7 Things They Don’t Tell You About Philippine Travel
1. Buy an Exit Ticket
Many countries require this, but most don’t bother to check. They do in the Philippines. You will not enter unless you’ve purchased a flight back out of the country at least 30 days upon your entry.
With that being said, you have 2 options; you could either purchase a cheap flight out via skyscanner or edreams OR you can extend your visa (for another 30 days) at a local Immigration Office for roughly $45.
2. Sim or Skyroam
Upon entering, you’ll be flooded with a plethora of Filipinos asking if you need a sim card. Unless your phone is unlocked you will not be able to use one of their sims & therefore will not be able to call a grab (like lyft or uber) to get you where you need to go.
I recommend purchasing skyroam, a pocket wifi device that offers a variety of plans to fit every budget. You’ll want to get this before leaving for the Philippines. It’s great if you’re traveling from country to country & if you’re a digital nomad too. Get 10% your purchase using the code- FindYourWave at checkout.
3. Metered Taxis OR Grab
The first time my husband & I touched down in Manila it was about 12am, we had just been traveling for 19+ hours & we were exhausted. We unfortunately did not have a Skyroam yet & our phones were locked so we had to get a taxi.
We got charged close to $80 when it should have been around $8-10. With that being said, make sure the taxi is metered when you get in OR just use grab.
4. Lady Issues
In the Philippines they don’t usually provide toilet paper in public restrooms… I learned this the hard way… if you’re a lady always have some handy.
The first couple weeks getting adjusted here, I could not find any tampons! I searched high & low & could not find any. And… when I did they were expensive. I learned because of their Catholic background, they don’t widely believe in using tampons.
So… if you’ll be in the Philippines during your “time of the month” & you’re not planning on staying long I suggest bringing more than enough. If you will be here for a longer period of time, I recommend purchasing a cup; an economic & eco-friendly fix to this problem.
5. Tagalog & English
The languages most widely spoken & being taught in schools are Tagalog & English, however, there are around 170 different dialects & other languages spoken throughout the Philippines.
The Philippines is appealing because they do widely use English, although there are oftentimes still a language barrier so it’s always better to know a couple words to show your respect of their culture:
Salamat (you’ll want to memorize this one)- thank you
Po- this is used at the end of everything you say to show respect, similar to saying mam or sir for example: “Salamat po!”
Para po- please stop- mostly used if you’re trying to get off public transportation
Bayad po- formal way of saying “here’s your money”
Kuya- big brother (kind of like saying ‘bro’ but respectfully)
6. The Food
The Philippines is not known for it’s food & you’ll quickly find that out. Unless you’ll be dining gourmet everyday, Philippines doesn’t offer the most delicious bites when it comes to less expensive or street food unless we’re talking fresh seafood. There are delicacies you’ll want to try such as balut or halo-halo but street food in the Philippines isn’t my favorite. They certainly love rice & eat it with every meal & are also very big on meat such as Cebu’s famous- lechon.
7. Take the Unpaved Path
There’s unlimited adventures to be found in the Philippines whether climbing through rice terraces, going island hopping, snorkeling, or canyoneering. I highly suggest canyoneering in Badian by the way, which was yes a “touristy” attraction. But, I will say that the best adventures I’ve had are the ones that took a little longer to get to maybe, but we’re fully immersed in the culture & in the pure bliss of nature.