Top 20 Travel Tips From Our Travels To The Philippines
In 2019, my wife and I had the pleasure of traveling to the Philippines for 5 weeks from Canada. Below, are 20 Useful Philippines Travel Tips we made a note of during our time in the country.
For those of you traveling to the Philippines for the first time, I hope a few of them may be useful for you.
Our Brief Philippines Travel Itinerary
Our journey began from Vancouver British Columbia, Canada to Taipei, catching a connecting flight to Cebu in the Philippines. We spent our first 3 nights in the City of Cebu.
We then caught the Fast Ferry over to the beautiful island of Bohol.
It was then on to Palawan and exploring its picturesque surrounding islands.
Philippines Travel Tips # 1 – Traffic In Cebu
Traffic in the City is … Outrageous!
It can become grid locked at anytime throughout the day. Especially crossing the bridge from the airport into the city proper. If you have a connecting flight with an overnight stay, book accommodation close to the airport in Lapu-Lapu if possible.
Philippines Travel Tips # 2 – Don’t Wear Jewelry In The City
Photo by Manjeet Singh Yadav from Pexels
This was highly recommended by one of our tour guides in the city. Avoid wearing jewelry if at all possible, especially gold earrings! It is fairly common for thieves to rip your earrings right from your ears as they are passing by. Yikes!!
If you don’t need jewelry when traveling anywhere in the world, it’s always best to leave it at home. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to petty thieves if you don’t have to.
Philippines Travel Tips # 3 – Automated Teller Machines (ATM)
We found most ATMs to be very reliable, particularly with the Philippines National Bank. We always used the ATMs with this bank at the airports and at their branches whenever possible.
We did have one issue unfortunately while making an evening withdrawal when the bank was closed. There was a problem with the ATM and we were charged for the withdrawal without receiving the cash. Unfortunately, we were leaving early the next morning and could not contact the bank. A one time incident, that could happen most anywhere when using automated machines.
Philippines Travel Tips # 4 – Take A Walking Food Tour
If your a foodie lover like I am, then I recommend taking a walking food tour in Old Cebu City. We enjoyed a fun and informative tour with a student with Backstreet Academy. ?
It really gives you a taste and feel of what the locals eat in the Philippines and not what you might expect to be served in a typical hotel or tourist restaurant.
Philippines Travel Tips # 5 – Beer In The Philippines
I am a beer lover and actually I try to bring home a sample with me on all our travels. I then display the (empty) can or bottle in my Travel Goodie bookshelf at home as a souvenir. ?
The popular beer is San Miguel Beer and we picked it up for about PHP 40, or less than $1 usd in a 7-Eleven or sari-sari store, for a large bottle.
They also make the Red Horse Extra Strong Brand, which turned out to be my favorite. A much bolder taste with that little extra kick! ?
Travel Tips # 6 – Restaurants And Tipping
At many restaurants, we found it was important to check your bill before adding a gratuity. Some restaurants will automatically add a service charge to the bill. This didn’t happen very often, but a few times we did notice an extra charge on the bill and had to ask what it was.
Just a precaution, it is something that is becoming more frequent in many restaurants around the world!
Travel Tip # 7 – Bottled Water Is Everywhere
As with traveling to any foreign country or most anywhere for that matter these days, drink bottled water only. It is readily available and very cheap to purchase most everywhere you travel to, in the Philippines.
If you’re served a glass of water in the restaurant, be sure it is not from a tap!
Philippines Tip # 8 – Take Probiotic Supplements
On our last few travels to foreign destinations, my wife and I have got in the habit of taking Probiotic Supplements before leaving on our trip, and during the time we are away. Since we started taking probiotics, knock on wood, we have both ill free when traveling. Hopefully, it’s just another healthy and natural way of preventing illness when away from home. ?
Be sure to check out my post here on Probiotics For Healthy Travel.
Traveling Tip # 9 – Be Sure To Pack TP
As with our travels throughout India and Thailand, it’s always good to pack a roll of toilet paper with you. Most public toilets we encountered, didn’t have any available. The ones that did, normally charged about 5php for a few tissues.
We never leave home without packing at least one roll packed in our travel bag!
