22 Dec 10 Reasons Why It’s More Fun in the Philippines

Where do I start with explaining how amazing the Philippines is?!

White Beach Boracay

I’ve been to numerous countries in Southeast Asia-Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore-but the Philippines really captured my heart. I had such a fantastic two weeks there, and I can’t wait to go back again some day. I travelled solo in the Philippines and I felt so safe and welcomed.

I feel like a lot of backpackers skip the Philippines because it is a little more out of the way. If you’re on a budget and traveling overland by buses and trains it can feel like a bit of a stretch to fly out to the Philippines, but with AirAsia offering cheap flights to Manila and other islands, there’s no excuse not to go!

Here’s why it’s more fun in the Philippines…

Filipinos are the friendliest people I’ve met.

Honestly, from all my travels, Filipinos have been the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever come across. It’s impossible not to fall in love with a country when the people are this kind and smiley. Plus the kids…they are so so cute. There are so many times when I see kids crying or acting up back home, but Filipino kids seem so calm and well behaved.

Friendly Filipinos at Frendz Resort Borocay

They love to celebrate too. Take my birthday for instance. I usually keep my birthday a little quiet because I don’t like to make a fuss, but the staff at Frendz resort went to the trouble of getting me a birthday cake! I heard a knock at the door to my dorm room, and when I opened it, I was greeted by several members of staff singing Happy Birthday with a guitar! I was shocked and so happy that they would do such a lovely thing for me. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while.

26th birthday cake Frendz Resort

After visiting various other countries in Southeast Asia, I was used to being hassled a bit and ripped off at times. In the Philippines I didn’t feel like that at all. It was so easy to become friends with Filipinos and I always felt safe and welcomed.

The beaches…wow

With more than 7,000 islands and even more beaches, you’re really spoilt for choice in the Philippines. If you’re looking for blinding white sands and turquoise blue water, the Philippines has that and more. I only made it to Boracay this trip, but would love to go back and visit El Nido in Palawan. My favourite beach in Boracay was Puka Beach– it was paradise!

Puka Beach Boracay

It’s easy to get around because there is no language barrier

The Filipino people speak brilliant English. Obviously as a foreigner I shouldn’t expect people in other countries to speak English, but it made my time there a lot easier because I could communicate with people and there was no language barrier.

Trishaw Boracay

They eat SPAM

When I was in Boracay, I ate spamsilog for breakfast every day. I know SPAM is a bit of an acquired taste, but my grandma used to feed it to me when I was a kid so it reminded me of my childhood days! SPAM was introduced to Filipinos by the Americans during World War II, and now it is a treasured food dish. As you can see from the picture, spamsilog consists of slices of fried SPAM, a portion of garlic rice, slices of tomato and a fried egg. Yum!

Spamsilog Philippines

and Halo Halo

You can’t visit the Philippines without trying Halo Halo at some point. It’s basically a dessert made from shaved ice and evaporated milk, which is mixed with a funny concoction of things like kidney beans, candy and fruits. It sounds so wrong, but it tastes so right! It’s the perfect way to cool off in the heat and I love the assortment of textures.

Translated “Halo-Halo” literally means “mix mix” and it is very symbolic to the Filipino culture; a mixture of cultural influences such as Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Spanish and American. If you visit Boracay, drop by Halo Halo Hut.

Halo Halo

They’re obsessed with pork

I didn’t know much about Filipino cuisine until I arrived in Manila, but I soon discovered that they love pork! And not just bacon or pork loin; they eat every part of the pig! At first I was a little bit nervous about trying some of the foods because I had no idea what they contained, but I found the food to be pretty delicious. I tried things like sisig in a pouch (kind of like a wanton filled with pig’s head parts and innards), as well as pork skewers and other yummy things. If you’re nervous about eating organs, just don’t ask! In case you’re wondering, I ate this meal pictured below at Mesa Filipino Moderne in Greenbelt Mall.

Pork Philippines

You can shop till you drop

If you like shopping, Manila has tons of enormous shopping malls, including Mall of Asia, Glorietta and Greenbelt Mall. My favourite is Greenbelt in the Makati district; who would have thought that the picture below was a shopping mall? It’s like a tropical jungle with lots of designer shops, and restaurants. There’s even a cinema here, so it’s a great place for an evening out.

Greenbelt Shopping Mall Manila

Shopping Mall Manila

There’s a whole new level of service

I thought the service was good in the USA, but Filipinos take service to a whole new level. There’s a reason that Filipinos are highly sought after in the hospitality industry around the world!

They are really into remembering names. In restaurants my server would ask me my name, then refer to me by name throughout the entire meal. They are so helpful, attentive and always smiling!

The Jeepney is so colourful!

Ahhh the jeepney, the funniest looking mode of public transportation I have ever seen. Overcrowded and colourful, Jeepneys have become a national image of the Philippines. Jeepneys originally came from U.S military jeeps left over from World War 2. They were sold or given to the Filipinos, who then customised them with vibrant colours and reconfigured them so they could fit more passengers. To me, they’re a symbol of how fun the Philippines actually is.

