Although the Philippines isn’t a popular travel destination among backpackers, those that do come here have nothing but good reviews. A couple that traveled extensively in Asia once told me that the Philippines was their favorite destination, purely for one simple reason, the people! Aside from the yearlong tropical weather and the 7,107 islands to choose from, the Philippines has a lot to offer.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my travels around Asia (hey, I even met my lovely man there), countries like Thailand and Vietnam are slowly becoming too touristic. In these places, backpackers are no longer challenged because traveling is so easy. Instead, they wake up answering the big decision of “which tour should I do today?” I admit, traveling in the Philippines is a lot more difficult logistics wise, but trust me, it is worth it. So, if you’re set for an adventure in the land of unspoilt beaches and stunning scenery, here are some tips on what to expect when visiting the Philippines.
Flash a Smile, Be Polite
The Philippines is home to the most hospitable and friendliest people in the world. Filipinos will gladly help you out in any situation if they can. In most occasions, they almost never expect anything in return. It is not an uncommon situation where you would be walking down a street and you hear people say ‘kain po tayo’, which translates to let’s eat. It is naturally part of our culture to be welcoming and polite, even to strangers! Even if they have nothing on their plates but rice and fish, Filipinos will gladly offer you to join their meal. Although seemingly shy at first, once you break past the initial barrier, you will soon find yourself halfway through a bottle to rum in the middle of an intense karaoke session while you sing Bon Jovi at the top of your lungs. While in the Philippines, be grateful, say please and thank you, take time to talk to the people that you meet, and don’t forget to smile (it’s a past-time here!)
Prepare your Stomach, Be Brave
The Philippines is home to some of the most bizarre street food in Asia. From balut (duck embryo), to dinuguan (a stew of mixed innards cooked in pigs blood), to grilled skewers of chicken intestines and chicken feet-there are a lot of options for the brave! No matter how revolting it sounds, try it. It doesn’t taste as bad as it sounds. Tom, being the trooper that he is tries anything once. Just like in every country that you visit, be brave and try the local cuisine. Aside from the fear factor sounding like food, we do have a lot of delicious delicacies to try like adobo, lechon, seafood, and mangoes. Oh, don’t even get me started on the mangoes!
Practice Your Zen, Be Patient
One of the amusing things about traveling in the Philippines is that nothing goes according to plan. Buses are almost always late, traffic in the city is horrible, and boat trips can be cancelled without explanation. No matter what it is, treat everything with a grain of salt, and be open to the new experiences that these detours can take you to. Although this is nothing new as similar situations happen everywhere in Asia, when these things happen, just go with the flow, smile, and carry on exploring. You will most likely find a friendly stranger who will be more than happy to help you out. I think one of the best lessons that I’ve learned throughout traveling is not to dwell on the things you can’t change. Yes, it sucks, but move on rather than ruin the rest of your journey sulking.
Learn a Few Words, Be Curious
One of the best things about traveling in the Philippines is there is no language barrier. Unlike most of our neighboring countries, you can really get to know the locals who you can make connections with because almost everyone can speak English. According to a recent report, 52 million people in the Philippines speak English, making it one of the largest English-speaking nations behind the U.S., India, Pakistan, and the U.K. Everywhere you go, you will find someone who you can understand you. However, it wouldn’t hurt to bust out a few words. Filipinos will love you for it! Here are some essential words that will be enough to make every Filipino smile:
Salamat- Thank You
Kain Tayo- Let’s eat
Pasesnsya Na- I’m sorry
And since we Filipinos are suckers for romance, if you happen to fall in love (and end up staying in the Philippines) the phrase Mahal kita –”I love you” is useful phrase to know.
Do Everything, Be Adventurous
Whether it’s swimming with whale sharks, canyoning through caves, or riding on the top of a jeepney up a winding road, the Philippines is every adventure junkie’s dream come true. For such a small country, we have a very diverse landscape. From the crystal clear waters of Palawan, to the white sandy beaches in Boracay, to the stunning rice terraces in Banaue, or the rolling coastal hills in Batanes, the Philippines has it all. Strap on your sense of adventure and try everything. We have a growing extreme water sports craze from kiteboarding to wakeboarding, an affinity for ziplines and adventure parks wherever you go, and one of the best dive spots in the world. On the other hand, if you fancy just chilling and lazing around in beaches, we do that quite well here too! So pack your bags, sit tight, and prepare yourself to fall in love with the Philippines and everything it has to offer.
Where to Stay When Visiting The Philippines
There are so many options when it comes to planning where to stay while in the Philippines. The articles listed below have various options from budget hostels all the way to nice hotel splurges.
- The Best Places to Stay in Manila | Hotels & Hostels
- The Best Places to Stay in Cebu | Hotels & Hostels
- The Best Places to Stay in Palawan | Hotels & Hostels
- The Best Places to Stay in Boracay | Hotels & Hostels
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