Travel in the Philippines
If your dream vacation promises thrilling adventures, majestic surroundings, tropical weather, immaculate beaches, friendly and generous people, exotic cuisine and shopping havens---at more than half the cost of what you usually pay for---then the Philippines might be your best bet. With more than 7,100 islands and a coastline that extends twice as long as that of the United States, hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals visit the country each year for a vacation that does wonders not only for the body but also for the soul.
Plan your itinerary. It might be exciting to go wherever your legs want to take you, but with the numerous places you can visit in the time you plan to vacation, a well-mapped-out route might come in handy. Numerous websites give tips on vacationing in the Philippines. WOW Philippines, managed by the Department of Tourism, is a good place to start.
Determine the kind of vacation you would like to experience. Are you ready for an adventure trip? Palawan, Bicol, Davao, the Cordilleras and Cebu are the best places to visit for water sports, caving, mountain biking and mountaineering. Going for a cultural immersion? You can experience unique Philippine culture wherever you are in the country. But for a one-of-a-kind experience, you should participate in one of the festivals that are mostly held from February to May. You also can visit the heritage sites in Ilocos, Banaue and Manila and stand in awe of man-made structures that reflect Filipino ingenuity. If you want to go on a shopping spree, Manila houses three of the 10 largest shopping malls in the world, and if that's not enough, bargain hunters would surely swoon at the array of really chea) items in a place called Divisoria. To get away from it all foreigners flock to the Philippines for its world famous beaches in Boracay, Palawan, Camiguin, Bohol, Pagudpud, Siargao and Cebu. While enjoying the ocean, you can also swim with the whale sharks---the largest fish on Earth---from December to May in Donsol. You can have a great mix of all the adventures with careful planning and budgeting.
Change your dollars or other foreign currency into pesos before heading out to your final destination. Money changers are plentiful in Manila, but you might have a hard time finding one in the provinces. Also, most hotels and restaurants in the provinces only accept cash because credit-card machines are still widely unavailable.
Learn a few Filipino words and phrases. English is widely spoken in the country, and the Philippines is the third-largest English-speaking nation in the world, but speaking a few Tagalog words and phrases endears you to the locals. Salamat (thank you) and Kumusta ka? (How are you?) might just help you get a good bargain or a free treat.