Jeepney Philippines

Manila is home to the best walking tour I’ve ever done

While in Manila you simply must do the Carlos Celdran Intramuros walking tour. It’s the best walking tour I’ve done anywhere in the world, and it will give you a fascinating insight into the history of the Philippines and Manila. Carlos Celdran is a fantastic storyteller with lots of character, and he brings the tour alive with funny jokes and props. It wasn’t just foreigners on the tour- there were lots of Filipinos who came along too.

Carlos Celdran Walking Tour Manila

Because this guy stood like this, with drink in hand, the whole way home…

(OK so I know I said 10 Reasons Why…but here’s number 11) While in Boracay I took a boat trip to Ariel’s Point, which is a popular cliff jumping spot. On the boat journey home this Filipino guy stood perfectly balanced, with one foot on each pole, the whole way back to shore. What’s even better is he was holding a drink in his hand and pulled out the peace sign for this photo.

Ariels Point Boat Trip Boracay

Have you visited the Philippines? What do you love about it? Leave your comments below!

#itsmorefuninthephillipines

Jeepney photo by tadolo on flickr

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Victoria Brewood
victoria@pommietravels.com

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

22 Comments
  • Kristin Addis
    Posted at 08:58h, 23 December Reply

    Not true that English is spoken everywhere here, but I agree on the other points! Love the beaches.

    • Victoria
      Posted at 20:17h, 23 December Reply

      i’m sure off the beaten track it’s not as widely spoken, although from what i’m aware english is one of their two official languages and most of their written laws and court decisions are written solely in english. it’s also the language of the media, textbooks etc and movies aren’t dubbed.

      • Rose
        Posted at 07:24h, 04 October Reply

        It is true that English is widely spoken in the Philippines. Actually, starting from primary school until you reach Uni, you are required to pass the English subject. Most books are also written in English. Movies aren’t dubbed in English but when you watch it you will notice that celebrities do speak English from time to time.

  • Hogga
    Posted at 14:22h, 23 December Reply

    never tried spam…

    • Victoria
      Posted at 20:18h, 23 December Reply

      try it at least once! sounds scary, but tastes delicious!

  • Fritzie
    Posted at 14:59h, 04 January Reply

    Hi, have been dropping by your site from time to time reading about UK, etc. and today just so amazed that you’ve been here in my homecountry already. You have described Philippines beautifully, I guess being a citizen I’m utterly flattered and I’m sure others from this country would feel the same.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts to the world (through this blog) especially about travelling. It’s inspiring and helps us especially those who are dreaming to travel around as well.

    Kudos to your blog! 🙂

  • Bob
    Posted at 16:08h, 05 January Reply

    Right, that’s it, I’m off to Manilla!

  • Ruann (Solo Travel Uncut)
    Posted at 20:58h, 24 January Reply

    I’ve been a little excited about visiting the Philippines this year, but after reading your post I’m pretty much extatic. Those beaches, damn.

    The spam mention made me laugh, because here in Korea it’s the same thing, they have it wrapped in fancy boxes and display it next to expensive whiskies and flower arangements. Being South African I’ve never tasted it, but what the hell, my first time might just as well be in the Phillipines. Thanks for sharing!

  • Louise
    Posted at 12:51h, 16 February Reply

    Thanks for visiting our nice country hope you can come back again and next time try going to palawan,bacolod,iloilo and antique pronounced like an-ti-key and try going to baguio to its very cool there

  • Jaryd
    Posted at 08:25h, 20 February Reply

    I can’t wait to get there again and swim with the whale sharks. I know Philippines is beautifully but last time I only visited the big boring city of Manila. This upcoming trip is going to be a million times better and I am looking forward to everything you listed but the spam, i can’t bring myself to put that in my body haha cheers

    • Kevin
      Posted at 05:31h, 08 May Reply

      The true beauty of Philippines is outside manila… The only thing i like about manila is their shopping malls.

  • Tourist in Romania
    Posted at 17:46h, 22 February Reply

    Great post on Philippines! Made me put it on my bucket list. I must see this wanderful place you are talking about

  • Marj Libby
    Posted at 16:48h, 18 April Reply

    If you had more fun in the Philippines, I suggest that you include the Philippines in your drop-down menu under Asia. Thank you!

  • Jerry
    Posted at 14:30h, 29 April Reply

    For those who would like to invest a condo in Manila. Please drop me a message.

    Thank you

  • GEORGE
    Posted at 04:33h, 15 May Reply

    You made a very great review of the Philippines, my country. Thanks a lot.

    I read yours posts on Bali. I’ll be visiting the island next week. Thanks for all the infos.

  • Tina
    Posted at 03:27h, 20 May Reply

    I experienced everything you said.. and I can’t wait to come back. What I really like about the Philippines is the people. Kind, generous always have smiles on their face even at worst times.

