Philippines: Expectations & First Impressions.

First impressions & a weekend round up of a weekend trip to Philippines.
Philippines has been on my bucket list ever since I came across a very cool account of a local Philippino (@warrencamitan), if you're into tropical vibes, turquoise waters & arial shots make sure to follow him ! His account is amazing, especially if you're thinking about going to Philippines and aren't quite sure where to go and what to see.
While this country has been on my list for a long time we weren't too quick on making it happen, mainly because tickets were always expensive until one day they just dropped to $350 for a round trip and we knew we have to take advantage of that even if it's just for 4 days! We love spontaneous, last minute getaways which also just always happen to be across the globe lol so we were 100% in and booked it immediately. However, because we were only there for a very short period of time I am not able to recommend much and am only focusing on my expectations & first impressions.


  • Getting there. As per usual we found our tickets via "google flights", they were $350 each for a round trip flight to Manila which is the main town and has an international airport. From there you have to buy another flight to any island you may want to go to.
  • Talking safety. Going into this trip I've been told Philippines is pretty dangerous, however because we were with Adam's friends that are from there during most of the trip I felt very safe. I did make a few errands on my own as well but still stayed within a close distance to hotels as I didn't want to get lost or wander away because my phone unfortunately wasn't working out there. Every country is safe as long as you don't act out and decide to do something out of ordinary so make sure to keep that in mind when traveling to any new country! Don't be scared of going to new places, just be AWARE. It's not recommended to bring jewelry, engagement rings, wedding bands etc. leave all that good stuff at home if it's valuable to you.
  • Transport. Uber doesn't exist here because they've been bought out by a local company called GRAB. I haven't downloaded the app as we had a private driver but I am pretty sure they do have one and it's the best way to get around as Manila is a big island. Local islands do have small taxis you can take around.
  • Communication is key. Everyone speaks perfect english! This was honestly the biggest surprise to me as I am used to going to places where it's extremely hard to communicate with locals and you have to rely on google translate 100% of the time. Every person we talked to spoke perfect english and knew directions to literally anything you may need, were super helpful at all times etc. 
  • Getting around. Islands are bigger than imagined. We landed in Manila and then went to an island called Bohol which is just over an hour flight. Shortly after landing we started googling activities we wanted to do, however soon found out everything is about a 2 hour drive which unfortunately we weren't able to do due to a lack of time we had in the island. Moral of this story is that you must go to Philippines for at least 5-7 days to fully get to see and explore the beauty of it. We ended up booking a private boat to do island hoping which was only $13/ person!!!! Yes. You red that right.It's that cheap there. We visited a sand bar island and another island that I have shared an aerial image of above. 
  • Cash is king. Not sure what were we thinking this time around because we always bring local cash to every country we go and somehow we had 0$ this time. Thankfully our friends had cash on them and we were borrowing it as needed. While credit cards do work everywhere, some places do have a minimum to spend which is still very low you want to have cash handy just in case!
  • Tipping. We were told no one tips, however if you're getting a service such as massage etc. I think it is important to support locals and their work!
  • Main town exploring. Usually main cities where international airports are based are worth exploring however I found it pretty interesting that Manila didn't have much to do or see besides a few malls and waterfalls. During our two days there we headed to one of the waterfalls and it was breathtaking! However it is at least 2 hours away from Manila so you will need to hire a driver. 
  • Philippino money. I knew all along conversion rate from US to Philippino money was very good but I wasn't expecting what I was about to experience. 

Just to put prices in Philippines to perspective I'm listing some below so ya'll can get a better idea of how much things are:

*Private boat to go island hopping: $13/person. We also booked it via our hotel which is probably still more expensive than just walking up to a local tour guide and booking it through them.
*1 hr massage $10-$15.
*6 beers for $5. Only reason why I know this is because Adam went to get a beer and didn't have cash so we had to leave a tab open and he was shocked on how many beers he ended up getting to hit the minimum lol.
*Round trip flight from Manila to Bohol island $30-60 depending on how in advance you book.
*I needed an extra pair of sweats & hoodie to be cozy in and ended up going to a local H&M. Bought sweats, sweater & a top for $26 all together.
*Greek restaurant for a lunch for 4 people including beers were $13 for everything.

While I did enjoy exploring Philippines during the short amount of time there I'd like to go back and visit Palawan island which seems to be Insta famous and has the most beautiful waterfalls, beaches etc. If you're planning a trip out there make sure to go check it out! The IG account I shared in the beginning of the blog post shares all about that island so you'll know exactly where to go and stay if you check it out. 

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