The Philippines are in the middle of South East Asia, and you can feel this in so many ways. However, something is different about the Philippines, and this in a good way. It’s hard to describe this feeling, and I highly encourage you and visit this country and see it with your own eyes.
1. The chaos of SEA – but better organized
Streets and traffic in SEA is a thing for itself. People here have their own rules, and there is a massive lack of regulations. The crazy thing about it is that everything works out in the end; the ultimate tip for surviving on Asian streets is to follow the crowds and copy their moves. In the Philippines, it’s not much different, and you see people driving motorbikes with the whole family on it (Record I saw was 5 adults on one bike), but the streets are actually good. Yeah, the roads don’t have bumps and holes in it, and they have proper lines and even speed limit signs can be found (Although nobody gives a shit about them). The Philippines is the country with the best streets in all of SEA followed by Thailand. In school zones, extra signs make you aware of children crossing the street and street work is marked as well – a thing I didn’t saw in another country.
2. A lot of fun – but paying attention to security
It’s more fun in the Philippines – that’s the slogan for tourism in the Philippines, and they couldn’t be righter. I had the best experiences and craziest adventures in the Philippines – Canyoneering, snorkeling, diving, whale shark watching, etc. The difference is that everything is that much regulated that you have a bunch of fun and you are still secure and don’t take to many risks. Take canyoneering as an example – I got a helmet and a life vest and on some jumping points where even people whose job it is that no accidents happen like jumping on each other or hitting rocks.
3. Excellent bus services – but extremely cheap
An aircon bus for 4 hours for 156 Pesos (2,5 euros) that’s normal in the Philippines. The buses run frequently and are never too full. Thanks to the good streets the journey is relaxed, and they even stop for you if your hotel is on the way. There is no need to book a Bus, just go to the bus station and board the next bus – you pay on the bus.
4. Helpful people everywhere – but on a different level
I love people in SEA because they are always friendly, smile and want to help you. The difference in the Philippines is that people actually understand you! Most of them speak fluent English, and they can actually help you. This makes it so much easier to travel in here. Asking for directions or the right bus is no problem anymore, and even with no internet connection you get to your destination – often not the case in other countries. In addition to that, people are just friendly on a different level. I got so many messages on social media just saying, “welcome to my country the Philippines,” so many people gave me tips and its just easy to get in contact with local people.
5. Trying to sell something – but in a friendly way
I had to clean my ears and ask my friend if I heard right – When I denied a request to eat a pizza in a restaurant while walking past they just said: “ok no problem, have a great evening.” This never happened before to me in 6 months of Asia travel. In Vietnam or Thailand people try to get you in their stores or restaurants and as soon as you show some interest they are the friendliest, but as soon as you say “No thank you“ they ignore you and go to the next one. In the Philippines, they wish you a nice evening instead of ignoring you. This might be a small thing and nothing special, but in my opinion, this best describes my headline “Same, same but different” and this shows you how friendly people here are.
6. Beaches everywhere – but without the waste like in other countries
There is no waste in the water and on the beaches in the Philippines. Of course, it is not that clean as in Australia for example but far better than Thailand or Bali. I don’t know if this is because the beach gets cleaned regularly or because people don’t throw their waste in the sea however both options are better then to do nothing and get dirty beaches like in Bali. I also saw a clean up on the Streets of Siargao organized by locals and done by local kids – this made me happy and showed me that there is some big hope in solving the plastic and waste problem. Regarding waste and plastic saving the Philippines play a leading role in Asia, and I hope this swaps over to the other countries.
- Total countries I visited until now: 35
- Planes: 14
- Busses: 41
- Trains: 18
- Boats: 22
- Km driving: 7000
- Km running: 2100