Travel Tips for the Philippines
Travel Tips for the Philippines!
So…before I went to the Philippines I had no idea what to expect really. However, I had travelled quite a bit of Asia and Indonesia and I was expecting the same kind of thing - but I was very wrong!
The Philippines is unique and different to anywhere I’ve ever travelled - the strong Catholic / Christian influence being the first obvious difference to its sister countries. The Filipino people being very laid back, chilled and ignited with a cheeky sense of humour - they all seem to love a good laugh and joke.
> Do not travel this country with a big bulky suitcase.
A comfortable back pack or lightweight fabric case makes getting on and off bangkas between the islands much much easier.
I had a case that doubled up as a back pack, but there are points when you have to walk out to the bangkas in the sea to where it is deep enough for the boat - or alternatively board a small row boat (with as many people and their cases as they can fit) out to the bangka. A waterproof for your said case is also key if you don't want the case or the contents to get wet - the sea can be rough!
> The Philippines is made up of over 1000 islands.
Some are much further apart and tricky to get to than you think. Internal flights need to be booked in advance as they are only very small planes taking people internally from island to island and during peak seasons they get very booked up. We turned up in Cebu hoping to be in El Nido for the weekend as it was my birthday, but discovered all flights out of Cebu island were fully booked for the 10 days! Don't make that mistake...
> A lightweight mac or waterproof
This is really useful on the boats for spray and rough seas. Even when you are out diving.
> Around Philippines bottled water is expensive.
Look for the pay-as-you-top-up water stations and machines to refill your bottle. This way you save a lot of money and you are also doing your bit for the planet by not disposing of heaps of plastic bottles all the time.
> Getting Cash out.
Sounds straight forward? But nothing is really easy in the Philippines! Quite a few islands don't even have cash points, and the restaurants etc will not accept foreign cards. Be organised and get cash out before heading out to any islands, the cash point fees charge foreign cards a fair back of money so I would advise getting as much out as you think you will use.
> Be independent and explore!
The best days I had in Philippines were when we hired motorbikes or Kayaks and explored the place by our self, in our own time, away from the thousands of tourists groups. If you end up in El Nido, you will see what I mean if you head to the front beach at 9am. You won't even see the sand at that time because its so full of people queuing to get onto bankas for a days island tour. When we hired a Kayak and went out to find a secluded beach - we sure did and it was stunning with not one other person in sight. Hiring Motorbikes has a serious advantage also, as you can choose what time to go to sights - avoiding when the tour buses go.
> Go with a laid back attitude. Its the Filipino way.
Expect the unexpected - these guys don't function following a clock and dates. The boat / plane or bus might say it leaves on the 10th at 7am. That doesn't mean it will. It might leave the next day instead for example or at midday. Just embrace that that is the way out there and don't cut things to fine - factor this concept in.
Food is mainly 'live off the land style'. Fish, veg and chicken. They love pork but it will be a rare thing to find beef, duck or dairy anywhere. Many of the islands don't even have fridges or freezers, and with a distinct lack of cows in the Philippines, dairy is hard to come by. They often use a powdered milk for coffee and tea.