Set in the South Eastern cost of Asia the spectacular Philippine islands are an archipelago which boast over 7500 islands. The long flight is well worth the tropical paradise that awaits. Steeped in a wealth of natural beauty, the Philippines will surely impress all who lay eyes on its magnificent palm trees, fluffy white sands crystal blue waters, majestic mountains and abundant biodiversity. The Philippines is matchless in beauty and is slowly gaining momentum as a global tourist hotspot. Here are some things you should know when considering travelling to this exotic country.
Best time to travel: To soak up some sun and avoid the typhoon season and rains, it is highly suggested that you visit during the dry summer months of December to May
For those who find travel daunting due to communication barriers, fear not, English is widely spoken, making it relatively easy to find your way around.
The Philippine Peso is their main currency, however Dollars, Euros and major credit and debit cards are widely accepted. The Exchange rate for converting South African Rand to Philippine Peso is about 1 ZAR = 3.04677 PHP. From UAE Dirham to Peso is about 1AED= 12.65 PHP
What makes travelling great is the people you experience along the way. Filippino people are generally warm and welcoming and open to conversation. Most of them were happy to help us with directions and suggestions on what to do.
The Philippines is safe and friendly, however as in any country, as a tourist you need to be cautious and not to wander in any secluded places alone, especially at night.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is relatively low making this a holiday destination that will not break the bank and where you can comfortably say “keep the change”!
Things to do
From the bustling Capital of Manila, we took an hour flight to Cebu, Mactan, where we were based for 4 days. In Cebu, you can do the following:
Take a day trip to Bohol
From Cebu Port, take a ferry ride to Tagbilaran to enjoy a day trip in Bohol Island. The operating ferry companies are fairly organized and efficient and operate between 6am and 6 pm. The price is 500 pesos per person one way plus a 25 peso terminal fee.
Costs involved in the day trip are about 2500 pesos for a mini bus van with a tour guide. Remember locals love to negotiate so haggle for a reasonable tour price. This is what you can do in Bohol:
Chocolate Hills– witness magnificent limestone pod-like formations offering breathtaking panoramas.
Hanging Bridge-40 meter Bamboo Bridge crossing the deep emerald colored Sipatan River Bohol, is a fun and wonky tourist attraction. You might feel a little apprehensive at the wobbliness of the bridge, rest assured it’s steady and completely safe.
Billar Man Made Forest – showcases Mahogany trees planted on winding roads as part of a reforestation program over 50 years ago. If you are looking for a piece of tranquil lush greenery, this is where you will find it.
Blood Compact Monument, depicts an ancient ritual between the Spanish and Philippines. It is said that parties to an agreement would pour some of their blood into a cup filled with liquor and drink to seal a friendship or treaty.
The Tarsiers Conservatory is worth a visit to spot the rather peculiar nervous yet adorable animals in their habitat.
The Butterfly sanctuary is also worth a visit to see various species of butterflies.
Loboc River cruise which offers a lunch. There are also plenty of beaches and adventure sports such as zip-lining available for all the adventure enthusiasts.
Cebu to Oslob- Whale Shark Watching
From Cebu, you can hire a taxi to Oslob, (about 1:30min).
The whale shark watching/interaction is daily between 6am to 12pm.
On arrival, you get a safety briefing
and an assurance of 100% guaranteed sighting of the whale sharks.
Swimming with these harmless gentle giants is safe and an unforgettable experience that cannot be left out of your bucket list.
It costs 1000 pesos for 30 minutes swim the whale sharks and 500 for watching. To capture your interaction, you can hire an underwater camera for only 500 pesos.
Tumalog Falls is a kilometer away from the whale shark venue and offers tiny falls and a pool which you can wade in.
We took a flight from Cebu Airport to Boracay.
Boracay offers a relaxed atmosphere but is more energetic than Cebu.
The popular open air D Mall is where all the magic happens. Located a stone’s throw from the beach, D Mall is a long stretch known for its cheap shopping, multi-cuisine restaurants, pharmacies, massage parlors, tattoo shops, bars and clubs.
At night, the street comes alive with live bands, street performers, fire dancers and night revelers looking to for island fun.
For only 2500 pesos you can hire out a boat for the day, which includes, snorkeling, cliff jumping, underwater caves and lunch and zip lining. Be sure to bargain for prices. Here’s what you can do:
Foods to try
Part of travelling is the cultural immersion is in experiencing local cuisine. Filipino cuisine is a beautiful fusion of Asian, Malay and Spanish influences. The dishes vary from sweet to salty and sour. Pork and sea food are central to this interesting cuisine. Try chicken adobo, pancit noodles, beef or chicken sisig.
The boldness of Filipino cuisine is bound to take you on a culinary journey your taste buds won’t regret.
Means of transport
Taxi’s, tricycles and Jeepneys are the islands most popular means of transportation and very cheap.
Tricycles are basically, motorbike with attached side car enough to fit 3 -4 people. These are all easily available.
A very serious caveat: when travelling by air make sure you are at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. Domestic flights are usually cancelled, delayed or moved earlier at short notice so ensure you’re there early for any schedule changes.
Where we stayed
Cebu -Crimson Beach and Resort. Beautiful Resort with excellent amenities providing free WIFI and the most efficient knowledgeable helpful staff. Very child friendly.
Boracay-Fairways Blue Water huge resort offering many activities and value for money.
You have to try their local beer. Its light and very refreshing
Philippines has been one of my favourite holiday destinations. Its packed with tons to do and will leave you happier than when you arrived! I loved it and recommend it to everyone. For any specific tips, feel free to contact me. Keep shining
Its more fun in the Philippines!!