5 Ways to Tour New York on a Budget

New York is a notoriously expensive city. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to go there. I wanted to see the iconic skyline and feel the fast pace of the city. There was just so much to see and experience in New York—and these five tips below helped me stick to my budget.

statue of liberty us visa new york

5.) Don’t limit yourself to staying only in hotels.

I really wanted a safe, clean, and relaxing place to stay. And yes, this is the maarte side of me talking, but whenever I travel, the hotel is usually one of my favorite parts! Just think of the white sheets, the fluffy pillows, the bathtub, and the room service!

Hotels are usually my go-to for safe, clean, and relaxing accommodations. But more and more of my friends were staying in Airbnb’s. They say that they’re just as relaxed and comfortable.

My travel companions and I decided to spend ten days in an Airbnb and four days in a hotel—just to treat ourselves a little bit.

I was surprised to find out that the price of those ten days in the Airbnb was almost equal the price of four days in a hotel. I assumed hotels would really be more expensive, but I didn’t know they would be that expensive when compared to Airbnb.

Because we mostly stayed in an Airbnb, we were able to save on food, too. We didn’t have to always eat out. We took two trips to the grocery and cooked our own meals. This saved us a lot of money in the long run.

Most importantly, the Airbnb we stayed was also beautiful, safe, and clean!

A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb) on

A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb) on

4.) Buy a weekly or monthly pass if you plan to take the subway often.

I was surprised that the ride-sharing apps and cabs were almost ten times more expensive than the rates in the Philippines, even with less traffic abroad! At one point, I thought, “‘Yung tip pa lang dito sa America, kasing presyo na kung buong fare sa Makati!”

Because of this, the subway became our best friend. We bought a 7-Day Unlimited pass.

We were in New York for fourteen days. After our weekly pass expired, we just got the pay-per-ride option. This is because, for the last few days of the trip, our itinerary wouldn’t have required a lot of subway rides.

We wouldn’t have been able to make the most out of the unlimited weekly pass.

If you’re undecided which to get and trying to figure out which is the best value for you, here’s a useful table from the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) website.

New York Subway

3.) Make the most out of the free Internet and charging stations.

Data plan was so expensive! My phone was locked to a certain Philippines-based carrier that charged ten dollars per day whenever I switched on my mobile data.

But mobile data was important to us—for researching about our destination, looking for nearby restaurants, and the like.

Initially, we relied on the free Internet on the subway stations. That was before someone pointed us to LinkNYC.

LinkNYC is a new communications network that is replacing New York City pay phones with state-of-the-art kiosks called Links. Each Link is equipped with free services like high-speed Wi-Fi, phone calls, a tablet for maps and city services, and device charging for anyone living in or visiting New York City to enjoy.

We passed by a couple of Links but didn’t notice them! They were inconspicuous. I thought they were just advertisement placements.

No need to camp out at Starbucks just to use their WiFi or charge your phones. Yay!


2.) Plan your museum visits in advance.

Some museums are free once a week. Some also offer free tours. I don’t think I would have enjoyed my visit to The Met if it wasn’t for the tour we had. There was just so much to see and take in. Having a (free) tour guide contextualize them and show us the museum highlights was informative and memorable. The tours also give you a chance to talk to other people joining the tour.

Rebecca Lee KKday When in Manila New York2

Rebecca Lee KKday When in Manila New York3

1.) Use coupons and discounted tours.

With just one pass that I got from KKday, I was able to gain access to six New York attractions: a cruise from sunset until the evening, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, and either the 9/11 Memorial Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Rebecca Lee KKday When in Manila New York7

I even skipped the entrance lines at some using KKday’s NY pass. This NY day pass saved me 40%. I already blogged about Kkday previously here: https://www.wheninmanila.com/benefits-kkday-vacation/.


When traveling, there’s no single way of defining what a “budget-friendly” tour is. One great thing about KKday is that it caters to different budgets. For those headed to New York, there are items priced from 396 pesos to 18,731 pesos!

KKDay New York

This is in no way an exhaustive list of things you can do to save on cash while touring New York. These are just the five things that I found useful while I was there. I’m a travel newbie myself; it was my first time to visit America. That’s why if you have additional tips to add, please comment below! It might help someone who’s heading to New York soon.


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