39 Things to Know Before Traveling to the Philippines

Whether you are traveling to the Philippines for vacation, work, or study abroad, many things need consideration before going.

It may seem like an exciting destination with cultural diversity and natural beauty. Still, some aspects can be overlooked when making decisions quickly online without researching first-hand knowledge about what really goes on here!

So take my advice: do your research, ask questions, and be prepared so you can take in all the good parts of visiting this country without having an “I never knew” moment that leaves you feeling disappointed or lost!

To help you out, I’ve included 39 things you’ll want to make a note of before arriving in the Philippines! In this other post, you’ll learn what to avoid while you’re here!

1) The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog.

The people of the Philippines speak a unique language called Tagalog. It is the official language of all Filipino schools, universities, government agencies, businesses, and other organizations.

Because it’s the most common dialect in the area, you should learn Basic Tagalog before visiting the country!

2) The currency used in the Philippines is called pesos (PHP).

The currency used in the Philippines is called pesos

The national currency in the Philippines is called pesos (PHP).

While dollars are also welcomed, it’s not advised to use them since many prices are rounded up to the nearest peso. To avoid any extra charges, just stick with using pesos everywhere you go!

3) The Philippines is one of the most biologically diverse nations.

The Philippines has more than its fair share of unique landscapes.

There are famous mountains, volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls, and more here!

The extreme biodiversity in this country is due to different types of climates and geography that can be found within its borders.

4) Filipinos speak English as a second language.

Most Filipinos learn English starting in elementary school, while some discover it in college.

Because of this, most Filipinos can write and speak English very well!

However, dialects may vary from one location to another, so be sure that you’re constantly communicating with someone who uses your version of the language.

5) Filipino love rice.

Rice is a huge part of every Filipino meal. In fact, if you go to a Filipino home for dinner, it will almost certainly have rice on the menu! 

If you don’t like taking risks when it comes to food, just make sure that your host knows in advance whether or not you eat rice so they can plan accordingly.

6) Filipinos are primarily Roman Catholic Christians.

Christianity is part of the Filipino culture, so most citizens are Roman Catholics!

Other Christian denominations, such as Iglesia ni Cristo and Mormons, have sizable populations in the Philippines.

If you’re not a person of faith when you visit this country, I recommend keeping your religious opinions to yourself.

There are a lot of beautiful filmmakers, actors, and screenwriters from the Philippines!

One great example is Charice Pempengco, who became famous for her appearances on the show Glee.

Another is Nora Aunor, who has won multiple awards for her acting performance.

8) Filipinos are known to be happy and friendly people.

Filipinos are known to be happy and friendly people

Filipinos have a temperament that is similar to the Latin American personality.

Because of this, they might seem more easygoing or even silly at first glance!

However, Filipinos are actually very hardworking people who value family as much as anything else.

9) There are many Spanish influences in Filipino culture.

Filipino food, architecture, and religion all have a lot of Hispanic influences!

When the Spanish colonized the Philippines in 1521, they brought their language and religion.

Because Manila was a central trading port for three hundred years, this Spanish influence is felt throughout the whole country!

10) Filipinos love to eat, and they always have a meal with family.

Filipinos love to eat

An essential part of Filipino culture has to do with food!

They believe that having a meal together as a family or group should be the main social event in every person’s day, so at lunchtime or dinnertime you can expect restaurants or homes to be filled with loud voices and laughter.

11) World-class surfing can be found in the Philippines!

World-class surfing can be found in the Philippines

If you like extreme sports, try visiting the Philippines during the peak of monsoon season (usually October through March) to see the world’s best surfers ride along the coast of Cebu.

You might want to stay on land when you hear that a typhoon is due to hit, though!

12) They love karaoke!

When you go out to a karaoke bar, don’t be surprised if there are a lot of Filipinos singing their hearts out!

Karaoke culture is vast in the Philippines, so it’s also easy for travelers to find places where they can belt out a tune with pals.

13) The Philippines is home to several famous beaches.

Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world can be found near Manila, including Boracay and Bantayan Island.

If you’re visiting during the dry season (usually from March through June), go to these beaches and find a great spot to sit down with some friends, order some food or drinks, and enjoy!

14) Over 7,000 islands make up the Philippine archipelago.

With so many islands, there’s a lot of potential for activity and exploration! Even if you visit Manila or Boracay and leave it at that, remember that there are still seven thousand other places to see.

Also, keep in mind that the Philippines comprises over one hundred separate ethnolinguistic groups, each with its own culture and traditions!

15) They don’t speak Spanish; they speak Filipino.

You might notice that almost all Filipinos speak multiple languages!

While Spanish was the official language of the Philippines for hundreds of years, it is no longer the official language of the country.

Today, Filipino and English are both widely spoken and understood.

Even if some locals say a few words in Spanish or another language while conversing with you, they will be more than happy to switch back to speaking English!

16) Things can get pretty cheap!

There are many great deals in the Philippines, especially during the off-season.

Hotels might offer three hundred percent discounts on their usual rates, while meals can be as much as ninety percent off the regular price. (See also: How much cash to bring to the Philippines)

If you’re lucky enough to visit during a long holiday or significant event, you could even end up spending less money than you would for a night at home.

17) Internet is not the best, but it’s getting better.

Unfortunately, internet speeds and connectivity can be prolonged and unreliable in the Philippines.

If you’re staying in a city like Manila or Cebu, it’s possible to find a decent connection, but if you’re going to more rural areas, expect your tasks to take several times longer than usual.

