For those who have been to the Philippines, can you share your experiences here in detail? What were the best and worst parts of the trip? Were you surprised by anything?
I'm considering going next year. Particularly to the Visayas region for nature, beaches, and mingling with villagers. Considering stops in Cebu, Surigao, and Siargao. I don't plan on exploring Manila whatsoever, as from what I understand it's quite a polluted shithole.
Any advice and tips?
I've been to the Philippines for 3 weeks a few years ago.
You are right, it is a total shit hole. If you are feeling adventurous and want to see how dirt poor the majority of the people are, go explore Manila outside the business/shopping districts. The street food there was quite an adventure.
Beaches, landscapes, jungle, some of the best scuba diving in the world (on my second dive my instructor led me into a WWII shipwreck full of the most colorful fish and corals I have ever seen). Everything is really cheap, people are very friendly. Flights from Manila to some islands in the Visaya's region were around $40.
The local cuisine is not as good as many others from the South East Asia region (by far). Blatant disregard for general safety rules. If you want to get from one region to another, you most likely will have to go to Manila first.
pic related: Mount Mayon, an active volcano, 2400m tall. You can climb it in 2-3 days - it's a step and harsh hike at the last part. Hire some guides (never, ever go alone or insist that the guides take you if they say that it is unsafe - people have died because of such stupidity). During the hike, the landscape changes from lush jungles to bare rock and gravel. The view from the top is just amazing, if the fog and fumes from the crater actually permit you to see anything.
Not OP but a couple of weeks ago I also posted a question regarding the Philippines and nobody replied. I'll be there March, April 2015 and my itinerary is more or less closed.
Manila, Cordillera region (Banaue, Sagada), Legazpi, Bohol island, Northern Palawan (Port Barton?, Taytay, El Nido) and Tagaytay (Taal volcano).
I've been doing research for some weeks by now so if I can help you with any question just ask away
I don't check /trv/ often so I must have overlooked your thread. Any questions left that need answering?
What are you doing in Legazpi btw? Probably Whale watching? I couldn't do that because it wasn't the right season; but I if you have the time, the money and the physical fitness I can highly recommend climbing Mount Mayon.
I don't have the time to climb the Mayon, I will just check the city and the views over the volcano.
My question was related to Bohol. I am struggling to decide whether I will stay in Alona beach or in Anda. Anda seems better place to stay and chill but while there we will visit several parts of the southwest so logistically Alona beach makes more sense.
I was there for a couple of days only. We were a bigger group (~5 people) and rented mopeds + drivers for a day. Went to the chocolate hills, some lush jungles including water buffolos and a nice place to swim at the foot of a big waterfall. I don't remember the price anymore, but am sure that it was cheap. And the way home we were driving through heavy rain for 1 hour though. Was fun in the beginning, but turned a bit cold and scary when our drivers were flooring it in the night and heavy rain.
Is Manila really that shitty? My wife's family is (filipino) rich and live in Quezon, I was thinking about going with her over there but is it worth the time when it's about the same price as going to Europe?
>Is Manila really that shitty?
Yes. There are some better districts (mainly business, shopping and for rich people), but there really isn't much to do, except for shopping and (if you like that stuff) exploring the slums. The pollution, dirt and general quality of life there are really, really bad.
pic related, some slum in Manila.
It's certainly not the worst, but it isn't really a nice city either.
>tons of trees
Philippines is quite a lush country with lot's of jungle. Africa, middle east not so much.
>no paramilitary groups
They are stationed at the entrances of rich people's houses and condos as well as business districts and shopping malls. Nobody cares about crime in the slums.
>no dead bodies
You are right about that. All in all the country is pretty save for Westerners.
You can get decent street food for one or two bucks. If you go to restaurants/shopping malls, it's not much cheaper than in the US. I rarely used public transit - but tricycles are dirt cheap, even for westeners. You'll have to haggle down the price though - the drivers know that as a white guy you are either here on holidays and thus have no idea what the price usually is; or that you are here for a job and earn so much that you don't really care. Guides...I think we paid $250 for climbing Mount Mayon - that was 2 people, 4 or so guides + carriers, 2 days, all gear (tents,...), transportation to/from hotel included.
I have no idea. I once saw something funny listed in the breakfast menu though: "Guide for 1 day (girl or boy) $20".
From my understanding, Angeles city is known as the central place for bar girls and general prostitution in the Philippines. There is a documentary on it if you search it on youtube. Watch before you consider going there, maybe you'd change your mind.
In general, if you're white, you shouldn't have too much trouble picking up girls anywhere you go in the country. But if you're going to be doing that in the central cities, be wary because a lot of them are out to scam you and steal your shit. They often work in teams to do so.
I'm trying to plan my first vacation to SEA and although I really want to go to the PHL (mostly because my girlfriend is from there), I feel like places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Java/Bali in Indonesia would have sooo much more to offer in terms of food, nature, and history/culture. A little fantasy I have is backpacking Vietnam north->south, going through Cambodia, and ending up in Bangkok. However, that would probably be a 1-2 month long vacation.
Seems like everyone who has been to the Philippines doesn't come away with any great, lasting impressions of the place.
If you're going half way around the world and paying that price, you'll probably want to have an extended period of time there and go beyond metro Manila. If her family is rich then you'll probably spend time in a good area and have nice accommodations.
Take advantage of cheap flights around the country and visit some beaches or historic cities in the north of Luzon.
Don't expect a European experience despite the similarity in price. Just go there with an open mind and a fascination with the country's people and history, and you should enjoy it.
I don't think you can characterize a whole country as tourism only. Even in Thailand you'll be able to find some remote, not much visited places. It certainly is true the other way round for the Philippines: Boracay is as touristy as a place can be. Some is true for Indonesia (from what I've heard): you have hoards of Aussies partying on Bali and (literally) hundreds of untouched islands nearby.
Well that's true, but what I meant was that Vietnam is (relatively) untouched. Especially in comparison to Thailand. Even though tourism is up in Vietnam, their infrastructure and culture hasn't really changed much to accomodate the common 1st-world tourist.
Yeah, Indonesia is crazy diverse. Seems like each island has their own culture.
Not sure why everyone shits on Thailand like every square inch is tourist central. It's incredibly easy to find yourself as the only farang surrounded by thais that can't speak a lick of english just 30 minutes outside of most tourist traps if that's your thing. And I don't understand why everyone here has such a hard on for being a "real traveler". I have a hard time believing these hipster fucks have actually done anything out of the ordinary because every post by them is just talking about how shitty everything is.
Did you find it easy navigating through Bohol by yourself? I'm considering renting a motorbike one day to go to see the tarsiers and the chocolate hills and chilling in Loboc maybe. But that depends on how easy to move around it is
They spent the whole day with us, was a lot of fun. I don't remember the price, sorry - I just know that if you have a somewhat bigger group (5 in our case) it's really, really cheap (to be honest, my budget wasn't too tight)
I guess that's fine. But by what you say it's just a matter of money. It kind of seems possible to do this southwest area of bohol within one day pretty chilled and seeing quite a bit of stuff. Thanks
Damn. There's nowhere I'd rather be right now than picrelated.
I will be there this April. For what I read it is less exploited as those you mentioned. Check out Coron as well. I will not go as a result of a tight itinerary but it looks awesome too