Travel Tip # 10 – CR Stands For Comfort Room
While we’re on the topic of restrooms in the Philippines, when you see a CR sign or a door, it stands for Comfort Room or as we westerners refer it to the Restroom/ Washroom/Toilet. ?
Travel Tips # 11 – Pack Sun Screen Lotion
As we found on our travels to Thailand, suntan and sunscreen lotion is very expensive. Unless you’re prepared to pay outrageous dollars for this, be sure to pack enough with you for your vacation or travels.
Travel Philippines Tip # 12 – Be Sure To Enjoy A Massage
Be sure to treat yourself to a massage while in the Philippines. They’re very inexpensive and definitely worth it. We paid about 300php for a one hour full body Swedish massage at reputable shops with experienced massage therapists. In Cebu, there’s a franchise outlet called Nuat Thai Massage, which was very good!
Don’t miss out on a relaxing body massage or foot massage during your travels!
Philippines Travel Tip # 13 – Reservations For Fast Ferries
If you’re heading over to the very popular island of Bohol from Cebu, then it’s definitely worth making advance reservations for the fast ferry. This, especially so during the high season. Ocean Jet is what we used with no difficulties at all booking online.
They can be found at …
In Palawan, we booked the Phimal Fast Ferry with a very well known and reputable travel business called Travel Palawan. Again, very reputable and easy to book online for transfers, tours and much more. They can be found at …
Travel Tip # 14 – Getting Around On The Islands
In Cebu, air conditioned taxis are excellent and affordable. Uber and Grab service is also in the cities. When you’re on the islands, the cheapest and most common way to get around is by trike. Trikes are cheap and found everywhere. They are very uncomfortable, rough to ride in and made for small people, but the quickest and best way to get around.
Be sure to negotiate the fare with the driver as with catching a ride in any destination. Once you get used to moving from A to B, you’ll automatically know what to pay and what is expected. Ferry terminals are busy and this is where trike drivers will prey on tourists and rip you off if they can.
Don’t grab the first one who approaches you, unless you know what to pay in advance. Take your time, let things clear out and then play let’s make a deal! After all, isn’t that half the fun and the overall experience of traveling?
Getting a chance to talk and have fun with the locals! ?
Philippines Travel Tips # 15 – Scooters For Rent
Scooters are readily available to rent most everywhere. A great way to get around the islands on your own. However, did you know that scooter accidents are the Number 1 cause of injury to tourists when traveling? We saw no less than 4 injuries tourists succumbed to from Scooter mishaps, and one very serious! So they are great, but be very careful!
Make sure you have the proper Travel Medical Insurance and that you will be covered if involved in a scooter mishap!
Philippine Travel Tip # 16 – Pack A Pair Of Water Shoes
If you love the water and what the islands have to offer, definitely pack a pair of water shoes with you. On many of the boat tours and waterfall tours there are to experience, it is advisable and often necessary to have water shoes. Most will rent you a pair for the tour, or you can even purchase them as well.
But if you are planning multiple tours, then I would suggest packing your own from home.
Travel Tips # 17 – Water Bags For Excursions
It’s definitely recommended to carry a waterproof Water Bag for your boat tours and other excursions you may be taking on the islands. Things will get wet! I would recommend waiting to buy one in the Philippines.
Vendors sell them everywhere, and they are much cheaper than buying them in North America.
Travel Tip # 18 – Island Tours
Traveling throughout the islands in the Philippines is absolutely amazing! We love water sports, especially snorkeling and scuba diving. If you are like us, then you should at least pack your own mask and snorkel with you. The ones they loan you for the tours are pretty beat up and used. If you don’t mind that for the odd tour you may be taking, no problem.
If you are like us and spend most of your days out on the water, then pack your own. You won’t regret it.
Philippines Travel Tip # 19 – Entry Tourist Visa
Canadians, U.S. citizens and those from the UK planning to enter and visit the Philippines for 30 days or less do not need a visa prior to travel, provided their passport is valid and they have a valid return ticket.
For more information on Entry, I’ve listed the Philippines Official Embassy website below for your convenience.
Travel Tip # 20 – Enjoy The Philippines
Most of all, have a great time traveling in the Philippines. The locals are very friendly and eager to assist in any way they can. English is spoken by most everyone, so it’s easy to travel most anywhere in the country.
Be respectful of the local culture and customs and you will have a wonderful time in this beautiful country!
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