What to Expect When Visiting the Philippines

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

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!)  A group of local people posing

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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!  A duck embryo

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.  A couple in a hammock at sunset

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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

Maganda- Beautiful

Masarap- Delicious

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.  A local man sitting in his tuk tuk

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.

Read: The Complete Guide to Traveling around the PhilippinesA woman swimming with a whale shark

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.

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Ever been to the Philippines? Here is what to expect there when you do


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13 thoughts on “What to Expect When Visiting the Philippines”

  1. I’m looking forward on going to the Philippines. I have been waiting for 4 and half hours now to fly to manila the day after the typhoon. Ow what tom experienced with leaving the country I experienced with getting in the country. I didn’t get my boarding pass until I had a flight out of the Philippines. It took forever because I had no idea I needed it and the wifi didn’t help so it was a good thing my flight was delayed. Can’t wait to see my friend when I get to manila if I ever get there.

  2. Hi! Found your blog in nomadicmatt’s forum. Glad to see that you’ve been to my country already! It’s nice that you were also able to try the balut! that photo above is a gem! haha 🙂

  3. I still can’t get over last night. It was so fun meeting everyone. It’s special because we get to hear him sing Live. Such a lovely couple.:)


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