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Updated by Jackson Rocky on Sep 18, 2015
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Things that Travellers Should Know About Philippines - Top Traveller Tips on Exploring the Philippines

As one of Asia's most popular holiday destinations, the Philippines welcomes hoards of visitors annually. From must-pack items to highlights here are some tips for first time travellers to the country.


Local Lingo

As a multi-lingual nation there are two main languages Filipinos employ on a daily basis. Tagalog is the state language or official lingua franca in the Philippines although it is only used in Luzon. Bisaya and its dialects however are spoken in many regional quarters of the country including Mindanao and Visayas. Those travelling to major tourist hubs in the country and the capital will learn that most locals speak fluent English with residents of urban regions also conversing in English.




Unlike most Asian countries taking a cab or taxi is relatively affordable in the Philippines. Tourists should however only hire taxi cabs with orange symbols on the windshield as these are metered cabs. Non-metered taxis will charge whatever the driver fancies while metered cabs are regulated and cost less than Php 200 for a single ride.




Currency exchange facilities are available in Manila and other major tourist hubs of the country although brining American dollars can go a long way in saving both time and unnecessary hassle as most merchants will accept US currency. ATM machines are also omnipresent in urban areas although a $5 charge is applicable each time a transaction takes place with foreign credit or debit cards.




Travellers heading to various areas of the country to stay with friends or other locals in home stay or paid guest accommodation options should not forget to take a small gift to one's host family. Known as a "pasalubong" these tokens of gratitude go a long way in securing the trust and friendship of locals. Whether it is a food item or a small souvenir from one's home country visitors should not arrive empty handed in the homes of friends or acquaintances sans gifts. Many shops in the country also sell "pasalubong" and tourists can purchase one at the airport as well.


Dress Code

As a largely catholic nation Filipinos prefer a modest dress code and visitors heading to areas outside the capital Manila should stick to non-revealing attire. Although locals in Manila wear fashion forward clothing the rest of the country dresses more conservatively and wearing bikinis and skimpy shorts outside one's hotel is not advisable.


Luggage Handlers

Porters are omnipresent in the Philippines whether it is at airports, bus stations or ferry stops. Unless one is carrying a large among of luggage one cannot handle on one's own employing the services of the porters can be an expensive affair. If travellers are capable of carrying their own luggage, vocally refusing porters will do the trick in deterring possible hustlers.


Visa and Hotel Reservations

Visitors from certain parts of the world do not require visa to enter the country if the stay is less than 21 days while other must obtain visa to enter the country regardless of the duration of stay. Consulting one's home country's Philippines Embassy is the best way to find out visa requirements based on one's travel itinerary. Securing accommodating early can also save costs and unnecessary hassle when it comes to travel time. Those looking for service apartments Manila Philippines counts among its best rests should look no further than the Ascott Makati.

Become a scuba diver! The Philippines boasts some of the best dive sites in the world and offers a variety of short day trips and live aboard experiences to see coral reefs, ship wrecks and whale sharks. Some dive instructors offer student discounts but generally the course will cost between Php 10,000 and Php 18,000. Contact me if you want dive instructor recommendations.