Guam is an island territory off the Pacific, four hours flight from the Philippine’s capital. Similarly colonized by the Spanish conquistadors and still under the American federal government Guam shares a lot more cultural similarities that we thought we knew. The island is popular for Japanese and Korean tourist who you’d mostly find at the shopping areas such as the Guam Premier Outlest and the hotel lane which is dotted with good stores to shop at.
Prepping for a trip to the island can be intimidating as not a lot information on how enjoy the island backpacking style is available. So on a recent trip I tried my best to find the best way to enjoy the island without spending so much.
Being a teritory of the United States of America, Guam requires you to have a US Visa. There are no special visas for Guam so you still have to go through the usual US Visa application.
Most of the time Cebu Pacific Airlines offers the cheapest fares from Manila. Yes most of the time specially when they are on sale (got mine for $52 RT) just make sure you don’t book your hotels right away or book rooms that are re-bookable in case one of the airlines “Flight Realignment” issues happens again. Other airlines that fly from Manila to the island are Philippine Airlines and United Airlines.
Accommodation in Guam mostly consist of Hotels and Resorts leaning towards the higher end of the market. I guess it is safe to say that Guam is not backpacker friendly but it does not mean that it is not doable. If you are willing to spend more than than your usual trips you may want to look for accommodation around the Tamon Bay area where you can easily access the beautiful Tamon Beach. This area is also the best places to stay for shopping.
If you are still not willing to let go of your backpacking principles (lol) the best way to get around the high prices is through Airbnb. You can snag a room, condo or apartment for about $30-$60 a night that you can split if there’s two of you. Make sure to stay near one of the Lamlam bus stop so that getting around the area wouldn’t be an issue if you aren’t driving. Just be sure that you are ready for emergency money that you can spend incase anything happens to your reserved room just like what happened to me. (will post an airbnb review later). Some of the destinations are walk-able (1-2kms) but the heat may be a challenge so just be ready with umbrellas, Guam roads aren’t fans of sidewalks so you might find your self walking on unpaved road sides.
Arriving at the airport you will see several options on how you can stay connected online. There are WiFi routers available but it appears that Sim Cards are more affordable. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked and is LTE capable. Sim cards costs $20 and are loaded with unlimited data if I am not mistaken.
Alternatively you can rent a WiFi router from Klook which can be as cheap as a sim card if you are traveling just for a few days.
Best Option: Car rental – rent a car for just $20-$25 a day. Gas cost around $3-$4 a gallon which is enough for you to go around the entire island at least four times! Just bring your drivers license and you can drive for a maximum of thirty days while in the territory.
For non-drivers here’s how you can get around the island.
Lamlam Bus Service
Lamlam seems to be Guam’s de facto public bus service. The bus service is operated by Lamlam tours company and has several routes around the main area of the island with most of them terminating at Micronesia Mall and Guam Premier Outlets (GPO). One way single use tickets costs $4 per way while day passes starts at $12 for one day, $15 for 2 days, $25 for 5 days while child pass costs $13. They also have special buses that will get you to special points of interests such as Two Lovers Point and Chamorro Village among others.
If you are trying to get out of the airport, they also have an airport shuttle that will take you to T-Galleria Mall in the downtown are. Bus service usually starts by 10 AM.
From the airport taxi service (meter) will cost you about $25 for the entire 2.8 miles (5kms) journey. Expensive yet somewhat convenient except when you are in area where there are no taxi waiting area. See, taxis do not go around and pickup passengers. Most of the time they are stationary in an establishment with a kiosk where you can book their service.
Stroll & LamCar
There’s no Uber, Grab or Lyft in Guam. Instead they have Stroll. Similar to other ride hailing apps Stroll will provide you the estimated price and pick you up from your location. The only set back for this is that there are not a lot of Stroll cars around the island so it may take a while before you can actually hail one. However, it may be worth the wait compared to taxis as the price per mile are way cheaper.
Another option is the LamCar, similar to Stroll this app also helps you to hail one of the Lamlam tour company’s
There are lots of great food options in Guam. From food courts, restaurants, diners and of course there are fast food options as well. Pricing though does not differ whether it is fast food or a mom-and-pop food store, only the specialty restaurants actually border on the “pricey” end of the spectrum.
To give context to how much you will be spending and should be allotting for your food budget, here are the actual prices I paid for.
……….Big Mac Meal ………..$7.90
……….Big Mac (Sandwich only) ………..$5.00
……….Grilled Chicken Breast with Mash Potato and Brocolli………..$8
……….Hamburger Gravy Bowl………..$8.00
……….Unlimited Hot Choco………..$3.60
Note: Denny’s have breakfast options for as low as $2 some if the servings are big specially those with rice like the Hamburger Gravy Bowl I had to put them on take-away bags so I can finish them later, so maybe you can just share.
Infusion Coffee and Tea Shop
……….Shangri-La Iced Tea………..$2.50
……….Chicken Pesto Pasta………..$2.00
……….Java Chip Coffee………..$5.74
If you are traveling in a group better cook your selves food it’ll be cheaper!
Guam Premier Outlets
Downtown Shopping Lane (Hotel road)
Watch Las Vegas Style Magic Shows
Gab Gab Beach
Guam National Museum
War In The Pacific Nat’l Historical Park
Asan Bay Overlook
Guam Legislative Building
Dulce Nobre de Maria Cathedral
Two Lovers Point
Though honestly, the best thing still to do in Guam is to shop. However, there are still a lot of things to do in the island that you don’t have to spend so much. But then again if you see the prices in the outlet stores and duty free shops you would definitely panic and your card may get overloaded. I am not even exaggerating. My favorite store still and probably will always will is Ross, thought it was tough to find something for my size, that store still my heart (yeah we got a long history way back 2006 hahaha).
Nevertheless if shopping is not your thing, the Chamorros are one of the jolliest people I’ve ever met, you’ll have a great time around them for sure! Best to bring a friend or two with you to split the cost of your Airbnb, car rental and gas. Lastly stop converting to your local currency! hahaha! yes let lose for a moment when in Guam and you’ll surely enjoy your stay. Haf Adai!