Looking for a travel guide to The Philippines? I brought in Manila local Daene to give us the lowdown on what to do, where to go, and what to eat in The Philippines!
Although not as renowned as its Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines is well on its way to being a popular travel destination.
It’s made up of over 7,000 islands, and plenty of islands mean plenty of beaches – beautiful, pristine beaches you can visit all year round! Meanwhile, the Filipinos are a warm, friendly and fun-loving, and their rich heritage has been infused by Spanish, Chinese and American influences that are all evident in the local food, architecture, and language.
Must go in the Philippines
Most visitors to the Philippines might think of the capital of Manila as nothing else but a necessary stopover to the country’s other, more beautiful places, fearful of its traffic and pollution.
But there’s more to Manila than these – visit the centuries-old walled city of Intramuros, or experience Manila night life and mix and mingle with the city’s beautiful people in the numerous clubs located in Bonifacio Global City.
Rumor has it that Alex Garland’s “The Beach” was actually inspired by the pristine beaches of El Nido, Palawan. Neighboring Coron also offers hidden lagoons and impressive limestone cliffs jutting out above clear aquamarine water.
The crater of Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano whose massive eruption in 1991 was felt worldwide and caused great damage to the Philippines has become a tourist attraction, accessible via a quick ride across otherworldly fields of lahar (volcanic mudflow) and a quick trek up the actual volcano.
Swim and Surf
Can’t go too far from the capital? Tag along with a Manila local and drive south to the beautiful beaches of Batangas to snorkel or dive, or head north to visit popular surf spots in La Union and Baler.
If you’re willing to go even further to get stoked, take a plane from Manila to Siargao Island, best known for its epic Cloud 9 waves.
Must eat in the Philippines
Filipino Street Food
Try the infamous balut or hard boiled fertilized duck egg, skewered and grilled chicken and pig intestine called isaw, fish balls and squid balls deep-fried, street-side. For the less adventurous folk, try the banana cue, which are deep-fried bananas covered in caramelized sugar, or taho, a breakfast treat made of soybean, tapioca pearls, and mixed with sweet syrup.
A traditional Filipino lunch or dinner always includes rice and at least one main dish. Adobo is perhaps most popular, made with pork, chicken, or seafood and cooked in garlic, soy sauce and vinegar.
Perfect for after-party meals and hangover cures, the Filipino all-day breakfast meal of silog has a cup of garlic fried rice (SInangag) and egg (itLOG) as its common components (syllables from each of the names are combined to form the term silog), with variations on the meat aspect of the meal.
A tapsilog has tapa, or cured beef, a tocilog uses tocino, or marinated pork, while a longsilog includes longaniza, or Spanish-style sausages made with Filipino herbs and spices.
Cultural Tips for traveling in the Philippines
Filipinos are a warm, friendly bunch of people, so expect a lot of smiles to come your way when you visit! Most of the population can understand and speak English, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions should you need them.
Filipinos love music, and have a penchant for singing. In any neighborhood at any given time you are likely to hear people rocking out to their favorite songs with a karaoke machine. Whether or not you have talent, don’t be afraid to give it a try and join in!
Cheap travel tips for the Philippines
Different forms of public transportation are available in Manila, such as buses, the legendary jeepneys, and trains. But bus and jeepney routes can be complicated and the trains can be exceptionally crowded, so your best bet is to take a taxi which will be slightly more expensive, but definitely more comfortable and convenient.
When shopping in open-air markets, souvenir shops and bazaars, always try to haggle for a better price. You’ll be surprised how a warm smile and a bit of charm can lead to a great bargain.
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