The breathtaking Philippines is a relatively easy travel destination for Malaysians. English is widely spoken so communication is easy, and this beautiful country has an endearing “don’t worry, be happy” vibe which is extremely soothing for first time visitors. The people are vibrant, fun loving and love food as much as we do. Each region in the Philippines has its own particular cuisine, and Filipino food has a diverse blend of Oriental, European and American influences and tastes. One dessert that might find a place in your heart is the traditional Halo-halo, which is an eclectic mix of shaved ice, syrup, marshmallows, tubers, jelly and fruit and strongly resembles our very own famous Malaysian ‘Ais Kacang’. Experience otherworldly sunsets in San Juan, swim in the incredibly refreshing Cambugahay Falls and try the fish spa beneath a 400-year-old tree in Siquijor. These are some of the many must-see spots in the Philippines. A colossal 488 coral species out of 500 in the world can be found here, which makes the Philippines one of the top three dive sites in the world. Apo Island, which is a tiny island in the Negros province, is known as one the best marine sanctuaries in the world. It’s where you will find incredible underwater life and get a chance swim with giant turtles.
It’s a good idea to travel during low seasons (June and September) so you can enjoy lower hotel and flight prices, saving you anywhere between 20% to 40%. Since the Philippines is the 5th largest English speaking country, 90% of the population can speak English so you can converse with many locals. Filipinos are friendly, hospitable and tend to welcome tourists with open arms. Did you know that they produce some of the best wood cutting boards made from Philippine mahogany? If you love cooking or you have loved ones who do, be sure to pick one up. When you shop, keep in mind that the price of almost everything in the Philippines is negotiable. It’s not only normal to ask for a discount, it is an expected tradition. Before you agree to a price for a taxi ride or boat trip, ask the locals about the actual price first. Last but not least, tipping is expected but it’s completely up to your discretion. Even if there is a service charge included, restaurant staff will expect one so the standard practice is 10% of the total bill.