The Philippines isn’t the easiest place to travel: many people don’t speak English and tourist facilities are severely lacking in most areas. On the other hand, Filipino nationals are very welcoming and hospitality is a cultural value, so it is an ideal destination for families. There are many ways to make your family’s Filipino jaunt smoother! Here are my top 6 tips for family travel in the Philippines:
1. Friday is flyday.
In The Philippines everyone flies on Fridays. If you’re planning to catch a flight on a Friday, be sure to book it far in advance and make sure to get to the airport even earlier than usual. In addition, many businesses and offices are closed on Fridays, so just don’t plan anything of significant importance on Fridays.
2. Beware of typhoon season.
Typhoon season in the Philippines is from June to October. Although they can be benign, an unexpected typhoon does have the potential to ruin your plans for a few days. During these storms, you cannot dive or snorkel, and most ferries and airplanes wont take off. Be flexible with your planning.
3. Use water dispensers.
They’re everywhere! At only a peso ($0.05 USD) for 200 mL or 5 pesos for a liter. You can either use the little plastic baggies provided at the dispensers, or choose the eco-friendly version and refill your personal bottles. You wouldn’t believe how many times it saved us from thirst on a hot day in the market!
4. ATM 411
In The Philippines, it can be difficult to find an ATM because cards are uncommon amongst locals. It’s always better to stock up on cash before leaving the bigger cities. These days, money changers and Western Union seem to have conquered The Philippines, so many Filipinos work abroad and send money back home.
Acquiring a local SIM card is very important. There’s not a lot of WiFi, so talking with family members back home can be difficult without a SIM card (and mobile data tends to be much faster than any WiFi you’ll find). Smart network has better coverage, but Globe’s mobile data is faster. Keep in mind that phone calls in the Philippines are outrageously expensive. If at all possible, send texts to save money.
Island-hopping, snorkeling, and diving are probably the best activities in the Philippines–the biodiversity of the reefs is unmatched. But before you can enjoy these activities, you have to rent a boat and a driver. When you arrive on each island, you have to pay “taxes” that drivers seem to make up on the spot. Reasons for these charges include “keeping the island clean,” and “to walk on the island,” or “to swim in island waters.” When you go island-hopping, keep these hidden fees in mind. Plan ahead because for a family those do add up. Of course, the most important thing to remember about snorkeling or diving is that you’re coming to the fish’s home. Respect the environment and everything that lives in it.
7. Don’t forget your underwater camera!
Did you read the tip above? snorkeling and diving are the best things you can do around the Philippines, and you definitely want to have a camera with you to document your new fishy friends. You can’t post a photo you couldn’t take on social media!
Bonus tip: It does get very hot in The Philippines, and who doesn’t love ice cream? Try the local purple (yes, purple!) ice cream called ube which is made from purple yams. Sweet potato ice cream–now what could possibly be bad about that?
Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!