Planning to visit the Philippines?
Whether you’re coming here to work, study, or travel —it’s important to have some preparations before your departure.
I am a citizen of the Philippines (I mean, a pure Filipina), so I can share with you some important insights about my home country (culture, people, food), and what to expect from the moment you step foot in this second largest archipelago of the world.
Philippines is made up of over 7,600 islands, so imagine how exciting would it be to island-hop in the country. You’ll never run out of places or destinations to explore —and did I mention about the languages that Filipinos speak?
If there’s one thing convincing about coming to the Philippines —it would certainly be the way of communication coz language is not a barrier in the country. Every filipino speaks English, so you won’t need to stress yourself out when dealing with the locals like riding a taxi or simply asking for directions.
There are countless of dialects in the Philippines, but only three of them are widely known, namely:
TagalogThis is the language being taught in schools along with English. It is spoken by people who are particularly living in Manila or within the island of Luzon.
EnglishThis language is indeed universal coz here in the Philippines, it’s used by everyone. In fact, (as a Filipino) I’d say that this is our medium of instruction at school. The books in almost all of our subjects (except for Filipino subject..of course) are written in English, and the teachers use the language too during the class instruction or discussion. More often than not, the skill or the fluency in speaking English varies greatly depending on the person’s status or level of education.
Bisaya (Visayan or Bisayan)I live in Cebu City, so I speak this dialect on a daily basis. Therefore, the people who speak this are from the Mindanao island. The famous cities or provinces that use this dialect are Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, Davao, Cagayan, among others.
Why You Should Visit The Philippines
When planning a trip especially when it’s miles away from our home country —we tend to worry about a lot of things like the language, safety, and expenses (if the country’s living cost is cheap or costs an arm and a leg). These are a few of the many factors to consider while planning your trip.
If you choose the Philippines as your travel destination —you don’t need to worry about all those things —really!
Cost Of Living In The Philippines
Well, in general, Philippines has a low cost of living similar to Thailand and Vietnam. This is something that foreigners who come from a privileged/developed nation (like Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Koreans, among others) —would probably agree.
Average Monthly Condo or Apartment Rentals In The Philippines
In Cebu City (downtown or city center), the monthly rent for condos range from ₱10,000 ($205.91) – ₱100,000 (2,059.15). It varies greatly coz there are condos that are pretty-looking from the outside but ugly or displeasing once you moved in. I’m talking about the disgusting household pests here and there. Also, before I forget —the annoying walls of some condos that even a 3M hooks won’t be a good idea to use coz the wall paints and some cements on it will fall off the moment you remove it.
So —the price depends on how reliable that condo place is (location, facilities, size, etc.). But if you aren’t very meticulous or choosy of a place to stay in when you’re in the country —you’ll definitely save a lot of money on your trip.
How To Get Access To Internet In The Philippines?
The best way to do this is thru a prepaid SIM card. You can find and purchase it from the airport arrival area. It’s very cheap, and easy to use. Besides, you can buy as many as you like (not even kidding!) in case you want to have a spare SIM or have 1 more cellphone (which is very common here in the Philippines).
We have two networks in the Philippines, namely SMART (by PLDT which includes SUN, BUDDY, and TNT or Talk N Text) —and the second one is GLOBE.
Back when I was in Metro Manila (10 years ago)—I noticed that Sun is widely used there coz at that time, my SIM was Globe but the people that I had to contact with were all using a Sun Cellular number. I was even surprised coz I didn’t expect it to be that popular (haha). That was my very first time using a Sun SIM card.
Fast forward to this day, 2020 —the year of coronavirus. :I You can pretty much use whatever SIM you want. So if you’re in cities like Manila and Cebu —either Smart or Globe will do. However, if you’re particularly in Cebu City —I suggest using Globe tho. Why? Coz they have many (cellular coverage) site towers, that makes your internet experience better.
