The Philippines, a country full of life, colors, nice people and amazing beaches but also some peculiar things you need to know before traveling to this beautiful country. Are you ready?
And while I am writing this I am waiting to buy my ticket to Vigan city. It has been already around 1:50 mins. Since I am here and not yet able to even know if there are tickets available (hahaha). Yes! Just like that!
Patience is the key if you really want to enjoy your trip in the country. Patience to eat, to wait for a bus, taxi, pretty much everything!
Filipinos will warn you in restaurants with nice sentences like “Are you willing to wait Mam?” or answers like “It is tentative the time of departure”, “The product you are looking for is out of stock”, or the most used one: “Excuse me for a while” and then you wait…and wait some more…
Patience is the number one skill you have to develop while traveling the country. So start practicing!
2. Rely more on personal booking rather than online booking.
Online booking it is still something that is not yet fully developed in the country. Yes you find airlines like Cebu Pacific where you can book your flight tickets and check in online, also you can book hotels in booking.com and Agoda platforms and perhaps on Airbnb, but most of the hotels and guesthouses or also called “Transient houses” have to be booked directly with them in place or in a travel agency.
For instance, we wanted to book in advanced our hotel in Vigan but everything was already fully booked in many of the platforms mentioned before. Surprisingly enough, when we arrived, there were plenty of options to stay.
Also, If you want to book a bus ticket in advance is not possible in the Philippines, there are some online platforms where you can do it 3 days in advance before your departure. Nevertheless, the times change quite regularly, so better go to the bus station personally and buy your tickets directly there or with the bus drivers.
3. Get used to the sweets.
Even the expression “it’s very sweet” basically means “it’s very good”. Filipinos love sweet food, so get ready because you will taste it in bread, bacon, ketchup and in many other foods.
4. Well-spoken English.
Americans had a long and continuous influence to the country which made Filipinos adapt quite well to the English language and actually over 90% of the population use English as a second language. So you will not have any problems speaking English and make friends, like me and my new friend in el Nido.
5. Chicken, chicken and more chicken. And rice with chicken.
Filipino food is not very diverse but tasty, you find the typical dish that is chicken with rice, but also Lechon, a super delicious fried pork with rice, or barbecue everywhere. My recommendation: try to find local restaurants where you can really enjoy a fantastic chicken Adobo with rice or sizzling chicken with Java rice, as we did in Baguio Town.
Also, you can find American food everywhere you go. Even in smaller towns, you can find McDonald´s, Burger King and all kind of American fast food chains, even those you think that do not exist anymore.
6. Commuting takes longer than you expect.
Specially if you are traveling by bus, short distances may take longer than expected. Especially because in many parts of the country side they have just one way back and forth, so traffic can get very annoying if there is an accident or if they are fixing the roads, which it happens quite often. Additionally, the public transportation is very poor, the metro lines are not really the best and it is always very full. So my suggestion is: if you want to save lots of time, travel by plane every time you can.
7. A sense of humor is everywhere in the Philippines.
People are in general super nice everywhere you go. People laugh all the time and they always take a chance to dance or sing everywhere. We had a very nice experience especially in Palawan, where the service at Anang Balay hotel (where we stayed) was super nice and friendly, always offering us different kind of breakfasts and fantastic tours along the islands.
8. The best beaches in the world.
No joke! The Philippines has beautiful beaches. You can choose between El Nido, Cebu, Boracay or Siquijor. Wherever you look it’s amazing, the water is as crystal clear as you can ever imagine. So take your time and enjoy the islands as much as possible!
The Philippines is a very nice country to travel, but as a recommendation, do not travel that much by bus, otherwise you will get tired very fast.