1.There are no road rules
We learnt this on our second day when we booked a van to take us to a beach which ended up being a long 4 hour drive doing what I felt like it to be at least 80km/hr in the rain through windy roads and over taking around bends in blind spots. To summarise this in one sentence ‘you drive as quickly as possible to get to your destination in the shortest time possible’. Let’s just say it was a scary experience. Other times when we had to travel on different islands, there were a range of transport options like the tricycle which are a motorbike and then this metal box on the other side where they sometimes manage to fit 6 people on! Also getting on the back of motorbikes without helmets seemed to happen a lot.
2. Filipinos are the friendliest people on earth
The great news is basically 98% of the Philippines I met all spoke fluent English so this is great for when you are travelling. On top of that those 98% of people were lovely and friendly. There were only a few people we had bad experiences with and that was because they just wanted our money. The little kids are cute and love talking to tourists, it was great talking to them and asking them simple questions that they loved answering. Everyone seemed to want to help when we needed directions or transport.
3. Your travelling in a developing country
Your not staying in Singapore or even Bali, the Philippines are a collection of small islands. Therefore, there is limited water, hardly any internet and mostly dirt/muddy roads. It is not Westernised at all (there are some nice spots) and although in most cases there are toilets, they are toilets that don’t flush or are make your own toilets. In saying this though, The Philippines feels like an untouched jungle and the locals seemed to be happy with what they have. I personally didn’t feel like it was dirty and there was poverty everywhere and you had to be super careful but I did experience that in Manila (the main city). Most of the islands are safe and the locals are self-proficient on the land and sea, which was amazing to see.
4. You will get stared at and spoken to all the time
I don’t know if it was just cause I was a white, young, female but I couldn’t walk down the street without having someone stare at me or some man try to talk to me. Most of the time it was just people saying hello, but I got annoyed when men would yell out at me or tell me they loved me multiple times. I was glad to be travelling with friends because in those moments I felt vulnerable that I was in their country and in other situations when men were speaking to me I didn’t know what there intentions really were.
5. Be wise with your money
The prices for things varies extremely depending which island you are on, the area and if you barter. Don’t ever book any activities online because I can guarantee they are at least twice as expensive as booking it locally. We did a canyoning tour whilst staying in Moalboal and online it was about $120 to book and we booked it through our hostel for only $33!
Getting a soft drink from a restrauant can range from $2-$3 but if you get it from a local stall or someones DIY house restrauant it will be about 20c-$1.
Rice in a restrauant is about $1-$2 whilst at a DIY house restrauant it will be about 20c-$1 and a meal from a restrauant can be anywhere from $4-$15 whilst at a DIY house restrauant it will be about $1-$2. Also any western food like pizza, pasta will start from $4 and go up, they know they can charge any price because westerners will pay it so make sure you convert the rates and be smart with you money. I also understand compared to Australia it isn’t a lot of money e.g. $4 for a meal but over here that is a lot of money and you are just been ripped off from local prices.
* A DIY house restrauant (what I’ve decided to call it) is someones little house made out of wood/bamboo thats connected to a kitchen and stall front with a table or two to serve customers. Therefore the prices are extremely cheap compared to a proper restrauant.
It is also good to understand being a foreigner you will get ripped off all the time, food, transport (MAJOR), accommodation, whenever someone has the chance it will happen. I had one guy say because he put my bag on the bus (I don’t even know if he did or not) I had to pay him 20 pesos and he wouldn’t leave so I had to pay it.
Another time my friends and I got charged 600 pesos for a tricycle because we got dropped off at a bus shelter rather than our hotel and we had no choice, when the price we should of got charged was 50 pesos. You need to be firm with people but understand that some will take advantage of you (especially if your female).