Never ever have I left for a big adventure so unprepared. And that’s exactly why I learned so much and would like to share it all with you before you go. In this post I’ll share everything you need to know when traveling to the Philippines.
You need a plan
The Philippines, situated in South-East-Asia, consist of about 7.641 islands. So you have to think about an itinerary beforehand. And normally I would say, just think about it, no need to fully plan it. But in the Philippines, it’s different. Relocating from one island to another takes time. You either choose the cheap way and lose an immense amount of time; or you choose the expensive way.. and well, spend a lot of money.
Book your accommodation in advance
Since I was pretty busy traveling the weeks before my departure to the Philippines, I only started to look for accommodation two weeks before I left. This was too late. And on top of that, I was there during Holy Week, the busiest week of the year 😀 So more than once I had to spend a lot of money on hotels or hostels that weren’t even that nice. I had read on blogs that especially El Nido and Coron were busy but you should be fine booking your hotel elsewhere just a day before. Well, I do not aggree. The Philippines tourism industry has been booming the last couple of years, and it seems that they aren’t always prepared for the amount of tourists that are coming. So I’d say to book all of your accommodation in advance is the best option here. And if you want to travel more sustainably, book an eco-friendly accommodation.
Bring enough cash with you
This is actually something I was prepared for but I wanted to tell you anyway since it is kind of important. A lot of islands don’t have ATM’s and the islands that do have ATM’s sometimes run out of money. A lot of tour companies and hostels only accept cash. As a tourist you’ll mostly need small bills. Those can be used as tips too. The minimum wage is quite low in the Philippines, so if you are offered a great service tip 10% or even more.
You’ll spend more money than you think
Since the Philippines are located in South-East-Asia, I thought I wouldn’t spend a lot of money. Think again! I suppose it’s due to a combination of traveling in Holy week, not having booked in advance and not having a lot of time so always choosing the fastest way for transportation. I remember being able to stay in an extremely luxurious hotel in Thailand for no money, well, that’s not the case in the Philippines. Maybe it is if you go in low season.. but if you go in dry season, you’ll have to be willing to spend some money.
Pack even more sunscreen than you think you’ll need
I know it’s kind of obvious that you take sunscreen with you when going to tropical islands. But I used more than an entire bottle and I was only there for three weeks. Spending most of my time on beaches and boats, I had to reapply constantly and ended up buying some more in the Philippines. And it was crazy expensive! Also, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water, close to coral reefs and marine wild-life so buy sunscreen that is reef safe. (little side note : a lot of lotions that can be bought in the Philippines are skin whitening, so if you want to come home with a tan, I wouldn’t recommend these :D)
The Philippines are the perfect place for a digital detox
While most of the hotels do have wi-fi, the connection is pretty poor so it’s better not to depend on wi-fi if you really need to get things done online. Whenever I’m traveling for a longer period outside of Europe, I always buy a local SIM card. In the Philippines, both Smart and Globe are good carriers. You can buy it directly at the airport in Manilla. But even with these SIM card, the connection is not as good as we are used to here in Europe.
(Almost) everyone in the Philippines speaks English
Children in the Philippines are taught in a mix of Filipino and English (one of the country’s official languages) This makes the Philippines one of the easiest countries in SE-Asia to connect with locals. But if you really want to impress them, you can always learn some words in Tagalog. Kumusta means ‘how are you’; Paalam is ‘goodbye’ and Salamat is ‘thank you’. What I often do before traveling is learn the language on Duolingo : an app that makes it really fun to speak a new language!
By now you’ll have a clearer image about all the things you need to know when traveling to the Philippines. I hope my post will help you prepare for your trip! It’s an amazing country with super friendly people and the beauty of the islands will stay with you forever. ♡