From a foreigner’s standpoint, there are a lot of Philippines travel tips and things that you must remember to survive in a Filipino community. While the country has a lot to offer especially to those who can speak English, the Philippines is not an exemption to instances of thievery, scams, and other incidents – which is why you should always be careful.
There are several points that we can share to you so that you can get to know the things you must do and must avoid doing in the Philippines. We listed down 20 essential tips that you should know to enjoy and make your trip memorable.
Do’s of The Philippines
Here are things that you must absolutely keep in mind when enjoying the Philippines. Remember them to have a smooth and memory worthy trip.
If you are someone who wants to go traveling with their whole apartment in their back, you might want to reconsider your choices. Enjoying the Philippine Culture is jumping from one city to another due to the immense diversity of the country.
The culture in Isabela Province can be very different from the culture in Baguio. And if you want to appreciate this diversity and give yourself a taste of the Filipino cultures, make sure you would travel light to enjoy the distinction of food and ethnicity from east to west.
Fewer Cabs, More Saves
To spend less and save more there is one thing you should stop spoiling yourself with – renting cabs. Cabs in the Philippines are quite expensive. Spoiling yourself with these air-conditioned vehicles will leave you with an empty pocket in no time.
More so, foreigners who spent most of their money on renting cabs consume most of their allowance on land travels which is quite unnecessary. There are several traveling alternatives apart from cabs. In fact, you can enjoy going around the town with your smartphone and their public utility transportation commonly known as the Jeepney. Google Map is absolutely free and an 8php (16 US cents) fare won’t even feel like an ant bite.
Always have Coins
Not only is transportation in the Philippines cheap (except for cabs), but almost everything is pretty cheap that you should always prepare yourself with some coins. With just 100php in your pocket, you can already survive for a meal and a ride home for a day.
Jeepneys, which are the main means of transportation as mentioned earlier, are paid with coins or preferably paper bills not more than the 100-peso bill. There are also karenderya (Filipino diners) along the highways that can offer you authentic Filipino meals for more or less 50php.
Take Courage to Try Street Food
Frequently, people get scared of trying street food because they are afraid of upset stomachs. However, if you are planning to really try the Filipino culture, you must never skip the local street foods.
The authenticity of the local food lies on the street vendors, so don’t be afraid to try it. If ever you’re someone who easily gets upset stomachs, make sure to bring your meds with you and don’t miss out on the fun. Also, make sure to try eating balot while you’re on street food eating.
Learn a bit of Tagalog
As the famous saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” The locals would engage with you more and feel more comfortable with you when you know even just the common words such as, “Salamat” (thank you) and “Kamusta?” (how are you?).
Here’s a real tip, if you want to get some good help in the market or some discount with some vendors, learn how to compliment them in Filipino like, “Maraming Salamat ganda!” (Thank you so much beautiful!) or “Gwapo mo kuya” (You look good dude). In most cases, you might get a discount or free of charge if you know how to play with words.
If we are talking about how to get good discounts or better treatments from the locals, there is something you should always do – smile. It is a very powerful weapon, especially in the market. Filipinos are attracted to positive energies, so they like entertaining people with good smiles.
In many cases, you can easily get friends if you smile more often. Filipinos are very cheerful individuals. They love to smile. And with that fact, of course, they would love to mingle more with someone who is as positive as them. So, do yourself a favor and practice your best smile with the Filipinos.
Engage with the locals – they are friendly!
Never ever be aloof with the locals. Filipinos are known for their hospitality and they have proven it a lot of times. They are very welcoming towards Foreigners even to those who don’t know how to speak in English.
There is nothing to be afraid of with the majority of the Filipino population. If you want to know something about the place or if ever you are lost, they would surely be glad to help you. Every Filipino has a soft spot for foreigners.
Try a traditional tattoo
The Philippines have a very old traditional tattoo artistry called “Pagbabatok” which can only be found in the Cordillera Province This practice is very old and very unique that it is considered to be an ancient art of the Philippine History. A 101-year old lady who has retained and revitalized the art of pagbabatok is one of the very few who practices it.
It’s never wrong to have an exceptional souvenir for a worthwhile trip. And if you are longing to have something that would make your Philippines escapade remarkable and very memorable, nothing is more personal than having a traditional tattoo to remember your experience in the trip.
Be summer fashion ready
Surviving the Philippines includes surviving the temperature which is mainly about the heat. This tropical country might be too hot to handle, so you should stop packing that sweater in your bag.
Although rainy seasons stretches in the month of June, most of the time the Philippines is all about dry and hot seasons. A survival fashion in the country would include top tanks and summer dresses. You should also make sure to bring with you some cotton shirt to enjoy comfort.
The Philippines Don’ts
While we have mentioned the things you should try when in the Philippines, you must also know the things you should avoid doing to fully enjoy your trip. As they say, precautions will always be better than cure.
Don’t always use cab
This tip has already been mentioned but it feels like there’s a need emphasized it. As aliens to a foreign land, most of us will always be tempted to rent a cab especially when we don’t know where to go. And while cabs can be helpful, don’t get spoiled by them.
They are very convenient rides for the heat in the Philippines, but these vehicles stop you from totally enjoying your travels. They can be saviors in life and death situations, but they sure are leeches to your travel budget.
