The ultimate guide to everything you probably wanted and needed to know about the Philippines
Because we get a lot of questions, but also because we recognize those questions when we started to plan our trip to the Philippines. We decided to give you an easy one-stop-shop for probably 99% of your Philippines questions. We will do that in this article by giving answers that are as short as possible. If you have additional questions just leave a comment, e-mail us or pm on instagram. We will be more than willing to help.
You have come to the right place if look for all the answers but don’t want to wait for all our blog articlesTRAVELMONSTER FAQ
Is it safe?
Yes absolutely. We have to say so many of our friends and family who have never been to the Philippines seemed to be worried. We have felt safe at every place though even when walking around with our expensive gear. People were nice and we haven’t felt threatened once. All the hotels and touristic places actually keep track of who is coming in and also when you are going out and note even with which taxi you leave. We just recommend to not go to Manila Downtown or Mindanao.
Malariapills or not?
As long as you don’t go below Puerto Princesa on Palawan + don’t visit Mindanao you have absolutely nothing to worry about in dry season. In wet season the risk is a little bit higher but it’s no longer recommended to take Malariapills in advance but instead to take a StandBy Emergency Treatment of malaria (SBET).
How long should we go?
We think this should be at least three weeks but if you plan to do just Palawan we think two weeks are an absolute minimum.
What are the best months to go?
The dry season. Which starts in December and ends in May. December is known to be more crowded but we went during the holidays and honestly it was really ok. Except in Boracay that is.
Will there be a chance to encounter a Typhoon?
Yes, absolutely. Approximately twenty tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility yearly of which ten will be typhoons with five being destructive. The Philippines is “the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms” according to a Time Magazine article in 2013. In the Philippine languages, typhoons are called bagyo.
What can we expect when there is a Typhoon?
Expect a lot of rain in these days. Also boattours will be canceled and there will be a lot of poweroutages. Land and mudslides will happen but will not harm you as you will probably stay in your hotel. It is possible flights and ferry’s will be canceled as well.
Any tips for Typhoons?
Check the weather and the path of the Typhoons so it is possible to travel around them by taking a different route. In fact we had 3 typhoons in 3 weeks but only had 1 day of rain because we rescheduled flights and hussled the islands we decided to visit. (*Note: this may cost you extra as you forfeit the flights you originally booked).
Below you will find an example of a Typhoon. So let’s say when you are in Coron, you will know you have to take a ferry to El Nido on 14th of December. And then move on to either Puerto Princesa or take a plane to Cebu. Don’t come back to El Nido before 18th of December. So yes it might cost a bit more. But at least you make sure you have a great travel experience. You’re not going to regret that.
Make sure you got a good book, maybe a Nintendo Switch like we have and of course make sure you have one or two extra days in Manila before you take your intercontinental flight home.
Can I fly a drone?
Sure no problem, there are just a handfull of resorts that don’t allow it.
Transportation in Big Cities?
Use Grab Taxi which is the same concept as Uber and very affordable. You will be able to see how long it takes for them to arrive and how expensive your intended trip is. No haggling! YAY!
Transportation in smaller places?
Use Tricycles, they really fit everything in. Even cheeper are the Jeepneys but those big bussed fit in 18 people where 8 can reallistically sit. So yeah, not really our thing.
How long should we stay in Manila?
Leave as fast as you can. And take only as long as you need to catch another flight. But wait. There are two things very worthwile.
- The shopping malls in Makati
- The Masungi Georeserve at 1.5 hour drive from Manilla.
Manila or Makati?
Makati hands down.
Good and affordable hotel in Manila (Makati in fact)?
City garden Grand Hotel (Brilliant rooftop pool). And great massage.
Where to change money?
In Makati, we did this at our hotel.
Where to get money?
ATM seems to work in the morning in Coron. We used 3 credit/ debit cards to take out 30.000 pesos at once. You can only take out 10.000 pesos per day per card. Make sure you take 250 euro cash just in case.
ATM in El Nido?
There is, but it’s not working 50% of the time.
Private boattours vs Group boattour
Private if you can afford it. Group for backpackers or anyone on a tight budget. Don’t care for photographs? Grouptour.
Can you travel with a suitcase?
Yes we did everything by suitcase and it’s no hassle at all.
Do I need a drybag? And can I find one there?
Yes you will need one, and you will also find them there. Much cheaper and even better, sturdier than in your own country.
Which islands to see?
We won’t tell you in which order but probably choose 3 or 4 out of Coron, Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, Siquijor, Siargao, Bohol.
Is it cheap?
The Philippines are as cheap as Asia comes but overall it can be a bit more expensive because of transportation costs and the fact you will need to do boattours to see all the country has to offer.
Can I just do Palawan?
