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The popular hashtag for the Philippines claims #itsmorefuninthephilippines so with the Philippines on my agenda before leaving Asia and having visited the majority of South East Asian Countries which I assume this claim is against, I was looking forward to seeing if it was true or not!
I spent 2 weeks Backpacking the Philippines which wasn’t nearly enough but from this amount of time I got a good feel for the Country and I did conclude whether or not I personally thought it was more fun in the Philippines or not!
Of course there are always 2 sides to every story so I’m going to give my thoughts on what was more fun and what wasn’t as fun and then let you know what I thought!
So let’s start with the bad:
- Travel Days
Without doubt the travel days in the Philippines are looonnggg! After doing a quick bit of research I soon realised that to get from island to island you need take short internal flights.. which doesn’t sound too bad does it? I mean I love flying but there’s one catch with these internal flights… They.are.always.delayed!!! No joke! So this adds on an extra 2-3 hours to your journey already plus extra stress if you have a connecting flight or planned to arrive at your destination early to enjoy it. I still see people travelling the Philippines in 2019 with delayed flights too!
Secondly the airports aren’t that close to your destination, for example to get to El Nido you need to fly into Puerto Princesa which is 6 hours away by mini bus, to get to Boracay its cheapest to fly into Kalibo which is 2 hours away by mini bus plus a boat ride (for more information on this journey I wrote about my experience here) and although Manila’s airport is in the city Manila’s traffic is something else completely and it can take up to 2-3 hours to get from the airport to your hotel/hostel in the city depending on said traffic.
So overall this does make travelling in the Philippines a lot harder than say Vietnam where you just get buses or Thailand where you just get boats and buses.
- Food Options
I knew that the Philippines wasn’t known for its local food. I had already read a few blog posts that said it wasn’t good but I thought I’m sure it’ll be fine, I’m not a big foodie after all. However although I’m not a major foodie I am a vegetarian and the Filipinos don’t really understand the term Vegetarian and don’t understand why on earth you wouldn’t eat meat?! So personally I struggled with this one, although even those who do eat meat still said the food was very bland and to be honest there were never many local food options on the menus.
So in order to not starve then Western Food options are what you have to resort to which as always in Asia usually end up arriving slightly different than expected and are way more expensive!
I kept converting what I was spending on food into Thai baht and there is no way I would spend that much per meal in Thailand but in the Philippines I had to!
- The Poverty
Manila is a huge city and it is so incredibly overpopulated! I believe this is mostly to do with the main religion being Christianity and their views against contraception. I watched a program a few years ago which delved into the slums of the city and this was something I wanted to see whilst i was there. Therefore my friend and I went on a Slum Tour with True Manila and it really highlighted how poor big parts of the city are.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive in thinking that cities like Bangkok, Jakata, Ho Chi Minh etc do not have poverty like this as I’m pretty sure they do but in Manila i felt like you could see it a lot more.
To help with this situation you can do a slum tour with True Manila like i did and donate and interact with the children of these slums, read my blog post about this here.
And now for the good:
- The Beauty
Im going to sum this up in one point.. the Philippines is absolutely beautiful! The clear blue water that you see in those instagram photos, the saturation may have been upped in the photo but it is honestly that clear and blue! And the white beaches you see really are that white and clean. I didn’t visit any waterfalls myself but I heard first hand that they too are just as incredible as they look in photos!
- Friendly Locals
I found the locals very friendly and for me this is a really big reason as to whether i like a Country or not! Generally in South East Asia the locals have a good reputation for being smiley and happy and i found the Filipino’s to be the same! I also felt very safe in the Philippines.
- English is Spoken
Kind of carrying on from the above point but the locals generally speak very good English! English is taught in schools from a very young age so the younger generation are pretty much fluent and even the older generation speak it well too and although I’m not one of these people who says that everyone should speak English over their local language you have to admit it does make life a lot easier when you can actually talk to the taxi driver, waitress, shop keeper etc.
- Its not that expensive!
One of the reasons i stayed away from the Philippines for so long is that I thought it would be a lot more expensive than the likes of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia etc and although it’s not cheap cheap, it’s definitely not that expensive and the Philippines can be done on a backpackers budget. I would put it on par with Indonesia and the islands in Thailand.
So overall I DO agree that #itsmorefuninthephilippines !!
The Philippines is such a vast, diverse and interesting Country with so many places to be explored. I only scratched the surface but i know I’ll be returning in the next few years to see more!
To read more on my experience in the Philippines please see the following posts:
**There’s also video of my time in the Philippines on my YouTube page, check it out here!**