Are you planning a trip to The Philippines? In this Guest Post Boom will guide you through everything Travelers Need to Know About the Philippines.
Planning to travel to the Philippines is always a great idea. Its cities are busy and modern but its provinces and islands remain laidback, relaxed, and naturally stunning. Whether it is the city rush or the island vibe you are after, the Philippines has it all for tourists.
The Philippines is sometimes gravely misunderstood. Its politics, turbulent history, widespread poverty, and the armed struggle in its Southern territories have occasionally painted a grim picture of this Southeast Asian nation. But the charm of the Pearl of the Orient has not diminished one bit. Its beauty is raw and natural, its people happy and warm.
You will need light clothing all year round
Don’t be fooled by the months leading up to Christmas. It could be winter on the other side of the world, but in this tropical country, it could still be as hot as summer. Just like Thailand, temperatures could go up to around 30 degrees Celsius in the Philippines even in October or November (unless you go up North in Benguet province). So if you are looking into touring towards the end of the year, light and cottony clothing is still preferred. Wearing flip flops, or what locals call tsinelas, all day is also a good idea.
While typhoons and heavy downpours are common during the last quarter of the year, you would be surprised at how many tourists, foreign and domestic, still head to the islands and beaches. This is largely because the mighty heat of the sun still reigns supreme for most of the time and going island hopping or scuba diving are still very much in season.
It is cheap, all things considered
Food, transportation, accommodation, and souvenir shopping are all reasonable, if not very affordable, priced. Neighboring countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and even Thailand would pale in comparison when it comes to the cost of living. In the Philippines, you could have a complete McDonald’s meal for under two dollars. In the capital Manila or in other major cities, side-street restaurants serve a rice meal with two viands for a dollar. Now that’s shoestring budgeting at its finest.
Transportation, while far from the convenience of Hong Kong or Singapore transportation systems, is very cheap. A train or bus ride in the city cost an average Php20 or half a dollar.
Hotels, depending on your preference, are also affordable. In Manila, you’ll find anything from five-star, world-class accommodations to modest and economical apartelles. In the islands, budget accommodations are common and some locals even offer homestays.
If you are the type who likes to go shopping, you’ll go crazy with some of the biggest shopping malls you’ll ever see in your life. Filipinos are expert mall goers and retail is a multi-billion dollar industry here. For the locals, malls are a place where families and friends get together. It is also “free air-conditioning.” You could also try the tiangge or night markets or bazaars in Divisoria, Greenhills, and weekend markets across the city that have recently become a fad.
Indulge in tasty, flavorful food
Filipino cuisine may not be as famous as Chinese, Thai or even Vietnamese cuisine. Well, not yet. Ask Anthony Bourdain and he’ll say that Filipino cuisine is the next big food trend. Filipino food has all the right elements — salty, fatty, a little sweet, a little sour, and everything in between. Try the pork dish sisig and you’ll see what we mean. Filipino staples such as the salty and fatty adobo, the sour and savory sinigang, the crunchy and sinful crispy pata, the festive and party favorite lechon, the thick peanut flavor of kare-kare, and the uniquely sweet spaghetti of fast food chains.
Street food is also fairly common in the Philippines. Fish and shrimp balls in sweet sauce, flavorful chicken intestines in vinegar, sweet pork cubes in sticks, and balut, a hard-boiled duck embryo are all worth a try. They are not as “extreme” as you might have read.
Filipinos also like adding condiments to their meals. Don’t get weirded out if one saucer is dedicated to vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce or ketchup. It’s better to give it a try.
Best. Islands. Ever.
Photo courtesy of AvidExplorer via Pixabay
The Philippines is home to some of the world’s best islands and beaches. One of the most popular destinations is Boracay, which is famous around the world for its clear waters, gorgeous sunset, fine white sand, and epic party scene. It is also the best place to sport summer fashion all year round and go shopping for authentic island souvenirs.
Palawan is also consistently among the world’s top beach destinations. Coron and El Nido feature unspoiled islands and a diverse marine life. You may also go surfing in Siargao, swim with sharks in Oslob, Cebu, or go camping in Caramoan or Calaguas in Bicol.
Unique, heartwarming values
The Filipino culture is unlike anything you’ve experienced. Filipinos are family-centered, religious, and respectful. Words like “po” or “opo” are used to answer the elderly. The younger members of the family or society are not supposed to call their elders by their first names. Even when addressing strangers, Filipinos say nanay (mother), ate (older sister), kuya or manong (older brother), tita (aunt or any older woman), or lola and lolo (grandmother or grandfather). Address them with one of these and they’ll surely gravitate towards you.
In your tour, you will be offered food or asked to taste this and that, and it is best not to refuse. Filipinos also have a good sense of humor and you’ll find them laughing at about everything. They are also very religious and spiritual being a predominantly Catholic nation and frown upon people who make fun of religious symbols. Some also make the sign of the cross before a meal.
Just a few more quirks and tips: a toilet is called a CR or comfort room, people say takeout, not to-go or takeaway if they want food eaten at home, and giving tip is appreciated. The Philippines is also still conservative and wearing extremely short shorts or exposing your midsection will get some attention.
The people make all the difference
The Filipinos are probably the friendliest, warmest, and most helpful bunch you’ll meet. Just one jeepney ride will show you how helpful they are. If you ride at the back, your payment will be passed around for it to get to the driver.
Filipinos are particularly helpful to foreigners. If you ask for directions, they won’t only help you find your destination in English, kids would also run to you and give you high-fives. They will engage you in a conversation and will give you tips on where to eat and what kind of people or places to avoid. You’ll see their beaming smiles from a kilometer away.
It is nearly impossible to visit the Philippines and not plan on coming back. It may not be a rich or developed nation, but its culture and people are truly what sets it apart. Being with Filipinos is being with family and you’ll feel like you’re a part of a huge, happy family throughout your stay.
Are you looking for places to visit in the Southern Philippines? Or maybe you would like to know about solo travel in the Philippines.
“Boom Rizal is an investor, a property consultant, a researcher and a writer. She loves to take research in property innovation and writes various articles advising readers in making good decisions when investing and enjoying life. “