That’s me btw 😉
To start, these are general tips and as a local who knows the place more than anyone else, its best if you take the following tips and guidelines to avoid inconvenience and trouble.
- Dress for the hot weather, like almost all year round except around November to January, but still you will find it humid at times.
Pack only light clothing maybe just bring one sweater or cardigan coz temperatures in the Philippines average from 78°F/25°C to 90°F/32°C, mean humidity is at 77%. Except if your going up in Baguio which is the summer capital in Philippines, coz it’s the most cold place. Unlike foreigners who go to Philippines for summer, locals actually go up there to escape the heat.
- If you’re visiting around August to November which is rainy season, always bring with you your umbrella, and slippers. Note Manila get flooded easily.
- Language will never be your problem.
English is the widely spoken next to Filipino/Tagalog, the national language. You would be surprise almost everyone spoke it, that is also the reason why you will never get lost, feel free to ask people for direction, Filipinos are so welcoming and friendly. Just beware of suspicious locals especially prostitutes, which I will be telling later.
- Transportation will never be your problem as long as you pack light.
Experience to hop in a jeepney, tricycle, or pedicab – exotic modes of land transport that are the most commonly available for going around. Always bring with you coins, you don’t want locals to ripped you off.
You could also take trains when around Manila which is very convenient for you due to heayy traffic everywhere anytime, one of the worst in the world. Still me as a local, I haven ‘t get used to it.
- Air-conditioned taxis
The base fare costs PhP40 or USD 1 on the meter. An extra PhP2 will be added for every 500 meters. But I will strongly recommend to just take UBER or GRAB TAXI coz some taxi drivers in the Philippines will take advantage of you, all the time if you are foreign they would contract you like 4x the normal charging using meter. Do not bite, stick with the meter! Even as a local I have experience the same thing most commonly if you are coming from NAIA Airport which sometimes leave you no choice. But try to haggle at least.
- If you plan to rent a car
Be mindful of the number coding ordinance for vehicles that is being implemented strictly in METRO MANILA.
- TIPPING EVERYWHERE! Annoying.
Tipping is expected for many services, service charges in most restaurants ranges from 10% to 12% other than the 12% value added tax or Goods/Services TAX. But because you are alien to this land, expect people to tag along and offer you help but of course with a price. Be mindful, do not let other people to carry your stuff, ask only help when needed.
- Be Vigilant
I don’t want to scare you or give you idea that Manila is such an unsavory city but please be alert at all times, do not easily trust people.
Here are some tips to avoid being victimized by unscrupulous locals.
A. Like I said above do not hire regular taxis just use commuter apps like Grab, Uber, or Easy Taxi instead. Because there are like a lot of bad incidents involving taxis which I will not be discussing anymore. Just take my word
B. Like I said again ignore people who randomly come up to you on the street offering help.
C. Be alert of locals (girls or boys) who invite you to a bar or restaurant or hotels. They may be members of a gang that preys on foreigners. This is the main reason why I’m writing this blog, I do not want anybody to be put in danger or harm coz I do not want that to happen to me either and coz my boyfriend is a westerner. Like what happened to this Portuguese traveler and to many more tourist who end up on streets scavenging and even their own embassy can’t help them. Read this article http://globalnation.inquirer.net/134731/portuguese-artist-falls-prey-to-manila-con-artists.
D. Snatchers everywhere, even in fine dining restaurants, just keep an eye on your valuables all the time.
- 220V OUTLET
Note that the Philippines uses 220V of electricity. Always bring converter.
- Do not wear expensive jewelry when outside.
- SHOPPING TIPS!
Philippines is probably the best place to shop. Most of branded clothes are being sold like half the original price abroad.
- Avoid the Southern Part of the Philippines.
Yes, kidnap for ransom happens there, mostly foreigners. Muslims rebels live there and kidnap for ransom is the easiest way to fund their rebellion. So don’t go where the trouble is, it will be safer to just travel around Luzon and Visayas.
- Act like one of them. Read this http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/escape/philippines/how-fake-being-local-manila-845912/
Most of major malls in the Philippines are open Mondays to Sundays from 9AM TO 10PM
Yes you can use any debit card with a visa, MasterCard or any other credit card logo can be used in the Philippines but with transaction fee. If you wish to withdraw in any local ATM, 90% of Philippines Banks ATMs take overseas cards but you will be charge 2% service charge, note most of them will dispense only up to P10,000 in a single withdrawal. But good news there is one bank that don’t charge you php200 fee and that is HSBC. But for preventive measures just make sure to notify your bank that you intend to use your card in that country.
- TOILETTE ETIQUETTE
Be ready for NO TOILET PAPER COMFORT ROOM. Toilet paper isn’t part of Filipino Culture. Instead you will find a scoop and a bucket of water because For Filipinos just wiping with toilet paper is DISGUSTING.
17. AIRPORT SCARE
Due to recent news that came about airport officers putting bullet in luggages, for prevention i recommend taping you baggage with duck tape, or the lock itself.
18. AVOID GIRLS IN THESE PLACES
MAKATI AVENUE- This is the Red light district of Makati specifically Burgos street, most of foreigners go there for strip clubs, escort service and of course cheap sex. If you are planning to visit here just at least be alert and vigilant. I’m telling you do not accept drinks, candies or any foods from strangers.
RIZAL PARK- beware of scammers and pickpockets, most of them are teenagers.
I will continue adding tips for safe travel in the Philippines from time to time.
Below are some pictures ive taken from my travels.
[ All pictures are mine. All Rights Reserved ]