If you’re looking for travel tips for the Philippines, then boil up a brew and let me share my knowledge, with you.
I’ve been to the Philippines twice now, and I’ve spent almost six weeks in total exploring the beautiful islands of Palawan, Cebu, Siargao, Bohol and Boracay. And I’m still totally up for going back again one day – it’s that good!
– Definitely one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken of myself, in Siargao.
The Philippines are made up of over 7000 islands, meaning that the only way to travel between them is to either fly or travel by water. Not too much of a problem – in fact, all part of the journey – but it does mean you need to consider the fact that weather changes quickly, affecting transport and so you can’t really expect, or plan for, anything in the Philippines to be on time.
Oh and there’s your first travel tip for the Philippines dropped already. Read on for more juicy nuggets of knowledge, gained from my 5 weeks of exploration.
26 Travel Tips for the Philippines
1. English is an official language in the Philippines – great for any backpackers coming from Asia and craving a taste of home. This means you can find out a lot about the local culture, and gain more from your experience. Take the time to chat as it’s a rare luxury to be able to speak the same language as so many people in Asia. Enjoy it.
2. Food in the Philippines is basic, unless you go high end. Expect lots of fish and rice. They do like their fast food though so you’ll never be too far from a McDonalds, especially in the popular spots.
3. The Philippines produces its own Don Papa rum, and it’s pretty cheap for anyone coming from the West. Make sure you get your hands on some to drink there, and bring some back for the alcohol cupboard too.
4. There’s a big change going on right now in the Philippines, under the current government. This has led to some definite no go areas in the Philippines. Make sure you ask if there are any around when you arrive in your destination. Remember, safety first.
5. In general Filipino people are lovely and there’s a chilled out vibe in most of the tourist areas. Say hello, be friendly and interact, as you would anywhere.
6. There are around 75 Filipino Pesos to the British Pound.
7. There are many beautiful places to go in the Philippines. Try visiting Palawan for starters, then Bohol, Siargao and Cebu. Don’t try to fit in too many places to a short amount of time though. You need at least 5 days in each location to have enough time to get there, enjoy and relax, and get out again without stressing about flight and ferry connections.
READ MORE ON THE PHILIPPINES
The best of Boracay on a budget
Exploring Kawasan Falls in Cebu
The top tourist hotspots in Palawan
8. The Philippines beaches are some of the best in the world, take your camera and prepare to be amazed. My number one travel tip for the Philippines would be to explore as many of the beaches as possible in wherever you’re staying. There are definitely some hidden gems to be found!
9. Board a sailing trip from Coron to El Nido in Palawan, you won’t be disappointed. The Tao Experience is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Philippines Travel Tips
READ MORE: 13 Reasons Why The Tao Experience is SO Good
10. Taxis are easy to hail and plentiful in the cities. They’re also crazy cheap (just make sure the meter is turned on).
11. Don’t be surprised if you see cock fighting in the smaller villages and cities. It’s a way of life here and locals will spend a lot of time preparing their cock for the brawl. It’s normal to see them stood or sat outside their houses holding their roosters tight.
12. The Philippines is growing crazily fast as a tourist destination which means the sanitation and infrastructure is struggling. Follow instructions when it comes to rubbish disposal and in how to dispose of toilet roll. I’ve seen what happens when tourists don’t – it’s grim.
Boracay has been shut down for six months thanks to the sanitation there. From visiting in February though, I could see that the extreme measures were needed.
13. Some islands and areas – like Siargao – have suffered greatly from recent freak weather incidents. As such you’ll witness some extreme poverty travelling in the Philippines, so be generous with your pesos.
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Philippines Travel Tips
READ MORE: What to Do in Siargao in the Philippines
14. Do your research and ask around to know how much you should be spending on taxi rides. Prices can vary greatly. Oh, and don’t shy away from taking a ride on the back of a moped or motorbike – it’s more fun, and cheaper!
15. You can get private accommodation from around £10 per night, but it’ll be very basic. If you and your mates group together you can get some incredible places for a few quid more.
16. Filipinos like to sing, moreso than what you might be used to at home. Expect to hear whistling and (tuneless) singing wherever you go.
17. Think about what you’re going to pack for the Philippines. It can be hard to find things on the islands, and, if you’re a larger Westerner, might be hard to find clothes to fit. This Philippines packing list from Project Untethered can help.
18. You can eat super cheap in the Philippines, but splash out now and again to really experience the new food revolution of the country – especially in Boracay.
Philippines Travel Tips
READ MORE: Where to Find the Best Breakfast in Boracay
19. Service is generally slower than in the UK, but it will almost always be done with a smile. Don’t order if you’re in any kind of rush, which you definitely shouldn’t be here.
20. Do a food tour in Manila on your first day to learn more about Filipino cuisine and what you can expect. This is the best way to learn about the food options in the Philippines as quickly as possible.
21. Brits are granted a 30-day visa for the Philippines on arrival. You can get a 59-day one if you apply in advance.
22. Whatever route you want to do compare the ferry prices and the flight against each other – you could end up saving quite a bit if you have some time on your hands and don’t mind hanging around.
23. Be prepared for the rains. Study the weather and make sure you’re going at a good time of year if you want those postcard perfect beach shots. February 2018 was not a good time to be in the Philippines, yet, February 2015 was an absolute dream.
24. Snorkelling in the Philippines is some of the best I’ve ever done anywhere. Do it! Or go one better, and use the opportunity to learn to scuba dive. If you’re serious about scuba diving, there are some great liveaboard experiences to try out. Check out this guide to finding the best liveaboard experiences in the Philippines, from divein.com.
25. Rent a motorbike on the smaller islands. Having my own wheels to get round Siargao was absolutely brilliant, and you get to see so much more.
26. Don’t drink the water in the Philippines. On Siargao there was a big drive for tourists to refill their bottles, rather than to keep buying the 500ml size – I thought this was great. Helps you to avoid adding to the world’s plastic problem and to make the most of the cheaper refill charge.
Have fun and let us know if you have any questions below!
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Check out all my blog posts on the Philippines to really prepare for your trip!