Vern's Survival guide to the Philippines
For my first trip of the year I visited my homeland, the Philippines. There are many travel guides out there with tips on where to go and how to get there, but I'm going to be providing you with tips on how to survive being there * insert awkward smiling face here*. Whenever you travel far from home, sometimes you forget that life is different in other parts of the world. These tips are based on my personal experience in the country and things I wish I knew before I got there! Regardless I'm happy to share these with you to help you travel with more ease and confidence!
1) UBER EVERYWHERE
HOW DOES THE PHILIPPINES HAVE UBER AND WE DON'T?! Okay anyways, not the point. Before Uber, travellers who would go to the Philippines would take taxis. The problem with taxis in the Philippines is that they're known to be unsafe and quite expensive. There are other forms of transportation such as jeeps and buses but I don't recommend you take those either ( for safety reasons).
Currently, Uber is the safest and most affordable mode of transportation, unless you choose to hire a driver. We saved a lot of money by ubering because after the conversion the fare was only be $2-5!! In Vancouver that ride would've costed me $30 by taxi. Plus you have records of all your rides and it charges directly to your credit card, no need to pull out cash after the ride! The only thing is you need to book a ride through an app which leads me to my next point...
Internet in the Philippines is scarce. Even if you're travelling with a roaming plan it's hard to find a connection and most plans don't allow for much data usage. To get wifi here you have two options:
a) POCKET WIFI- There are two main cellular providers in the Philippines, Smart and Globe. Right now, smart has a stronger connection in the country. You can go to any smart store and buy a pocket wifi and add money into it so you can use it anywhere. They'll instruct you on how to use it and once it's set up, it's quite convenient! Sometimes it can't connect to the network but that's expected when you're there.
b) PHILIPPINE SIM CARD- Another option is to buy a Philippine sim card. The only drawback to this is that you can't access your messages from your other sim. If you choose to do this you have to unlock your phone as well as set up your plan. Cellphones there are on a pay-as-you-go system. You have to buy "load" to use it and have to keep reloading it. It's inexpensive ( 500 pesos) for unlimited data/message plans as well.
3) OFF LOTION/SPRAY
Use bug spray every day!!! Whenever I go back I get a million mosquito bites. My brothers don't get feasted on by mosquitoes but maybe because I eat so many fruits and chicken nuggets my blood tastes really good? In that case, I don't blame them haha. Regardless, I recommend you spray some off lotion as Malaria is very common in the Philippines and you don't want that to ruin your trip!
( Also beware of the large flying cockroaches, they pop out of nowhere sometimes)
4) CARRY TISSUES WITH YOU EVERYWHERE
Public restrooms often don't have toilet paper so have some on hand with you! I wasn't aware of this at first and had to use an old receipt. Trust me, paper cuts aren't pretty down there. Learn from my mistakes!
5) TRAVELLER'S VACCINE
Make sure to take a vaccine whenever you travel overseas as a precaution from travellers diarrhea. I try not to drink any iced drinks or eat fresh veggies while I'm there ( because Idk what they wash them in).
6) CASH IS KEY. BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR MONEY
This doesn't just go for the Philippines. This is for anywhere you travel to! I always carry a shoulder bag here that's hard to open. Sometimes people at malls will slash your purse straps or will pickpocket you. Don't carry large amounts of cash with you when you're exploring and be aware of your belongings. Also make sure you pay reasonable prices! Most vendors will try to upsell you when they see that you're a foreigner.
I hope these tips are useful to you! They're a little unconventional but I wish I knew these before I went! More travel guides to come soon :)
Until next time,