My completely honest review of the Philippines, based on my personal experience and not meant to offend anyone or deter anyone from drawing their own conclusions.
I was so excited to travel to the Philippines in May 2014.. The only other country I had been to in South East Asia was Thailand and it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Imagine my surprise when the Philippines was not the same, probably the opposite.
We arrived in Manila to a quite large group of people late at night. Our first night was so much fun, just talking, getting to know each other, and of course cheap booze on our hostel patio. Waking up the next morning was a different story.
Manila is my least favorite place I have ever been, here are my reasons:
- I found the city to be extremely dirty, more so than any other city I had ever seen. The smell of sewer was everywhere, the streets flooded every time it rained, and the layout was not ideal.
- I did not feel safe. I refused to go anywhere alone like I would in other cities such as Bangkok. The first day I was in Manila myself and a male were in a tuc tuc getting a ride from our hostel to the mall. We had slowed down for a stop light and I looked over at the very busy street to have my eyes met by a local.. I looked at his face for a bit before realizing he was staring at me and touching his fully exposed genitals on the main street. Trying to get into the mall from the tuc tuc we were bombarded by people who had no sense of personal space, they would walk basically on top of you while you were walking away trying to sell you a single pill that they would claim was Viagra, or something else.
- When we arrived back in Manila before flying out of the Philippines we were all headed to dinner a few blocks away. It was raining quite heavily and like I said before the streets tended to flood and be filled with garbage and sewer. We were walking down a road that had no one else on it when suddenly a taxi van pulled up beside us, the driver jumped out of the front seat and into the back seat and pulled out a passenger that looked like they had passed out. We thought at first OK maybe it was a drunk local who was causing problems, are puking in the taxi… nope it was a local who was having a seizure in the taxi and instead of helping this man the driver pulled him out and left him in the middle of the road seizing in sewage water.
Aside from Manila the Philippines was not that bad. I had a great time surfing at Cloud 9 in Siargao, we went to multiple beautiful beaches and had a lot of fun experiences. Overall I found that any beach attached to land where it was maybe a “hot” spot, or a city, was very dirty, so much garbage, compared to say a tourist beach in Thailand. If you traveled out of the main areas to secluded beaches they were absolutely gorgeous… just like all the pictures I had seen and was drawn to check the Country out because of.
I made a mistake in the Philippines as well
which was checking out “cock fights” or “chicken fighting”. I won’t go into detail, but it scarred me forever and I highly suggest not going to this brutal “entertainment”.
The rice terraces in the Philippines were phenomenal and looked just like, if not better than, the photos.
The underground River, which is also considered one of the world wonders, was not so wonderful, very over rated, but a cool experience none the less.
We also discovered that in Philippine tradition they set their deceased out for days for people to see and visit. Which caught me completely by surprise when I was walking down the street one morning for breakfast and there was an open casket with a see through glass dome over top in the middle of the street… I wish someone would have warned me of this sooner, but still an understandable and respectable tradition.
The food was nothing at all to write home about..
I was expecting traditional Philippine food, which I had no idea what that was, but I found fried chicken, and more fried chicken. There was not one thing I had there that I would try to find back home.
But the Karaoke… is something else. THEY LOVE THEIR KARAOKE. so you might as well just join in and enjoy yourself.. make a fool of yourself. They don’t know you anyways. 🙂
My review of the Philippines is that it is beautiful… there are definite reasons to go there and travel around, by no means am I encouraging people to stay away. That being said I have explored it and am content not going back. It differs in my mind from Thailand in major ways and here are my conclusions: Thailand is way more tourist built whereas the Philippines have not got there yet which causes Thailand to maybe have cleaner beaches to attract more people, the locals value the tourists more and seem more friendly because their income is largely based on tourists, one might feel more safe in Thailand because they rely so much on good press and good standing with the backpacking community.
I by no means expect a country to bend to my rules and expectations of them, I enjoy the adventure and going to different places is what life is all about. Although I am happy I had my experiences in the Philippines I feel that it is less my travel “style” than say Turkey (circa 2013), Greece, Nicaragua or Thailand.