Language – Tagalog and English (English is widely spoken throughout the country)
Currency – The unit of currency is the ₱ Philippine Peso (PHP). Paper note denominations come in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 PHP. Coins are still used in the currency and range from 1, 5, and 10 pesos.
Transportation – Grab Taxis are the cheapest and safest way to get around (but you’ll need a working SIM card) and if you find yourself taking a regular taxi, make sure the meter is on and you jot down the license plate first (if traveling alone)alone. But be prepared–Manila has some of the worst traffic in the world, especially during rush hour. You can also try local modes of travel like jeepneys (refurbished army buses) or tricycles (motorized rickshaws.)
Climate – There are two seasons: the dry and wet seasons. The best month to come during the dry season (Nov-May) is January. April and May are the hottest months. The wet season (Jun-Oct) promises daily hourlong rain showers. But the unpredictable nature of tropical storms wreaks havoc all throughout the wet season.
Food – Filipino cuisine is relatively unfamiliar. The cuisine is punctuated by sour flavors, usually from vinegar or kalamansi (a small citrus fruit). The must try dishes are pancit, adobo, and lechon. This is not a vegetarian friendly cuisine.
Safety – The Philippines is on the active warning list for travelers due to its current president’s war on drugs and the terrorism and insurgency in southern Mindanao. Manila is not the safest come nightfall, so exercise caution when walking alone, or travel with a friend. For solo travelers, especially females, travel outside of Manila is generally safe, even in more provincial areas, although English might be a little more sparse.
Health – Don’t drink the tap water (not even if you boil it) and even avoid the ice. If you have a sensitive stomach, it’s best to stay away from street food. Also, use mosquito repellent. Many of the mosquitoes in The Philippines are carriers of diseases, like dengue fever.
WIFI/SIM Card – WIfi is not dependable in The Philippines, and is virtually non-existent on the islands, especially Palawan. There is no public wifi. In arrivals, you can pick up a tourist simcard from local mobile providers, Smart or GLOBE. While Smart’s packages are cheaper, Globe has better data value (depending on your personal needs.) Both have a daily limit of 800 MB, so plan accordingly. As of 2019, you can get a FREE Traveler SIM with Globe if you fly with Philippines Airlines. You can pick up your complimentary sim card at arrivals and then access 300 MB of mobile data by texting MABUHAY to 8080. The Philippines is on the Keepgo mobile hotspot list.
What To Bring Home – Dried mangoes, handwoven rattan purses, capiz shell home decor, Arabica coffee, piña table runners, barong tagalogs, pearl jewelry