Culture & Heritage

Cultural Etiquette in the Philippines: Guide to Dos and Don’ts

Cultural Etiquette in the Philippines

The Philippines are warm and welcoming to travelers, but like most countries, its culture is unique and can be confusing to first-time visitors. To avoid any misunderstandings, here are a few cultural etiquette tips to be aware of before your trip to the Philippines.


  • Smile and be friendly.
  • Be clean, pleasant, quiet, and respectful.
  • Be especially respectful towards the elderly.
  • Be humble.
  • Have a good sense of humor.
  • Always use a simple Thank You.
  • Wave back.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Travel light.
  • Wear light casual clothing.
  • Try the street food.
  • Drink bottled water.
  • Expect Filipinos to be late up to 15 minutes to an hour.
  • Beware of scams.


  • Don’t insult the country or its people.
  • Don’t be flashy … try to dress like the locals … clothing is usually very casual.
  • Don’t be in a hurry … remember that things run at a slower pace in the Philippines.
  • Don’t lose your temper.
  • Don’t miss out on the rural areas … most are amazing!
  • Don’t skip on the beaches either!!
  • Don’t walk the streets alone … especially at night.
  • Don’t leave your things unattended. Keep your bags close to you and in front of you.
  • Don’t show off your mobile phone, iPod, or any other electronic gadget.
  • Don’t put your wallet in your rear pocket.
  • Don’t leave valuables at hotels. Keep valuables with you all times or in the safe at your hotel.
  • Lock your doors and windows at night when sleeping (even on second floor) to avoid theft.
  • Walk in groups if going out at night.
  • Walk away from local groups in a drinking session. This usually spells trouble.
  • Don’t drive in Manila unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t expect everything to be dirt cheap … especially when traveling.
  • Don’t criticize religion… especially the Catholic church.
  • Don’t use first names to address someone older.

Additional Comments

Respect is a big deal in the Philippines. Depending on the age gap, there are respectful terms used to address an older person. There’s ate (older sister) and kuya (older brother), tita (aunt) and tito (uncle), and lola (grandmother) and lolo (grandfather). These titles are used regardless of blood relation, and simply based on how much older the person is than you.

READ MORE: Visiting the Philippines: Do’s & Don’ts

What do you recommend people Do and Don't Do when in the Philippines?

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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