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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Philippines Money-Saving Tips

Look out for "Promos”

Always ask for “promo rates,” especially at Manila’s under-booked five-star hotels, where rack rates are merely a starting point for negotiation.

When it Rains it Shines

Study up on weather patterns. The rainy season in Manila (June – October) corresponds to the dry season in eastern regions like Bicol, Samar, southern Leyte, and surfing hotspot Siargao.

Visas, Quick and Easy

Tourists get free 21-day visas upon entering the Philippines. Extending to 58 days is a huge hassle in Manila, but a piece of cake in regional hubs like Baguio, Puerto Princesa, Boracay, and Puerto Galera.

Hop Around Palawan

Palawan’s lousy infrastructure can try anyone’s patience. If you’re short on time, or if you’re averse to creaky 10-hour bus rides, Seair has a useful “hopping” route linking Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa.


Filipinos are known for their grins and their laid-back demeanor. If you run into trouble make like the locals: Smile and avoid raising your voice.

Whale Shark “Light”

Tourists flock to Donsol to snorkel with whale sharks. Lesser known is that you can scuba dive (for now) with butanding in Pintuyan, Southern Leyte (Visayas). Boats embark from Padre Burgos, an up-and-coming dive spot.

Travel Warnings

The U.S. Embassy warns against travel to parts of Mindanao, where Muslim separatists frequently clash with government troops in remote areas. The rest of the country is safe.

War-torn Philippines

The Philippines saw heavy fighting during WWII. For war buffs, must-see sights include Manila’s American Cemetery; Corregidor Island; the Bataan Peninsula, site of the infamous Bataan Death March; and Leyte’s Red Beach.

A Bevy of Festivals

Every Philippine town holds an annual “fiesta” (festival) to honor its patron saint. The most famous and most colorful is January’s Ati-Atihan festival in Kalibo, Panay (Visayas).

Colonial Cities

Most of the Philippines’ elegant Spanish colonial architecture has been destroyed, but you’ll still find superb examples of the style in Iloilo, Panay, and Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in North Luzon.

Hail to the Pope

Thanks to almost 350 years of Spanish rule (1569-1898), the Philippines is about 80% Catholic, an anomaly for Asia.

Bicol’s Fiery Food

Filipino food is notoriously salty and bland, but one exception is Bicol, where coconut milk and fiery red peppers invoke the more ballyhooed cuisines of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.


While Filipino – also known as Tagalog – is the official language (along with English), dozens of dialects are spoken. If you’re heading to the Visayas, learn a few words of Cebuano (Visayan); in North Luzon, learn Ilocano.

Getting Around

The two main forms of transport are “jeepneys” – public transportation vehicles modeled after American WWII jeeps – and obnoxiously loud motorized tricycles.

Reading Up

Look for books by British expatriate James Hamilton-Paterson, F. Sionil Jose, or Filipino national hero José Rizal.


Save time and money getting around traffic-snarled Manila by learning to use the city’s Metro- and Light-Rail Transit systems (MRT & LRT).


ATMs accepting Western bank cards are common in most areas, with the notable exception of Palawan, where you’ll need cash.


Wireless Internet access (available for a small fee) is widespread in Manila and is becoming more popular in touristy areas.

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