• Do be
security-conscious. Throughout the islands, there’s an unusually
high incidence of petty thievery, which can ruin your vacation.
Also, while most Filipinos are extremely friendly, there are some
who aren’t, so do not accept drinks or food from a stranger
(particularly in tourist areas), and keep an eye out on all your
• Bargain at markets,
but never at department stores or supermarkets (unless you like
talking to annoyed police and security guards).
• Be polite. Public
displays of anger generally won’t get you what you want (even if you
are in the right).
• Do find out whether
prices are being quoted to you in U.S. dollars or Filipino pesos
(especially with local tour operators).
• Don’t be enticed to
exchange money on the street unless you enjoy watching con artists
at work. Frequent only licensed money changers (they have their own
shops, and their license on the window).
• Don’t be surprised at
the slowness of the postal service (it can take MONTHS to send a
• Don’t be shocked by the
number of people who carry guns, especially in cities. You’ll even
see signs asking people to leave firearms outside before entering
various premises. Because guns are so common, you may find that you
and your possessions are subject to searches from time to time.
• Don’t be surprised by
black-outs. Power shortages in Manila or Cebu are not uncommon.
• Don’t expect to travel
faster than 45 mph/70 kph on the roads (and less in the cities).
Jeepneys, tricycles, carts, water buffalo and people share the roads
• Don't let others buy you
drinks at the club ( you may get doped) keep your drink full.
Add a small tip for good restaurant service, even though a service
charge has already been tacked on the bill.
Always have loose change say, P 20 or P 50 bills, and coins. These
are for transferring buses when the bus attendant does not have
enough change. By the way, always clear your tickets with him. Don’t
take his word that you’ll be reimbursed or get your change in the
next bus. An elderly couple had to argue their way all throughout
their trip because of this.