Join the wagon of the locals and ride the local means for transportation. Have a memorable jeepney or tricycle ride! Cabs can still be found in your hometown but these local transportations sure can’t be there.
Don’t go smoking anywhere
If you are someone who can’t live without hitting a cigarette or two, the Philippines may not be the home for your hobby. Smoking in public places in the Philippines is not allowed. The government has ordained a law to implement this. There are accompanying penalties for those who disobey this rule and continues to smoke in public.
The penalties of disobeying this law could be up to 10,000php (US$200). And while you could’ve spent that money to try one of the best foods in the market, that money could go down the drain.
If you really can’t stop yourself from having the need to take a blunt, there are smoking areas that can accommodate you. You just have to be patient enough to look for them.
Don’t pet random dogs
Dogs roam freely around the streets in the Philippines. Commonly known as askals or aspins, a shortened term for asong kalye (street dogs) and asong pinoy (filipino dog), these dogs are either abandoned or wild dogs.
Albeit considered smart and sweet for its kind, askals don’t like getting touched. They might enjoy the food you will be giving them, but such action doesn’t assure that they’d be kind back to you. Most of these street dogs are aggressive to those who try to approach them.
There’s also a high chance that these dogs are unvaccinated from rabies. So, if you want to enjoy a rabies-free vacation, make sure to not lay a hand over random dogs. They may look innocent and sweet when they wag their tails asking for food, but they can be very dangerous.
Don’t give beggars money, give them food
The main targets of these beggars are foreigners since most foreigners pity beggars – especially children – they tend to give off money easily. When you give off some money to them, you are confirming the fact that they can get income from simply begging around and not working.
When a beggar comes up to you and starts spreading their palms, give them food instead. You can buy them some meals in the nearest diners or fast-food restaurants to make sure that the money goes to filling their stomachs instead.
Don’t be picky in food
You shouldn’t be picky in food because if you don’t give that dish a chance, you might be missing a whole different world before you. The Philippines is home to a variety of unique dishes that you should definitely try.
One of the rites of foreigners when visiting the country is trying out a balot. The balot is a boiled duck’s egg that has a duck fetus inside. Some foreigners don’t like it, others do. But who knows which fits you? You’ll only know if you try.
Don’t forget to give tips and be nice
A server’s job in a day is very tiring and their salaries would probably not be close to half or fourth of your total salary. Giving them extra tips will not only help them out a bit in their tiring job, but it could also give you a better service. Most of them may already be having a tough day and they don’t need another tough customer to make it worse – or else they might just mess with your orders.
Filipinos are nice people to those who appreciate their efforts. They also tend to remember those who have been nice to them. So, paying a bit more than what the menu required is not really a waste of money. When you are a nice person, the restaurants could be so nice to you that they can give you discounts or even souvenirs when you are about to leave the country.
Read more: The safest and most inexpensive countries in the world
Don’t leave your things unattended
Foreigners are hot targets to the eyes of Filipino kleptomaniacs. If you don’t speak the local language people would automatically think that your backpack is filled with gold and diamonds. So, stay close to your stuff and don’t leave them unattended.
The city life in Manila and Cebu, for example, can be very buzzing that people normally lose their things out of nowhere. Surely, if you lose something in the middle of your trip, your whole vacation could be ruined. Be aware of your surroundings, and always mind your things.
Don’t forget your camera
The Philippines is literally packed with different inspiring societal stories that your camera can offer. From beautiful sceneries to perfect imagery of industrialization and development, this country can offer you picture-perfect settings.
When you travel from one place to another, it is quite essential to treasure them through the lens. They say when you capture smiles and sceneries, you don’t just capture a frozen image, but you also capture the memory that is in it. Imagine forgetting your camera in a splendid trip? Would you allow to leave the places minus the souvenir of tangible memories?
Don’t be scared of the sun
Never forget your sunscreen when you visit the Philippines. The country is relatively close to the equator, making it more visible to the grasp of the sun. So, if you are planning to get a tan during the vacation then the Philippines is a wise choice.
Enjoy the dry season on some of the best Philippines beaches and resorts! You would definitely enjoy the splashes of water on your body that can fight off the heat of the sun. When stepping outside to engage with the local culture, always make sure to bring sunscreen with you.
Your tan skin will always remind you of how you had a great time in the Philippines with the locals and their activities. Never let the sun ruin your mood. Instead, enjoy the sun and get out there!
Don’t be afraid to try new things
From trying out local foods like balot, isaw, kwek-kwek, etc. to engage with the ethnic society, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to ride jeepneys. Don’t be afraid to understand the ways of the locals.
There is always a difference between being careful and being fearsome. The former is learning how to be wise and aware of your surroundings, while the latter is not even giving fun a chance. Fear will only do you no good but enclose you in an environment that you have made much scarier.
Let go of fear and enjoy your trip. The Philippines has so much to offer to you if you allow yourself to enjoy its paradise.
Takeaway – Philippines Travel Tips
One of the many tips to enjoying a vacation is always allowing yourself to enjoy what the locals enjoy. The Philippines is very diverse in nature that when you shift from one city to another you’d be able to experience a whole new different kind of culture.
This country can be packed with so much memory that you could never forget for the rest of your life. The Tourist Secrets to surviving the Philippine journey is already laid out, now its time for you to move out.