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Welcome traveler!

We're Andre & Lisa, adventurers and experienced budget travelers.

We have over two decades of travel experience and since 2018 have led a full-time nomadic lifestyle.

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Thank you for visiting and we hope you find value in our destination pages! ​We thoroughly research and curate all content ourselves and everything you find on this site is put together by only the two of us.

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PHILIPPINES TRAVEL GUIDE

The Philippines is an archipelago in South-East Asia, at the very eastern edge of Asia, and consists of more than 7000 islands located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. It would take about 20 years to spend a day on every island! The wonderful beaches form part of one of the world's longest coastlines.

 

We spent two months visiting the Philippines during 2019 and we've really only yet scratched the surface of this magnificent destination. We visited the islands of Luzon, Coron, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros and we will definitely be back for more!

Since Spanish colonial times, the Philippines has been Asia's largest Catholic country with 76% of the population currently identifying as Roman Catholic. It is, however, also home to over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences, and a fusion of culture and arts which enhance the uniqueness of the Filipino identity.

 

Needless to say, the characteristic Filipino traits are a confluence of many cultures put together. Filipinos are famous for the Bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie took from Austronesian forefathers. They observe very close family ties which are said to have been passed on by the Chinese. Religion comes from the Spaniards who were responsible for spreading the Christian faith across the archipelago. The genuine and pure expression of hospitality is an inherent trait in Filipinos, especially those that reside within the countryside who may appear very shy initially, but have a generous spirit, as seen in their smiles.

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  • Currency: Philippine Peso (₱) - Current conversion rate here.

  • Electricity: 220V AC electricity. Power outlets are both flat and small round two-prong sockets (type A and type C) as well as flat three-pronged (type B). Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110 V, so ask first if you are in this area! Be sure to carry a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic devices. If you are from a country with 110V as a standard be aware that you will need a voltage converter.

  • Visa: Traveling to the Philippines is easy; the Philippines grants 30-day visa-free entry to passport holders of certain countries while requiring a visa application for others. Most visitors who qualify for visa-free entry can also apply for an extension of the visa waiver of an additional 29 days after arrival. We found this a simple, same-day process in Puerto Princesa but you should avoid the Manila office if possible. Be sure to check online for the latest visa requirements, allow enough time for processing of your visa and note that you may need to hold a valid ticket for either a return journey to your country of origin or your next country of destination. Also, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry. The latest entry requirements are available here.

  • Safety: Most parts of the Philippines are very safe to travel to, however, the whole of the far south is a no-go zone: The areas of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and the Zamboanga Peninsula are all considered extremely dangerous due to terrorist activity. Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching is a common issue, especially in public crowded places like bus and train stations and the bigger cities, so keep your belongings close. In some areas where the party scene is big, drink spiking (known as the Ativan scam) is a common problem. Also, be wary of police officers who may attempt bribery scams. The Philippines is at high risk from cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires. Keep a keen watch for any warnings particularly if you are there during the typhoon season, or better yet, try to avoid it! During our two month stay in 2019, twice there were tropical storms which disrupted all boating and ferry activities and even saw airport closures lasting days.

  • Drugs: Marijuana, shabu (crystal methamphetamine), and all other drugs are very much illegal. Penalties for drugs are very harsh and resisting the police may result in death. Whatever you do, don’t travel without travel insurance! We would suggest checking out World Nomads or SafetyWing, for travel insurance as they have the best coverage for active travellers.

  • Language: English and Filipino are the two official languages of the Philippines, with English being the second most widely spoken language in the country. There are also about 8 other major languages, about 77 major language groups, and more than 170 distinct languages. That being said, English is widely spoken and easy to get by with.

 

RELATED POST:

Getting To CORON, Palawan

SIQUIJOR Travel Guide

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT PHILIPPINES

The climate of the Philippines is tropical, with March to May being both the hottest summer months and the busiest. The Easter holy week usually also falls within this time and is considered to be part of the super peak season for most beach resorts which tend to get overcrowded at this time. The best time to visit for both cooler and drier weather is from mid-January to the end of February. Average temperatures range from 25°C to 32°C and the humidity is around 77%.

 

The rainy season starts in June and extends through to October with high possibilities of strong typhoons which can not only negatively influence travel plans but also frequently cause great destruction and loss of life. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year round. The coolest months are from November to February and are also a great time to visit.

