Philippines tips you need to know before traveling


If you’ve never thought about traveling to the Philippines, you should. All your fears and worries about vacationing in such a remote, undeveloped and hurricane-ridden place will disappear once you lay eyes on the wonders that the Philippines has to offer to tourists. Also, if there are a lot of people who go to Southeast Asia to get to know Thailand, why not face an extra three hours flight to Manila, the Philippine capital? In addition, just a little research on some tips from the Philippines to know that it is a safe country, very touristy and that traveling at the right time of year is enough to escape the hurricane season.

⇒ PHILIPPINES TRAVEL GUIDE: Everything you need to know!

Ok, ok, the tourist infrastructure there is still no ‘Brastemp’, but, honestly, it doesn’t differ much from some more isolated locations in the interior of Brazil. Transport is in vans, not buses; the tourist boats are old wooden fishing boats; super cheap hotels may not offer the minimum necessary for a good stay. But then again, some tips from the Philippines to avoid any possible troubles. In addition, it is a super economical country to travel, full of landscapes and attractions that you will not find in Brazil or any nearby nation. And Brazilians don’t even need a visa!

Check out these and other Philippines tips that will make you want to get on board ASAP:

Philippines Tips – Beautiful and Crowded

Prepare your eyes for what lies ahead, as the Philippines is home to some of the most beautiful places in the world! The province of Palawan is particularly rich in breathtaking landscapes. That’s where El Nido and Corón are located, two cities that serve as a base to discover some of the most surreal scenarios you will have the opportunity to see in your entire life. The entire region is surrounded by islands of black limestone rocks carved by time and climate, in a geological formation called ‘karst’. These islands are home to beaches and lagoons with waters so green or so blue that they will take your breath away. Some are hidden by rock formations and you have to swim through crevices to find them.

Despite this, don’t expect a lost paradise, far from the eyes of mass tourism. The Philippines may not be as popular with Brazilian tourists as neighboring Thailand, but there are already people from all over the world spending their holidays there. In the year-end high season, which coincides with the dry season and away from the hurricanes that hit the country (December-January), expect full crowds in tourist spots like El Nido and Corón. There will be hundreds of tour boats departing every day, and the beaches and lagoons will be crowded, even the hidden ones. If you have something more private in mind, top off your travel savings so you can pay for private boats to take you off the beaten track.

Tips from the Philippines - Overcrowding

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Tips from the Philippines – Hygiene and safety

Despite being a poor country, the Philippines, like other Southeast Asian neighbors, is relatively safe and as clean as possible, especially in tourist areas. To avoid going through any trouble in these two areas, take the same preventive measures you would take when visiting any underdeveloped nation. When in doubt about whether it is safe to go out at night or walk/take public transport to such a place, ask at the hotel reception. Choose the places where you’re going to eat with some care, even if that grilled fish in the open air, in the middle of the street, smells good! And if you think anything looks or tastes weird, don’t eat it.

Pork is the most consumed dish in the country and, as we know, it can spoil easily. In addition, none of the wooden boats that make the tours in the Philippines have a refrigerator, so the food for the travelers’ lunch is only conditioned in styrofoam until the time of consumption. Another point to be prepared for is that small cities, even the tourist ones like El Nido and Corón, are very simple places, with narrow streets, precarious constructions, where transport works on the basis of ‘tuk tuk’ and vans and mini markets are really MINI. But everything works well and there are many tourist agencies, restaurants, bars, shops and even pharmacies and hospitals for cases of need.

Philippines Tips - Infrastructure

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Philippines Tips – Watch out for boats

Almost all the boats used for tours or transporting tourists are old fishing boats made of wood and in the traditional Filipino way, which are now used in the most lucrative activity. But the enforcement of navigation standards in the country is no ‘Brastemp’ and there are many tourism companies that operate with boats without ideal maintenance conditions. Therefore, it is good to do a careful research in the numerous agencies that exist in the streets of tourist cities in the Philippines before booking a tour.

⇒ Going to Coron? Book your stay here through Booking ⇐

If the price is too low or if the place is empty, be wary. If possible, ask to see the boat on the tour or talk to other tourists who have already taken the tour and ask for directions. Another warning is due to the boat transport between El Nido and Corón, two of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines and an increasingly common route among tourists. Until February 2015, it was only possible to travel by ordinary wooden boat, as there were no ‘speed boats’ traveling the route – we hear that today there are, but sometimes it is difficult to get reliable and up-to-date information about tourism in the Philippines .

⇒ Going to El Nido? Book your stay here through Booking ⇐

Anyway, if you choose to take the regular boat trip (which costs only US$ 28), be prepared for what you’ll find: An eight-hour trip on a boat without any comfort, few places to sit and just wooden slats, an absolutely inedible meal, and lots and lots of rocking. If traveling with kids, avoid like death. If you are subject to ‘sea seakness’, the popular sea sickness, too. Unfortunately, the only other option for making this trip is to fly from El Nido back to Manila, and from there, take another domestic flight to Corón…

Tips from the Philippines - Boats

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Philippines Tips – Be prepared to spend little

The fact that it is one of the poorest countries in the world is certainly very sad for those who live there, but it helps to make many travelers smile when calculating how much it costs to travel to the Philippines. As we have written a few times, there are four axes that guide a travel budget: accommodation, food, transportation and tours/attractions. In the Philippines, all of them are reasonably cheap, and a more expensive tour here and a more comfortable hotel there can be easily compensated with a meal at a more economical restaurant or exchanging a trip by plane for one by boat.

