10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines.

January 15, 2020

El Nido Travel Guide


Asia, Philippines, Travel Guides

The Philippines are truly one of the most breathtaking places on earth. The islands are full of adventure, beauty, and so much fun. The Philippines are made up of over 7,000 islands, so there is so much to see and experience and we barely scratched the surface, but we loved our time there and our experience was truly unforgettable. It’s one of those places that’s unlike anywhere else. Whether you’re planning a relaxing beach getaway, wanting to experience the best snorkeling of your life, or looking to find the most epic waterfalls, here are a few things you should know before you go:

10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines
10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines

10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines:

1. Plan Ahead

There are so many islands and so many different things to do, but it can be pretty complicated to figure out how to get from island to island or even just to another part of the island, so do your research ahead of time so you’re not stressed. It’s not one of those places where you can show up and just figure it out as you go. I mean, you can, but you’ll probably lose a lot of time and end up getting stuck somewhere when you wanted to be relaxing on a beach or swimming in a waterfall. So plan ahead. It’s worth it. That being said, be sure to plan some time to be flexible. If it rains or you miss a bus, you don’t want it to ruin your trip, so give yourself extra time in your plans.

2. WiFi is super limited on the islands

Wifi on the islands is very limited, and even at the hotels and restaurants that do have wifi, it’s very slow and not super reliable. Which can be a good thing if you want to just disconnect and enjoy the island life. But, if you want to share photos on Instagram or use maps to get around town, we suggest getting a SIM card as soon as you arrive in the Philippines. We got a SIM card from the Cebu airport with 10 GB for 600 PHP (about $12 USD). Be sure to call your provider before you go and make sure your phone is unlocked so you can use a foreign SIM.

3. The fastest way to island hop is to fly

If it works with your budget, you’ll save time by flying instead of taking ferries between islands. Ferries are also canceled sometimes due to bad weather. Buses and ferries are cheaper, but they take way longer and sometimes drop you off in places where you have to take another bus, tricycle, or ferry to get to where you want to go. We learned that the hard way and said if we could do it again, we’d fly instead. You’ll save yourself so much travel time and give yourself more time actually exploring if you just fly. We flew Cebu Pacific and Air Swift between a few islands and had great experiences with both of the!
what to do in palawan
philippines travel tips

4. Always carry cash

Credit cards aren’t really accepted anywhere, and if they are there’s generally a huge fee, so make sure you always have cash on you. Every island we went to had an ATM in town, so it was pretty easy to pull out cash as we needed it, but we suggest pulling out a good amount of cash at the airport when you land, so you’re not stuck without cash when you need it. Also, try to carry smaller bills, because a lot of times people don’t have change for the large bills. When you’re on the islands, be sure to pull out money from the ATMs in the morning, because some of the ATMs run out of money by the end of the day. We also always suggest getting a Charles Schwab bank account, so you can avoid ATM fees while you’re traveling.

5. Plan to go during dry season

Dry season is from November to May and wet season is from June to October. Some islands are an exception to this rule though, like Siargao, where dry season is March to November and wet season is November to February. We went at the end of wet season and it was still pretty rainy, but even on the days when it was raining, we still got a few hours of sunshine. The weather also differs quite a bit from island to island, so if it’s rainy on one island, hop on over to the next and the weather might be completely different. When we go back, we’ll go during dry season for sure.

6. Be prepared for it to be hot

The temperature doesn’t really drop below 70 °F in the Philippines, so it doesn’t matter what time of year you go, it’s pretty much always going to be hot and humid. So don’t worry about packing fancy clothes, and just pack a lot of loose fitting tops and shorts. And make sure you bring a lot of bathing suits, because you’ll want to spend most of your time in the in the beautiful water there anyway.

7. Don’t worry about packing nice shoes

Between dirt roads, hopping on and off scooters, and going from beach to beach, your shoes get pretty dirty. I wore my Havaianas flip flops everywhere and noticed all of the locals were wearing them too. They’re perfect to wear on the beach and easy to clean if they get muddy from the rain or a waterfall adventure.
How to Get to Siquijor Island
10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines

8. Bring bug spray and sunscreen with you

Since most of your time in the Philippines will be spent outside, be sure to bring sunscreen with you. A lot of the local sunscreens have bleach or skin whitening chemicals in them (which is so terribly sad), so bring your own sunscreen from home. We love this one, because it’s clean and reef-friendly. We weren’t prepared for mosquitoes and wished we had packed some bug spray with us, so don’t forget it. Some islands are worse than others, but we got wrecked by mosquitoes on a few of the islands. 

9. Most everyone speaks english and the people are so nice

Pretty much everyone speaks English and all of the menus and signs are in English. So it’s pretty easy to communicate with the locals and find your way around. And the local Filipino people are so friendly! We couldn’t get over how kind, helpful, and welcoming everyone was. Everyone was so nice and wanted to have real conversations with us. Their laid back, happy island lifestyle is truly infectious. It’s hard not to be incredibly happy when you’re in such a beautiful place!

10. Have fun!

They say, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” and honestly, they’re right! The Philippines are like a giant adult playground with rope swings, cliff jumps, zip-lines, insane coral reefs, and some of the most beautiful water we’ve ever seen in our lives. It’s truly an incredible place to go if you’re looking for a mix of relaxation, adventure, and incredible natural beauty. Be sure to leave time on your itinerary to play in waterfalls. Relax on the beaches, and just enjoy the island life! 




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10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines
10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines
10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Philippines

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