Cons of traveling to Philippines – 7 things I don’t like in Philippines
If you’ve been following my blog for longer, you must know that after Mexico and Costa Rica, Philippines are my 3rd favorite country in the world. I explored some islands there for 3 weeks in 2011 and another 4 weeks in 2016.
Yes, Philippines are my 3rd favorite country :)
But you are familiar with the saying… everything has both advantages and disadvantages, right? Philippines are also the case.
Beaches, coconuts, sun, island life, snorkeling, half-naked men … it all sounds more than perfect.
But what are the things I did not enjoy there?
What are the cons of traveling to Philippines?
7 cons of traveling to Philippines:
1. Wifi sucks
Honestly, I really do not understand how all the filipino travel bloggers do it (and trust me, there’s loads of them blogging.) I mean how on Eath they are able to publish blog posts and work online with such a bad wifi? Wifi connection is really far from strong in most places even when they tell you ”of course, we have good wifi.” Maybe good for them means you manage to upload an Instagram photo within half an hour. Or maybe I am just a too spoiled online kid from the modern Western world.
When I wanted to get loads of work done on the Malapascua island where I stayed for 17 days, it was almost impossible. Each time a cloud appeared above the island, wifi was pretty much non-existent.
Remember, bad weather equals no wifi in the Philippines.
But if you think about it, it makes sense. Do I really expect fast wifi somewhere in the middle of the Ocean? I should be grateful for having random wifi on some of the filipino 7,107 islands.
Conclusion: Philippines are a perfect place for relax, not so perfect for digital nomads though.
2. Short guys
On average, Filipinos are 17 centimeters shorter than Slovak men. And I am exactly the height of an average Slovak man which means most Filipinos are 1 head shorter than me. Frankly, sometimes I wished Filipinos were taller… or me shorter. Why? So logical :D
Some Filipinos are so handsome. I love their smooth, naturally tan skin, and dark eyes, and the fact they can climb trees to get me fresh young coconuts whenever I feel like one haha.
Seriously, I could imagine having a filipino boyfriend but I need someone taller than me. I don’t want to feel like his mum. The only time I get a feeling of support and protection is when I am shorter than the one I’m dating. Which with my 180 cm is a mission impossible. Unfortunately.
On the other hand I only know 3 really hot filipino guys but when I say hot, I mean hot! I briefly saw one of them when I stayed at Amorita resort in Bohol and he even had a good muscular body which is not so common there. He was not even that short. Maybe he was of my height. The other two guys I only ”know” online.
But hey, this is just my personal ”problem” which I can live with…
Conclusion: Unless a miracle happens, I’m afraid no filipino boyfriend for me. Sniff sniff.
3. Unhealthy food
I am trying to stay as fit as possible. I hope you’ve noticed that. To be honest with you, before my second Philippines visit I was scared of one thing. Unhealthy food is a nightmare to me. The locals eat mostly meat and rice for breakfast, meat and rice for lunch and guess what? Meat and rice for dinner again.
All the meat smell on the streets makes me really sick. Even now writing this I am making disgusted faces as if I was about to vomit. Sometimes it’s even difficult for me to eat my veggie thing next to people chewing on meat. Bleeeeeh!
Anyway, back to the point. I am vegan, mostly raw vegan. Randomly I become ”just” vegetarian because usually people do not understand what vegan means.
It is so not easy to get good vegan meals in some islands and destinations. It’s fine when I am on a press trip with local tourism board or hotel managers when I can explain to them exactly what I can eat. And then they just repeat the same thing to the kitchen staff to prepare me a vegan meal. However, although Filipinos speak good English, when I am on my own, they seem not to understand NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS.
It was hell when we finally arrived in Manila with my friend after a 3-day travel from Czech republic and we spent 2 hours going around all the restaurants trying to find at least 1 meal I could have for dinner. Two hours! In the end a Vietnamese cook was nice enough to make me rice veggie rolls.
”Is fish ok with you, Ma’am? How about cheese and eggs? So no chicken?” I got to asked very often even after my long detailed vegan explanation.
Thankfully, at least there’s young coconuts and exotic fruit which make already 2 of my daily 3 meals. But the veggie dinner can be pain in the ass in some places.
Conclusion: Philippines are heaven for meat-eaters but could be hell for vegans.
TIP: Find out more about how to stay fit when traveling in my popular ebook.
Have you ever come across the term Pheelippines? It’s started to spread among the travelers because Philippines are really a ”phee”, read ”fee” country. You need to pay separate fees for almost everything. Extra port fees, baggage fees, taxes, airport fees, another fees and taxes, you name it. Yo will even get lost in all the fees. Why they don’t make them part of a price so everyone pays just 1 price instead of going to 4 different places when you want to take a boat or a plane?
No extra fees for a sunny day or fresh air by the sea???
It will make you furious as you never know exactly how much money you need for certain activities, such as transportation from A to B.
You do your search online (each website will give you a different price), or go to a destination and then suppose you will pay the same price for taking the same kinds of transportation on the way back. Haha what a filipino joke!
So this is what happened to me when I went to Malapascua. I took a bus for 200 pesos from Cebu to Maya and then a boat for 80 pesos. So logically, on the way back I’d expect the same price, right? So far from the truth! Because of the low tide, we needed to take a small boat for 20 pesos to get to the main boat for 80 pesos which then also did not anchor in the main Maya port where the buses leave from.