Finally, the local currency, the Philippine peso, is extremely undervalued, with R$ 1 = 15.25. What will weigh the most on your account of how much it costs to travel to the Philippines are probably the tours. They are all made in typical wooden boats and their prices may vary depending on the size of the boat and the quality of the food and drink served during the tour, which usually lasts all day. In both El Nido and Coron, budget tours cost an average of US$ 25 (add an extra US$ 1 or US$ 2 for a beer on the beach).

Of course, it is always possible to rent a boat and make your own itinerary around the islands, but that would certainly be more expensive than the tours. Despite the precariousness we mentioned above, transport is the item that you should least worry about when calculating how much it costs to travel to the Philippines. If you opt for air travel between the islands, you can count on the friendly prices of ‘low cost’ Cebu Pacific Air. Between cities, tourist transfers are reasonably priced, as is boat transport. A six-hour van ride between Puerto Princesa and El Nido costs about $11.

Food and drink won’t be a problem either. Even the most ‘trendy’ restaurants, like on the beachfront in El Nido, are not very expensive. A meal for two with alcoholic beverages is $14.50. Another factor that helps to reduce the cost is hosting. There is a good variety of hotels of reasonable quality and honest prices there. This means that even travelers used to sharing dorms to save money can afford the ‘luxury’ of a private room in the Philippines without breaking the bank (we’ll talk more about accommodation below). Check here the complete account of how much it costs to travel to the Philippines .

Tips from the Philippines - Costs

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Philippines Tips – Book the Underground River in Advance

Since it was elected one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, the Underground River of Puerto Princesa has been highly sought after by tourists from all over the world, although Brazilians may never have heard of it. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you book the tour at least one month in advance, especially if you are traveling in the high holiday season (December-February or June-August). The river is located in the national park of the same name and which is 80 kilometers from Puerto Princesa, the city used as the base for the tour. It is not possible to visit the river on your own, as this is a nature conservation area that is extremely controlled by the Philippine government.

⇒ Going to Puerto Princesa? Book your stay here through Booking ⇐

To visit the river, you need to hire a tour and the company will collect a ticket so you can enter the park – tickets are limited to a certain number each day. You can contact your hotel to make the reservation or refer you to an agency that can do this. Once you have purchased the tour, you will be taken from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Pier, from where boats depart for the part of the park where the river entrance is located. Each guide takes a password and the group waits in a queue that can last more than an hour until it’s their turn to board. Having made it to the river, you will be placed in a canoe with about 10 other people for the 45-minute ride.

Tips from the Philippines - Underground River

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Tips from the Philippines – Care with accommodation

As in other countries with an impoverished economy, it is not very easy to find a place to stay in the Philippines on a low budget and without going through any hassles. Not that this set of Southeast Asian archipelagos reminds you of the dirt and danger you can be subject to in places like Egypt or India . On the contrary: despite all the care you must always take with your safety and hygiene in underdeveloped countries, the Philippines welcomes tourists with open arms and without tricks or tricks, as they depend heavily on them as a source of income.

The problem here is really one of infrastructure. If the price is super low, you could end up literally at a biboca! There is a certain variety of hotels of reasonable quality and honest prices where to stay in the Philippines, but many whose structure is extremely basic. Precarious even, with bamboo walls, no ventilation and water only at certain times. The first tip for not falling into a hole is to avoid shared rooms. Even super budget travelers get cheap private rooms in the Philippines.

The second, and which we always recommend for any country, but especially for the poorest, is to do a good research and read guest reviews left on booking sites like ‘Booking’ and ‘Hostelworld’. This way you will get a place with good cost-benefit knowing what you will find in terms of infrastructure when you get there. The third tip, of course, is to check out the Escolha Viajar suggestions on where to stay in the Philippines on a budget and away from the perrengues.

Philippines Tips - Accommodation

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Philippines Tips – Weather (when to travel)

Like all countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines suffers from monsoons, the winds that bring heavy and constant precipitation at a certain time of the year. Composed of more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines experiences several subtypes of climate, but in general the humid tropical predominates, divided into two seasons, the dry and the rainy season. The first starts in December and lasts until May, being divided into cold (December-February) and hot (March-May). The least rainy months are from February to April. The rainy season occurs between the months of June and November.

Unlike the color of the sky, which can range from brigadeiro blue to leaden gray, the temperature hardly varies throughout the year in the Philippines, staying between 23ºC and 31ºC and can be a little lower in mountainous areas or a little higher as the humidity of the air also rises. But, in this group of islands, you have to be careful with something more than just rain that can disrupt your boat trips along the wonderful beaches of El Nido, Boracay or Corón. The Philippines is part of the Pacific typhoon belt, whose season runs from July to October.

An average of nine tropical storms or typhoons hit the country each year, potentially causing serious damage. In November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest in the history of the Philippines, left 6,800 dead and hundreds missing. Given all these factors, Philippines tips on when is the best time to travel are essential! We recommend that you go between the months of December and May, thus avoiding monsoons and hurricanes.

Philippines Tips - Weather

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

Tips from the Philippines – Brazilians do not need a visa

Brazilians do not need a visa for tourist trips, for up to 30 days, but a yellow fever vaccine is required. When entering the Philippines, you must present a passport valid for at least six months and the international certificate of vaccination. Find out how to get the yellow fever vaccine here .

Philippines Tips - Visa

Photo: Ticiana Giehl and Marquinhos Pereira/Escolha Viajar

*** Escolha Viajar was in the Philippines in February 2015 ***

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