The Philippines is a beautiful and diverse country that offers something for everyone, from stunning beaches and lush jungles to bustling cities and rich culture. As a first-time tourist, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and what to see. But with a little bit of planning, you can have an unforgettable experience.
1. Plan your itinerary:
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, so it's essential to plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time. Decide what kind of activities and experiences you want to have and research the best places to go to achieve them.
You can narrow it down by figuring out what you want to do - will this be a beach trip? Historical trip? Cultural trip? Food trip? Nature trip? Once you've narrowed down your priorities, then you can make a clearer decision.
2. Learn a few words of Tagalog:
Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines, and it's always appreciated when tourists make an effort to speak it. Even if you only know a few basic phrases, it will go a long way in making locals feel more comfortable and welcoming towards you.
Here are a few to help!
Kumusta - Hello Kuya - Bro / brother
Good morning - magandang umaga
If you're visiting the middle or southern regions of the Philippines, you will need to learn a more general dialect spoken in those regions which is Bisaya.
3. Be respectful of the culture:
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, and there are many customs and traditions that should be respected. When visiting temples, churches, or other religious sites, be sure to dress appropriately and remove your shoes before entering.
4. Try the local food:
The Philippines is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, from Lechon (roast pig) to Adobo (chicken or pork cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaves) to Halo-halo (mixed shaved ice with sweet beans, fruits, and milk). Be sure to try as many different dishes as possible to get a taste of the country's unique flavors.
5. Be mindful of your surroundings:
As with any foreign country, it's essential to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to stay safe. Especially in the dense portions of the cities, its always important to be mindful of pickpockets and scammers. Try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables with you.
As a tourist, you may be able to apply for Gcash to make cashless transactions.
6. Take a tour:
To make the most of your time, consider taking a tour. Many travel companies offer packaged tours that include transportation, accommodation, and activities. This can save you a lot of time and hassle, and you'll be able to see many of the country's top attractions in one go.
One website where you can check tours is Klook.
7. Get off the beaten path:
While it's great to see the popular tourist spots, don't be afraid to explore some of the lesser-known destinations. These are the places where you'll find the real local culture and experience the country's true beauty.
8. Don't forget to relax:
Although there's so much to see and do in the Philippines, it's important to take time to relax and enjoy the scenery. Take a stroll on the beach, watch a sunset, or simply sit and enjoy a cold drink.
The Philippines is an amazing country with a rich culture, beautiful scenery, and friendly people. With a little bit of planning and an open mind, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience.