but you can avoid this by simply one, not leaving any valuables in a rented car, or two, opting for local transport instead.
5 DAY 4 NIGHT BUDGET ITINERARY
Day 1 – Golden Gate Bridge + Fisherman’s Wharf + Lombard Street + Union Square
8:00 AM: Arrival at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Tripsle Travel Tip: Of course, depending on what airline you decide to take, your arrival time will vary. However, to fully maximize your stay in San Francisco, or any state in the U.S., we think earlier in the day is better. This will allow you more time to see more of the area without having to pay an extra night’s stay.
9:00 AM: Head on over to your SF accommodation
With deplaning, customs, and waiting for your luggage, it’ll probably take 30 minutes to an hour for you to be all set to leave. Add not a single minute to your schedule and make your way to the city through a Shared Airport Shuttle Transfer powered by Tripsle.
Not only does this decrease chances of getting ripped off by taxi cabs, but this cost-efficient transportation option will get you from the airport to your accommodation in great time!
11:00 AM: Early lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf
After you’ve settled into your accommodations, it’s time to hit the ground running! First thing we recommend to check off your list is the lively Fisherman’s Wharf. Not only is it a famous San Francisco landmark, it also happens to host some of the most mouthwatering culinary experiences in the world – and what better way to start a trip than with a good meal? Since seafood is always a great option when in San Francisco, Cioppino’s, Boudin Bistro and Scoma’s rank high on our list of options.
With your Go San Francisco Card – Explorer Pass, you can pick up your 1-Day Muni Pass here at Fisherman’s Wharf as well. So before you jet off to your next stop, be sure to cross this errand off your list!
2:30 PM: Pit-stop at Lombard Street for photo taking
On your way to the Golden Gate Bridge, the tram you’ll be taking using your 1-Day Muni Pass will pass by Lombard Street – and we encourage you to stop and take a photo!
This quirky street is said to be the most crooked street in the country – and San Francisco has done a great job in making it IG-worthy! So quickly plop down the tram and hopefully you can manage a shot or two!
3:30 PM: Golden Gate Bridge
Of course you cannot miss San Francisco’s crown jewel during your first visit, and we think the best time to visit is not actually in the early hours of the AM, but actually around 3:00 to 3:30 PM in the afternoon.
After getting that picture-perfect shot by the Golden Gate Bridge (which you’ll then learn is actually red), make your way to Red & White Fleet for your sunset Golden Gate Bay Cruise, which is an option you can include in your GO San Francisco Card.
4:15/5:00 PM: Golden Gate Bay Cruise (GO San Francisco Card option)
Through the Golden Gate Bay Cruise (powered by GO San Francisco Card), you will get to see San Francisco on a whole new light. Not your typical tourist experience, which is exactly why we recommend it!
We can’t think of a better way to cap off your first day in San Francisco than with a sight of the Golden Gate Bridge glistening in gold during sunset.
6:30 PM: Dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, Union Square
Before you check through the stores, let’s first appease your hunger with a great American meal at The Cheesecake Factory.
Although we do think it’s worth a splurge – especially for your first meal, Union Square has a bunch of cheaper dinner options scattered throughout the area as well. We might just suggest you don’t skip out on Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake though – for dessert or take out!
Day 2 – Painted Ladies, Chinatown and the Ferry Building Marketplace
10:00 AM – Hop On/Off Bus
Start off your day with a Hop-On, Hop-Off tour of the city! Not only is this a great way to get to see the majority of San Francisco in a short amount of time, but it’s a great way to get to once hotspot to another as well. Check out the BigBus map for the route and stops on your tour today – this will include the Painted Ladies, Palace of Fine Arts, and the Marina to name a few.
Be sure to get some fuel before you hop on the Big Bus tour at Union Square. On a hunt for a classic American breakfast? The hot dog carts in the plaza offer simple meaty delights perfect to start your day!
Tripsle Tip: Make the most out of your BigBus tour by hopping on and off attractions that interest you. Once you’re done exploring a landmark, check the map for drop off and pick up points and simply hop on again to cut time and transportation cost.
2:00 PM – Chinatown
After an entire morning of exploring, hop off the BigBus tour in Chinatown for even more exploring!
Chinatown is a favored neighborhood by locals and tourists alike – and we totally understand why! Not only are its streets all decked out with a variety of cultural references, we have to give a nod off to its amazing selection of Asian delectables, souvenir shopping and boutiques.
Shopping and dining is also much cheaper in Chinatown, so if you’re looking for things to bring home to your family and friends – this is the place to be!
6:00 PM – Dinner at Ferry Building Marketplace
Another one of San Francisco’s more popular dining locations, Ferry Building Marketplace houses cafes, restaurants, meat shops, produce and bakeries – all under one roof! No wonder it’s a hit with all the locals!
So if in case your group is split between what to eat – you might want to check out the Ferry Building Marketplace for additional options! We highly recommend the Steamed Chicken Bun at Out the Door, the Oysters and Sardines at Hog Island, and the Empanadas at El Porteno.
