9 Philippine Local Travel Tips That Every Foreigner Should Know

9 Philippine Local Travel Tips That Every Foreigner Should Know

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El Nido, Palawan

With its 7,640+ islands, the Philippines has become a top tourist destination for many travelers from all around the world. The archipelago is home to gorgeous beaches, winding caves, serene rivers, and diverse cultures. It is known for its beautiful island destinations like Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, Palawan, and Siargao, as well as the bustling and historic capital city of Manila.

When planning a trip to the Philippines, it is helpful to research in advance to know the best places to visit, the best time to go, and what to bring. You can read our Philippines travel guide to help you, but some of the most valuable resources when it comes to all this information are the locals themselves, who can provide you with insider tips. You can even join our social media community where you can ask questions and get useful Philippines travel tips.

To get you started, we asked several Philippine travel bloggers for some local travel tips that can help you on your vacation. These tips for traveling to the Philippines are from experienced travelers, so if you are visiting the Philippines for the first time, you should take note of them.

1. Travel during the off-peak days.

Kayangan Lake in Coron

“Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays! These weekdays tend to have fewer crowds and potentially cheaper flights compared to weekends. This applies even in popular tourist destinations like Coron, El Nido, and Boracay.”

Glen Nomad of Escape Manila Travel Blog at Coron, Palawan- Glen Nomad of Escape Manila Travel Blog at Coron, Palawan

Glen is a seasoned traveler and a full-time travel blogger. He has explored all 82 provinces of the Philippines and has visited 53 countries to date.

2. Pack light and prepare for variable weather.

Packing for a trip to the Philippines

“When packing for your trip to the Philippines, it's essential to pack light and bring versatile clothing items that suit the tropical climate. Breathable fabrics like cotton and linen are my personal go-tos!

During the rainy season (usually from June to November), pack a lightweight waterproof jacket to protect yourself from sudden rains. Pro tip: quick-dry clothing and waterproof footwear are also handy for participating in water activities.”

Jea Espino, 18, Marketing Consultant- Jea Espino, 18, Marketing Consultant

Jea shares the passion for travel with many. She was raised knowing that experiences are priceless. She has traveled all over the world but will always advocate Boracay Island as the greatest beach.

3. Learn a few Filipino or Tagalog words.

Guest at a filipino household

“Although most Filipinos are fluent in English, making an effort to learn and speak the local language can enhance your experience while in the country. Even just a few words like “Salamat” (thank you) and “Ingat” (take care) can show respect for the culture and help build a connection with locals, leading to more meaningful interactions and perhaps even new friendships.” 

Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog at Banaue, Ifugao- Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog at Banaue, Ifugao

Melo completed traveling to all 82 provinces of the Philippines by the age of 30. Since then, he has been exploring countries in Southeast Asia and around the world.

4. Avoid buying a SIM card at the airport.

Simcard in the Philippines

“If you want to save money, it's advisable to skip purchasing a SIM card at Philippine airports. Instead, head to the nearest convenience store, like a 7-11 near your hotel, where you can also top up. The cost is significantly lower and will cost you just around a dollar (USD), compared to approximately USD18 at the airport. 

If you're concerned about booking a Grab ride upon leaving the airport, most of the time, the airport WiFi works just fine.”

Cai Dominguez of travelosyo.com- Cai Dominguez of travelosyo.com

Cai didn't quit his job to travel; instead, he made a job out of traveling. He has been traveling since he was 23 and intends to visit the 81 provinces in the Philippines. Currently, he has visited 64 provinces in the country and continues to share his stories.

5. Invest in a reusable water bottle. 

Reusable water bottle in a beach

“It can get scorching hot in the Philippines, so getting hydrated should be a priority. But tap water in most areas isn’t potable. Instead of buying bottled water each time you need to drink, just get a reusable one and refill it when you have a safe source of water. 

The Philippines is also one of the top ocean plastic waste contributors. You can help the environment by not adding to the problem. Reusing a water bottle will also keep your water expenses low.”

Yosh Dimen of The Poor Traveler at Tawi-Tawi- Yosh Dimen of The Poor Traveler at Tawi-Tawi

Yosh Dimen has been travel blogging for the past 14 years, chasing three highs: the rush when planning a trip, the thrill of new experiences, and that odd blend of triumph and loss when it’s all over. 