18) Filipinos are not all poor!

It’s not uncommon to hear foreigners saying that Filipinos are poor and uneducated, but this just isn’t true!

Some Filipinos might live in poverty, yes, but they’re also highly hardworking people who will do anything they can to better their situation.

If you take the time to visit a Filipino family and listen to their stories, you might be surprised to find out where they came from and how far they’ve come.

19) There are a lot of different dialects.

Aside from Tagalog, several dialects each have their own words and phrases.

These include Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicolano, Waray-waray, and Pampango.

20) The Philippines has a long history of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Depending on where you’re visiting, this could be useful to know or completely irrelevant.

If you’re visiting a coastal city or a significant island, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions could happen regularly. In fact, there are at least five active volcanoes in the Philippines today!

21) The Philippines has been ruled by many different countries throughout history.

During World War II, for example, Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, and during that time, civilians were forced to commit atrocities such as murder and rape.

Although Japan has apologized for its mistakes, relations with the two countries remain uneasy.

22) A lot of Filipinos work abroad.

Due to the country’s low wages and high unemployment, many Filipinos have decided to work abroad for better opportunities.

Unfortunately, this often means being forced to leave their families behind with another relative or friend. This is a hard sacrifice for many Filipinos, but it’s necessary to provide for their loved ones.

23) Filipinos are incredibly proud of their history.

Despite the years of hardship and foreign rule, Filipinos always maintain national identity and pride.

They love sharing stories about their past struggles and triumphs with foreigners, and if you take the time to listen, they might even give you a tattoo!

24) Kpop culture is significant in the Philippines.

Although the US is still considered Kpop’s number one market, many Filipinos can’t get enough of their favorite bands and idols.

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to make friends with other fans while you’re traveling around!

25) Boracay is not representative of the Philippines.

Boracay is not representative of the Philippines

Although many people assume that Boracay is a perfect representation of everything in the Philippines, it’s pretty different.

For example, most Filipinos live simple lives, fishing or farming rice instead of drinking cocktails by the beach. Just keep this in mind next time you visit!

Although people everywhere are concerned about their skin color, many Filipinos have darker complexions and worry about blemishes or signs of aging.

This is why they use many whitening products, which actually do more harm than good! If you visit the Philippines, keep this in mind to avoid buying anything you wouldn’t use at home.

27) The country is safe for traveling.

Despite the risks that come with traveling to many countries, it’s entirely safe for foreigners to visit the Philippines as long as they obey local laws and stay out of trouble.

Just keep this in mind, so you don’t ruin your chances of going back!

Many Filipinos rely on jeepneys every day, colorful vans helping locals get around for about 60 years. Nowadays, many travelers also use them to explore many islands and cities!

29) Social Media is huge in the Philippines.

Facebook is more popular than texting, and most Filipinos love social media! This is why you should expect to see a lot of selfies on your next trip.

Some vloggers have become so famous that they’re invited to international events.

Although many people still think it’s nothing more than a simple hobby, vlogging can actually be quite profitable for those who do it well.

30) Gaming is a common pastime in the Philippines.

The average Filipino spends more time playing games than they do on Facebook, and several gaming tournaments take place every year!

Some gamers live by streaming their own gameplay or creating walk-throughs for other players.

31) Ex-pats are common in the Philippines.

Ex-pats are common in the Philippines

Although most people think that foreigners are scarce in this country, that’s actually not the case!

Because of the low cost of living and weather, many ex-pats choose to live here instead of other Asian countries like Japan or Korea.

32) Digital Nomads are also common.

Although the Philippines are far from popular Digital Nomad hubs like Chiang Mai, many nomads have decided to set up their home base here due to the low living costs.

33) Filipinos love making new friends.

In the Philippines, it’s common to make friends almost instantly with those around you!

This is why some people think they’re friendly and talkative, but they actually just treat new faces as potential friends who share the same interests.

Cebu is more popular than Manila

Although most people visit the capital for business or pleasure, many locals prefer to head south to Cebu City.

It’s one of the most developed cities in the Philippines and because of this, it has a more significant ex-pat community and offers a broader range of activities for tourists.

35) Outside big cities, rent is cheap.

Although cities like Manila and Cebu City can be pretty pricey, renting a car or an apartment is much cheaper outside of big cities!

This is the best option for those who want to visit more than one place and save money at the same time.

36) Filipinos love durian.

If you like exotic fruits as much as we do, don’t forget to try durian. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a popular fruit in South-East Asia that actually makes your mouth smell really bad after eating or drinking!

Although foreigners often don’t enjoy it because of its weird taste and texture, many locals actually enjoy it.

37) The seafood is delicious!

Now that you know about durian try out the fresh seafood when in the Philippines.

There are tons of restaurants with all kinds of exotic sea creatures you’ve probably never heard of! It’s tasty and cheap here because many people rely on fishing to earn a living.

This is one of those Filipino dishes that you won’t be able to find anywhere else! It’s basically a mixture between pork and garlic, then fried with lots of oil.

Despite its yummy appearance, it isn’t perfect for your health due to the high level of cholesterol it contains.

39) Filipinos love Basketball.

Whether you like this sport or not, it’s prevalent here!

The fans are very passionate about their local teams, and the entire Philippines cheers them on during important matches.

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed reading about 39 Things to know before traveling to the Philippines!

Originally posted on February 15, 2022 @ 6:24 am

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As a lifelong traveler and founder of lovefortraveling.com, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.

My love for traveling led me to create lovefortraveling.com, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.

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