Day 3 – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Mission District and Mission Dolores Park
8:30 AM – Breakfast at Lori’s Diner
Lori’s Diner is a San Francisco staple, and it’s not difficult to see why! Not only do they’ve got the good ol’ American diner classics like pancakes, fried chicken, and waffles, but they’re open 24 hours to satisfy your cravings at any hour! This kitschy 50’s diner is definitely one to experience during your trip to San Francisco – more than once if you can!
10:00 AM: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art of SFMoMA is a world-class museum housing modern and contemporary works of art. Apart from being the first museum of the West Coast to house an entire collection of 20th century art, it also happens to be one of the largest museums in the country. That said, there’s bound to be an exhibit or two that’ll spark the interest of everyone in the group!
Tripsle Tip: If you choose the SF MoMA as an inclusion to your GO San Francisco Card – Explorer Pass, you’ll get free admission to this world-class museum! Alternatively, you can also purchase your discounted admission tickets on Tripsle and still save some cash.
12:30 PM: Mission District
The moment you step foot into Mission, you will notice eyegasmic street art decorating the streets; seemingly bringing life into the neighborhoods’ age-old buildings and landmarks. If you’re looking for Instagram-worthy shots, here at Mission, every angle will make the cut.
After you’ve taken photos by every mural you can find, make time to pop into some of Mission’s charming boutiques and shops – all of which you won’t find anywhere else! If you’re starving, Mission is also home to a number of incredible food joints to quench your desire for a hearty meal – such as Yamo, Udupi Palace, or Media Noche.
4:30/5:00 PM: Picnic at Mission Dolores Park
Bring your take out from Mission to Dolores Park for a nice sunset picnic. If you’re keen to witness and experience local life, there’s no better place to go. Whether it’s warm or chilly, you’ll find locals congregating here at Mission Dolores Park to enjoy the public space with friends and family.
Day 4 – Yosemite Day Trip from San Francisco
6:00 AM – Breakfast and Coffee at Philz Coffee
This San Francisco staple is hard to miss! If you’re a coffee fan yourself, Philz is one coffee shop you must not miss out on trying. Fortunately for you, most branches open as early as 5:30AM to serve its loyal customers a delicious cup of joe that many agree trumps any other shop in the business.
Since you’re starting your day bright and early, pop into Philz Coffee Shop on the way to Yosemite Day Tour meet up location to get the day started. We highly suggest you get some snacks for the road going and back as well!
6:30 AM – Yosemite Day Tour from San Francisco
Rise and shine! Get ready for a nature-filled day at Yosemite National Park. This national park is often regarded as one of the most beautiful works of nature, and we could not agree more! Despite being a three to four hour drive from the city, we promise you every sight is worth it in the end. On this tour, you’ll be guided accordingly by an expert who will show you all of the park’s most majestic spots.
Be sure to wear comfortable athletic wear plus trekking shoes for the hike. We recommend bringing along a change of clothes, snacks, and a water bottle as well.
*You can choose from two pick up and drop off locations – Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf (specific addresses listed in the activity page)
Day 5 – Pier 39 and Union Square
11:00 AM – Brunch at Pier 39
On your last day, you’ll definitely want to check out more original food options at Pier 39. The Wipeout Bar & Grill is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, as well as Pier Market and New England Lobster Market & Eatery.
12:30 PM – Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square
Walk off your hearty meal and head on over to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is decent 10 minute walk from Pier 39. Apart from restaurants, you’ll also spot a number of novelty stores in the area, plus the famous Ghirardelli store! This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on all those Biscoff Biscuits and Ghirardelli chocolate squares to bring back home as pasalubong.
2:00 PM – Union Square
Make one last stop to Union Square for some last minute shopping! You can check out Macy’s, Westfield, and even the nearby Target for all your pasalubong needs.
|U.S. Visa Fee||Php 8,600|
|Roundtrip Flights*||Php 22,203|
|Accommodations*||Php 11,000 (Est. Php 2,200/night)|
|Tripsle Activities (without promo code)||Php 14,996 (13,496)|
|4G WiFi Device for USA||Php 2,960|
|Shared Airport Transfer (Two-Way)||Php 1,626|
|Go San Francisco Card – Explorer (3 Choices)||Php 3,298|
|Yosemite Day Tour from San Francisco||Php 7,112|
|Food Expenses||Php 5,500 (Php 1,100/day)|
|Extra Transportation (1-Day Muni Pass)||Php 612|
|Total (with Tripsle DREAM15 promo code)||Php 61,441|
Live out your American Dream with Tripsle!
Who said a holiday in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Orlando, or Las Vegas had to be a pipe dream? Turn your dreams into reality with Tripsle’s American Dream sale! With a minimum purchase of Php 5,000, you can get 15% OFF any USA activity available (maximum discount of Php 1,500) on Tripsle with the promo code <DREAM15>. New Tripsle users can get 20% OFF any USA activity (maximum discount of Php 1,500) with a minimum purchase of Php 5,000 using the promo code <DREAM20>. Promo valid from 4 July to 18 August 2019.