If you are thinking about a safe and economically sound visit to a tropical climate, walk-through jungles and breathtaking views of either pristine white sand beaches or primal cliff overhangs, then you should consider visiting the Philippines. With a 50php:1 exchange rate to the US dollar and over 7,000 islands to visit, the Philippines offers one of the most wonderful travel solutions anyone can consider.
The Philippines are an interesting set of islands, while there are over 7,000 listed islands, only ten really provide attraction, and they are found within three distinctive Island regions Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon to the North houses the Philippines Capital Manila, Bicol, and Mondoro. The Visayas has many beautiful Islands of which you will find Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and Samar. The Palawan islands are to the East and the Mindoro Islands to the south.
There are over 8 languages in the Philippines, of which Tagalog is the official language. English is the second language and is spoken or understood all over the country.
The people of the Philippines are kind and happy, but as with any country has its fair share of unscrupulous and criminal elements. The country is divided into two main selections, the City, and the province. Anything that is not in a city is called province. The difference between them is vast; cities cost more, are hectic and has a mixture of modern with the third world. Provinces are towns dotted along routes, and each island area has different characteristics that represent their island’s culture.
Operative information for travelers: When arriving at the airport, do not take the offered airport car service, look for the taxi stand and take a metered taxi. The difference is around 1,000%, which means that a taxi from the airport might cost 150 pesos while the airport car option will cost anywhere between 900 to 1,500 pesos. Also, most hotel resorts provide free shuttle services, so when you book your resort, check to see if they provide a shuttle.
Travelling around the islands is also interesting, there are three options for inter-island travel, flight, ferry, or bus. The flight option is the most expensive and not necessarily the fastest or best way. Ferries can be wonderful experiences, and when you factor in flight delays and airport security, you might consider taking a ferry instead. If you do decide to take a ferry, don’t buy the ticket at the port, buy it online or via a ticket office near your hotel. The prices are the very close, and the wait at the port ticketing office can be hours in a long line under a blistering hot sun. Busses can take over a day to travel, are cheaper, but usually reserved for locals and not tourists or backpackers, since they are not comfortable for long rides.
Travelling locally is either by tricycle, bike (in Visaya you say “habble-habble”), bus and taxi. There are two kinds of bus, aircon or standard. If your trip is short, such as an inner-city trip, we suggest you take a trike, if the weather I wet then take a taxi. For longer journeys around an island, we suggest an aircon bus. In the provinces, you don’t need to go to a bus station, just stand on the side of the main road, the bus will arrive eventually, and you just flag it down. If you are staying at a resort, and wish to visit various sites, you should ask about tour operators. While they are more expensive, it will work out easier and cheaper than trying to get to the site by taxi, bus or driving yourself.
Hotels and resorts vary in cost; you can find cheap deals online for under $50 a night. If you prefer more refined experience, then you can get exceptional deals for well under $100. If you are not budget restricted, then you will live like a king for under $300 a night.
Food is split between western and Asian fast food, there are some really good meals to be found in fast food joints such as Mng Inasal, Chow King, and JollyBee, and there are MacDonald’s and KFC. Local food is very nutritious and includes rice with every meal. For alcohol drinkers, local beer is extremely good, you can get a liter of Red Horse for 90 pesos, and local rum is sold at around 100 pesos a bottle.
There is an international airport in Manila, Cebu, and Davao. Bohol has the Panglao diving reef, which is considered to be one of the ten best reefs in the world. Booking.com is a great site for your Philippine hotel/resort prices, and ferries are either ocean jet or super cat 2go. Inner island flights include Air Asia, Philippines Air, and Cebu Pacific Air.