First Time Philippines?

First Time Philippines


–Print out your onward ticket – airlines won’t allow you to board a Philippines-bound flight without it.

–Make sure your passport is valid for six months past your arrival date.

–Check airline baggage restrictions.

–Inform your debit-/credit-card company.

—-rrange for appropriate travel insurance.

 What to Pack

–Sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen

–Earplugs – roosters and karaoke operate at full volume

–Headlamp – brownouts, blackouts and no electricity are common

–Cash is king so bring a waist-belt to keep it secure

–Sarong or pullover for those ridiculously cold air-con buses and ferries

–Dry bag

–Mask, snorkel, rash guard and reef booties for snorkelling

–Water bottle

 Top Tips for Your Trip

–If you’re comfortable on a motorbike, it’s a great way both to overcome unreliable bus schedules and to experience the sights and sounds of ordinary rural life.

–Stay flexible so you can reroute if a typhoon is approaching your projected path. –dvance transport and hotel bookings usually aren’t a necessity outside of ‘superpeak’ periods.

–Keep track of weather-related disturbances through and

–Bring a water bottle and fill it up for P5 (or for free) at ubiquitous water-refilling stations.

–Basketball players rejoice: nearly every village, no matter how small and remote, has a court. Call ‘next’ and be ready to compete.

–Schedule at least half a day for connecting flights back to Manila or Cebu, to account for possible delays.

A Casual Place

Because of the tropical climate, the Philippines by necessity is a casual place. That being said, despite the heat most Filipinos look fairly unfazed – of course they’re used to it – and tend to wear trousers in urban areas (offices of course) and for trips to the mall.

In beach towns, flip-flops or sandals, shorts, T-shirts or tank tops, and a bathing suit (bikinis are fine) are all you’ll need. Outside of beach settings, lightweight and comfortable is the way to go. In rural areas and villages, locals tend to avoid overly revealing clothing – although again, shorts and flip-flops are the norm for both sexes.

In Muslim areas of Mindanao, locals dress more conservatively and women, especially, avoid wearing revealing clothing.


During the high season, reservations are recommended at popular tourist areas such as Boracay or El Nido. –t other times, you should do fine walking in.

Resorts These range from ultraluxurious, the rival of any in Southeast –sia, to basic fan-cooled bungalows.

Hotels Many cater to the domestic market, which means generic concrete construction and air-con. Five-star hotels in Manila are truly sumptuous affairs.

Pensionnes Sort of a catch-all term referring to less expensive, independently owned hotels.

Hostels Those that target foreign travellers tend to be more comfortable and stylish, but also more expensive, than ones for primarily young Filipinos.


Anger Management Don’t lose your temper – Filipinos will think you’re loco-loco (crazy).

Food –bstain from grabbing that last morsel on the communal food platter – your hosts might think you’re a pauper.

Transport For transport frustrations, smile and adopt the Filipino maxim – bahala na (whatever will be will be).

Karaoke When engaged in karaoke (and trust us, you will be), don’t insult the person who sounds like a chicken getting strangled, lest it be taken the wrong way.

Jeepneys Don’t complain about neighbours getting cosy with you on jeepneys – space is meant to be shared.

Restaurants Filipinos hiss to gain someone’s attention, often in restaurants to signal the waiter. It’s not considered rude.


English is widely spoken in urban centres and areas frequented by tourists. Even in the most rural areas, a few basic expressions might be understood. –long with English, the other official language is Tagalog (Filipino). The country’s unique colonial history means Spanish speakers will recognise many words. While Filipino is the lingua franca, there are 165 other languages spoken throughout the archipelago – Cebuano (Visayan) and Ilocano are two of the most widespread.


Modest haggling is expected at many outdoor markets, particularly if those markets cater to tourists. Note, though, that prices for food and drink are usually set.

Bargaining is the rule when renting motorbikes or hiring tricycles, bangkas or taxis for the day. It is also possible to negotiate with hotels if you don’t have a booking, especially in resort areas in the low season.


Restaurants 10% service charge added to bill in cities, tourist hotspots. Otherwise leave 5% to 10%.

Taxis Round up taxi fares, but consider tipping more (P50 to P70) for honest taxi drivers who turn on the meter.

Hotels Not expected, but slide P50 to porters or leave a few hundred pesos in the staff tip box at resorts.

Guides –lways tip your guides; they can really use it.




Originally posted 2021-05-05 19:33:38.