What can I say about the Philippines? Travel in the Philippines is fairly easy in comparison to other Asian countries because English is more commonly used (FYI: English is taught in all of the schools and is mandatory for testing and classroom settings). So getting around and communicating to someone will make it fairly easy to travel among the islands. Although for some, traveling in the Philippines can be scary, these helpful tips will help you gain confidence and a chance of having a smooth trip.
Don’t be scared!
There is a lot of hype that the Philippines is a dangerous country due to many Muslims that reside in the Southern Islands, however, with that being said travel in the Philippines has the same risk of traveling in any other country in Southeast Asia. You need to be alert when traveling. Just like traveling in Europe, many kids can also pick pocket, so keep your items close to you. You can always use one of my traveling favorites a PacSafe Messenger Bag to keep your items safe by getting it here. If you still feel unsafe and want to feel more secure when traveling in the Philippines, be sure to book your stay in areas that are more travel friendly such as Cebu, Boracay, Bohol, and Manila of course.
Be Open Minded
The Philippines is a beautiful country, but do keep in mind that it is a third world country. There are tons to explore with beautiful waterfalls, beaches, swimming, and can be a complete tropical paradise, however, there are some downsides to traveling in the Philippines such as seeing small huts used for homes and children begging for money from tourists.
Don’t stick to a travel agenda
The Philippines has a slow-paced lifestyle with siestas in the afternoon. With that being said, a lot of the time Filipinos run late, as we call it “Filipino time”, meaning that ferry you purchased tickets to board may not show up on time and you may just want to go with the flow. The weather can be very unpredictable during some seasons which may lead to cancellations of ferry boats.
Karaoke is a very popular past time in the Philippines. If you attend any party they will often have a karaoke machine to sing at all hours of the night. Be sure to practice your singing voice and do not insult anyone who may be singing. Most lounging areas and bars outside will have Karaoke machines and you may hear the same songs over and over again. You may be surprised on how well Filipinos can sing.
Getting to the Philippines can be expensive, however, hotel accommodations and things to do can be very affordable. There is so much to do and you can easily do this on a budget. However, if you expect to eat luxuriously in the Philippines in the major cities, then be sure to pay a little more for those foods. Chicken and rice is a typical meal in the Philippines, so if you aren’t a fan of chicken and rice, there are other options but some may be more expensive if they aren’t the local foods. A normal hotel price in the US is comparable to a villa or suite in the Philippines so getting that dream hotel on the beach can be more affordable than you think.
Ride in a Jeepney and a Trike!
This is be the real experience of being in the Philippines. Riding a jeepney or a trike will be the best way to know what travel is actually like in the Philippines. These little rides are exciting and very affordable way to get around the island. If you are doing a longer distance ride, you may want to request an empty jeepney with a driver. Some locations do have taxis like Manila, but do not expect that all locations have taxis.
Be sure to make sure your water is clean. You may want to bring a steripen with you just in case, but a lot of the time when you drink the water there, you may have to worry about stomach issues. So soda might be a good option for you if you do not have a steripen or you are in a restaurant, the soda can be safer than the water, but the water is drinkable.
The staple to Filipino Food is typically chicken and rice. There are a few great dishes but be warned that a lot of times their food will be fairly greasy as that is the way that most Filipino’s cook it there. I have seen many travelers who talk about not liking Filipino dishes because of this reason. Some of my favorite dishes are usually seafood dishes, pork adobo, kinilaw and shanghai lumpia. If you decide to stray from Filipino Food, often times in the rural areas you will not be able to get real cheese and most places will consist of fake cheese however, there are many great Western dishes in cities like Cebu, Manila and more.
What are some of your tips for new travelers to the Philippines? Leave them in the comments below!