Yes why not, but we recommend to at least visit one more island.
What to see in Coron?
Hidden Lagoon, Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Coral Garden, Banul Beach, CYC Beach, Twin Lagoon.
Where to stay in Coron?
- The best and more expensive option: La Natura Resort €€€
- The best medium budget options: Sunz & Coron and Vela Terraces €€
Where to eat in Coron?
Eat in your hotel at one of the before recommended places.
What to see in El Nido when the boats don’t go?
Nacpan Beach and Lio beach and Las Cabanas.
Which tour in El Nido?
Tour B, A, C in that order. And if you only do Palawan take the time to do tour D as well.
Where to stay in El Nido?
Hotel Covo, Casa Kalaw, Balai Adlao or El Nido Cove. All of them are outside (15 minute tricycle) of El Nido Town at Lio Beach and the resort has 5 of the best restaurants like an Italian, Burgerbar, Grill and Steakhouse and more. They have a great spa and massage plus the WIFI is just mad fast. You can book your tours from here and get free transfers.
Where to eat in El Nido?
Lio Beach, once again they have 5 of the best restaurants like an italian, burgerbar, grill and steakhouse and more and 1 hour free good WIFI.
• Bead Café
• Fat Choy
• Globy Travelling Chef
• La Salangane
• Manille Beach Bar
• Pair-a-Dice Burgers
• Pizza & Amore
• Pukka Bar
• Seafood Island
Go to Boracay or not?
That depends on the type of traveler you are. If you like to party hard it’s probably your thing. We honestly found it way to crowded and overhyped and overpriced. Not to mention the way to get there was the most horrific experience we ever had. We will blog about it in a new article to tell you how that sucked.
Which transport company to Boracay?
You’ll probably fly with Cebu Pacific but then make sure you use your resort or hoteltransfer instead of the South West Company. That company is hands down the worst experience we ever had in all of our travels.
Go to Siquijor or not?
Siquijor is such a relaxed and beautiful place we definitely recommend it.
How to get to Siquijor?
There is a boat going but we would take Air Juan from Cebu without a doubt. They will fly you with a 6 person Cessna which feels like a tour in itsself when flying over the Philippine islands. Also on the way back they replaced the Cessna with a helicopter tour which was our luck, but we think its great service they don’t just cancel flights.
Where to stay at Siquijor?
We went to Coco Grove which is absolutely the best. The glamping Siquijor invited us which looked great as well. We also saw great recommendations of Coral Cay Resort.
What to do on Siquijor?
Take the Apo Island tour from Coco Grove. Also visit the Lagaan Falls and Cambugahay falls by renting a scooter. And just relax on the beach or rent a Kayak. The coral is just amazing at Coco Grove.
Can I see whalesharks?
You can but don’t go to Oslob. They are feeding the animals over there which makes them very vulnerable. You can go to Donsol but they can’t guarantee you’ll actually see one.
Yes even Cebu city (Mactan) can be fun if you like shopping. If you don’t, just use it as a stop in between destinations. You can go to Kawasan Falls, take a daytrip to Bohol if you are not staying there and you can plan trips to Malapascua Island and Bantayan Island and Kalanggaman Island.
How to get to Cebu?
Most people take a minivan from El Nido to Puerto Princesa and fly from there to Cebu. There is another much better option and that is to take a direct flight with AirSwift from El Nido to Cebu. Airswift office is located at Lio Beach.
Which place to stay?
We used it for a bit of luxury and stayed at the great businessclass suites at Radisson Blu and we really enjoyed the BAI Hotel which has bigger buffets and sushi & sashimi (both tuna and salmon) lunches than we have ever seen.
How to get to Kalanggaman Island, from Cebu?
First you need to go to Palompon, Leyte. You can go to Palompon, Leyte via Tacloban Airport or Cebu Airport (a.k.a. Mactan International Airport). See the details below.
• How to get to Kalanggaman from Tacloban Airport, ride a van going to Palompon. Trip takes about 4 hours.
• How to get to Kalanggaman from Cebu Airport, ride a taxi to go to Pier 3. In pier 3, you can either ride a SuperCat (fast boat) going to Ormoc or a ship en route to Palompon. Supercat fare usually costs around P600 while ship ticket costs around P495. If you chose SuperCat, it takes about 2 hours to reach Ormoc, then you need to ride a van going to Palompon which can cost you another P150. Ship from Cebu will take 4 hours to reach Palompon.
Once you’re in Palompon, go to Palompon Liberty Park and pay the necessary fees for the Kalanggaman EcoTour. You can ride a bike called Potpot to go to Liberty Park. It only costs P3 per person. Boat ride from this point to Kalanggaman Island takes about an hour for regular boats and 35 minutes for speed boats.