The Philippines is a fun, fun place to visit, full of friendly people, great beaches and delicious baked goods. To live your best life in the PH, here are 5 things to know before you go.
1. Dress. As a general rule, either show off your upper half or your lower half. Even better, stick to covering up your top half. Like the rest of Asia, the women rarely show off their cleave. Many women in Manila wear heels and dress up for day-to-day activities, but the state of the sidewalks (if you actually choose to walk) isn’t the greatest.
2. Public transport. Jeepneys are uniquely Filipino: a decorated hybrid of pickup truck and bus, and using one requires you not to be susceptible to carsickness. Local women are quick to tell me every time I bring them up that I should only go with a local friend, and never take one at night. It’s cool to try, but for me at least, once was enough. The MRT, or subway, has women-only cars at the front of each train. Public transportation is pretty poor all over the country; a better way of getting around is just renting a motorbike. Taxi prices can either be metered or negotiated; make sure to around before hailing one.
3. Safety. You will absolutely get stared at, the kind of dead fish gaze that never seems to strike the person doing it as obnoxious and creepy. Straight-up harassment is rare, but you’ll probably hear some light teasing. Pickpocketing is certainly not unheard of, and it mostly happens on crowded trains or jeepneys. Don’t walk alone at night!
4. Airport fees. When you depart from an airport in the PH, you need to pay an exit fee. This means if you depart from Legazpi and transfer through Manila, you need to pay an exit fee at both airports. The fee is different at every airport, so save some money! As a foreigner, you are unlikely to come across any bribes; officials usually save this for Filipinos who work abroad.
5. When to go. Obviously, the PH is smack in the middle of practically every monsoon that passes through the area. Monsoon season is from May to October. To see whale sharks in Donsol, head there the first part of the year, as they start to move on in May. For diving, reserve time from December to April, keeping in mind that prices will be sky high for Chinese New Year and Easter.
What do you suggest for a great trip to the Philippines?