I had a great time travelling the Philippines, but there are a few things I wish I’d known before I travelled there. Here’s my top 5 Philippines travel tips…
- It takes ages to get between destinations in the Philippines
Even using a combination of plane, boat and land, it takes a long time to travel between places. Many roads are poor quality making road travel take much longer than usual. Public buses will often stop anywhere and everywhere which adds a considerable amount of time onto journeys.
2. Taxi/tricycle drivers rarely know where they’re going
My first experience of this was my first ever taxi ride in the Manila. Fresh off 24 hours of travelling, I hopped into a fixed rate taxi. The driver seemed to know where he was going, but he tried to drop me off at the wrong accommodation. I had the full address saved on my phone and he still couldn’t figure out where to go. 2 hours later and I finally made it to my hostel. Since then, I got myself a Filipino SIM card with 3G so I can check that drivers are taking us to the correct place.
3. Filipino’s aren’t great at catering for vegetarians or vegans
Filipino’s often think that vegetarians eat fish so may still cook food using fish paste. Vegans will have a particularly difficult time as there’s barely any legumes or pulses in the Philippines. Baguio and Sagada are two places I visited where they have reasonable options for vegetarians.
4. ATM’s are few and far between
There are a lot of towns and cities in the Philippines that don’t have ATM’s. Make sure you carry enough cash, especially if you’re going off the beaten track, as most places won’t accept credit card. Even El Nido only has a couple of cash machines which will often run out of cash by the afternoon.
5. Be wary of the bangkas
Bangkas are the local boats that you’ll see everywhere. On my second ride on one, the steering wheel broke and we were left violently swaying from side to side wondering whether we were going to capsize. There was nothing the crew could do except hope for the best. Fortunately the boat turned around and we were able to make it to shore. The safety standards are simply not the same as those in the UK. Make sure you have a life jacket when you get on a bangka. Most will give one to you when you board. Lonely Planet advises against boat travel at night and I would second that advice.
Ensure you follow general travel advice – make sure the activities you have planned are covered by your travel insurance and that you keep up to date with the foreign office travel advice, as there can be problems with typhoons in the Philippines. Most of all… have fun! Filipino’s are amongst the friendliest people in the world and helped me out heaps of times.
Anything you think I’ve missed? Or any Philippines travel tips you’d like to add? Comment below…