3 Tips for First Time Travelers to the Philippines

Once you are bitten by the travel bug, there is no way you can reverse the strong effects of wanderlust. You always feel the need to find every opportunity to satisfy a seemingly unquenchable thirst to see the world at large. And when you visit a new place each time, it is indeed one of the best life experiences you’ll ever have.

There are many lessons you’ll be able to pick up on your way to becoming a seasoned traveler. You learn a lot of things about a country: its culture, food, and people. But before you set foot in one, it’s always prudent to know a few things about the place you’re planning to visit so you can have a pleasant experience without getting into trouble.

Armed with the right knowledge, you won’t have to worry about a thing even when visiting developing countries such as the Philippines. As with any other country, there are dos and don’ts that you have to know to safely enjoy all the spots you want to visit. If you are a first-time tourist in this beautiful nation, here are a few tips by category that you will find useful.

  1. Always Prioritize Your Safety

Safety will always be your number one priority whenever you travel regardless of country. While some are known to be relatively safe, there are those that will need a bit of caution. But you don’t have to worry much about your this when in the Philippines, which is known to be a friendly country, as long as you know what to do.

Just like any other country, it’s not wise to spend in places that are known to have a certain level of danger, especially when alone late at night. You can get around using public transportation, but just be careful around crowded places and make sure you hop on metered taxis. Better yet, book a ride through a ride-hailing app.

  1. See the Sights

The Philippines is a well-known travel destination for its pristine beaches that boasts crystal clear waters. With more than 7,600 islands, you will never run out of these places to go to. Popular tourist spots include Boracay in the province of Aklan, El Nido in Palawan and Siargao in Surigao del Norte.

If you are headquartered in the capital region of Metro Manila, there are a few beaches that are within a few hours by land. Head over to Batangas to enjoy the resorts along the beaches of Nasugbu. You can also go north to Zambales if you’re the type who wants to commune with nature. For surfers, La Union is the go-to destination for riding the waves.

The Philippines is also home to stunning mountain ranges that are perfect destinations for the outdoorsy tourists. Baguio, Banawe, and Sagada in the island of Luzon are three of the best spots to enjoy the cool mountain air, the stunning rice terraces and the mysterious caves. These are only a few of the places you can go to, and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

  1. Have a Taste of the Local Cuisine

There are 144 ethnolinguistic groups in the country each with their own distinct cuisine. And with colonial influence playing a huge role, the food culture in the Philippines is one of the most multi-faceted, making it the best representation of ‘East meets West.’

You will never run out of restaurants to go to, so go ahead and explore. If you are the adventurous foodie type, you can go ahead and sample the delicious street food, but make sure they are clean. Bring your own bottled beverage if you are sensitive to drinking water.

The Philippines is truly a must-visit destination for travelers looking for a taste of adventure. It’s easy to get around since prices are cheap and the predominantly English-speaking people are friendly. So, plan your next trip to Southeast Asia and spend time in the country dubbed as ‘The Pearl of the Orient Seas.’ You will end up collecting unforgettable memories along the way.

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About Valerie Chua

Valerie Chua is a lifestyle and tech writer

7 Comments on “3 Tips for First Time Travelers to the Philippines”

  1. Sounds like a “tourist promotion” advertisement for the Philippines.

    We should clean first our surroundings of garbage, before we can promote the country. Filipinos throw their garbage anywhere; hoping somebody will clean up for them. The country was notorious for child prostitution. Many foreign sex perverts come to this country, to have sex with minors.

    Tourist safety is a must, if you want to promote tourism. Who would want to be mugged, kidnapped or killed, while you are on vacation…

    Lastly, cleanliness in restaurants need to be improved. There are no toilet papers, in public toilets. So, bring your own toilet paper, if you want to use public toilets !

  2. Did you just cut-and-paste this from a generic travel article and insert the names of some Philippines tourist spots? Why did you even bother?

    Here are my top 10 tips:

    1) Don’t bother exiting NAIA unless you have compelling reason to do so (eg., business). There’s nothing of any possible interest to a tourist in Manila.

    2) If you have to go somewhere in Manila, and it’s less than a couple of kilometers, walk. It’s quicker. If it’s further, use Grab. If you have to take a taxi out of NAIA, go to arrivals and find a white taxi.

    3) The Philippines is not a safe country. There is a large underclass of criminals, drug addicts, people with mental-health problems, and generic idiots who think with their fists rather than their brains. Do not ever get into an argument with a Filipino: there is a finite chance he will either kill you or call his buddies to hurt you badly. Nobody will care. By the same token, do not go off drinking or gambling with people you do not know. There is a high probability of them robbing you or worse.

    4) Stay away from the police. They are mostly harmless (and useless), but a few of them are hardcore criminals with gangster connections.

    5) Bring earplugs. Anywhere you stay will be plagued by Filipinos making a godawful noise. Earplugs will save your sanity.

    6) Unlike neighboring countries, the Philippines has not bothered to develop a recognizable cuisine. There is such a thing as Filipino food, and it’s good when prepared correctly, but you will need to seek out high-end restaurants, and there will most likely be none in the tourist areas. In general you would be best off eating in McDonalds. They serve the highest-quality food you’re likely to find.

    7) Be prepared for third-world sights, sounds, and smells. Neglected children, abused animals, and badly-maintained buildings are par for the course.

    8) Tourist packages are generally a ripoff. If at all possible, hire a car or motorcycle and just do your own thing. Bear in mind, though, that some tourist sites require prepayment for an ‘environmental fee’ or some similar nonsense. Don’t turn up without investigating this first.

    9) Keep cash in your pocket. ATMs are often out-of-order in one way or another, and many establishments don’t accept card payments; or, if they do, they will go through a 15-minute rigmarole to process the transaction.

    10) If possible, stay on the beach, keep the cocktails coming, and then head straight for the airport at the end of the week.

    1. Marius,
      Can I at least add one?
      I was strongly suggested to have some needed vaccinations/inoculations before travelling to PH.

      Secondly, I was also advised NOT to drive myself. Why? I didnt know/understand the language; I didnt know the culturew of locals actually drive and as being a foeriegner, I expect always to be on the losing-end in case of an accident.

  3. I am Italian and my wife is Bulaquenya. Because I can speak Tagalog safety has never been an issue dahil “hindi ako maibebenta”. I actually hiked the remotest trails in the Sierra Madre Mountains alone, I took bues alone from Cubao to Ilocos and I even experienced “Quiapo by night”.
    As for surfing in La Union I agree: San Juan is a great place.
    I’ve found out that the best way to visit the Philippines is by going off the beaten track: the rivers and the waterfalls in the Sierra Madre Mountains are amazing.
    As for food…well, sometimes it can be necessary to drink some “pampatunaw” after eating….and a lot of it

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