So, you’re planning a trip to the Philippines where the land is actually more of “thousands of islands” (7,641 as of 2017) and it seems like it’s always summer? Well, that’s perfect! And as one of the travel experts from one of those most visited islands, we’re sharing some tips that might help your stay become hassle-free. Read on.
Check for holiday schedules or Fiestas
The Philippines is known for beautiful beaches and fun people but before you go booking island expeditions with us (winks) and flights to the country, you have to remember that Filipinos like having fun and they will take every opportunity they get to do so. We have a lot of “fiestas” and various religious celebrations scheduled differently (or simultaneously) depending on the town you're planning to visit. This is one of the things that makes our culture more colorful. However, unfortunately for travellers, this also means that there will definitely be a huge crowd.
Aside from tourists, if a certain festival in a specific town means that employees are gonna get a non-working holiday, they will either go to the events of the “fiesta” or head out of town for a quick getaway. Heck, if they work in the metro, some of them will even take a leave just so they can come back to their hometowns and celebrate the “fiesta” with their family and friends.
This causes hotel prices in and around the area to go up and travel tickets to sky rocket. Did we mention the terrible traffic? Yup. Think Christmas jam for every festival on specific towns. So unless you’re visiting to witness a certain festival per se, schedule your trip on a different date. Consider yourself warned.
Avoid peak seasons
Aside from holidays and fiestas, there are also peak seasons for tourist destinations. Usually, tourists avoid the Philippines during the months of June and September because those are when the rainy days are queued up. Yes, we did say that it always seems like summer in the Philippines but even the desert isn’t safe from the rain, right? You do have to watch out for the weather condition during this season but don’t worry! This means that generally, hotels are cheaper because the demand is lower. So why not take advantage of those discounts?
Earlier booking means cheaper airfares. And if you wish to visit more than one island, you may do so too! Wouldn’t it be nice to have your flights to various major islands scheduled before you get carried away with all the fun in the sand? This also applies for hotels and tours. The earlier you book, the better. Oh, and make sure you’re open for extensions because you might wanna stay a little bit longer when you get a taste of the Filipino style island life.
Live like the locals
One of the best ways to make your trip to another country or place more meaningful is to submerge yourself in the way of life of its people. Take the public transportation like jeeps and tricycles. We know that there are only a few countries who has them and it’s worth trying at least once.
There’s no point in travelling all the way to the Philippines only to eat the same food you eat in your country. Why not eat what the locals eat? The Filipinos are known to be creative when it comes to food. This is why we make such good cooks. Even the White House has a Filipino chef! Try the local delicacies. There’s a different one in each town.
Check out the market stalls or “carenderia” which means canteen and eat the way locals do. If you’re brave enough, eat with your hands. Yes, we do eat with our hands and no, we’re not savages, we just enjoy our food so much. Some food may be weird or exotic but that’s where the fun and experience comes in. At least give it a shot. You might end up liking the food and surprising yourself. Plus, you’ll also save a lot of money compared to eating out in a restaurant all the time.
Make Filipino “families”
Have you ever heard of the joke that for Filipinos, everyone is related to everyone? Extended families are normal thing for Filipinos. It is a part of our culture. As an effect, the elders call the younger ones “anak” which means my child and the children call friends of their parents (or parents of their friends) “tito” or “tita” which means uncle or aunt. This also applies to foreigners who just wants to see and enjoy our country. Although they might call you ma’am or sir as a sign of respect, (we’re not normally accustomed to first name basis immediately) don’t worry, you’ll get used to it or vice versa.
We love keeping our family ties tight and you can even bet that you’ll find a brother or sister from another mother when you travel here. Even if they’re just someone you met or travelled in a group with for a few days, you will be treated as one of their own. So what’s the point? Families look out for each other and you will definitely get treated like one.
This means that they’ll teach you how to haggle. if you’re not in a mall, always try to haggle. It is expected. Don’t worry, you’ll get tips and ideas from your Filipino friends. Follow their lead. They will also give you a heads up on the regular prices for fare and everything. We’re generally nice people but you can’t avoid the fact that business is business and some drivers or salesmen might try to make you pay more than you should. So to keep you away from hustlers, and point you to the right direction ask the locals. They’ll even act as your tour guide and make sure you experience the place in a true Filipino fashion!
Have a drinking sesh or “tagay” (shot or cheers) with the locals. Don’t be surprised if you’re walking down the street or beach and someone offers you a “shot.” This is a Filipino thing. Everyone takes turns taking shots in a glass and you are very much welcome to join when offered a shot. And no, you can’t say no. It’s actually rude to say no. But then, you can always explain it to them if you don’t drink. You can try but we shall see. Don’t panic though. It’s not a crime scene waiting to happen. It’s just like a right of passage or a welcoming. You drink with the locals to get to know the locals. It’s like getting initiated to the brotherhood or something.
Go on an island expedition, try something a bit more challenging, and do something you’ve never done before. Make your stay more meaningful. Or if you've just finished some island action, just hang out with the locals and they’ll show you how to have fun!
Filipinos are known to be jolly and generally happy people even on their downtime, they’ll make sure you have a good time because, well, we love having a good time and we love documenting them too! We like taking pictures and we’ll gladly take your photos for you. So don’t be shy, let’s take “groufies” together!
Want to have your own island adventure? Shoot us an email and we’ll see what we can do for you. Hope to hear from you soon.