6. Start your journey from the market. 

Vigan longanisa

“Explore the local market’s fresh produce and meat section before doing anything else—it will give you a sense of what to expect with what you will and must eat during the next few days. 

Head to the carinderia eatery section afterward. These are commonly found in most markets, where the cooked version of the produce you just saw readily awaits your taste buds.”

Christian L. Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas at Buguias, Benguet- Christian L. Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas at Buguias, Benguet

Christian was bitten late by the travel bug but is slowly catching up with his trips. When not traveling, he takes care of his four-year-old son and spends his free time refining his music library.

7. Explore via two wheels.


Motorcycle for travel

“If you enjoy biking or know how to drive a motorcycle, I highly recommend traveling on two wheels to explore different parts of the Philippines. Some of my best trips were solo adventures where I either brought my bicycle or drove by motorcycle to explore. 

International travelers can rent bicycles or scooters in some key destinations. This way, you won’t be bound by public transport and can enjoy a more flexible itinerary compared to the typical join-in package tours.

Biking around coastal areas like Baler (where you can ride to Dipaculao and back) and smaller islands with circumferential roads that you can loop in the Philippines like Batan Island in Batanes, Camiguin, Siquijor, Romblon, Biliran, and Marinduque can be an exhilarating experience. 

If you want a break from beach-bumming in Boracay, you can also do a bike loop of the whole island. Renting a bicycle is a budget-friendly way to get around. Some hotels and hostels offer free bikes for guests to use, while other shops rent these out for as little as PhP100 per hour to PhP400 a day. 

If you’re looking for things to do in Manila and want a quick urban adventure, you can bike around the Intramuros area using Bambikes (bamboo bicycles). The area around the UNESCO World Heritage Site San Agustin Church is undergoing pedestrianization efforts, and there are some notable spots to bike to nearby, including Fort Santiago, Binondo, and the Pasig River Esplanade behind the Manila Post Office.

Larger islands in the Philippines that you can loop are also great for motorcycle exploration, including Siargao, Bohol, Cebu, Mindoro, Samar, and Palawan. 

Upon landing in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, you can rent a motorbike in the city and head up to El Nido or explore lesser-known areas like Port Barton or Nagtabon Beach. You can rent motorcycles from different shops. Scooter rentals in the Philippines usually cost as little as PhP300 to PhP800 a day, depending on the make and model.”

Kara Santos of Travel Up at Batanes- Kara Santos of Travel Up at Batanes

Kara is a freelance writer and Lonely Planet guidebook contributor from the Philippines who has traveled around the country’s 82 provinces.

8. Slow down.

Rolling hills in Batanes

“There's no need to see all the sights. Just choose a couple of the places you like and enjoy them at a leisurely pace. This offers a more meaningful experience and better cultural immersion over rushed and jam-packed itineraries.”

Johanes Godoy & Ryk Van Eruel Godoy of Wander Era at Nasugbu, Batangas- Johanes Godoy & Ryk Van Eruel Godoy of Wander Era at Nasugbu, Batangas

Johanes and Ryk have traveled around the Philippines for years, both having a keen interest in the principles of slow travel.

9. Bring home pasalubong.

Buy pasalubong

“Pasalubong is a Filipino practice of bringing gifts back to your family or loved ones. You can also adopt this by picking up unique souvenirs, like ethically sourced pearls from Palawan, handwoven fabrics from Ifugao, and the delicious food and drinks in different regions, including the dried mangoes of Cebu, kapeng barako (barako coffee) of Batangas, and snacks like cornick and banana chips.

Not only are you bringing home a piece of the Philippines with you, but you are also supporting local artisans and their businesses!”

Katherine Cortes of Tara Lets Anywhere at San Felipe, Zambales- Katherine Cortes of Tara Lets Anywhere at San Felipe, Zambales

Katherine is a backpacker who loves discovering pristine beaches and waterfalls and staying at nice AirBnbs

Daku Island, Siargao

When planning your vacation to the Philippines, take note of these insider travel tips so you can enjoy your trip hassle-free. Whether you’ve booked all-inclusive Philippines vacation packages or are planning a do-it-yourself trip, these tips can also help make your experience more memorable. Bonus tip: avoid being the victim of travel scams in the Philippines by reading our article about them.

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