BEST TIME FOR:

The Philippines dry season is from November to April, but always be prepared for some rain! There are plenty of stunning hiking trails throughout The Philippines and the best time for hiking is November to February as March and April can get very hot.

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PHILIPPINES TRAVEL COSTS

Travel in the Philippines is pretty affordable. One of the up and coming popular destinations in Southeast Asia, the combination of incredible beauty and affordability are no doubt the reason why. If you’re happy sleeping in a hostel and eating street food, you can easily get by on $20-25 a day. If you want to stay in slightly nicer accommodation (simple double en-suite style) but are happy to eat local food, up your budget to $30-50 per day and if you prefer to splurge on a fancy hotel or a few restaurant meals, you might want to up your budget to $80 or $100. Local food is generally cheap and delicious, with BBQ chicken with rice costing about $2. Small restaurants on the streets offer adobo and lechon for about $2 - $3. Beer is very cheap, with a big bottle costing only $2 and small bottles less than $1.

Note that ATM withdrawals are generally limited to 10,000 pesos. Only the HSBC ATMs in Manila, Cebu and Davao let you take up to 40,000 pesos per transaction. However, the norm is 20,000.

 

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56-night Philippines Travel Budget Report


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TRAVEL TIPS FOR PHILIPPINES

Getting around the Philippines involves travel by land, sea, and air. No matter how you choose to travel, it will no doubt take longer than you expect! Transportation between larger islands is possible by air, although the low-cost domestic airlines are notorious for running late and canceling flights. There are numerous ferry companies with regular timetables, and although these may be cheaper than flying they may take significantly longer. There are also long-distance buses and limited train routes available.

The cheapest way to get around for short distances is by means of local Jeepneys, Traysikels, and Pedicabs. Metered taxis are also available in most cities (just be sure to insist that they do use the meter!) and taxi applications such as Grab Taxi and Uber are becoming more popular. We made this video on how we had to use five different modes of transport in one day! We recommend using BookAway or 12Go website to view bus and boat schedules ahead of time as these are often sold out well in advance, particularly in the busier seasons.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is one of the largest archipelagos in the world and offers everything from relaxing on white-sand beaches, scuba diving in crystal clear warm waters or just experiencing the cultures and traditions across the many islands and regions. The Philippines is a fantastic destination for both the old and young, the adventurous and the culture seeking.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN PHILIPPINES

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling - The Philippines is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world with the best part being that diving in the Philippines is generally cheaper when compared to neighbouring countries. With so many islands and dive sites, the Philippines offers blue, tranquil waters and abundant reefs which all make for good diving. While there are loads of fantastic dive destinations all over the Philippines, a number of sites stand out including the sunken shipwrecks dating from WWII in Coron, Apo Reef off Negros, Pescador Island close to Moalboal, and Malapascua in Cebu which is famous for the thresher sharks. If you want to venture out further to remote dive sites like Tubbataha Reef, you should consider doing a Philippines liveaboard diving trip to help you reach these largely untouched sites. With so many islands and shallow reefs, the Philippines offers warm, blue, tranquil waters perfect to while away your days snorkelling.

 

Island Hopping - Considering this is a country made up of thousands of islands, it couldn’t really be a Philippines trip without hopping a couple of islands! Most hostels and hotels will offer some island hopping trips. One of the best things to do in the Philippines is to simply go with the flow and head off on any one of the many epic island-hopping adventures. Coron and El Nido is the best know for this activity for a good reason, but you will find no shortage of islands to explore in the Philippines.


RELATED POSTS:

CORON - Island Hopping, Snorkeling and Scuba

EL NIDO - Hw To Choose Your Island Hopping Tour

PORT BARTON vs POBLACION - San Vicente, Palawan

SIQUIJOR Travel Guide

 

Local Festivals - Each municipality, town, city, and province has its own festival, either religious or in honour of the city or a historical reason. Be sure to look out for opportunities to join in the celebrations and make friends with the locals.

National Parks - The Philippines is home to about 60-70 National Parks, which include both mountains and coral reefs.

Rock Climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Puting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing. El Nido is one of the most spectacular places in the Philippines to climb with cliffs overhanging the ocean (which even beginner climbers can enjoy) offering incredible views.