  • 25 Pictures That Prove Boracay Island Is One Of The Best Beaches in the World
    Posted at 12:01h, 21 June Reply

    […] new Friends in Boracay! A lot of people says that Filipinos are the friendliest people (proof) in the World. Go to Boracay for your to find out! Photo by Rod […]

  • Arnold
    Posted at 08:58h, 15 December Reply

    Hi! I really enjoyed reading your entry. Not because I from the Philippines, but simply because how you appreciate our country, the People and everything in between.. 🙂 I found your page because I am researching about my upcoming solo backpacking Indochina trip (Vietnam-Laos-Myanmar),and I found a suggest post below about my home country. 🙂

    Keep Safe and keep travelling. 🙂

  • Colin
    Posted at 00:06h, 19 May Reply

    Hi Victoria
    Im off to The Philippines in October & i will spend time in Manila but I want to see a little of the real Phillipines while im there. I wondered if you would recommend a more relaxed place to visit?
    Thanks.

  • Uptourist
    Posted at 07:19h, 09 July Reply

    I am glad you enjoyed your stay in my country. It is beautiful because you get to feel a little closer to nature.

  • Drew
    Posted at 01:46h, 07 September Reply

    Victoria,

    My story is going to be something interesting to explain. U see I was born in the Philippines but I pretty much stayed in one city in mindanao, I did not realize what we were as Filipinos until 20 years have passed in Los angeles, California. I moved to USA when I was 12. After 20 years i became americanized, u know someone that is always rushing, always trying to catch time, and never really have enough of it coz u are always busy doing 9 to 5 or 6 or 8 or what ever it is, always juggling work, school, or social life. I did not realized the things that I missed out on for example the thousands of nice beaches with warm waters, the millions of friendly people, the festivities, the many friends, the nature like dense forests or whatever, or being waken up buy a rooster instead of an annoying alarm clock. Or going to a random beach with your friends with no crowds and u drink and BBQ all day and u don’t feel rushed such as the expering parking meter, or a police harassing u. I could talk a thousands things about the Philippines and go on forever, there is a lot more to experience in other parts of the countries. I’ll share one experience that I can’t experience anywhere else. Like in other parts of the Philippines u wake up and some fisherman or vendor brings and sells fish by your door step, organic healthy fish, you tell your cook to fry, grill, or make a soup of it, it up to you. For lunch, while u do that, that cook already prepared the breakfast.. that’s right. It could be spam like u said, or it could be bacon with eggs, and fried rice. It does not matter, what matters is in the Philippines you control your time, which is a valuable thing more than money. As you finish your breakfast, someone will take care of it, and u walk out your house and see your neighbor greeting you with a smile, it’s hard to find rude loud people because the culture frowns on that. Good for me, no loud music, no screaming neighbors, no pretentious neighbors who shows off the latest car model which they indebted themselves with, nor how the value of their house has grown, it’s hard to see people that are over compensating their inner insecurities with the latest gadgets or toys. Now you could talk about how their kids have grown or that mango tree they planted 3 years ago, its just the most natural place i should never left from. Simply put, people are just living. Period.I might want to add, if you are missing some westernized experiences u could just go to a starbucks, macdonalds, kfc, or pizza hut, even tgif they have them in the Philippines too. Ever since I was fortunate enough to be open minded about learning my true country, I have been truly blessed year after year experiencing what the country has to offer, I became a dual citizen, I learned tagalog at a late age and it added a new dimension of experience, remember I was only in Mindanao when I left the Phil. There are so many islands I need to go. And oh BTW I went to El nido, u said u wanted to go there. It’s like another planet, it’s ridiculous what my eyes were seeing, the way the sun reflects on the special waters, no words can do justice. And the limestone islands. Anyways there are more islands, languages, tribes, and a set of whole new adventures, my goal now is to move back there and live there permanently so before I pass on and I can say it was all wOrth it experiencing the Philippines as how is it

  • andrew plaza
    Posted at 19:19h, 09 January Reply

    the PI is very underrated, and God bless to those people who appreciate what it has to offer. There are many things it can offer but the top 2 in my honest opinion that is so lacking around the world are these

    1. Nature, I mean all around you, you are at leg’s length and nature is within your grasp. Chickens in the streets, dogs, cats, cows, beaches, mountains, organic fruits, veggies, etc, islands, the lists goes on and on

    2. the people, its more than just they are friendly , but they are possibly the most natural state of people I know, there are less head games, they simply act naturally and the smiles comes in an unlimited manner. One time I was lost and I was looking for these majestic waterfall, I passed by a home, and the owner said, what are u in the rush for? lets have some lunch. ( I was a stranger, and I was let into their house!, they cooked fish, and desserts, and I was full, and then they gave me directions, and a guide. I honestly cant say I can experience that anywhere else.

    have fun and enjoy the PI! 🙂

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