Philippines Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: Piso (PHP)
🕙Time Zone: +8 GMT
📞Phone Code: +63
🌐Language: Tagalog (Filipino) (English undertood)
✈️Best time to visit: Dec-Feb
🍴Eat: Adobo (Braised Pork)
🍷Drink: Tropical Juices
🗺️Don't miss: A Jeepney ride! / Taal Valcano Tour
🗺 Menu of Contents:
The Philippines archipelago is one of Southeast Asia's less explored tourist jewels. Visitors will find plenty to see and do in the gorgeous island chain, from lazing on palm-fringed beaches to world-class scuba diving and snorkelling sites. They will also encounter a wealth of great cultural attractions in colonial cities with rich history and architecture.
Visitors who come to the islands, generally fall into 3 categories: package-tour holidaymakers, visiting one of the country's excellent beach resorts (found in Cebu, Bohol, Boracay or Puerto Galera); independent adventure travellers, hopping the archipelago in search of excitement and local experiences and lastly the city-culture buffs who visit the capital of Manila and can see first hand one of the world's densest populations and heavy traffic jams!
Whichever way visitors decide to experience the Philippines, they'll come across several tourist sights and activities they simply can't afford to miss. The capital, Manila, is a chaotic yet exciting city, with plenty to keep travellers occupied. Intramuros, the historic walled enclave full of Spanish-colonial architecture, and Binondo, one of the oldest and most vibrant Chinatowns in the world are among the many wonderful places on offer.
Regarding natural wonders, the Philippines abounds with unforgettable excursions, such as the marvellous Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Taal Volcano and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World). Nature-lovers will love the country's beautiful green, captivating landscapes.
Adding to the list of advantages, in the Philippines, its locals are always friendly, willing to help and very customer orientated. English speaking is very common on the islands as tourism is a very big part of the country's economy now a days. Be sure to come with plenty of energy, it's more fun in the Philippines!
As the Philippines are a combination of islands located in the Pacific Ocean it makes perfect sense to choose to travel there by plane. Manila, it's capital, and Cebu are the main gateways to get into the country.
Travelling to the Philippines from overseas is much easier now, the airport has been modernised and its main airline, Philippine Airlines, is now allowed to fly back to Europe after an absence of many years due to security concerns. However now it's ratings have gone up and it's among the safest airlines with friendly crew and modern planes.
You can also fly to the capital with many international airlines, predominantly Asian airlines and from the Gulf,but also many European and American carries.
Domestically once you are there, it's still very popular to travel by air. Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific or Air Asia offer very good connections.
There is no train network that can take you around the islands. However, transport infrastructure is getting better as the years go by and driving within the islands is the best alternative. Car hire is very cheap as well as petrol.
Most locals travel around the islands by bus to smaller communities. There are many provincial companies and much competition, you can buy online now and plan in advance to get the best fares. Unfortunately, there is not a website (yet) where to check for all combined companies and so, you need to check individually or by route.
In the Philippines you will quickly discover this is the "favourite" mode of transport.
It's old fashioned look, similar to that of a jeep but with an extended passenger area, enough to sit 20 people is a big step back in time for many travellers willing to try it.
On the plus side, it's very convenient, fast (at times), cheap and accessible everywhere it passes. It's a very curious way of travelling, fun and the local way to get around in Manila and other big cities.
On the down side, there are often no windows, making it hard breathing the fumes of traffic around and can it get very compacted at peak times. For tourists it can very daunting to find out where to pick one up from or which number or line to follow.
In fact there are no numbers for the routes, only signs at the front of the Jeepney will guide to where they ride.
To add to the confusion, the routes they run, are not always the same, each day, depending on the traffic, demand and weather. But if you are brave enough to get one yourself and travel around be sure to have a GPS device to know where to get off. Going with a local would be the best recommendation, as they speak the language and will be able to know where to get off and help you not get scammed by asking you to pay higher fares than other local travellers.
❗Attention: Taking a jeepney should be done with a local preferably. Be aware of pickpockets as passengers can travel very close together.
The country's tropical climate divides clearly into a rainy season and a dry season. The summer monsoon brings heavy rains to most of the country from May to October, and the winter monsoon brings cooler and drier air from December to February. The hottest time of year is April and May, although there is little variation in temperature all year round. Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May, when temperatures can rise up to around 40°C!
However, there are variations in climate according to region, such as along the eastern seaboard, where the rainy season generally runs from December to March. Also, it's generally dry when the rest of the country is at its wettest. Average sea-level temperatures rarely drop below 27°C, so swimming is possible year-round, providing the ocean is calm. Tropical storms and typhoons are possible between July and October.
The best time to visit the Philippines is between November and February. However, this is also the peak tourist season, meaning flight and accommodation prices will be higher.
The Filipino Cuisine, has an interesting mixture between Asian and European dishes, specially the Spanish, as The Philippines was conquered by them. Now the food has evolved,and not only traditional dishes but also can find plenty of influence from different countries such as China, Japan, Korea and the United States.
Some traditional specialities in Manila and the Philippines are: Adobo (Braised pork or chicken in a tangy sauce made from soy, vinegar and garlic) Lechon: (Roasted whole pig, prepared for fiestas and family celebrations), Kare-kare:(An oxtail stew in peanut sauce, Pansit canton:(Chinese-influenced dish of noodles stir fried with meat and vegetables), Sinangag (Garlic-fried rice, a popular local breakfast) Tapa (Delicious dried marinated beefsteak, often fried and served with fried rice and a fried egg). Balut: A par-boiled, fertilised duck egg containing a baby chick, served as a beer snack across the archipelago. Longanisa (Spanish-style sausage, flavoured with local spices; each province has its own recipe).
The most famous drink is the popular locally brewed beer "San Miguel". Its available nationwide. Also spirits like rum are quite common to drink in the Philippines.
Non-alcoholic drinks include the excellent tropical juices found in cafes and restaurants. Even local stalls on the streets can surprise you with local fruits cocktails, milkshakes and juices made with Pineapple, Mango. Vanilla, Banana, Red Berries, Lemon, amongst many more flavours.
When I traveled to the Philippines for the first time it was a feeling of excitement mixed with nervousness. It was delightfully surprising to see all what this country can offer and break the mith that this country is a dangerous place to visit.
It's one of my favourites places to visit in Asia now, the friendly nature of its people, the interesting cuisine, crazy but fun public transportation Jeepney system, beautiful countryside and beaches are the reasons which make you want come come back there!
(Visited 4 times)