Mention that you’re travelling to the Philippines and chances are you’ll probably hear some of these common concerns and misconceptions. So to put travellers at ease, we’ve tried our best to address them here.
“I’ve heard that the Philippines isn’t safe.”
Incidents in the far south islands has given people a false impression about the risk of traveling through the rest of the country. As you may already know, the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands and we assure you that travel in our country is quite safe. Just practise the same kind of caution you would while travelling to any other country.
“I’ve heard I might not like the food.”
The Philippines has many regional foods that are as varied as the Filipinos who love them. While national dishes such as adobo and lechon are local favourites and easily found, there are also many restaurants and eateries in cities to cater to the less-adventurous palate.
We’ve also been told that our meals are big on meat and small on greens. So if you find you aren’t enjoying enough fruit and veg, these are readily available at the outdoor fruit stands, street markets and supermarkets.
“Isn’t it difficult to get there?”
Our international airports are located in Manila, Cebu and Clark. The two major local airlines are Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. If you’re including the Philippines in a travel itinerary of South East Asia, you’ll find many flight carriers offer direct flights from nearby countries.
We do suggest booking well in advance if you plan on arriving in December. Many Filipinos come back to the islands to visit their families for Christmas and it can get quite busy.
“I heard that travelling domestically is tough.”
Travelling around the Philippines is not unlike many other Asian countries and may seem a little challenging or adventurous for those who aren’t accustomed to it. But rest assured, there are many options. Domestic flight carriers serve dozens of routes. For a cheaper option, you’ll find that the Philippines is linked by a network of ferry routes.
An enormous number of bus services also cover the Philippines and generally do it quite cheaply and reliably. Island-hopping on a bus is even an option. You can travel all the way from north to south without getting your feet wet!
Don’t plan too tight a schedule for your trip on buses and ferries, as you could experience delays or leaving early, these are common occurrences. Plan ahead, but be prepared to kick back and enjoy some ‘island time’ in case the schedule changes.
“But isn’t it just like any other country in South East Asia?”
Yes, it is and quite a bit more! In fact the Philippines is every bit South East Asia – all the good bits. But unlike other South East Asian countries, it probably boasts the most diverse list of activities with something for everyone. Choose from swimming with Whale Sharks, great diving, forgotten beaches to good surfing, even better nightlife, UNESCO World Heritage sites, smouldering volcanoes and much much more.
It’s also still a bit “undiscovered” by tourists so don’t be surprised to find yourself enjoying a quiet stretch of beach all to yourself. And did we mention that almost everyone speaks English?
“I don’t think there’s anything to do in Manila”
We beg to differ. Stop by the walled city of Intramuros for a strong sense of Philippines’ history. Hop on a jeepney. Stop by the National Museum of the Filipino people. Roam through the markets and backstreets of Quiapo and Chinatown. Or if you can ride a bike, try a bike tour of this bustling city. But if you really must leave, a bus ride to the scenic town of Tagaytay will take you 1.5 hours.
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