The following is a list of travel tips, hacks, and advice you may find useful when exploring the Philippines:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila-Clark Airport is NOT Manila Airport. It is NOT anywhere near Manila.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different than Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Prepare yourself for Filipino inefficiency and behavior that confuses Western sensibilities. You cannot escape it. Accepting it is necessary to enjoying your journey.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Being 15-60 minutes late is socially acceptable.
- Don’t set your cuisine expectations too high. However, the food is surprisingly tasty.
- Filipino people are often not accommodating even with relatively “easy” requests. Keep this in mind especially when ordering your food.
- Vegans and Vegetarians may find it challenging finding food that meets their requirements.
- Don’t drink the tap water … but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
- Carry water, sunscreen, a long-sleeve UV shirt, baby wipes, and toilet paper with you at all times.
- Eating street food and food from market stalls saves money and is often better than most fast food.
- Do NOT exchange money at the airport. Better exchange rates are found outside the airport.
- Make certain you have a NO-FEE International Credit & Debit Card or you will be charged a high service charge for EVERY transaction. Use MetroBank or CitiBank ATMs to avoid service charges.
- The “comfort room” is a toilet.
- Roosters crow all morning, day, and night. Bring earplugs.
- Although English is widely spoken throughout the Philippines, not everyone is fluent in English. This is especially true on remote islands and in some remote provinces.
- Do not overdress. Shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops are common attire in the Philippines.
- Filipinos are generally very willing to help you … however, be aware that that information that they may provide you is not always reliable or accurate. Be certain to confirm important information.
- There are entrance fees to access some of the beaches.
- Hidden fees are very common. Account for this and be sure to have the cash to pay for these fees.
- Filipinos do not honor personal space as Westerners do. It is normal to have people stand or get very close to you … especially in crowded spaces.
- When using crowded public transportation, pay close attention to your bag, phone, and pockets.
- Networking with other travelers will help you get the best tips & hacks and save money.
- Make friends with local Filipinos … they are great guides.
- Save money by avoiding peak seasons or times of the year (i.e. Festivals & Holy Weeks).
- Save your money … do NOT use airport transportation … use the GrabTaxi app instead.
- Using the GrabTaxi app for city transport will usually save you money.
- Renting a motorbike is often the cheapest mode of transportation.
- Book online & save. Click here to the list of Travel Resources we use to save money.
- Be frugal. Always price compare. Don’t be afraid to haggle.
- Get travel insurance. You’ll never know when it’ll come in handy.
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