The Philippines is a wonderful travel destination that hundreds of tourists flock to every year. Its natural beauty and unique culture are reasons enough for this special country to make it to every bucket list out there. But its uniqueness also means that it has completely different customs and traditions, which you need to learn about before booking a flight ticket.
So to help you rock your trip and avoid embarrassing yourself or offending locals, here are the top mistakes you should absolutely avoid while visiting the Philippines.
1. Booking a flight to Manila and staying there
Manila is a typical first choice for tourists, especially those visiting the country for the first time. But to get the most of your journey and truly experience the tropical wonders this country offers, you seriously need to explore other cities. Although the capital city of any country is usually the most visited and it often reflects most of the local culture, it only shows a little piece of a bigger and more beautiful picture that’s totally worth discovering. The Philippines has seventeen regions, each has unique things to offer, from heavenly beaches and mountains to insanely good food. So just try to enjoy as much as you can of the beautiful Philippines.
2. Getting around only by taxicabs
Generally, traffic isn’t exactly one of the good things about the Philippines. Honestly, it’s just bad, and you can make it even worse by getting into a cab to travel around.
Although metered taxis can be very convenient, they also tend to be costly. Plus, just like the case in many countries, some taxi drivers would take advantage of tourists who aren’t aware of this fact. That’s why it’s best to book an Uber.
3. Going on tours that take you to crowded beaches
Popular tourist attractions have their own wonderful charms, but the crowds will make it hard for you to truly enjoy any of it. So, it may be a great idea to just skip those touristy places, especially when going on a tour. Instead, head to one of the many gorgeous and underrated beaches, where you’ll have the time of your life and take the best pictures without having a dozen strangers in the background.
Wondering how to find such hidden places? The easiest way is to ask the locals.
4. Expecting low prices for everything
While the cost of living in the Philippines is generally cheaper compared to the prices found in the majority of western countries, you shouldn’t assume that everything comes with a beautiful price tag, which your wallet would love.
In fact, prices differ from one place to another and they also depend on the amount of time you spend in a certain place. Just keep in mind that you’ll get what you pay for, be it in the Philippines or elsewhere.
5. Letting the fear take over and assume that everyone you meet will scam you
Even though the Philippines doesn’t have the greatest reputation regarding safety and security, it doesn’t mean that everyone there is out to scam you. It’s just that, like many other countries, the media had played a major role in highlighting the bad things about a certain place, leaving many people with only one side of the story.
In reality, there’s a pretty high chance that you’d enjoy visiting the Philippines without encountering any problems at all. Besides, Filipinos are known for their friendliness and great hospitality.
6. Letting the language barrier stand in the way of communicating with the locals
Instead of assuming that you’ll never understand one another, just give communication a try and you might be very surprised. Actually, many Filipinos can speak English. And even if they don’t really master your language, they may try their best to understand and answer you or even reach out to someone else who can. Again, these people are very friendly and hospitable, so don’t hesitate to speak with the locals and get to know more about their authentic culture and lifestyle. The best part is that they can give you advice on how to find the best and cheapest restaurants, hotels, and so on.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few phrases from the dialect to get closer to the locals.
7. Not researching the local customs and culture in advance
Generally, Filipinos don’t get offended easily, however, certain things are just off-limits, such as not taking your shoes off when entering someone else’s house. This is considered very rude, and the funny thing is that your hosts may tell you that it’s fine to keep your shoes on, but that’s only out of politeness. It’s always best that you insist on taking them off. (Don’t worry about your bare feet, most households have extra slippers for visitors).
It’s just good to know such things in advance so you won’t have to deal with any regrets later on.
8. Carrying a credit card and no cash
You should know that the only mode of payment in most local stores in the Philippines is cash, and they may find it very weird to see you handing out your credit card to pay for things. So if you don’t want to risk missing an opportunity to try a local snack, buy items you really need, or snag an adorable souvenir, you’d better have your cash always ready.
9. Assuming the sunny weather will be on your side
In the Philippines, the rainy season normally takes place between June and October. However, typhoons occasionally occur throughout the year as well. This is to say, you should always double-check the weather before making any plans, especially the ones involving a day at the beach. Otherwise, you’ll risk ruining your visit to some of the most gorgeous beaches on the planet.
10. Smoking while walking in public
The country has implemented a ban on smoking in public places in a number of major cities. So if you get caught smoking as you’re taking a nice stroll, you could get fined, even if you didn’t know about it.
If you’re a smoker who’s planning a trip to the Philippines any time soon, then remember to make it a habit to look for designated smoking areas before you take out a cigarette.