On the first “Ask the Nomad‘s” segment we asked travel bloggers from different countries their opinion about “Why Tourists are Hesitant to Travel to the Philippines?“. this time, we asked our Filipino Travel Bloggers the best travel advice that they could give to a first time (foreign) traveller to the Philippines.
Here’s their best travel advice to first time travellers to the Philippines:
“Stay long enough to discover what the Philippines really is. Travel beyond Manila and see that there is more to the country than the shanty towns and beggars on the streets that dominate every news item about the Philippines. Laze about in our white sand beaches, dive deep to see just how diverse the marine life is, climb our mountains and squeeze into amazing caves. Taste different kinds of adobo and sinigang, raise your cholesterol levels to the maximum with huge servings of lechon, sisig, cripy pata, and chicharon, face your fears and bite into a balut. Dance until dawn in the clubs, partake in the revelry of a festival or just sit down for an inuman (drinking) session with the locals. The Philippines may be exactly what you imagine it to be, but it may also be the complete opposite.”
“Congratulations on a really good decision NOT to skip the Philippines. If it’s your first time visiting our country my advice is to check out Manila and keep an open mind. Do a walking tour of Intramuros or other parts of Old Manila such as Ongpin which is our local Chinatown. You can even choose to stay at one of the 5 star Manila hotel for a luxury experience.When you are done with the city, hop on a plane and fly out to an island of your choice.
Palawan is a popular destination with it’s white sand beaches and limestone cliffs. It still has a lot of rustic and secluded spots which you can enjoy for not a lot of money. The Philippines also has world class dive sites such as Tubbataha Reef which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s also an abundance of non-seaside activities further north with Benguet offering stunning vistas of mountains.
Finally, I would advise you to go during the months of December to January as the weather is not too hot or humid. Although summer can offer you a lot of colorful and fun festivals. Also, you don’t really have to buy a Tagalog phrase book since most Filipinos can speak English. Just bring your sunblock and you’ll be ready to go.”
“The Philippines’ got 7,000+ plus islands… expect divergent traditions and beliefs. If there’s one city you dislike, keep an open mind, and head some place else. You’ll surely find something for you. Whether you prefer the urban jungle or the languid beach getaway, fast food or local delicacies, buzzing club or low key folk house. It’s a country of contrasts and fusions!”
“For first time foreign travelers in the Philippines, the first thing that they need to consider is the climate. The Philippines is a tropical country. There are only two seasons here – summer and rainy. But our country is prone to strong typhoons so I suggest that they avoid setting their vacations in the months of June to October. The best time to go is between March and May. But a warning though, since these months fall on the summer break, most accommodations are quite pricier.
Another tip, go out of Manila! The Philippines has 7,107 islands and the locals outside the city are more trustworthy and hospitable. When choosing where to go, I advise going to the Cordillera Region. Known as the highest mountain range in the country, Cordillera is famous for its scenic spots like Sagada and Batad, Banaue. Aside from the breathtaking sceneries, you can also interact with an ethnic group called the Igorots. It would be a very good experience to know about their rich culture, customs, and traditions. I also recommend Palawan, an island in western Philippines. The beaches of Puerto Prinsesa, Coron, and El Nido are simply world class. And as a bonus, you’ll get to see the Tagbanuas, another ethnic group and are considered the oldest tribe in the country.
Finally, I highly recommend attending a local fiesta. Fiesta is a local festival, usually to celebrate the feast day of a patron saint. Famous ones are Sinulog in Cebu and Dinagyang in Iloilo, which are both honoring Sto. Nino (Holy Child Jesus). Other colorful festivals are the Masskara in Bacolod, said to be our local version of Mardi Gras and Kadayawan in Davao, which is a thanksgiving festival for a bountiful harvest. These festivals showcase the devotion of the Filipinos which is highlighted through a dance, suit up with colorful costumes.”
“Filipinos are known for their hospitality. Don’t be hesitant to ask for directions or recommendations because they’re more than willing to help you out. When going to the Philippines, I advise that you check the weather forecast of the destination you’re going. There are some areas that attracts typhoons in certain months. Make sure to try some of the Filipino foods like Kinilaw, Adobo, Bulalo, Tinola and Sinigang. Try to quirky ones too like Balut and Penoy (most common). It is also advisable not to dress up too much and avoid bringing too much gadgets and signature clothes when commuting as like in most countries, it will attract pickpockets. Make friends and have fun! Also, when a TV network attempts to interview you for some reason, don’t forget to smile and wave your hands. Filipinos are known for still being happy despite the fact that they’re suffering from floods, typhoons, earthquakes and all that. ”
“Don’t be daunted by the 7,107 islands! We know how the Philippines as an archipelago can be a major travel challenge. We understand that many tourists are put off by the hassle of multiple flights and badly linked airports. But we have alternative means of transportation like ferries and buses. Heck, you can even rent a motorbike and drive from the northern tip Luzon to the southern point of Mindanao! You just need to take a roll-on roll-off (RORO) ferry while traveling from island to island.
The Sole Sisters will be taking on a challenge very soon to show that traveling in the Philippines is not as difficult as it seems. We will be documenting a journey all over the country. This will be proof that the Philippines need not be skipped from the Banana Pancake Trail because of small transportation inconveniences. We can’t wait to launch this!”
Next: Best Travel Advice to First Time Travellers to the Philippines Part 2: Let’s hear it from the guys of the Pinoy Travel Blogging community…
Photo Credits: Pics provided by the bloggers. Nina’s picture by Markku Seguerra of Rebelpixel.com