The Philippines is a famous island archipelago with more than 7,100 islands. People also know it as the “Pearl of the Orient”. It boasts wonderful beaches, diverse wildlife, good climate and incredibly hospitable people. I have stayed in the Philippines for only 10 days and I left with extraordinary experiences and happy memories.
EXPERIENCES: GOOD AND BAD
Being colonized by the Spanish, Americans, and Japanese, the country is a melting pot of many cultures. The East-West influences transcend to the people, their food, language, and belief.
I personally had no problem with conversing with the locals because the majority of them know how to speak English. This gave me an opportunity to have a proper conversation with them. Almost everything in the Philippines is also cheap. If you are looking for a decent place to stay, clean and affordable hotels can give you a competitive rate. Accommodation options such as AirBnB and some travel hostels are also available. Aside from lodging, the food is superb. I was able to choose from a lot of options. There are fresh seafood, organic vegetables and fruits and even Western cuisines if you are not into the local cookeries. The options are limitless.
The unpleasant experiences that I had are with transportation. The country is still developing. With that, transportation is not as expansive and efficient compared to Western standards. I experienced horrible traffic jams, particularly in EDSA. I saw extremely packed minivans – people sitting like sardines. For budget airlines, delays are a normal scenario. But the thing that bothered me the most is the drivers. I have never encountered drivers that are so rude and reckless. You have to be very mindful not to be run over by passing vehicles.
CHALLENGES AND HOW I OVERCAME THEM
I have noticed in my travels that some locals will take advantage of tourists or foreigners. The Philippines is not an exception. Some locals will charge you double or triple the price for souvenirs or other merchandise. There are also a lot of taxi drivers trying to rip off foreigners to pay exaggerated amounts in fare. Of course, this is avoidable if you are vigilant. I personally did my research on the price range for certain products and services before my trip. With proper preparation and good planning, you will not be a victim of those who wants to take advantage.
Another thing I experience is the terrible diesel exhaust in the metro. Since transportation is mainly in the form of buses, cabs, and jeepneys, putrid smoke is unavoidable, especially in the cities. I personally think if you are going to the Philippines for a vacation, avoid urban areas. If not, wear a facemask to prevent inhaling all the fumes from the vehicles.
Petty crimes are rampant in the area. The number of security guards everywhere proves this. I had to blend in the crowd in order not to be a target of thieves aiming for valuables. The key is to be alert. Be mindful of your surroundings, avoid sketchy areas and people, finally, just be on guard.
The Philippines is such a great place to explore. You just have to find what suits you and your budget. Like many places, it has its pros and cons. Just make the most out of your trip and enjoy the moment. As they say, life is a journey, not a destination!
Did you enjoy my article? Have you already been in the philippines?:)