I'm travelling to the Philippines and ordered/received my pesos in advance as I'm not sure if there will be many cash machines in the areas I'll be going to, that and I also don't trust my bank to enable my card abroad due to previous issues even after telling them exactly where I will be in the world and when. I'm staying with friends and family and therefore have no major expenses like accommodation etc. for the 10 days that I'll be there. I'm also not expecting any major travel expenses.

While I requested 'mixed denominations' when ordering my currency, 17000 out of the 18000 pesos were in 1000 peso notes. Technically this is mixed and I'm not complaining, but I have a feeling that I'll be needing lower denominations such as the 20 and 50 notes that the last 1000 pesos was broken down into.

My question is this: Am I right in anticipating problems in trying to use 1,000 peso notes for local cuisine, trike rides, small souvenirs etc. or is it more common than I think? Should I go to my local bank and try to exchange the notes for lower denominations (which my instincts say I should)?

I'm not concerned in terms of security as I won't be carrying much with me at any given point, although obviously it's likely I'll be carrying a 1,000 peso note at the moment!


Note: I already know the total amount of pesos will be fine for my purposes

4 Answers 4


1000 php notes are not uncommon at all. Like all over the world you will supposingly have some problems if you want to pay small amounts. Trike or taxi drivers e.g. often do not have enough change if the ride was 80 or 100php only. But in Restaurants and shops it won't be a problem.

  • 2
    Agreed. 1000 PHP notes are perfectly normal. I never had any trouble with anyone breaking one on any of my trips to the Philippines (though obviously I didn't try with trike drivers, jeepneys, etc.) Remember that 1000 PHP is only a bit over $20 USD ($21.31 right now, according to Google.)
    – reirab
    Jul 1, 2016 at 21:00
  • It's only $20 to you, but it's over two days' wages to many Filipinos! Sep 21, 2017 at 14:26

You could/should have taken cash and exchanged it at the airport when you reached the Philippines, as the buying rate will be better than your local bank's selling rate.

But now that you have it...

You can get some smaller denomination notes from the exchange booths at the airport.

You can get small notes in change buying anything at the airport shops, a coffee, a beer.

You can usually use a 1000 peso note in a gas station or a convenience store (7-11, etc) in the countryside to buy something. Mom & pop shops can often do it too, but wait until afternoon before trying so they have had a chance make some sales.

There is likely a branch of a bank somewhere in the area you are staying that can break the bigger notes.

  • Thanks - I ordered it online rather than going to the local bank as I got a much better rate. Probably not as good as getting it at the airport like you say but the less I have to worry about while I'm there the better. Thanks again for the answer :)
    – Lyall
    Mar 2, 2016 at 8:41

If you get away from the bigger cities you will need smaller notes. Use the 1,000 pesos notes as often as you can in the larger stores or in the airport and save your change for pedicabs and local restaurants. In smaller areas I have had problems trying to buy items in the 50 pesos range with a 1,000 note. Mostly it depends on if you plan on staying in the bigger cities or if you want to venture out. Banks give the best exchange rates and if you bring USD you can always change it to pesos.


Always bring USD and have it exchange at the airport. Make sure to ask for a mixed denominations (I suggest multiples of 100 pesos) if you are planning to commute or eat at the airport itself.

One hack that i know and maybe other people are doing it already is if you are travelling to different places in the Philippines and you don't want to bring a lot of $$$, you can send money to yourself using money transfer like Western Union in multiple transactions and retrieve it in multiple occasions once you are in the Philippines. Mostly of the cities and some provinces in the Philippines have western union branch so it will not be hard for you to find it.

The good part with this is that you can refund other transactions you made if you haven't get it yet.

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