Next option you have is, a pocket wifi. This is a great option for someone who needs a more stable internet connection, and has more than one device to use. Though it works similar to what your mobile phone can do (wifi hotspot) —but the upside is that, it won’t consume much of your phone battery. It also functions like a home wifi router or modem —but the difference is that, it’s way smaller and portable (you can literally put it in your pocket wherever you go) —while having the option of connecting all your internet capable devices.
You can rent or buy one if you like, and there are four brands you can choose from:
Globe LTE Mobile WiFi
Smart Bro LTE Pocket WiFi
Huawei Mobile WiFi
TP-Link 4G LTE Mobile Wi-Fi
Lastly, we have free wifis in public areas like in shopping malls and airports—so, you can enjoy an hour of surfing on the web (like in Cebu City’s Ayala and SM malls). Not sure tho if other shopping malls have this 1-hour limit in using the free wifi. But you can use another hour of free wifi if you have a different SIM card or number. The more cell phone numbers/ active SIM cards you have —the more hours of free wifi you can enjoy. One more free wifi you can access are in coffee shops, cafes, resorts, hotels, bars, some restaurants, among others.
How Much Is the Average Hotel Rates in the Philippines?
The average hotel rate for 1-2 persons is (more or less) about ₱2,000 ($42). My suggested websites for booking your accommodation are: booking . com ,tripadvisor .com.ph, expedia .com.ph, hotel .com, traveloka .com. I also suggest going directly to the hotel’s official website so you can weigh your options or compare the rates.
Philippines Apartment/Condo (furnished or unfurnished)
₱10,000 ($205) – ₱25,000 ($514) per month : Studio Unit Apartment/condo
₱15,000 ($308) – ₱30,000 ($617) per month : 1 bedroom unit apartment/condo
₱20,000 – ₱50,000 ($1,029) per month : 2-bedroom unit apartment/condo
₱45,000 ($926) – ₱100,000 ($2,059) per month or up: 3-bedroom unit apartment/condo
How much does it cost to eat in a restaurant in the Philippines?
Although it’s pretty much obvious that every resto varies —but when we talk about the average pricing with moderately-priced menus in a casual dining (for example) —it’ll range from ₱300 – ₱1,500 .
You can pay for as low as ₱300 ($6.18) if you’re alone, and can be up to ₱1,500 ($30.89) or more if you’re with 1-2 people.
In fast foods, it’s a different story coz even if you’ll bring 5 people with you —you can be sure that you won’t go belly up.
Filipinos Are The Friendliest And The Most Hospitable People In The World
It’s not difficult to make friends in the Philippines. People are extraordinary cordial especially to foreigners. We (filipinos) tend to get excited seeing others that look different, and speak different —so, when we see some tourists —we don’t avoid them (like other nationalities do). Instead, we smile and say hello when we get a chance.
What Are The Means Of Transportation In The Philippines?
The rail transportation is only in the Metro Manila and other neighboring place within the National Capital Region.
Unfortunately, in Cebu City where I live —there are no trains so, taxi, grab car, jeepney, and other transpo vehicles are your options.
These are present in major cities like Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and more.
Grab (GrabCar, GrabTaxi, GrabBike)
Grab was introduced in the country in 2013. This smartphone-based taxi booking and dispatching service has been around for about 7 years.
Personally, I like the concept of Grab coz it aims to help people transport in a safe and efficient way., and I’ve been using their platform ever since they started operating in Cebu City.
Three years ago, there was Uber here in the Philippines —but they were banned due to some violations.
You can find jeepneys only in a few parts of the country —usually in Visayas and Mindanao provinces.
Buses are everywhere in the Philippines, but it isn’t the most convenient way to commute since you have to annoyingly wait for the bus which doesn’t arrive on time.
You’ll definitely find tricycles in almost all parts of Visayas and Mindanao (Cebu, Bohol, Davao,Iloilo, Dipolog, Dapitan Ozamis, etc.) —in fact, if you go to Dipolog and Ozamis City —it’s like the main transportation there.
Also known as motorcycle-taxis, and they’re everywhere. Some are illegally operating, and others are riders of the company called ”Angkas” —a motorcycle ride-hailing platform that helps provide mobility for Filipinos.