7 Things to remember when planning your Philippines vacation
Going to the Philippines? Good for you. You’ve chosen a great place that will give you loads of fun, beauty and adventure. However, just like with every destination, it is important to know some things first before traveling to maximize your chances of enjoying a hassle-free vacation. If it is your first time traveling to the Philippines, then check out these tips and take a look at the important things to consider first before embarking on that journey.
Research and reading travel advisories are crucial
When planning your Philippine vacation, always do your research and read travel advisories first so you would know what to expect. The country is generally safe but there are places where you might be at risk. There are also tourist places that might be closed for some time just like what’s happening in Boracay right now. Moreover, travel advisories are important for weather updates so you will know if there are flights cancelled or delayed. If you don’t do research, you might end up ruining your own vacation even before it starts.
Cash is necessary
If you will stay in Manila for most of your vacation, you will not have a problem using your credit card. However, if you plan on staying in a remote island somewhere, then you must have cash with you all the time. Restaurants and shops in the provinces are not yet equipped with card payment machines so it is better to always pay with cash. There are money changers in most places but ATMs do not always work with international cards. It is also important to note that not all towns even have ATMs.
Everybody speaks English, but it’s not always helpful
One thing that might surprise you is how western Philippines is compared to other Southeast Asian neighbors. You will often hear kids and locals talking to you in English with relative ease. You will also have no trouble reading most of the traffic signs and announcements. That said, take travel advice provided by locals with more than a grain of salt – their standards are very low and most of them hardly even travel – they try very hard to be helpful but might inadvertently misguide you.
A flexible itinerary is necessary
If you have no time and not enough knowledge to plan a flexible itinerary in the Philippines, and that’s something a good Philippines travel agency can help you with tremendously. Transport in the country is not heavily organized. This means that when you travel from one island to the next, it can be extremely chaotic and expensive so it is best to ask someone who really knows the place for help. Weather can change drastically as well but if you have a flexible itinerary, then you can still have something else to do or some place to go to if plan A doesn’t work out.
Filipinos love their food but foreigners are not a big fan
Filipino food is varied. There is no distinct taste to really describe the typical Filipino dish. However, foreigners usually find it either too sweet or too fat for their liking. Most of the food sold on the streets are cooked by people who are not really trained to cook properly like in many eateries where they already pre-cook it in the morning and then put them in catering trays all day for locals to buy.
This is so different in Thailand or India where you can just go in and order some food from a menu even in remote places and the cook will make it for you right there and then, fresh! You also need to gently educate the locals if you will ask them to grill a fish for you because they typically don’t understand what is well-done, rare and medium rare. Nevertheless, if you want to enjoy the real Filipino foods, eat at a Filipino home. Home-cooked meals prepared by the grandmother or the mother are always much better than what you pay for outside. Lastly, the Philippines have the best seafood and fish and the local roasted chicken is highly-recommended!
You need an exit ticket
In order to pass the immigration scrutiny and end up not looking too suspicious, always make sure that you have an exit ticket which proves that you have no ulterior motives of over-staying in the country.
Gifting is important
If you will visit a friend in the Philippines or if you are coming to see someone; always remember to bring some sort of souvenir or item from your home country to be given to them. It is a simple gesture that proves you were thinking about them. Filipinos do that always with their families and friends so they expect you to do the same.