13 Philippines Travel Tips You Should Know
The Philippines is a beautiful country full of natural wonders, stunning beaches and dynamic cities. But like any country you haven’t visited before, navigating unknown lands can sometimes be a little tricky, even for the most seasoned of travellers. So to help you along the way here are 13 top Cambodia travel tips you should know before visiting.
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1. Plan your route well if you’re short on time
The Philippines is made up of an archipelago of over 7000 islands. Therefore it’s no wonder that it’s one of the trickiest countries in Southeast Asia to travel around. If only have a few weeks to spend here, then definitely plan a route before you arrive. You should also be realistic about your destinations. It can take a full day to travel between neighbouring islands, so trying to get from one side of the archipelago to the other in 1 day isn’t going to happen.
2. Keep cool when transport doesn’t go to plan
The transport system in The Philippines can be quite slow at the best of times. Throw in slack timetables and bad weather and getting from A to B can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare. When this does happen its best just to go with it and keep calm. Losing your temper in public will be seen as losing face which is very rude in Filipino culture.
3. Go diving or snorkelling
Whether its beautiful coral reefs, sardine runs or shipwrecks, exploring the Philippines’ underwater worlds is something that can’t be missed. Therefore third on the list for my Philippines travel tips is to go either snorkelling and diving! Both are really popular activities in most tourist destinations, so you won’t be short of choice of places to get your flippers wet either. In particular, the coral around Panagsama beach is truly amazing!
4. Don’t go swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob
Whilst we’re on the topic of swimming, this is one experience I would avoid. Because the Whale Sharks in Oslob are fed by the tour operators, this in turn, disrupts their migration patterns i.e. interferes with nature. There are also no regulations around the way tour groups can interact with these already endangered species meaning there’s little thought for their health and well being.
5. Uber/Grab isn’t a thing outside of the big cities
In the large cities, you can order a taxi from your phone and away you go. However venture outside of the cosmopolitan hub, and taxis become trikes. Trikes are The Philippines version of tuk-tuks. A motorbike with a sidecar attached to it and usually a luggage rack on the back or roof. Make sure you haggle on the cost as drivers have a tendency to inflate the price a crazy amount for tourists.
6. Boracay is very overrated
When we decided we were going to The Philippines, everyone who’d been told us how amazing Boracay was and not to miss it. For me, Boracay was hugely overrated. Its different stations seemed fake and over commercialised, whilst the rest of it is just a bit of a dump that’s been ruined by too many tourists. Yes, the beach was nice, but there are so many other equally nice beaches to see in The Philippines. If I were to do it again I’d definitely give it a miss and spend my time and money somewhere else.
7. Filipinos are very welcoming and friendly
We met some of the best people in The Philippines. Like a super friendly retired headteacher who owned a gym, and a guy who snorkelled with me for an hour to help find me a turtle, just to name a couple. Filipinos are generally really friendly people who will welcome you into their country. Though like anywhere, we did meet a few scammers and less than savoury people too, so remember to always keep your guard up.
8. Internet and mobile data is awful
This is not an understatement. The internet in The Philippines as a whole is truly terrible. But what can you expect in a country made up of thousands of islands right? Getting a data plan for your phone isn’t much better, with a lack of signal and 4G in a lot of places. It’s not really an issue if you’re coming to The Philippines to relax, just have a digital detox! But if you need to do work online that’s when things start to become a little more tricky…
9. Learn how to pronounce the names of places
Unless you want to be looked at blankly at the ticket office, another of my top Philippines travel tips is to learn the correct pronunciation of the places you’re visiting. Most sound quite different to what you expect. For example, Siquijor is “sicky hor” and Moalboal is “mowal bowal”. Confusing right!
10. However everyone speaks English very well
Unlike some other Southeast Asia countries, most Filipinos speak excellent English. This is because it’s actually classed as an official language and is used in schools and by the government. Although you won’t have to worry about any language barriers, it’s still worth learning a few words in Filipino to try and impress or amuse the locals depending on your pronunciation.
11. Research before you go
The Philippines seem to have a bad rap for being unsafe. Hyped up western fears are most likely the answer for this as the truth is a lot of The Philippines is super safe to visit and travel around! Having said that, there are a few isolated areas in the south that have problems with terrorism, so another important Philippines travel tip is to research what areas to avoid before you go.
12. Try the local food
The local Filipino food doesn’t really measure up to that of some other Southeast Asia countries. Thailand I’m looking at you. However, it’s still pretty good. Chicken Adobo, Pork Sisig and a Boodle Fight, in particular, are all super tasty and must try foodie experiences. Though, as a lot of the cuisine is meat based, if you’re a vegan or veggie you might struggle to find many options here.
13. Brownouts are common
Brownouts aka power cuts outs are pretty common in The Philippines. These can last anywhere from a few hours to planned day-long outages. Therefore another of my top Philippines travel tips is to always have a portable charger to hand so you can still top up your battery whenever you need. It’s also a good idea to check with your accommodation of any planned outages so you don’t get caught not being able to do basic things such as take a shower (electric powered) as we did!
Do you have any other top Philippines travel tips you would share with travellers? Write them in the comments below!