It’s the same water distance and still the same price for the big boat but who cares, pay extra for the small boats and the same price for the big boat even though you spend less time on the big boat. So another small boat for 20 pesos to get us to the shore from the big boat. And if you need help to get your baggage out of the boat to the mainland, no one will do it for free. It’s like 10 slippery seconds but you also need to pay the porter (20 pesos per bag!) for that if you don’t want to kill yourself on the rocks trying to get the suitcase out of the boat while already having problems with yourself.
And then you need get a motorbike taxi to the bus station which also should be 20 pesos unless the rider will pretend he has no change obviously and will want to charge you 100 pesos. And then the bus itself or 200 pesos for an air-con wifi bus, or 163 pesos for a regular bus which stops in every single village whenever a local waves or shouts.
So instead of 280 pesos I paid from Cebu to Malapascua, I had to pay 70 pesos extra. 2o pesos for one small boat, 20 for another one and 30 for the motorbike taxi. I refused to pay another 20 pesos to the porter so carried my suitcase out of the boat myself.
Conclusion: Always carry extra money for all the extra fees.
This point comes hand in hand with the previous one.
Back to the same story and my personal experience when leaving Malapascua. The motorbike taxi rider did not want to give me my change back saying he would keep the 100 pesos I handed over. I knew it was supposed to be just 20 so I shouted at him for like 10 minutes to stop treating tourists as shit just because we are white. He makes living out of us, together with thousands of other locals, but if they keep behaving the same bad, travelers will not want to visit Philippines any more.
I was so angry at him that the bus driver heard me and came closer asking what happened. Once I explained to him, the motorbike driver managed to ”find change” and give me back 70. He even showed me all the money he had in his pocket and really did not have the missing 10 pesos. That’s like €0,20. So I was ok with that and hopped on the bus.
But you get my point, right? For me, it’s all about the principle. Overcharging tourists in many places just because we are not Filipinos? Do you think it’s fair?
Conclusion: If you don’t want to get overcharged, carry small change and do your research to know the real prices.
Now I don’t mean that the local currency is Philippine peso. I am talking of the fact that in the majority of places you need to pay in cash. In very little destinations outside of Manila, Cebu and a few more touristy places such as Boracay, they do accept credit cards. Given the location, in a way I do understand it, but on the other hand why to charge extra 5% if you pay by card? You see, again extra fees in Pheelippines.
The problem is that on most small islands there are no ATMs which means you need to carry loads of cash with you during your entire trip. Hello, thieves :(
There was no ATM on Malapascua and only a few restaurants did accept credit cards. It was exactly the most expensive restaurants and they even charged extra fees for that.
And if you happen to find an ATM in some destinations, you pay a lot extra for withdrawing and usually the maximum you can windraw is 10,000 pesos (approx. 191 euros.) So imagine you need to pay for a hotel in cash because they don’t accept credit cards. It might force you to withdraw money a few days in a row to have enough for the accommodation, food and other activities you’d like to do. And pay for every single withdrawal. I’ve heard from many travelers that they had to pay 5 euros for each withdrawal even when their bank does not charge them anything for that.
I knew about this so to avoid all the charges, I brought euro cash from home and then exchanged it into pesos. In practice, I had to carry all the cash with me I needed for 17 days on Malapascua, and also for another 2 weeks in Philippines. Every few days I had to count all the money I still had left and when it seemed I would not manage my last days, then I had dinner at one of the more expensive restaurants where I could pay by card. And lose not only more money for a similar meal, but also another 5% extra for the credit card fees. Ouch!
The whole cash/no ATM/ATM fees/extra card fees makes us spend a lot more money than we would otherwise. DISLIKE!
Conclusion: Do not count on ATMs. Cash is the way to go.
7. Weather disasters
Philippines are so jaw-dropping that despite of all the points mentioned above you will love the country so much you’d like to leave everything behind and just move in there. However, weather might destroy your spontaneous plans. Did you know that typhoons, hurricanes and floods are regular in Philippines?
When I was in Manila in October 2016, it rained half of the time so I didn’t feel like exploring any city attractions getting soaked with water somewhere between ankles and knees. When the weather is really bad, transportation collapses and sometimes even taxis do not drive around. We were warned of typhoons coming, getting dozens of messages from our loved ones from back home who watched the weather news. So scary to be right there trying to explain to everyone ”don’t worry, it’s just a light rain” while sitting on a boat in a thunderstorm with everything completely wet. Not fun at all.
And even when not there, I have hundreds of filipino friends and get so worried each time I hear another typhoon hit the islands. It’s also such a suffocating helpless feeling to see the main country attractions are destroyed by natural disasters.
Conclusion: Together with bikini, pack also umbrellas, raincoats and water proof jackets.
However, the weather is the only one out of the 7 things I don’t like in Philippines that cannot be changed by people. (Don’t mind the men’s height as it’s just my personal thing.) Everything else could be improved over the years. And I really hope locals will realize these problems and try to change them asap.
Having said all that, I repeat, Philippines still managed to impress me so much they are my 3rd fave country out of more than 60 I’ve visited.
What do you think about the cons of traveling to Philippines? Do you agree with me? Did you have the same experience in the Philippines? Or do you think these things would bother you when you visit fo the first time? Share in the comments.