 

RELATED POSTS:

What To See And Do In CORON

Exploring EL NIDO

PORT BARTON vs SAN VICENTE

What To See And Do In PUERTO PRINCESA

What To See And Do In BOHOL

Explore The Best Of PANGLAO

 

Tours Around the Philippines - If you prefer traveling with a group tour, we highly recommend G Adventures. They are a reputable company that has been running tours around the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia for decades. This Island Hopping Tour looks particularly interesting as it covers all the highlights of the Philippines and features stops in Bohol, Panglao, Siquijor, Moalboal the beautiful Palawan. G Adventures has loads of different tour types that cater to all travellers such as well as wellness tours, tours for 18-30-year-olds, and even tours that take you all over Southeast Asia, allowing you to explore a little bit of everything on one trip. If traveling by yourself isn’t your thing and you like the idea of traveling in a group and make new friends, check out the variety of tours that G Adventures has and the details and dates of each trip.

WHAT TO EAT IN PHILIPPINES

Filipino cuisine has developed from the many different cultures that have shaped the Philippines history. It is a wonderful melange of Indian, Chinese, Malay, Spanish, European and American influences. Its cuisine may not be as renowned as many of its neighbours, but Filipino cooking is distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South-East Asian cuisines. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Filipino food is bland, though - instead of spices, Filipino food tend to depend more on garlic, onions and ginger to add flavour to dishes. Vegetarians and vegans will find it difficult to find a Filipino dish which is wholly vegetarian as most of the Filipinos love to add meat to every single dish they eat.

 

RELATED POST:

Fantastic FOOD Of The Philippines

DESSERTS & SNACKS Of The Philippines

 

Adobo - This is arguably the national dish of the Philippines. It consists of chicken or pork (or both), served in a garlicky stew with vinegar and soy sauce as a base. Although the perfect adobo might be a matter of taste, it lies in the delicate balance of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and spices (bay leaves and fresh ground peppercorns).


Silog - Usually eaten at breakfast, the silog is the Filipino cousin of a typical American breakfast of egg, bacon and pancakes. The word silog is slang and a contraction of the words Sinangag (fried rice) and Itlog (egg). You will find variations of silog not only sold in Filipino eateries and stalls but also in restaurants and even fast-food chains such as McDonald's. You can find the following variations of Silog:

  • Adosilog - either chicken or pork.
  • Longsilog - has longganisa or local pork sausage.
  • Tapsilog - with tapa or cured beef.
  • Tocilog - with tocino or cured pork.

 

Lechon de Leche - Slow-roasted baby pork usually served during larger occasions. The crispy skin is delicious and is often the first part that is consumed. Especially on weekends, you will find Lechon stalls popping up with whole pigs on display ready to be carved! They are more often than not found near churches (ready for the congregation after service) and in areas that were located far from the wet market. Different areas flavour Lechon in different ways. When you open the roasted belly, you can smell the lemongrass, the spring onions and Bermuda onions, cloves, black pepper.

 

Filipino Spaghetti - Possibly brought to the Philippines by the American-Italians during the American colonisation, this is unlike any Italian version of spaghetti! Filipino spaghetti can best be described as a local adaptation of Italian spaghetti served with Bolognese sauce which has a distinctively sweet taste, usually made from tomato sauce sweetened with brown sugar or banana ketchup. It is typically topped with sliced hotdogs or smoked longganisa sausages, and grated cheese. It is regarded as comfort food in Philippine cuisine and typically served in almost any special occasion, especially on children's birthdays.

 

Balut - A fertilised egg (usually duck) which is incubated for a period of 14 to 21 days depending on the local culture and then boiled or steamed and eaten directly from the shell. Balut that is incubated for longer periods have a well-developed embryo and the features of the duckling are recognisable. The partially-developed embryo bones are still soft enough to chew they are usually eaten with a sprinkle of salt and vinegar. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac, Balut is also considered a high-protein, hearty snack and you will find it mostly sold by street vendors late afternoons or at night.

 

Halo-Halo - Halo-Halo means mix-mix in Filipino. This is a refreshing dessert made with a mix of sweetened beans and fruits, such as sweetened bananas, red and white beans, sago, crushed ice and milk. Usually, it's topped off with some leche flan, ube jam and/or ice cream.

LGBTQ IN PHILIPPINES

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WHERE TO STAY IN PHILIPPINES

From $7 hostels to $100 hotels, the Philippines has a huge variety of accommodation options. Competition can be fierce and if your dates are flexible and you can stay for a longer period there are plenty of bargains to be had.


We stayed in 13 different accommodations over the 55 nights spent in the Philippines during 2019 and for the most of it, did not find accommodation in the Philippines to be particularly good value nor cheap! Our average nightly cost came to $30 and although this is not necessarily expensive, the choice and quality of accommodation were not great compared to other Southeast Asian countries. You can see our full budget report here.


When visiting the Philippines for the first time, there are several key areas to consider for your stay, each offering its own unique experiences and attractions. Here are some top areas to stay in the Philippines, along with specific accommodation suggestions for different budget ranges:


Where To Stay In Metro Manila (Manila):

Metro Manila is the capital region of the Philippines, offering a mix of historic sites, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Red Planet Manila Makati: Located in Makati City, this budget-friendly hotel offers simple rooms, a central location, and easy access to shopping and dining options.

  • Z Hostel: Situated in Makati City, this trendy hostel offers dormitory beds and private rooms, a rooftop bar, and a lively social atmosphere.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City: A mid-range hotel located near the airport, offering comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast, and a swimming pool.

  • The Peninsula Manila: Situated in Makati City, this mid-range hotel features elegant rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and multiple dining options.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila: A luxury hotel located in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), offering luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and multiple dining options including a rooftop bar with panoramic views.

  • The Manila Hotel: Situated along Manila Bay, this iconic luxury hotel features elegant rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and several dining options including a fine dining restaurant.


Where To Stay In Boracay Island:

Boracay is a popular island destination known for its white sand beaches, clear waters, and vibrant nightlife.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Boracay Backpackers: Located near White Beach, this budget-friendly hostel offers dormitory beds and private rooms, a communal kitchen, and a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Chill Out Hostel: Situated near Station 3, this budget hostel offers affordable rooms, a communal lounge, and easy access to the beach.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • La Carmela de Boracay Resort Hotel: A mid-range resort located along White Beach, offering comfortable rooms, swimming pools, and several dining options including a beachfront restaurant.

  • Henann Garden Resort: Situated near Station 2, this mid-range resort features modern rooms, swimming pools, and a restaurant serving international cuisine.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Discovery Shores Boracay: A luxury resort located along White Beach, offering luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and multiple dining options including a beachfront restaurant.

  • Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa: Situated on a secluded cove, this luxury resort features elegant villas, a private beach, spa, and several dining options including a cliffside restaurant.


Where To Stay In Cebu City:

Cebu City is a bustling urban center in the Visayas region, known for its historical landmarks, shopping centers, and vibrant street food scene.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Sugbutel Family Hotel: Located in the city center, this budget-friendly hotel offers simple rooms, a communal kitchen, and easy access to shopping malls and attractions.

  • Sampaguita Suites Plaza Garcia: Situated near Colon Street, this budget hotel features affordable rooms, a central location, and easy access to public transportation.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Quest Hotel and Conference Center - Cebu: A mid-range hotel located in the city center, offering comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and multiple dining options including a buffet restaurant.

  • Bayfront Hotel Cebu: Situated near SM City Cebu, this mid-range hotel features modern rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving Filipino and international cuisine.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Radisson Blu Cebu: A luxury hotel located near SM City Cebu, offering luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and multiple dining options including a rooftop bar with panoramic views.

  • Marco Polo Plaza Cebu: Situated in the hills of Nivel Hills, this luxury hotel features elegant rooms, a swimming pool, spa, and several dining options including a rooftop restaurant.


These are just a few suggestions, and there are many other accommodation options available in the Philippines to suit different preferences and budgets. Be sure to consider factors such as location, amenities, and guest reviews when selecting your accommodation in the Philippines.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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VISA SERVICES

Let iVisa take the pain out of travel planning and assist you with Electronic visas, Travel Authorizations, Visas on Arrival, and even Paper Visas. They can also help with Health Declarations and Embassy Registrations. If you're from the US, they also provide a One-Stop Shop to renew your Passport securely and error-free.

FLIGHTS
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are our favorite flight search engines. They index other travel websites and airlines across the globe to easily find you the best deal.

ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

INSURANCE
Travel insurance can protect you against unexpected illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

 

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